Summer Nights … slipping away!

Clangers is selling tickets. On himself just quietly. If you hurry you can probably still get some … but before I get to explaining, how about a song. There was a time due to the combination of a non existent public transport system, the heat and absolutely nothing to do at the end of Summer when, I, for want of something better to do [like possibly burgs in the burbs, setting cars on fire, train surfing and seeking out other fearless encounters with death].

No, being domesticated and quarantined in the Suburbs, all we had was TV – ugh! So I projected my unexpressed life on to it and watched Grease on VCR so many times, I memorized the entire movie. AS in, yes – able to quote from any cue. I thought I was the only one with such a boring decrepit existence until school started and everyone else was mysteriously quoting Grease. Equally adept.

Good Times. Here is “Summer Nights” from Grease, the original.

It takes time to brew a good story. Life needs to explode in all it’s crazy unpredictable glory, the petals need to be picked, water and sugar need to be added, the sediment needs to settle, probably need to cap it off and get it in the Demi John so it can ferment. Friends, I have such a story which time and memory lapses has hopefully turned in to something transformative or at the very least shiny as in, the kind of sugar glaze that tightens the face from the sting of salt water and after glow of sunburn.

It’s the end of Summer. Time for reflection. I can’t help myself. If I am busy doing some kind of ‘Inner Work’, I am not available for ‘Outer Work’. Obviously. Another year turns. In another couple of moments it will be the end of the Tax Year and then I really will need to file that mountain of paperwork I am typing under. Pay those bills. Be responsible. Be the Adult. And I will but I still remember when I measured time in days. I remember what that felt like and more importantly what the world looked like when days were the longest amount of time I could imagine. But then this unit of time became weeks, then months … now it is years. And each year that passes seems to go faster. What does being ‘timeless’ look like? So many things change, and then if I am honest – nothing changes.

I promised a story, so to begin. The end of Summer is an excellent time to observe those New Year’s Resolutions crumble, quickly and quietly. Watch deadlines fly by. This happens. If we are honest, it was always going to happen. It is the way of all Good New Year’s Resolutions. However … the reason for the resolutions is of course still looming large. What is your major dilemma? There are specific answers to this question, then there are generic categories like … the old favourites – Health, Weight Loss, Romance, Future. It is true – despite everyone’s best avoidance strategies – that without some kind of problem solving approach plus an action plan, nothing will change. Tru dat.

Clangers and I attempt to get to the Port Fairy Folk Festival every year. It is, the best damn time ever! Tickets sell out quickly. You cannot get accommodation within a light year’s radius from the Festival Site, so camping is the only way in. It is hard to describe the self organizing principles at play in the camping grounds – but it fills the f*#$-up, fast. There is ofcourse some strategy and some surrender involved in distilling the quintessential festival elixir. But by this stage of the adventure, Clangers and I have confidently nailed the formula. We can surf the crowd surges so there is an effortless movement between showers, food stalls and the perfect seat in the perfect venue at that particular moment. Does experience bring knowledge? Or does it merely create Obsessive Compulsive behaviors and extinguish the joy of spontaneity?

We are at one with the Tao at Port Fairy, so the whole festival feels like a Gluten Free existence where all of me is present all of the days of the Festival. You just sink in to the joy of the music and the moment, like the ocean on the best day of the year. It is sublime and tops me up with life force, good vibes and juju for the whole year. Love! Dig!

Side note – for the cynics. If you find your sphincter twitching with something that smells like irritability as I wax lyrical about Port Fairy and experience an intense desire to put my love of folk music down. Pause. Be one with that twitch. Feel in to it. You’re angry aren’t you? Yes that’s what your anger feels like. And if you go more deeply into it, you will hit sadness and find your tears. You know the ones you forgot to shed when they took your joy away.

It’s not me or Folk Festival Lovers you are angry with, no but there is a desire there to destroy something … isn’t there? You ARE angry with someone or something. I challenge you. Instead of succumbing to the hypnosis of trauma and the cowardice of acting out the thoughts and actions of the one who stole your joy, why not go further, stalk your rage? Look to it’s source. Who or what robbed you of your joy? Embrace bravery and curiosity. Go there. OR if this is a bit tricky … you can make an appointment and I will help you. Only if you ask. Back to the story.

Mostly, Clangers and I have enjoyed good camping luck at Port Fairy. Even when we’ve ballsed up leaving, arrived late, in the rain and had to camp on a postage stamp on the edge of a tree branch. We’ve taken old faithful – the Silver Dome-ed Weapon. The all weathers, all singing and dancing – perfect for us tent affectionately named ‘The Nimbus 2000’. Took us about three tent fails to get there. I would post a picture, but the tent is so old – even the internet lack a catalogued image.

You check out everyone’s kit at Festivals, right? Give everyone’s gear the once over, just to reassure yourself of where you stand in the pack. How you are doing in life. You want to be ahead, maybe not as far as the ‘Icon-o-clasts’ or do you? Is it time to get solar panels? Do we need a clothes line and is that one a bit bulky? Will it go off road? Do you go off road? Really? Are we wind resistance enough? Cool enough? Will this set up work on Mars? Yes? No? In Winter on Mars? Would Kero help? A Jerry Can? Can you set up and pack up with speed? How much speed? Visualizing helps get in to the mood. Stupid commercial radio from f*$#-ing camping neighbours does not. Why would you listen to this at a FOLK FESTIVAL! For F*$# SAKE?! WTF! Only the un-initiated behave thusly. Frowns are delivered and the volume is reduced until it is off and the Culprit slinks away cowed.

One year, not last year – some other year probably due to the motivation and momentum provided by the close brush with failure the year previous – we visualized the whole set up process BEFORE we left home. Clangers and I collectively, mindfully (I think we even used breathing), probably there was some hand holding and a little arse slapping – in any case we imagined with zen like efficiency the tent going up smoothly, effortlessly and we also imagined it coming down easily and with grace. That year – we set the record. Camp up in 25 mins, down in 40 mins. All gear packed in car – gone – we were away and home in time for pie, showers and bed. And I believe there was an environmental challenge – a slight drizzle as a technical challenge at the end. Difficult. Packing a wet tent leads to black mold and tears for the next trip.

Last year – we were all a bit slack. Possibly this was because I was appointed the Captain by Clangers who saw his role as ‘being directed’ and did I mention, ‘following directions’? If you have even seen us in action, you will know how ridiculous this assumption is. So I had the tickets somewhere. I remembered to book the camping site. We packed the car the day we left. I don’t think anyone had slept well. Needless to say, no visualizing and co ordinating of focus had occurred. Inner Children were totally in control of the enterprise. About one quarter of the way to Port Fairy, my Inner Adult woke up and said, “Um … I forgot the tickets, I think”. Not happy Jan.

Back we turned, tickets we retrieved. Not Happy Campers. Not happy Clangers. I felt guilty, so tweeted a confession but this did not placate either of us. Grumpy. Sooky even. Did I mention the wind? There was a wicked wind gathering. We arrived at the camp-site late. As in we were losing light – cardinal camping sin. Does not augur well. I cannot quite remember but I think ‘someone’ said the wind was 120km/hr. This would not surprise me because – we could not get the damn Nimbus 2000 – the silver streak – up. Bastard fly kept coming off. I think I had the mallet. Or one of them. Clangers was stubbornly continuing to be the ‘passenger’ in the experience. I’m telling the story – OK? So his thing was all, “what do you want me to do?” “just tell me what you want me to do?” Great right?

It’s just as well there was a Gale, helped disguise the screaming. We couldn’t hear each other. Could see the expanded jugulars though. Some helpful bloke campers stepped forward to stop the marriage unravelling before the camp’s eyes. It is a good show – if you can get tickets, but forgetting the damn tickets was what started these nefarious goings-on. So these efforts got the fly on and tent up. Clangers then stomped off. Recollection of the precise sequence of events is a bit murky here. I think I was a bit – miffed. May have let the acid tongue off the leash. It’s all a bit vague.

Clangers returned 40 mins later with pizza. This did not, despite Pizzá’s magical powers, redeem the situation. I think I was trying to get a weather report on the fon. Then … ofcourse, it began raining. It started to rain sideways, but then somehow defying the laws of physics, rain appeared to be coming from the ground upwards. Yes water appeared to be raining from grass clouds.

Then somehow it was raining from all compass points. Did I mention the wind? Wind strength picked up. The Nimbus 2000 had those flexible graphite poles which were bending in a concerning sandwich concertina manner. The rain backed off – a bit. Seemed like the weather was changing. We braved cold showers – they were closer and colder. Wind was still up, but less. So … we were to bed. The wind did not lie down and neither did my Spidey-senses.

I have not always been able to sleep with “one eye open” but that night – I did. Instinct is a faithful compass. Word to the wise and the awake. I am not sure if it was the left over adrenaline from the stress of the day, but dozing was the best I could manage. Clangers – straight to sleep. Trusting babe. At about 2:00am, the Wind picked right up – again. Wind was so strong, it was squashing the Nimbus 2000 inches above our heads.

I was awake by this stage and uncertain of a plan, until the fly came off. As in, went right off. Woke Up Clangers – who went straight in to ‘rescue’ mode. This capacity in Clangers is truly astounding. It’s like Clark Kent whipping through a Phone Booth. He somehow dived in one elegant, which in itself is unusual, movement through the tent fly, in to his wet weather hoodie and was holding down the uncooperative fly at the exact junction of weakening and offending peg – in about one second. He’d managed to position himself with torch in mouth on the damn chair also, looking incongruently at ease. Disconcerting.

There we were. Tent getting squashed to the ground, then bouncing back as the tension of the wind let up briefly before the next surge. The rain had returned and was coming in all ways. It felt much like life – having a go, in that moment. Then we had a Classic Clangers moment. He says, “So do you think this will make it in to a blog post?” Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

This shenanigans of literally holding the tent together lasted about an hour and a half before the graphite bows holding the Nimbus 2000 together, finally gave up the ghost – and snapped, pierced the tent – the forces of Nature decided for us. Clangers wants his recommendations to go on record. Clangers was suggesting we collapse the tent, get the gear out and wait it out in the car. Retrospectively – this was a good plan. My concern was getting the sleeping bags wet, which – would have been a massive problem. Also we had some other ‘don’t get wet’ stuff with us. I paused, while I was thinking – tent ripped. Nature is a brutal teacher. Probably I was hoping it would all go away, like the mountain of paper work on my desk that needs filing.

We ended up in the car. It was an absolute B^$#^&D! No sleep. Everything sore. Our mates, who were camping with us, had a site a bit closer to some protective plant action. So their tent was still standing the next morning. I recall noticing a slipped zip. But the rest of the camp looked as destroyed as we felt. It all gets a bit silly in the mind when you have had little or no sleep for two days, your beloved tent is no more, you forgot the damn tickets, had numerous encounters with the third kind and divorce. So we went for breakfast – to think it out. This did not really help and all I could think of was going home.

It’s hard being the Adult all the time. My Inner Child was dying to get to Port Fairy and strip off all responsibilities and needed things to just … well work. I needed a rest. I needed some care for a few days without the burden of providing to everyone but myself. Problem was, Clangers was thinking the same way. I was tired. He was tired. We were all tired. All I could think of was going to sleep, in my bed. We had no bed. Nor a tent. We thought briefly of going to Warrmambool to get a tent as good as the Nimbus 2000 and suddenly it was all too complicated. So we made, on the surface strange decision, to go home and maybe come back. We briefly thought of trying to sell our Festival Tickets but even that was too involved.

So we drove home. Slept. Woke up. Felt better. On the other side of a sleep, thought we could tackle it but now we were not there. Instead of returning, we watched ‘The Returned’. We ended up watching episodes of Les Revenaunts [The Returned], a french series in the style of Twin Peaks. People who have died start returning to the village where they lived. It’s a bit compelling, mysterious, creepy. A YouTube search produced a couple of episodes with English Subtitles but then we could only find ones with Korean subtitles and so we had to rely on my ability to translate, which was not so bad – but as the plot became more complex, I was missing more crucial details and also the Festival. Clangers and I did not speak of the Festival till about June. Except to protect myself from further disappointment I said, “No more camping in tents”.

Enter … the Gidget. I found a solution to the fickle-ties of the weather, cruel mistress – stealing the joy. The best way for me to describe what the Gidget is – is to direct you to a YouTube clip. What can’t you learn from YouTube? French – maybe, I think you cannot learn French.

So we got one. It was supposed to be build in time for Port Fairy 2016 but NO! Not! So popular is the Gidget, the Gidget makers are overwhelmed with orders and our Gidget won’t be ready until after the Festival. Panic. So we scoured the internet for accommodation – no luck.

Awareness finally dawned and I said to Clangers, “That’s it! We’ll have to sell the tickets!” Clangers once again, to the rescue – says, “I am selling tickets, but not those ones! We are so going.”

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