Monday, 30 July 2012

A View From The Hill ...

And not just any hill but the one that rises like a green amphitheatre around from Wakefield's Clarence Park bandstand, home, for the past 21 years, of the Clarence free live music festival....

I have blogged about my own history with the festival already but these days my involvement is minuscule. This year my complete contribution to the two days of live music, that took place this weekend and has taken the usual countless man hours, sweat and tears to arrange, was writing the introduction in the programme. *Tuts at self*

So my view from the hill is not what it's like to throw a festival, but what it's like to spend two days in a park with some bands, some beer and four kids. And my view is, er, don't. At least not with my kids.

It's said familiarity breeds contempt and all the kids have been to the festival every year since they were born. Even the jolly announcement "We're going to Clarence" is met with a collective groan.

Clarences past
But last year, the TeenTwins suddenly realised that Clarence meant spending two days mucking around with their mates in the park and there was a resurgence of interest. 

This weekend they and their friends, spent 95 per cent of their time playing something they called Ninja under a tree which basically looked like hitting each other, four per cent wandering off to the nearby McDonalds for a wee and one per cent watching the bands. Or one band. The last band of the entire weekend.

But they did enjoy it. So much so that TeenTwin1 felt the need to dress in a penguin onesie on Sunday for no immediately definable reason. They even managed to return home, as celebrants traditionally do, dripping wet despite there being no accessible water feature at the festival. They solved this by pushing each other in the city centre fountains on the walk home.

Clarence 2012
This year's "We're going to Clarence" announcement co-incided with the Third Girl's sudden desire to go to a sleepover at her friends, not that her friend was actually having a sleepover until the Third Girl suggested it. So she managed to escape the first day, but not the second.

On Sunday, she didn't want to come. She was tired. She was bored. She stood around the park a bit reading Jacqueline Wilson pointedly and looking disapproving. The brief flicker of interest ignited by a trip to the festival's stalls didn't last long. I bought her ice-cream, she cheered up for the duration of the ice-cream. I bought her an improbably coloured lollipop thinking the application of a few e-numbers might buoy her mood but still she wallowed. She smiled eventually though. I think it was when we said: "It's time to go home now."

The Boy, though, had a fabulous time, an ace time, the bestest time ever. The TeenTwins and friends he treated like one giant bouncy castle every time they rested from a particularly strenuous bout of Ninja. He ran up the hill. A lot. He ran down the hill. A lot. He danced. A lot. He asked for chips. A lot. He wanted to go over the other side of the hill to visit the miniature railway. A lot.

Both days, The Man took The Boy over the hill to the train for half an hour. They were the quietest half hours of the entire weekend. Even with the bands blasting away.

And me? Well, I had a great time. It WAS ace. I discovered some new bands and rediscovered those old friends I meet once a year at festival time. I did get emotional, hysterically at a TeenTwin2 dance move that spectacularly failed to come off, but I didn't cry this time. Not EVEN when I was asked where were the kids and I had to point out the one sulking with a book, the one whirling like a dervish and the other two yes, yes, that one and the one in the penguin suit...

The Clarence festival, it is widely believed because of it's longevity, practically runs itself. It doesn't and it never has. Like the swan that gracefully glides along, there's a hell of a lot of furious paddling going on underneath. So thank you to all the volunteers that are Wakefield Music Collective for a great Clarence 2012. See you next year.
Check out Wakefield Music Collective at

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