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Blog: Cornbury

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After work on Friday I went to the pub, wherein i was telling a PAL about my forthcoming trip to the Cornbury Festival. The short version of the story is that Word Magazine had a competition for someone to perform a HIT SONG on a single acoustic instrument, and I won with my ukelele version of Boom Shake The Room - when I say "won" i mean it in the Gordon Brown sense i.e. that nobody else entered.

Having shown off SUFFICIENTLY about the FACT I was off to play a Major Festival i went to the loo, and on the way back bumped into JUDE FROM WORD MAGAZINE! It was a bit of a BIZARRE COINCIDENCE as I've not seen her in person since I played at her club a year and a bit ago. "I was just talking about you!" I said, and then gave her a hug, as she's the sort of person whose presence pretty much demands it. As i was to find out next day, this is pretty much an entrance qualification for employment at the magazine.

Next day The Dash Of Pepper In My Hummus & Cucumber Sandwich and I set off for PADDINGTON. It was an easy and uneventful trip, apart from the bit where I forgot we were on the Metropolitan line and ZOOMED off to Finchley by mistake, but HANDILY we had added in lots of extra time, so all was WELL. When we got to Paddington we found that almost EVERYBODY was on the way to a wedding, it was SPARKLY DRESSES and CASUAL TIES central! We got our DELIGHTFULLY CHEAP tickets (rail vouchers + Network Rail Card + Oyster Card + the FACT that it's about a THIRD the price to travel SOUTH from London as it is to travel NORTH) and whooshed south on a packed train to Charlbury, where we met Gina From Last Harbour, who were also playing later in the day. Straight off the train we hopped onto the shuttle bus to the festival site, where we queued for a few minutes and were IN! HOORAH!

We had a gentle wander and then I rang Mr Mark Ellen, editor of Word and also Bloke Off LIve Aid, Him Off The WHistle Test, former editor of Smash Hits, Q, and Select, and Excitable Regular Guest On Mark Radcliffe. HIM! I left a message, telling him where we were, then went to the loo, returning to find someone who LOOKED like they OUGHT to be Mr Mark Ellen, striding away in a frankly ROCK AND ROLL way. We followed him to (where else?) THE BAR, found it WAS him, and said hello. What a LOVELY chap he was, seemed very enthusiastic about EVERYTHING, and agreed to meet up in an hour or so at 15.30 at the Word Tent where he'd introduce me. This last bit was agreed him and The Signature On My Contract who he, like so many people, recognised pretty much straight away as THE ORGAN GRINDER.

With time to spare we went and got some PIMMS then took our new blanket and watched The Hothouse Flowers for a bit. The sun was VERY MUCH shining, it was a GORGEOUS day and we had a lovely time, with only the VERY SLOW INDEED queues at the bar to try, and fail, to bring down the mood. Everyone seemed REALLY happy about the weather being nice, it was LOVELY.

Eventually it was MY TIME and we wandered over to the Word Tent, to find it EMPTY. I met Mark and, LANYARD ON, went backstage, where we agreed that maybe we should wait until the NEXT act was about to start before we attempted to get me on stage. This was fine with me, so once again we said our cheerios and went for another bit of a wander, involving some more BEER.

Another hour later we met again at the edge of the backstage area, where Mark spent a happy five minutes explaining the whole situation to a 17 year old "security guard" - by now we were palling along in a frankly JOLLY way, and i thought WHAT a nice man he was - plenty of other people of his STATURE would have SWANNED AROUND ignoring The Little People and being GITTISH and SHOW-OFFY, but he was treating everybody like an Important Person and was KEEN AS HECK about everything, just like, in fact, he always seems on the radio. We hung around backstage and I had a chat to the Violin player from The Love Trousers, who'd been on first, and then went and hung around on stage waiting to do my BIT. I had a quick ukelele chat to the GUITARIST out of Bettye La Vette's band, who was a NICE CHAP, while The Lady Herself was hand-escorted to the stage by the stage manager. She was a PROPER SOUL DIVA and, as such, did NOT want some pillock going on before her with a ukelele, so once AGAIN we had to rearrange! I didn't mind, it was quite nice to have regular EVENTS like this to give SHAPE to the festival experience, so this time me and The Rhythm Section In My Soul Revue and I stayed in the tent to WATCH, and it WAS a proper Soul Experience.

At twenty past five I met Mark again, so we could be POISED to RUSH the stage as soon as they'd finished, and found that, quite reasonably really, they ALSO didn't want some pillock with a ukelele coming on to their stage as soon as they'd finished, so it was agreed that Mark would go on, announce that I'd be on in five minutes, and then THAT is how we would ROLL. This he did, but five minutes later pretty much EVERYONE had cleared off - The Proclaimers were just starting on the other stage, it was not something you could BLAME anybody for! There was heated debate, talk of waiting again until the Handsome Family got there, but really there were ENOUGH people hanging around (about forty of them, all standing down at the front) and they looked KEEN and we HAD told people I'd be doing it, so i thought "TO HECK with it! Let's ROCK!" THUS i got an enthusiastic introduction - "he won the competition by a country mile", JOURNALISM - and off I went and did THIS:
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • It was a whole LOT of fun. I forgot to do the first chorus, but it didn't really matter, and things ZOOMED along with plenty of Audience Participation, and, for the first time in my brief Festival Experience, people seemed to be COMING IN rather than GOING OUT. HOORAH! All the WORD staff were in the middle at the front too, which was a little odd - I'm used to seeing them in small boxes at the top of articles in the magazine, not grinning in front of you, but they all seemed happy enough, and Mr Ellen CERTAINLY seemed chuffed when I'd done - as I say, the HUG GENE seems to be PROMINENT.

    Afterwards we had a chat and said thanks VERY much for the tickets and Lanyards, and then had a quick chat to Mr David Hepworth from the magazine who ALSO seemed very nice and, as The Editor Of My Magazine said, sends us a LETTER every month (which comes with the subscription copy of WORD) so it seemed like we knew him anyway. We then went for MORE PIMMS and watched some of The Proclaimers, who were BRILLIANT.

    SOon it was time to get going, as trains only went every two hours and the LAST direct train to London was in an hour's time, so out we strolled. A bloke who looked like a former member of The Damned guided us out through a different exit we come in on the bus, and several very nice car park attendants pointed us in the same direction, so off we strolled through the GROUNDS, marvelling at the sight of DEER prancing around. It was just all SO LOVELY - the area, the weather, and ALL the people we met. EVERYONE was really nice, it made the whole day BRILLIANT!

    Eventually we got the gatehouse where a couple of chaps were having a drink outside. We asked them the way to the station and one of them offered to walk us out across a FIELD OF CORN to point the way. He seemed PROPER POSH, and so we agreed that he was probably - DEFINITELY - Lord Cornbury HIMSELF. He really was RIGHT POSH, acting like he owned the place because he PROBABLY DID, and was helpful in a LORDLY WAY. I had to restrain myself from forelock grabbing.

    He had a VERY pleasant half hour STROLL cross country and into the village, then nearly missed our train - it ROLLED onto the platform and, because it was a single track and there was meant to be another train going the other way first, declined to BOARD. It was only the FACT that i got a bit FRIT and checked that we managed to hop on - PHEW! The journey home was uneventful, and we arrived back ABSOLUTELY KNACKERED, SUN KISSED, and very happy indeed. WHAT a lovely day out!

    posted 8/7/2007 by MJ Hibbett

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