Bill Shakespeare had it: “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.” This might have applied to Woodstock Plus, had my edition of Life’s tide tables not been out by a fathom or three. Because Fortune wasn’t exactly the harbour Woodstock Plus sailed into.
Ms Meadow Flowers had engaged a moonlighting employee from a Liverpudlian outfit, Scratch & Dent, Furniture Removers, to act as roadie to the star turn. The Gallagher Brothers – ‘Low class food at high class prices!’ – had the catering. To avoid painful flashbacks I’ll let my diary take up the story from here.
Chuffer’s Chinese tent is re-erected for the main act – The Beach Boys. “The Beach Boys?” I enthused over the phone to Meadow. “Wow, just wow!”. I was even talking like Ms Flowers now!
Ms Flowers went on to argue that her genius helped finance a flash lifestyle. She had apparently converted her Tooting pied-a-terre into an ‘Internet of Things’ style home in which all her appliances chatted incessantly to each other all day long. Life as a George Foreman Grill must have been sooo boring before all this carry on started. Her success, she said, demonstrated her worth. It explained how she could do so much for her customers, for so little. I thanked her profusely.
“It’s what I do, it’s who I am,” she said. The line from her cell phone crackled, but hadn’t she said, she’s engaged the Red Arrows to do, like, a fly-past thingy?
“I’ll be with you by eight,” she said and rang off.
Unbelievable – The Beach Boys and the Red Arrows! And all for £4,000!
A What’s Appmessage proclaims thatScratch & Dent’s moonlighting furniture remover cannot get the Beach Boys to my paddock on time because he first has to deliver a sideboard to an attic flat in Chipping Sodbury. This delay agitates the 200-strong crowd of Beach Boy fans waiting in the Chinese tent.
Ms Flowers has gone AWOL. I offer ticket holders free lunch to keep them onside. A trestle table is erected from which the elder Gallagher hands out platefuls of the paella his brother is rustling up behind a tent flap. Plate after plate after plate of the stuff is fed through the flap at speed. I comb the site for Ms Flowers.
What’s App tells me that Scratch & Dent’s moonlighter is reported to have twanged several vertebra out of alignment while lifting the sideboard up six flights of stairs, causing further delay. There’s only so much paella a festival goer can eat so I resolve to track down Meadow, pronto.
I find Ms Flowers howling her eyes out in one of the site’s unisex portaloos. “Whatever’s the matter?” I ask.
“It’s no good,” she sobbed. “It’s all just, like, a sham. I mean, I’m a sham. I’ve never organised an event in my life,” she wailed.
“What’s brought this on?” I ask, beginning to panic about this eleventh hour confession’s potential to destroy Woodstock Plus.
“The phone call from Social Services,” she said.
“I emailed Quinoa’s school…”
“My daughter, Quinoa. I declined the school’s offer for Quinoa to join their after-school under-fives pilates class. The fridge must have intercepted my email and passed it to the microwave which shared it with the Soda Stream which called social services. Damn the Internet of Thingy-ma-jigs.” Meadow boo-hoo-ed with gusto.
“Social Services said they wouldn’t prosecute…”
“Isn’t that good news then?” I said.
“…but they said I wasn’t middle-class enough to bring Quinoa up properly and that I’d three months to teach her Mandarin, show her how to juggle with mah-jong tiles and get her a pet Alpaca or they’d name and shame me in the Sunday Times magazine.”
“It’s Helen,‘ Meadow interrupted, “My real name’s Helen Splatt.” And off she went again.
So many plates of paella have been shuffled from one Gallagher to the other that the ancient canvas flap through which this traffic passes, falls off, revealing to all, the backroom Gallagher shoveling paella ingredients into a cement mixer with a shovel. Many of the diners immediately fall prey to the dry boak.
Scratch and Dent’s removal van roars onto the site. From it decants, not the Beach Boys but the ‘Waikiki’ Beach Boys, a Hawaiian tribute band. The delay in the Beach Boys’ arrival assures the prematurity of the Red Arrows fly-past. Only these are not the top guns of aerobatic legend. Turns out that Ms Flowers has actually booked the Red Barrows, an agricultural entertainment outfit normally offering light relief at flower shows.
The crowds disperse on the promise of a full refund. I lose Ms Flowers-Splatt, and set off in search of her again. I find her high up in the Chinese tent swinging from a trapeze, and threatening to let go.
I scale the ladder opposite, grab her trapeze’s counterpart and gingerly swing out into space. With trapeze artistry, timing was all, and mine was off. As she reached the extremity of her arc, I was already swinging away so that only a couple of words at a time fell within the range of the girl’s hearing before we swung out of range again. I did the best I could.