Tuesday, 4 August 2009


Money is the root of much evil in this house, discordantly and spectacularly vocalised. Hubby and I will never see eye to eye on the subject and whilst I can see his point, I find myself unable to live by the strictures demanded by him and so, like so many people put under any duress, my instinct is to rebel and revolt.
Hubby, having been in work all week, finds it easy to slip on a pair of slippers which inexplicably age him by twenty years, then sit back with the weekend papers and would, quite happily remain in that position until Monday morning when the whole working week starts over. I, on the other hand, having been an animated apron all week am tearing at the strings come Friday evening for a bit of action.
This last weekend was no exception and having waved farewell to Pia for the last time and having assessed the damage to her room and wept, I wanted a little diversion.
“The lit fest is on in St German’s”, I said in a voice that suggested, “How lovely, let’s go”. Hubby’s reply however suggested the opposite.
“No chance. Far too pretentious and as you know, pretension is a party to which one has not been invited. Each to their own though, after all there are those who would think us, and especially you, rather pretentious Alice.”
“Why?”, I asked, startled.
“Don’t put me on the spot Alice please; this can only lead to disaster.”
“You started it! Tell me what you find pretentious about me?”, I was gunning for a fight now.
“Well, since you insist. Take the kitchen, full of twee little tin things that have long seen better days. Fairy lights of every description, then there’s the poetry and prayers”. I was incensed.
“ I’ll have you know that each little tin thing was given to me by friends who, for whatever reason, thought of me when they bought them. They are not meaningless shabby-chic object d’art bought because they are ‘in fashion’. My fairy lights I’ll concede are perhaps a trifle on the silly side but I love them and as for my poetry and prayers? I have one poem in a clip frame that my mother loved and brings me great comfort and the prayer, accompanied by the statue of St Anthony, given to me as a gift, is equally comforting. Can I remind you that it is you and not me who has chosen to erect a two foot canvas of Paul Weller where perhaps a Vapona fly killer would be more expedient?”
“So, I take it that you’re not coming then?”, I asked.
“And I’ll take it that you are still going to go?”, he replied. We both sighed. I then tried the “But Such and Such are going”.
“Such and Such are a couple with whom I would not want to share my picnic rug even if Port Eliot Lit Fest were the last festival on earth either literary nor and preferably, illiterary”. He laughed at his joke.
Resigned to his obduracy I called for the teenage daughter and together we drove to St German’s. I almost keeled over when on asking for an adult and a child’s ticket the young people at the entrance gate asked for £45.
It had gone midday, we had to back for 5.30 for a barbecue. Nine quid an hour to be able to say we rubbed shoulders with the glitterati. Hubby would blow a gasket.
“Oh please mummy. We never get to do things together. Please let’s go in”. We were being rushed; a couple behind us, just off the train, asked the gate staff where they could get some cash from.
“Waitrose is just down the road” was the ill-informed answer.
From that moment on something just didn’t feel right. From the staff at the gate who clearly weren’t local kids who could have done with bit of extra cash, to the people within the grounds meandering, I felt just as Hubby had, rather maddeningly suggested as though I’d gate crashed a party to which I most certainly hadn’t been invited.
Those who literally live in St German’s, get some sort of concession as if to keep them sweet when their village is over run by thousands of visitors. Everyone else has to pay the full whack. Not that this causes anyone involved with the festival any angst as the festival is more a party for extended family and closely networked friends and is not aimed at us mere, local mortals. I saw about two dozen faces that were familiar and they weren’t what you’d call ordinary. At least four of them had a PhD in a variant of English literature.
Waiting in line at the Thai noodle stand whilst my daughter went off to try on hats in the vintage clothes stand, I listened intently to the conversations going on around me.
I’d already stood for fifty minutes and made friends with Tybalt and Edith whose parents had handed out ten pound notes as payment for queuing for them when eventually mummy and daddy joined them. They were Django and Sybil. Sybil was exquisite. Short, elfin hair, exceptional cheekbones, a dress so sheer and billowing that it wafted around her like million dollar gossamer. One can understand how rich people with their confident, wealthy and glossy veneer have been loved, envied, adored and murdered in equal measure. I asked if she’d travelled far.
“From London”.
“How do you know about this festival then?”
“Oh well”, she said and without an ounce of hauteur added, “We all seem to be connected with the family in some way. Everyone seems to be a member of an elite, beautiful people”.You said it love. You said it, although we less beautiful and most certainly less elite would like the occasional foray and glimpse into your wonderland. With hefty concessions of course.


soundslike said...

you are wrong wrong wrong!
we are elite, beautiful and probably pretentious too but we are people too.
I am so sorry PortEliot wasnt as good for you as it may have been in the past but Im definitely going to return, to escape from my non pretentious world and my slippers

Alice Band said...

Dear Soundslike,
I didn't think you'd agree with me you festival whore!!! (as in you like festivals and not the other kind of whoring).
I didn't say they weren't people! What I said was that the festival is marketed to a certain type, which I find a great pity as many people living here would like to attend as few of us are chavs yet many of us are pretty bloody hard up!
It is such a lovely setting - I could run a bus service for the locals!

DL said...

I fear the pricetag would bring out the philistine in me.

I could still be a beautiful person outside the fence.

Best wishes,