Posted on: 21 June 2011 by Diane Priestley
I was all excited about seeing Bob Dylan, the folk music icon of my youth, but I wimped out.
I’m not the hardy festival goer I once was. A drop of rain (in summer) and I’m cranky and ready to head home.
I came here to see the legendary Bob Dylan in the flesh but even the music icon (and bragging rights) can’t quell the urge to flee for the comfort of my sofa. Granted I’m all snuffly and prone to dropping my bundle when poorly.
The London Feis at Finsbury Park is a moderate-sized festival; just a few thousand, unlike the Woodford Folk Festival near my former home in Queensland Australia, which attracts 120,000 diehards willing to swelter in stifling humidity and wade through mud from torrential downpours so fierce they can soak through sturdy marques.
The Feis has three simple venues; the Main Stage, the Tent and the Third stage and standing rooming only on soggy grass. No seating for the likes of me who has come without a picnic rug, portable mini chair or piece of plastic, just today’s Guardian.
An array of food stalls encircle the main stage. The Guinness bar has a queue half a mile long of dedicated drinkers willing to wait an age for a pint of the black ale. I am glad I prefer to swig on water.
This is the 21st Feis, a weekend Irish music festival in north London, and it is turning on an impressive line-up of famous names. Bob Dylan, Christy Moore, and The Cranberries on Saturday and Van Morrison, Clannad and Hothouse Flowers on Sunday, amongst many other brilliant performers.
However the reality for me is not so glamorous. I sit on the damp ground propped against the wire fence reading my newspaper and listening the strains of an Irish reel from the tent. It is no fun coming to a festival on my own. My husband couldn’t be enticed to join me. It’s a running battle we’ve had for years ever since my folkie 20s.
Another sporadic shower forces me to pull my hood up and weave through the crowd to find some shelter.
I am checking my watch every ten minutes. Bob isn’t on until after 9 pm. It is now 4pm. I’m in for a long wait. And I just found out that photos of Dylan are not allowed from the press pit!
The event is well organised and the line-up of acts superb. The crowd is thoroughly enjoying the music, despite the drizzle.
But I am weighing up the prospect of five hours of standing around on my own with a mean head cold. Can I handle the disbelief of my old folkie pals in being so close to seeing the 70-year-old Bob Dylan and pathetically wimping out?
I wimp out and head for the Tube, deciding that from now on I will take my entertainment indoors.