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The Reading Fest Tales
When the clouds finally subsided and the August sun at last beamed brightly down onto the London pavement, it was time to leave the city and journey to Reading for a weekend of laughter, stories, and rock n’ roll.
Having completed my packing the previous night, I restlessly glanced at the clock on the wall watching the second hand tick slowly. 4:55: Five more minutes and I could jet out of this hellhole of a store. 4:56: I hoped that I had remembered to put the bottle of 45 spf sunscreen into my bag. 4:57: I tapped my fingers on the counter impatiently and prayed no one would ask for help finding their size in the new Kate Moss sundress that came in yesterday. 4:58: I checked my reflection in the decorative mirror behind me, nervously fixing my fringe. 4:59 I slowly started toward the employee cloakroom hoping my boss wouldn’t see me and shout at me to get back to the sales counter. 5:00: I quickly grabbed my purse from my locker and rushed out of the store as fast as I could. I was free at last.
I carefully maneuvered my decrepit 1989 Vauxhall Belmont down the narrow side street while Maximo Park blared from the car’s stereo. I came to a quick stop in front of the yellow flat Jules shared with her four flat mates and honked the horn twice. The door opened and Mel strolled out carrying her duffle over her shoulder. I popped the trunk and she threw her duffle into it and then came around the left side of the car to sit co-pilot.
“Mum, I promise, I’ll be fine! I have my mobile, I’ll call like I promised.” I picked up my bag before she could change her mind, hugged her quickly, and then ran out the door. Jamie had already pulled the car around front and I quickly tossed my bag in the back. I leaned my chair back and propped my feet up on the dashboard as we took off.
“Can’t believe she actually let me go,” I said with a sigh of relief.
“Yeah well, we both know my mum couldn’t care less,” Dom said with a laugh and turned up the volume as “Ode to Summer” came on.
“Do you not think you’re driving just a bit too fast?” Jack asked with just a hint of distain clear in his tone.
“Hey, my car, my music, my driving. Next time you drive!” I laughed back.
Jack just rolled his eyes and attempted to flatten his ginger hair.
“Oi Rob, how much longer till we reach the festival grounds?” called Dan over the blaring music. I tilted my head to the side to read the clock on the dashboard: 4:00.
“’Bout an hour I think?”
Having just finished setting up our tent, Jules and I lounged on slightly damp grass in front of our tent. I had just turned on the portable iPod speakers I had wisely packed when a group of four guys who must have been near our age emerged from the tent next to ours. The tallest, sporting a Man United jersey and carrying a football in his hand called out, “Fancy a game?”
“Nawh I think I’d rather watch for now,” I called back nonchalantly. Two other guys soon joined in but they gave up their game shortly and instead came to join us on the grass. “So who’re you most excited to see?” eagerly asked the younger looking one who introduced himself as Paul. I figured it must have been his first festival.
“We’re most excited to see RADIOHEAD!” Jules practically shouted.
“And Placebo of course,” I added laughing.
“Radiohead, myself,” Dom said and high-fived Jules.
“What?! Lostprophets is clearly superior!” Exclaimed Paul indignantly.
“No way, their fans are far too obnoxious,” retorted the ginger named Jack with a smirk.
“Oh that’s a bit harsh,” said Paul’s older friend Heath. “At least we’re not as pretentious as you lot.”
“Calm down lads, don’t fight in the presence of ladies,” said the one in the Man United jersey named Rob in what seemed like an attempt at suaveness.
We continued on this way for the better part of the next hour, eating our way through a bag of crisps and arguing playfully. The sun began to sink in the sky that was about as pink as the sunburn poor Paul was starting to develop. As we settled down, we began to discuss the gigs we’d been to, Jonny Greenwood’s brilliance (or lack thereof), whether we’d rather go back in time to see the Beatles all together or the Who, and anything else that came to mind. We told stories about the times we met bands and the wildest gigs we’d ever been to, each of us trying to outdo the next.