The long and winding road to Jamiroquai

It turns out that working at a festival isn’t all cheese toasties and pop icons

18th June 2018

I was on a rainy holiday in the Isle of Wight when I received a phone call from my good friend Kyle. He’d just secured a weekend working at a festival the following week.

The proposition was simple: “Come with me to work at Boardmasters next week. It’ll be a laugh.” A call to arms.

“I dunno,” I said, “Who’s playing?”

“Jamiroquai,” he replied.

I was stunned. Obviously, I love Jamiroquai; golden-throated and behatted. Who doesn’t? Duty called.

Kyle can drive but he didn’t have a car at the time, so we opted for the ride-sharing option. As we were also in the Midlands, we organised a lift with a girl from Birmingham. This was our first mistake, but I’ll get to that later. So, we met up with a girl called Lily, paid her a few quid for petrol and off we went. The drive down to Cornwall from Birmingham was genuinely quite pleasant; the sun was in full force and the conversation was flowing; Mac DeMarco and Anderson Paak the choice of road tunes and the traffic was almost non-existent. Things were looking up for Kyle and Lyle.

We eventually arrived at Boardmasters after a long drive, left Lily to her own devices, met our boss and organised shifts for the next day.

Needless to say, sleep would be a fleeting luxury

Next up was pitching the tent. I had entrusted Kyle to take care of it because he already had a tent and, apparently, it was a two-man tent. It wasn’t. Up until then, I’d not considered spooning a viable option.

“Alright, time to put in the blow-up airbed,” Kyle declared with laudable, if misplaced, optimism. Not a chance. There was no way we were going to fit an airbed in there. Even if we did, it would take up all the room in the tent and only one person could sleep on it. I was adamant it was a bad idea.

Once the airbed was in the tent, another problem arose. We’d pitched the tent on quite a slope. Already, I didn’t have room to move, but now there was the very real possibility of Kyle rolling onto me while I slept.

Needless to say, sleep would be a fleeting luxury. To remedy this, drink was needed, so we drank most of our beer, explored the festival and went to bed.

PRO-TIP: When you go to a festival, make sure you either bring enough alcohol or a car so you can easily replenish your supply

The next day, the work was easy: make toasties and make them right. It got hectic at peak times but was, ultimately, straightforward.

Fresh air, sunshine and a bit too much skin are what British festivals are all about 📸 Tyler Matthias

We met the lovely Brian (aka the most enthusiastic man in the world) on our first day. He was Scottish, just like the owners and almost everyone else who worked with us, and was prepared to shout, flirt or plead his way to selling one of our delicious toasties. He was truly a man in his element. He could sell a dolphin a waterproof coat if he wanted to.

Day two came and we were out of beer. Now, any festival goer knows that this simply isn’t acceptable, so Kyle and I took the long — and I mean long — walk to the nearest shop. PRO-TIP: When you go to a festival, make sure you either bring enough alcohol or a car so you can easily replenish your supply. So, after a shift where we were constantly on our feet, we walked a good 50 minutes up and down steep hills to what we thought was the nearest off-licence. To this day, we still don’t know if there was a closer off-licence, and I’m not sure I want to know.

Completely exhausted, low on energy and high on alcohol, we descended into madness

It would have been a very nice walk if our legs weren’t feeling slightly fatigued by work. The beach traced our route and the sun was willing to accompany us.

A van not too dissimilar from our toastie home at Boardmasters 📸 Snapshooter46

Our choice of beer didn’t matter; by this point, we just wanted the ordeal over with. Crates cradled in our arms and smiles on our faces, we went to purchase our spoils.

“ID please,” the cashier requested. No problems, lady. I may have a beard and am clearly over 18-years-old, but you’re just doing your job. Happy to oblige. I reached for my wallet. Panic. I couldn’t see my ID in its normal place. Then it hit me like a sock full of cement. We had given our IDs to our boss as collateral, to make sure we didn’t bail on the job. This was a major defeat in the battle for alcohol, but the war wasn’t over.

Slowly, we meandered back to the festival, exhausted. “Boys,” a voice beckoned us, “it’s time for your next shift.” Unfortunately, it was our boss. Another few hours of on-foot work was our destiny. Thus, one of the negatives of working at a festival revealed itself.

The next day we were to try again. This time we were poised. No mistakes. ID firmly grasped in hand, we made the long walk to the off-licence, bought our beer with aplomb, walked all the way back and drank some well-deserved, warm lager.

After a tough couple of days, I had finally found what I was looking for and I couldn’t have been happier

Completely exhausted, low on energy and high on alcohol, we descended into madness. Kyle was desperate for a fag but was all out, and I was just so tired that I was in a particularly sour mood. Fortunately for Kyle, his luck was about to change. A group of girls working in the food truck next to us were spotted smoking. Kyle made his move and scrounged a fag, lit it and, by his own admission, almost cried with happiness. Never have I seen a man so content with life and relieved of stress as when Kyle enjoyed that cigarette. It was genuinely heart-warming to see my good friend so happy. Legitimately beautiful.

It was time to achieve my only goal of the festival and witness the genius that is Jamiroquai. To my delight, the act was exactly as I envisaged — a man in an obscenely extravagant hat with a voice that could convince Jesus to convert. He sang and danced the night away in such a fashion that no mere mortal could’ve resisted the euphoria. After a tough couple of days, I had finally found what I was looking for and I couldn’t have been happier.

Four nights camping in such ludicrous fashion had taken its toll. Thankfully, the time had come to return home. All our resources had been drained: food, time, patience. The only thing keeping me going — both mentally and physically — was the thought of being home in a few hours. We had spoken to Lily; she agreed to meet us at 11am and we would leave with haste. The plan had been made.

It was okay, at long last we were going home

It turned out to be more hassle than haste, in the end. We waited at the meeting point for about an hour and a half before Lily finally showed her face. Needless to say, we weren’t happy. Or at least, I wasn’t.

When Lily showed up, a girl she’d met at the festival was with her and she was joining us on the way back. “We just need to get our bags and then we can go.” Bearing in mind that we had just waited an hour and a half in the rain, I was baffled. If they weren’t packing, what on earth were they doing the whole time?

Kyle and I squeezed into the back of the car. The addition of another person and all of their belongings meant that we had little room to move. But it was okay, at long last we were going home.

Once again, my blood pressure rose to dangerous levels

We set off and after only a few minutes it became apparent these two girls were probably still drunk from the night before. They were giggling and saying things that didn’t make sense and taking wrong turns. Damn jackaloons. I was livid. I just wanted to go home.

At that point, Lily dropped the bombshell; the ginger girl lived in Bristol. Bristol?! That’s a bit of a detour, to say the least. Cornwall to Coventry wasn’t exactly a short journey in the first place. And so, once again, my blood pressure rose to dangerous levels.

Cornwall: the perfect place for a festival if you don’t have to do a booze run on foot

Progress was slow. Very slow. It seemed like every service station we came across, we had to stop at. The girls’ hangover must have kicked in because they were quieting down. Therefore, there were four hungover people crammed into a small car, where everyone had at least one person they didn’t know, making painfully slow progress to three completely different places.

Of course, we stopped at a service station just before the halfway point. The girls left to buy some food and use the toilet. Once they came back, Lily — good old Lily — had realised she had lost her phone. Great. Now we had to spend another half an hour waiting while she panicked, called her mum off the ginger girl’s phone and then calmed down.

A mere four exhausting hours later, we made it home.

Perhaps two days after that, Kyle called me. “They want us to work V Fest this weekend,” he said.

“Count me in.”


Main image: Alex Rawson/Boardmasters Festival


18th June 2018