I know this is probably boring to read, but I had another fantastic weekend. The seeds of a throughouly good time actually started a few weeks back when Surreal Girl kindly bought me a ticket for Sundae In The Park. For those of you who are Sundae virgins – as I was until Saturday – this is a shameless corporate event involving music and limitless free ice cream. Yes, you read that right, limitless free ice cream.
Sundae In The Park also had everything you would expect from a somewhat middle class music festival. Lots of families. A restrained fun fair. More food stands selling organic, freshly baked eco-friendly pizza than ones selling burgers. A dedicated bar selling Pims. Stalls promoting good ideas such as reforestation, wind power and commercial bottled water to fund aid schemes jostling for attention with bad ideas courtesy of the eco-fascism of Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund. With its pantomime cows, coconut shy, toe wrestling and cute and not so cute farm animals – waiting to pounce somewhere on Clapham Common on Saturday was the lurking evil of llamas – at times Sundae felt more like an oversized English country fete than a chance to see Echo & The Bunnymen.
Although I am probably making it sound terribly poncey, there were enough Dead Kennedy and Black Flag t-shirts milling around for me to not feel out of place. In fact, the sheer number of old punks in evidence made me wonder they shared a genetic disposition to the prospect of gratis Ben and Jerry’s.
It was an unreservedly grand day out. The sun shone. We ate a picnic, drank a huge pitcher of Pims and enjoyed far too much free Fairtrade Vanilla and Phish Food. I swayed to the musical orgasm that is Killing Moon, felt my eyes moisten to a Badly Drawn Boy song* and ended up dancing with a Panda. I cannot remember the last time a £5 entry ticket brought such delights.
As for Sunday, it was mainly deliciously lazy. Papers were bought and read in bed around a regime of tea and light dozing that went on till mid-afternoon. Then a trip down to Seymour Place – a swimming baths used by my mother more than fifty years ago – via the colour and vibrancy of the Arab quarter. On the streets of our walk, the clink of coffee cups, gunfire quick conversations shouted into mobile phones and intoxicating aroma of apple tobacco in hookahs battled with car fumes and the doppelganger shift of passing stereos.
Surreal Girl is many things. Two of those things are a former champion swimmer and lifeguard. This explains why after more than three decades of partially avoiding my fear of drowning by trying not to go near anything resembling a swimming pool, I found myself being chlorinated and freezing my testicles in W1. Due to her extreme patience in the face of my terror I actually managed 10 metres with a pool boy (not as much fun or as perverted as it sounds) and found myself not wanting to get out of the water. This is no small achievement for her.
Of course, most of the joys of the weekend are not easily captured by words. Right now I have no easy sentence to trap in amber that rare sensation of blissful emotional contentment as its waves washed over me. No quick phrase to express the delights of simple domesticity. Nothing I can type that will ever get to the heart of why a decent red and a courgette risotto can be so damn life affirming. Maybe if I was a better writer I might get closer. However, right now all I can muster is that I am slow motion smiling at the marvel of a weekend as good as this.
* I know, I do not like Badly Drawn Boy either, but it was a Tank Park Salute style moment where one his unreleased songs captured a sense of lost childhood, the utter pain of broken promises and the need to carry on despite the fragility of life.