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The Festival Journey

So we’re in a queue for wristband identification at the T in The Park music festival campsite, Scotland (Jul 8th 2005).

So we’re in a queue for wristband identification at the T in The Park music festival campsite, Scotland (Jul 8th 2005). It’s a big queue. I (Jim) and three of my close conspirators by the names of Shug, Lamb and Mooney have been here for quite a while. It’s hot weather, unbelievably so for this land, perhaps 25 or so degrees Centigrade. Our blue skin is beginning to shade red. I have been spending my time in this horrible line forming a plot to spend this first day of the festival in a haze of insanity. I turn to Lamb at some point in the drifting conversation, and I ask him if he’s prepared for mushrooms today. I have been carefully eyeing up the legal high shops since we arrived. I carry high hopes for this mission, as I have tripped out with this boy previously, yielding positive results. However, he is at first uncertain. I up the calibre of the offer, by saying that I will pay for them. He proceeds to agree full-heartedly.
Once we have all extricated ourselves from the wristband collection marquee, we head over to the shops. The one which looks the most promising holds the banner “Psychedelics!” in large purple writing. When I ask the man if he bears the key to enlightenment, the salesperson informs us that mushrooms have been class A since a couple of days ago. I am aghast. I turn to walk away from him, but before I have made a 90º rotation there are two brown paper bags on his desk. Mexicans or Hawaiians, the salesperson asks. I consult him as to the difference. Mexicans for beginners, Hawaiians for experts, he curtly replies. I would frown to be classed as a beginner, but this is a music festival campsite for christsakes! It’s trippy enough when one is sober as a hound. Mexicans I say. We can always top up later if need be. I and Lamb purchase 15g of fresh each. Mooney has a different agenda however. He buys four pills of herbal speed from the man, for reasons unbeknownst to me, since Mooney rarely tries “new” drugs..
We retire to our tents for a time. I proceed to devour my fungal remedy at roughly 1pm. Mooney stupidly nicks one of Lamb’s shrooms without asking. For this misdemeanour he donates one of his pills to Lamb, in an effort to not be decked. Lamb has the rest of his mushrooms and his new-found pill. Mooney takes the other 3 pills he acquired previously.
In the next half hour or so our group decides to visit some friends in a different part of the campsite. They are also settled in nicely, and having their first drinks of the day (of which there will be many). After some pleasantries, I require the toilet. I check my watch. It has been forty five minutes. Should be safe I reckon. I take Mooney with me to find the toilet facilities, for two reasons. 1: I will need someone with me if I want to find where our group currently is, since my sense of direction is not to be envied. 2: If I do start tripping now, I’ll be buggered before I go solo in a hell-hole like this. I’d be lucky to find even my own tent in this mass of canvas and alcohol.
So we relieve ourselves in the despicably infamous T in The Park urinals. I want to head back to where our friends are, but for some reason Mooney wants to go for a walk. I humour him for now, since I don’t really care that much and still feel straight as a die. We walk for a while in a different direction from whence we came. And we walk. And we walk. I’m starting to feel a bit nervous. I really can’t be bothered doing this right now, especially since I’m coming up for fifty-five minutes. I originally thought this was just going to be a short stroll.
I ask him to turn round and head back. He says he wants to go and meet people. I tell him that we’re walking just a bit further and that’s it. We walk just a bit further. That grass is starting to look a bit purple. One hour down.
I convince him to make an about turn and head back for my tent, since our friends are probably back at base camp by now.
Then Mooney starts twitching both of his hands in this… way. It’s like he’s playing a guitar riff extremely fast, repeatedly, over, and over, and…
He notices it. Shit, he exclaims. He says he’s unable to stop when I tell him it’s annoying me. Mooney thinks it’s creepy. I personally think he’s being unreasonably weird. At least we’re getting back near the campsite now. Shit, this boy’s practically dancing about. Well, it’s not my problem anyway.
At our circle of tents (Us being myself, Shug and Lamb, since Mooney would presumably be staying with his girlfriend.), we find Shug lying around by himself. I am glad of this, as Mooney’s twitching is starting to get to me. I am fairly certain the journey has begun, but it’s a slow takeoff. Nothing drastic as yet, just a definite colour shift, (Unlike a previous lowish-dose [30g of fresh, but cruder fresh] trip that switched on like a 100W light-bulb).
Shug frowns at Mooney’s twitching, but seems less than concerned. I’m still well collected. We somehow start talking to these people nearby us. They say they’re from Peterhead. They look in their 30’s or something. They seem pretty sound chaps to me.
Yea gods, I’m beginning to feel pretty nauseous right now. I mention this to Shug, just as a way of making light conversation. I feel uncertain whether I would like to vomit or not. Nah, I’ll just stick it out for now, I think. Everything is bigger now, wider, deeper, brighter. The trip has begun. I hear someone shout “Jimbo!”
Suddenly, a large purple man with a giant grin appears!
Oh, it’s Lamb. I cheerfully greet him, asking how he’s doing. He says he’s having a damn good time, and doesn’t think the trip is that strong. I mildly agree with him. Blue veins envelope his face. I’m feeling a bit far out right now, yet I’m still well within my limits. He says he wants to increase the dose a bit. I feel my eyebrows rise. An increase? Here? Is he mad?
I tell him I’ll come along for the walk. I don’t know if I want any more right now. We will see.
It’s quite a treck from here to the stall. I can appreciate that even more now, since it appears twice as big as normal. Looking around, this place is pretty serene. Lots of people, living in close proximity, in temporary houses, all just to get really out of their faces and hear good music. Nice.
Shit, those women are hot! Wow, and so is she! And her! Hell, this place is absolutely crawling with talent. And they’re all wearing skimpy clothes (due to the weather). I feel like a rapist trapped in a sensible man’s mind. Lamb appears to be talking about the scenery. I tell him that that’s not the scenery I’m looking at. He laughs. “Aye, and the fucking scenery!” he agrees. The area still appears as it did earlier, but brighter, better, more surreal. This trip is going to be good, I think.
This time we buy a 15g bag of Hawaiians. I look in the bag. Yea gods those mushrooms are blue. I have a couple, and give Lamb the rest. I reckon that the mushrooms are so blue that I will have to show Shug one, or he won’t believe us. I try to keep a cap of one of them on the way back, but it’s hard since I am enjoying the taste of them.
Everything has become a carnival. The original shrooms have heavily kicked in now. It’s hard to focus on the big picture. Just little scenes floating by me, on a constant string of derailed thoughts.
A girl laughing with a friend…
A man drinking beer wearing a big hat…
People throwing a ball…
A pink inflatable chair…
Darth Vader…
What? Darth Vader?
Hmm, he seems to be gone now.
These scenes don’t entirely make sense, but I accept them as the insanity that this world consists of. All I can do to deal with this nonsense is take a deep breath and blow air.
Shug is mildly surprised by the mushroom’s dark hue. Ah, now that I have a witness I can finally consume it. The Peterhead guys and Mooney are still around the camp. I glance at one of the folk from Peterhead. He’s so thin he resembles a skeleton with skin stretched over it. I find it uncomfortable to look at him. I and Lamb tell the Peterhead guys what we’re up to today. They find it pretty funny. Are they mocking me? No, probably not.
Lamb is finding Mooney’s twitching hilarious. This makes me mind it less. In fact, it is hilarious. We laugh at him for a while. Mooney keeps saying that he “Wants to go buy some cheng” (coke). Mooney has never had cheng in his life. He refuses to shut up about it, and his eyes look wilder by the minute.
Things are getting a bit bright. I stick on a pair of orange lensed, white rimmed, retro sunglasses. Ah, problem solved. I ask Mooney how many of those pills he had. I wasn’t paying attention earlier. Three? How many did the guy say you should have? One?
Paranoid worries of overdose run over me. I don’t want a death on my hands. Shit, I couldn’t handle a questioning in this state. They’d arrest me for being a bad person.
Hold the phone, he seems to be ok. Nothing to worry about. He’s fine.
But what if he dies!?
Nah, he’s fine, don’t worry.
I’m too young to go to jail!
Chill the fuck out.

Right, now where was I? Lamb rolls a grass joint for these Peterhead guys (using their grass). This provides us with a pass around our group. I only have a small pass. I am usually just a social smoker of cannabis, finding it only good as a sedative for myself. Anyway, I’m already minced enough to take on an army.
There seems to be a gouranga monk talking to our collective. Mooney asks him if he has cheng. We tell him to shut up. I find the presence of the monk surprising, and wonder if anyone else realises how weird it is to have a gouranga monk talking to you. The Peterhead lads buy a CD from him. You fools! That will only encourage the leaching bastards.
Soon after, a man appears holding a soap dispenser. He says he wants to sell it to us. When we ask where it came from he says “Off the fucking wall”. He tells us he has been looking to market them. We politely decline his offer. When he staggers away, I wonder if that actually happened, or I just dreamed it. I am assured by the others that it did happen.
Lamb leaves to meet the other folk. By himself, I note. What a hero that man is. Mooney seems to have buggered off too, I think he said something about meeting his girlfriend.
I’m starting to trip a bit heavier I think. My hand is becoming one with my trousers. Shit, I forgot I was wearing purple cords! Wow. That’s beautiful. And don’t even get me started about that sky. I’ll be damned if there’s a cloud which looks like that. Impossible shapes, meaningless colours, writhing in the air above. The clouds come down to me, appearing as though they are only metres away (feet if you like). I try taking the sunglasses off. Uh-oh, bad idea. I’ll just keep them on for now. That was heavy.
I tell Shug that I’m so fucked up I don’t remember what it’s like to be sober. It’s true, I don’t. I definitely remember that I have been sober once. As I recall, it wasn’t all that bad… I wonder why I’m on drugs? Maybe I had made a mistake…
Shug needs to go to the toilet. Praises be! I’d been needing for ages, but I wasn’t going there alone, and I definitely wasn’t going to ask for assistance either. That might annoy him or something. We journey down the hill to where the urinals are. The ground is doing something odd. I tell Shug that it looks like a conveyor belt. He says he gets it. I don’t think he does. Why would he lie?
The toilets are the most amazing display of colour I have ever witnessed. They look like their made of jewels and luminous plastic. Even that piss dripping out the sides of them looks spectacular. The sky is a terrific burning blue… Hey, when did I take those sunglasses off? Ah well, this ain’t so bad. I’ll keep them off for a while.
I’m walking back now. Had a bit of a tough moment back there at the toilets. Everything got a bit worrying. I wasn’t sure about it all. So much stuff going on. All these people. Now everything looks like the definition of fun. It’s carnival time again, but this time I see the crawling, writhing masses, rather than individual moments. This is insane, but in a brilliant way. I’m practically skipping with delight. What fun this insanity is! Ha hah ha, whey hey.
Back at the tent again, and quite worried. I don’t know why I’m doing this. It’s too much. And then there’s that problem of not being able to remember who I am. I know my past. I know my name. But who the fuck am I? I feel like an actor without a script. What does it normally feel like to be me? I know the feeling, shit, how can I find it again? That feeling, like a fingerprint or an iris or something. Original to all of us. No one else but you has it. I’ve lost mine. What am I?
I am The Observer. I am here, but I am nothing. When I look at all these people, they have individual personalities. I do not. I am soulless. I am boundless.
This must be what it feels like to be a god. Watching, but having no part in what you see.
This sucks badly. Everything is too fucked up for words.
I crawl into my tent in an effort to make the world a bit smaller. It’s still mad in here, but a bit easier to handle. I search around for something to help me. I find a small mirror. Well, if anything is going to help me find myself, it must be a mirror. So I stare deep into the mirror. And for a brief while, it soothes my ego destruction. There you are, I say to myself. I recognise this face. That’s my connection to my old self. That’s me.
Problem is I’ve stared for too long now, and my face has become a sort of moth/reptile creature with blazing eyes and an insane smile...
Fuck that. I’m not becoming a moth. Not today. Not on my watch. I put the mirror in my pocket in case I need it again. I’m still fucked up. This has been ages, surely there’s not much longer to go. I check my watch… 3 hours? 3 fucking hours!? I can’t take 3 more fucking hours.
I then find my letter. Just in case I would need it, I wrote a letter to myself when I was sober. It contains vital information, such as who I can trust, what not to do, why not to worry, a reminder that I will sober up eventually, a reminder that I am doing this for positive reasons, and that all the crazy shit is why I took the drug in the first place.
You lifesaver
I lurch back out the tent, and I tell Shug to remind me not to take Psychedelics again. Oh god, Mooney’s back. The twitcher has returned, and with a vengeance, and this time he’s talking more shit than ever. Saying stuff about how he recently accidentally kissed a man and how folk in London deserve the bombing for sending Bob Geldof up here or something. I kind of get what he was on about (basically he was moaning about the G8 summit being held in Scotland so the English didn’t have to deal with all the shit involved in it), but really, shut the fuck up. I don’t need to hear this right now. My worries that he has overdosed are diminished now, since he has managed to make it this far without dieing. I now just want him to bugger off again.
We’re now at a burger stand of some description. Mooney is frightened, and his twitching has changed, but not for the better. I try to reassure him, but to be honest I’m scared of him. His presence is doing no good for my state of mind on this trip. Shug is mostly annoyed with Mooney more than anything else. He was telling me at some point that whilst I and Lamb are out of it, at least it’s in a funny way. With Mooney it’s creepy, as though he’s been possessed by a caffeine crazed demon with a bad air-guitar obsession. I can see the friend I know is in there, horribly twisted, and desperately trying to act normal. I want to help him, but I can’t. He’s just too far into fucked-up land. The crap he was talking about earlier at least vaguely made sense. Now it’s just fucked up snatches of repeated garbage. He keeps asking for group hugs. I would comply just to make him feel better if I wasn’t so freaked out by him. I just want to get away from this horrible shit. The reason we’re here is so Shug can get his dinner. The mirror is out of my pocket again. I’m keeping it in hand for easy constant checks. I and Mooney follow closely in the queue after Shug for pack safety, whilst surrounded by these strange, awful people. Oh shit, the vendor thinks I actually want to be served food. What do I do now? I mumble something incomprehensible and hobble away. The twitchy sweating monstrosity that was once Mooney slithers after me. Shug is wondering what the fuck we are up to. So am I.
I’m back at the tent again. I suddenly feel a jab in my pocket. A mirror? What the fuck? Why have I got that? That thing’s got sharp edges. I could have cut myself on it. I stow it in my bag. Lamb returns eventually. It’s like meeting a fellow traveller in the middle of a desert. Only you and this other person know “What the crack is” in this crazy place. We update each other on the journey so far. Lamb is still fresh and ready to go a bit longer. I’m at the end of my tether now. I crack open two cartons of orange juice in order to bring myself down a bit. I find that vitamin C helps. Shit, where the fuck is my phone? I go into a frenzy of searching. At last, I decide it is truly lost. This is a colossal bummer. I spend the last fifteen minutes of the trip in a depressive sulk about my phone. Suddenly, I see it there, right under the flap of my tent where it should have been obvious. I am absolutely rejoiced to find it, but I am now also fairly sober, if a little foggy. I reckon the loss of the phone brought me out. It’s not a pleasant way to end this journey, but everything is in one piece. Lamb breaks out another twenty minutes later. It’s between half six and seven in the evening.
So, what lesson is learned? Don’t take too much herbal speed for a start. Mooney doesn’t stop twitching till the next morning. Luckily we dump the responsibility on his girlfriend well before then. I remember seeing him later that night, half naked and shrouded in a union jack flag he didn’t even remember buying.
Whilst I am aware I said I wouldn’t take mushrooms again, I probably will. Taking psychedelics at a festival was fairly risky on terms of freak-out, and I think we did well. Aside from when I locked myself in the tent, and that shit with Mooney, it was a damn good time. Lamb had a few dicey moments himself, but as he said that day,

“Remind yourself that this shit is what you’re doing it for. Then you can just get on with it, and have a mad time”.

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