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» Festivals

Long time listener...
The first time I ever went to a festival was Reading, and I was 17 or thereabouts. I was supposed to be camping with my friends, but I got to the train station and saw some girls with tents, got chatting... and ended up staying with them. (And then I ended up spending half the weekend with a guy called Sharky. Which was great, because my name is George.)

But the story's not about that. I was walking down a walkway past a group of guys when they shout my name. Not knowing any of them from Adam, I was curious enough to ask them what was up. Turns uot they were shouting "jokes!". So I stand there, listening to their jokes, as everyone tries to outdo each other, which naturally leads to a long string of dead baby jokes. Eventually, they press me for a joke, but : fuck! my mind is blank. Can't think of a thing. So I demur, and others tell some jokes, and I rack my brains for something.

And then I remember it. The joke that Fanny tells to Mictlantecuhtli in The Invisibles. And eventually it comes back to me, but, well, I'm still a little shy. But it's coaxed out of me:

What's purple and stiff and makes women squeal?
Cot death babies!

And that goes down a treat. So well, in fact, that it seems to have been crowned the best of the lot. But it carries on, only now whenever someone new joins the circle, I am asked to repeat my joke. Eventually this becomes more and more frequent. The crowd has grown to above 50 people, at least. After a half-hour of this, I am getting increasingly bored, but, y'know, obviously enjoying the attention (and milking it by showing nothing but reluctance). Still, it'd been going on for a while, so I attempt to leave. They wouldn't let me. They joke is (apparently) too good.

So I just make a run for it. I get so far before anyone can respond, and soon am scampering away between the tents, nearly killing myself on guyropes. Still, I'm a pretty obvious target, so I play commando: ducking underneath the tents, trying to keep tabs on my pursuers. Eventually, I get away.

So this is a pretty good story, so when I am walking nearby with a friend of (an ex of) mine a few hours later, I make the mistake of telling them. And, maybe to test it, maybe just to be a dick, they decide to yell "GEORGE IS HERE!" Sod. So naturally the crowd notices me. And recaptures me. And it turns out that my disappearance was what was needed to elevate me from a boy with a decent joke into a prophet. The second coming of Jesus. "George". After I left, they continued searching. Then one of them got the idea that I was beneath the ground. So they'd started to dig for me with their bare hands. They showed me their muddy hands. Newcomers were perplexed, so I was asked to tell the joke again. By this point there were too many of them for me to escape: the crowd surrounded me about 3 thick in every direction. Eventually (after many tellings of the joke) we began to make a slow tour of Brown campsite. With increasing frequency, they would all shush, quiet down, and ask me to tell the joke. So I would and then they'd all get excited, and yell "COT DEATH BABIES!". They'd ask me questions, using "George" like it was a title. I just asked why they wouldn't let me go, what I had done to deserve this, would insist endlessly that I was nobody special, that I had just told a joke about a dead baby and a mother's grief. But that just egged them on further. Someone eventually put a candle in my hand, which I would hoist aloft while yelling "COT DEATH BABIES". The joke had lost all humour by this point: It was nothing more than a rallying call. Before I'd say it (which was approximately every 5 steps) everyone would shush, and crouch, leaving me the single man standing out of a crowd of around (by now) 200 people. And then I'd cry "COT DEATH BABIES!" and everyone would jump up and yell it with me and get excited and then we'd move on.

Some people didn't like my rule. One man jealous of the attention, threw a can of beer at my head. I wasn't too worried, because he missed: and fuck, I had 200 people around me to protect me. I had to specifically tell a few of my followers not to beat him up. Eventually a girl tried to get in on the action. She tried to declare herself "High Priestess". I went along with it as much as I could: I wanted to transfer this huge crowd onto her and escape. But she was too power hungry: the crowd would not accept her. I considered the power I had: Fuck, I had followers. I had a fucking cult, following me round, keeping me prisoner. But what could you ask for? They gave me some beer... I could only imagine getting some with a girl, 200 people surrounding the tent, begging for me to yell "COT DEATH BABIES!" I knew it couldn't last. Besides: I was only holding onto it by means of saying I hated it. I had power, but there was not a thing I could use it for.

(Oh, a bit after High Priestess, everything kinda dissolved. But I met a few of the guys who originally were involved at Santacon that year. The moment they saw me they dropped to their knees and cried "George!". I told them it was a time for Santa, and they kept telling me how weird it was to be drinking beer and talking to George like he was a normal person. Weirdly, they were also really apologetic)
(Sun 7th Jun 2009, 3:47, More)