Thankfully, occasionally life throws some unexpected surrealism at you. personally, I relish every moment when that happens. It brings epic relief and breaks into a million pieces the mundane habits that your soul gets sucked into. Everyone would do well to spend more time stepping into the world of the alternative and spend some time indulging in living a little bit naughtily, madly and radically.. some would say, actually living.
Electric Picnic is a festival that basically enables fully grown adults to step off the grown up wagon. I was lucky enough to be asked by some friends to help out in a new area they were curating at the festival. Thrown in the very bowels of the Electric Picnic site, The Cerebral Fortress (or Palletstine as it became christened), grew from the mud and leaf litter of the Hazel Woods over a matter of a few weeks. I arrived on site a few days before showtime, while the whole of the Electric Picnic land gradually fleshed itself out. Our tiny space too morphed from a mish-mash of pallet-wood, to a fully fledged maze of oddity space, the amalgamation of all the tastes, desires and machinations of all the assembled Fortress crew. Armed with only the vaguest of master plans, each of us set about fine detail jobs, everything from decorating the altar to Prince in the ‘Sexy Dreaming’ room (complete with golden butt-plugs), to burying mannequin body parts.
By some weird cosmic convergence of magic, everything came together in a head-fuck of madness. Friday evening, all the crew doubled as Cerebral performers, be-decked in our various guises. A backing track of lucid babbling played while punters were herded and harassed through a maze of rooms by a series of slightly intimidating, unhinged characters, one juggling swords, another shouting in people’s faces with a megaphone, a constantly exhausted man-child in pyjamas wandered and slept his way around with an always on alarm clock, a pregnant, dead-baby queen wearing dismembered dolls as jewellery, a giant headed garden king strolled about being attacked by children, the ghost of Prince fed glitter to the vulnerable and a flapper girl ran flirting and fanning and giggling herself around all and sundry. I stalked people as a silent spirit, channelling a deer skull called ‘Pupettt’, my other half showed filthy postcards as ‘Durty Burdman’. A gaggle of weirdo’s with robot boxes for heads sat at a reception desk where people could get a screen printed face, or t-shirt, or poster, before being ushered into a plastic sheeted bender pumping out old skool techno on vinyl. When punters eventually reached the centre of the Fortress, they could sit in pink wheelbarrows and a band struck up on a four poster bed stage to play a strange assemblage of classic tunes, lyrics changed just enough to fuck you up and tempo’s and edges merged into each other as to leave you feeling like you were drunker/higher/more stoned than you actually were. Over the entire three days ‘Pupettt’ got kissed 6-7 times, had a face off of epic proportions for a good 10 minutes, had a good 50 photos taken, and got poked in the face several times.
Sometimes, stepping entirely off of the usual planet you inhabit, completely revives your outlook and approach to life. Five days away, cramming as much obscurity as possible in and working on a completely different time schedule (4am was the average bed-time), felt like I had been away from reality for months. Living ‘outside’ for so long and you realise how far removed from feral we’ve become as a species. I miss being a natural human. I didn’t shower for five days, yet didn’t smell, I slept on a thin mattress for five nights, yet didn’t have a single ache or pain, I didn’t eat regularly, or sleep for large amounts of time, yet I didn’t yearn for food or tire. I shared a communal space with other easy going out-of-it merchants, everyone hugely different, but united by a common event. We were all a straggly clan, bought together to become friends, by common friends, thus contributing to the ‘small world’ phenomena. I’m not sure if the whole experience has left me a better horticulturalist or not.. I’m not sure it matters.. sometimes it’s acceptable to just do stuff for the sake of doing stuff, for just being a human with no great plan other than to just have fun with the human condition, your own and others.