On Saturday something remarkable happened in Sneinton: The sun was out. Which meant I was able to finally make it to a festival without having to pack wellies and waterproofs. I was greeted by kids running around with ice creams, teenagers who looked like they’d stepped out of an MTV Base video and tattooed adults trying desperately to tan their milk bottle skin. It was like a Martin Parr wet dream.
The highlight was watching two daredevil cyclists from 3SIXTY Bicycle Stunt Team perform various tricks in what must have been the tightest space they’ve ever worked in. The organisers had put them right in the corner by the main stage near a tree. This meant that when they bunny-hopped onto a small stand they had to contend with a branch whacking them across the face. Better still they had been positioned next to railings, meaning if they mistimed one of their stunts they would be impaled. I sensed that this would be an added bonus to some in the crowd. Although I’m no lover of health and safety I found it astonishing that such a genuine risk had been ignored, particularly when so much attention is focussed elsewhere on seemingly trivial matters.
When I spoke to Ian Drummond afterwards - owner of 3SIXTY and one of the stunt cyclists – he said his only stipulation for performing was that a thick metal bar be placed around the performance area to prevent overzealous kids breaking through and potentially getting decapitated as he jumped down off of the stage. Instead they were gated in a by a flimsy piece of rope. It was such a hot day I guess nobody could be bothered with rules (although please see the comments at the end of this article).
Motormouf was the compere on the main stage and introduced some great local bands as well as some alternative forms of entertainment, such as YogaNova. This consisted of three women demonstrating how to do yoga to music which went down a treat. Mats were provided to get the punters in the mood. Within a few minutes of stretching, arses started to slip out of trackies and trousers and I discovered an alarming amount of women in their fities wore G-strings...so I turned in the other direction and watched kids happily kicking the living shit out of each other on a Bouncy Castle which brought back happy memories of my own childhood. It's hungry work trying to closeline your younger sibling and so the food stalls were destined to make a good trade. For meat eaters it had to be the charismatic Charbeque for some of the hottest food in town. I opted for a couple of veggie samosas (2 for a pound) at another stall and then begrudgingly handed over £1.20 for an instant coffee which seemed a little excessive. But the young kids serving me were so polite I didn't bother moaning.
Some adults infiltrate the poetry tent
The poetry tent functioned as a picnic area and at certain points as a surrogate crèche. It was laid out with colourful pillows and throwovers and so became a magnet for mothers and toddlers. I derived great pleasure in the discomfort of the poets as they tentatively made their way to the stage, knowing their audience had only just discovered Farley's Rusks. I know schadenfreude isn’t a good trait but what can you do? You can pray things get worse. Unfortunately none of the babies needed a nappy changing during a particularly poignant verse. One day, when the poets have found their fame and fortune, they will fondly remember this moment as a humbling experience. It will warrant a page in the autobiography or at least will inspire a future poem. To their credit they were consummate professionals and carried on regardless and even attracted the occasional attention of passing adults armed with cans, cakes and cigarettes making their way back to the music on the main stage.
I was only able to stay for a few hours but in that time was impressed by the enthusiasm of the organisers of the festival who ensured acts knew exactly what they were doing and were flexible with times to accommodate needs as some of the poets (Aly Stoneman and MulletProofPoet) were off to Southwell Poetry Festival straight after, where, they would end up performing in a library to an age group that averaged mid-fifties. Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum.
Sneinton Festival took place on 7 July and included lots of other events that went on into the evening. To see a full list, please see our preview article.