Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Greenbelt '07

I'm back from Greenbelt! This has definitely been my favourite Greenbelt ever – much better without a broken leg!

I work as a support steward. We start at 7 pm (ish) and finish at 3 am (ish). We help other stewarding teams when they need it, we wander round and talk to Greenbelters, we look for lost children, and do anything else we're asked to do to make Greenbelt a safe and pleasant place to be.

I love being part of the support team – we work together every year and meet up between Greenbelts so we do know each other well. It's a varied and interesting job, and more challenging than a lot of stewarding roles. Other stewards seem to appreciate us as we help them out with managing difficult situations and talk to them when they're bored on a gate somewhere. I feel like when I'm stewarding, I'm most like me, and most happy.

I've reflected a lot on what I like and don't like about my job this year. I like the first half of the evening best – we help out with venues and queues and talk to Greenbelters more. The second half seems to be more security-ish – looking for people who are trying to get into Greenbelt who shouldn't, or people who are causing trouble somewhere. I'm not so keen on it – partly because I have less experience of it and partly because I'm not sure what I'd do with people if I did catch them...

There were some highlights this year. I helped Venues stewards manage a huge queue for a small circus venue which was due to go in at the same time as a singing event in the organic beer tent was due to kick out – through the circus queue... I also helped to manage the queue for the Delirious signing – only 40 people or so turned up but it was fun anyway. And we went as a team to the Site Stewards' team briefing to heckle Stuart Traffic – I think we enjoyed it more than he did... Sanctus1, the church I'm part of, led the main communion service. I sat in the arena stage. We all released helium balloons – we all watched as ours rose into the sky, and then a second wave of balloons from main stare reminded us that, although we were at two venues with a different feel, we were still at once service. It was magical.

Greenbelt also sees me at my worst. I'm not a morning person. But when I'm woken up by a load of famillies going to a worship event after about 5 hours sleep, I can be a bit irritable. And sometimes, inadvisably, I might express that irritation. Equally, asking a 12-year-old if he was a horse because he was crossing the race track might not have been the best attempt at communication I have ever made (yes, we learnt about sarcasm at basic training. Yes, I've got my name down for re-training next year).

And at my drunkest. This year I discovered I like cider. Stories differ on how much I drunk, but I think it's fair to say that it was probably more than I should have had. At least I'm a happy drunk – between my morning irritability (“I hate you all”) and my drunken ramblings (“You do know that I love you, don't you?” - yes, I am embarrassed) I probably equate to a pleasant human being. I did fall off the pub bench of my own accord once, but I was definitely pushed the rest of the time... I have never been sick in a portaloo before and think I'm probably lucky I don't remember much about it. But I am definitely lucky to have to good friends I do who took me to the toilet, to my tent, put a duvet over me and stayed up to make sure I was ok. It's friends like these that make Greenbelt what it is.

Monday, August 13, 2007


I was mugged last night. Walking home from the station in the pouring rain, someone grabbed my arm. I screamed and felt my bag pulled out of my hand, so I turned round and saw a man running away with it. I shouted "stop thief!" (being, as I was, in a 1950s cop film) and chased him shouting "give me back my bag, you bastard!". He jumped in a car which was waiting with its engine running, and they drove away.

I am lucky: I wasn't hurt, they didn't get my keys or phone or my mp3 player. They took my purse so I've had to cancel my bank cards, and they've got a load of other useful and sentimentally valuable things. They've got a very nice bag. They've got my Manchester A-Z. They've taken the job application I was working on. And they've taken my sense of safety. I am fairly safety-conscious when walking about but it was a main-ish road and it wasn't that late or that dark. I'm not prepared to live in fear of crime, but I am quite shaken.

And having a bit of a bad week of it too. Last Wednesday I went out for drinks in Manchester with some friends. While walking to the bus stop a man tried to get me into his car - not by force but by claiming to be a taxi. Having been brought up to be aware of Stranger Danger, I said no, but I still felt intimidated on a dark and empty street but a man driving alongside me in a car. I told some police officers who said it is a bit problem. Unfortunately I couldn't remember the numberplate. But it makes me appreciate Nexus, which runs a night cafe offering coffee and safe, legal taxis.

I'm not saying Manchester is a dangerous place to live, just that some people are bastards.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Party party party!

We picked up our keys just after 3pm.

We now own a house.

The move was incredibly smooth. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who helped with lugging about heavy furniture and putting together stuff from IKEA, carrying things up into the attic, and waiting patiently while I deliberated over having the shelves in the lounge or the bedroom. I think you people may be relieved that now we've bought a house we won't be asking you to help us move again for a while...

We're mostly unpacked and life feels back to normal - last weekend we did no unpacking or house stuff at all - we did do a lot of drinking though! There are still quite a few things which need sorting out/moving/unpacking/putting up and some bits of painting and decorating. We've had a few problems (such as the bath overflow overflowing directly into the kitchen on ou first night...) and it turns out to be a bit scary being responsible for the house - there are times when a landlord is a wonderful thing - we had a few problems with our gas meter and boiler today and I didn't like having to sort it all out myself....

So we are having a housewarming party on Saturday 18th August from 4pm. It's going to be a barbecue. If you'd like to come, stick your email address in the comments section and I'll send you some details.