Tuesday, 19 July 2011


 Had an up-and-down weekend at the Latitude Festival in Suffolk with my son, obviously let down by the mostly miserable weather. Camping out together was fun and the kids' activities are good, but I'm too old and grumpy to find slipping and squelching through deeply-mudded fields in the rain conducive conditions for experiencing live music or literature. However, I wasn't the oldest, squarest person there by a long shot, trust me - not only hordes of middle-age Home Counties couples in designer wellies with their Charlie and Lolas in tow, but even proper well-to-do oldies in Barbour rain-proofs carrying thermos-flasks. Forget any notion you might have retained that going to a festival is in any way cool...
  When I could distract my son with unhealthy snacks long enough I kept popping my head into the Poetry tent hoping to see Linton Kwesi Johnson or Simon Armitage (whose last book I really enjoyed) only to be met with sub-Hegleys doing what amounts to rhymed stand-up.
      In fact overall, as "boutique festival" the Latitude seems a synecdoche of middle-brow style-over-substance skim-culture. The effect is thin-spread overload:you dip into a bit of Literature, bit of Music, bit of Theatre and convince yourself you're getting a cultural fix but really perhaps it's just a weekend-supplement frisson, a glimmer of precious dayglo-sheep frivolity seen through beer-goggles.
  Echo and the Bunnymen were fantastic though, sounding as vital and spellbinding as they did when I saw them at Crawley Hawth Centre when I was 15. Spare us The Cutter!

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