“Stay away from pills and booze, always use a condom, and nobody goes home with any piercings or tattoos they didn’t already come with, o.k.”
And with this avuncular little homily ringing in their ears my trio of charges shuffled of to be amazed. Later the ringing would have a different cause, but more of that anon.
The time, a week ago last Friday.
The place, Castle Donnington.
The event, Day 1 of the Download Festival.
This was going to the strangest locum appointment of my career. O.k. so it wasn’t exactly a medical appointment. Instead of a Locum Tenens I was standing In Loco Parentis to two of the three teenage lads that had cruised up the midlands motorways with me that morning. All three had just finished their GCSEs and that particular Friday (13th if you were wondering) was their first official day of freedom, and by a staggering twist of fate it coincided with day one of a huge rock festival. The only snag, two of them were too young to get in unaccompanied, and that meant dragging along an oldie. I’m not sure if I was the least objectionable or simply the one with the easiest schedule to rearrange. Whatever the case I got the gig.
As it happens (as regular readers will guess), rock events hold no fear for Dr J. Indeed one of the acts on the bill saw a fledgling Doc at it’s inaugural tour after its Lead Singer and Bassist had split with Hawkwind to form his own heavier, louder beat combo*. I have to admit, as a trip down memory lane (more “memory back alley, after show, wreathed in smoke of a certain characteristic aroma that in time honoured Clintonesque fashion I never inhaled…” in this case) the day was fantastic. I spent it on a splendid pitch alongside the mixing desk, guarding our huddle of foldy chairs and bags of water and sarnies, while the lads milled about a bit, moshed a bit, and we all, at various points in the day, chanted, sang and just plain shouted ourselves silly.
The lads behaved impeccably, turning down spiked drinks aplenty, and enjoying the natural high of the festival environment on its own merits. So whilst it might not be entirely possible to turn back the clock, it's nice to feel there's life in the old dog yet. The only slightly alarming thing was that on the way out the jets passing overhead on approach to the nerby East Midlands Airport appeared to have acquired stealth capability. I now also have a sneaking sympathy for my regulars with their tinnitus.
It's also just possible you're reading the dispatches of the latest recruit to the Kiss Army (though naturally I see myself as Lieutenant-Colonel material at the very least).
* a rare chance to win an electric virtual hob nob if you can name the artiste without resorting to Google or similar... (of course you're all on the honours system here, but I trust you. No really...)
Congratulations to The Welsh Pharmacist for correctly identifying the aforementioned Beat Combo and referencing their umlauts. (No I can't do the HTML for individual accented characters either-- life really is too short). As a further enticement two more e.v.h.n's are on offer for the closest guesses to the following;
1-- How long between finding our pitch by the mixing desk and the tap on the shoulder and accompanying "Excuse me Dr J, but can I get a picture with you, cos the missus'll never believe my GP was 'ere otherwise". ( I kid you not, in the midst of all the real Celebrity of a rock festival some hapless souls wanted a pic of your humble narrator!)
2-- Which appointment on the following Monday morning was the first to refer to my appearance in public at the same festival. (Thank God I was only escorting three lads one of whom was obviously my own. Poor kid, there's no denying his herritage looking as he does. )