Probably the worst gig was Magikana, miles from anywhere in the Welsh mountains. It was a five-day, 24hrs-a-day psy-trance gig. It was doomed from the start. For starters, I arrived on the back of a recovery truck! Our pitch was a swamp. There were millions of midges. So many that it was impossible to avoid them; they were swarming. The gig was soon being called ‘Midgikana’. Then to cap it all, some idiot decided to jump into a nearby mountain lake, got tangled in reeds and drowned. The lake had to be drained to recover the body, the excess from which headed, you’ve guessed it, straight for the swamp. The organisers wanted to ‘awaken the dragon’! Well, I don’t know about dragons, but they certainly appeared to have unleashed some sort of hell. The festival got itself another name - Tragikana! We packed up as soon as we were able. It took me a while longer.
When I arrived on site, I managed to get a tow to a local mechanic who agreed to repair the Land Rover and have it ready for me by the time I was ready to move on. Once packed up, I managed to get a lift back to the mechanic only to find that he had not even looked at the Land Rover. Not pleased, I got the thing going myself. I had to bypass the usual fuel lines and set up a temporary direct feed from a fuel can. It meant that I would have to stop regularly to top the can up. No matter. I was mobile. I returned to the site just as the heavens opened. Fortunately, I had parked on some hard-standing above the swamp. I wouldn’t have wanted to be trying to get out of the swamp in the torrential rain.
I tacked down, gathered the cats, hitched up and got the hell out of that place. Then the crazy nightmare turned surreal. The site was five miles from the nearest settlement and eight from the nearest village. The only road is a lane that meanders across the mountains towards civilisation. It was dark; gone midnight, the rain was pouring; full on sheets. It was not easy to see the route. All of a sudden, in the light of my headlights appeared a huge woman, waving her arms on this little lane in front of me. It was like a scene out of a Stephen King novel! The woman was barefoot and wearing only a thin silk-like outfit. Obviously, I stopped and put her in the passenger seat. I ran back to my caravan and grabbed a blanket to wrap her in. She was miles from anywhere, in the middle of the night, in cold and pouring rain. Had I not happened along, she could easily have died out there. I told her that I would take her to the village, so that she could contact some-one for help. That didn’t work out. She asked where I was headed for. I told her Cornwall, at which point she suggested coming with me! By this time, I had long since realised that she was bonkers. She had been going on about some very weird shit. I can’t remember exactly what she was saying now, but it was proper sci-fi apocalyptic stuff. I told her that I would take her as far as a service station where she would be able to keep warm and dry and be in a safe environment.
I stopped at a service station on the M5. My passenger thanked me and toddled off in the direction of the amenities building. By this time, I was tired, so laid down in the caravan for some zeds. However, the madness wasn’t done yet.
Within half an hour, the place became swarmed in police cars. Apparently, my nutty passenger had wrecked the café area. It turned out that she was a looney on the loose! The last I saw of her was seeing her waving across the car park, announcing that she was being taken back to the nut-house and threatening to meet me again on a lonely mountain, as she was being helped into an ambulance.
But, it didn’t end there for me! Oh no! My nightmare was to continue. Firstly, her recognition of me alerted a constable who wanted to know who I was and what connection I had with Miss Fruitnut. However, this particular constable had clearly not had a good start to his day (it was early morning by now; the Sun was up). He became abusive, shouting bullishly at me, which in turn got my tired body riled. I read the riot act at him! How dare he speak to me in such an aggressive manner. Quickly, one of his colleagues intervened and ushered him away. I explained how I had picked up the woman from the mountains in the pissing rain and brought her to this point. He thanked me.
I then decided to arrange a recovery truck to get me back to Cornwall. I was tired and had had enough. The recovery truck appeared quickly. As he was loading the Land Rover, the grumpy copper reappeared and started hassling me about the Land Rover. After another round of ‘words’, he eventually left me alone. But, woe! I wasn’t to have any peace yet! It was now time for the recovery driver to start. Firstly, he didn’t like the fact that I was watching what he was doing. That descended into him shouting at me to sit in his lorry. I told him that he was about to tow my home, so I was going to make sure that it was safe. He then told me that he was not responsible for my caravan and went on to admit that he had lost two other caravans through accidents! At that point I just told him to stop and remove the Land Rover from the bed of his lorry. Now! He refused. I was then forced to telephone the recovery agent to explain what had just transpired. Two minutes later, the recovery man received a telephone call telling him to unload the Land Rover. The agent asked me whether I could hang on a little longer as they would have one of their own fleet trucks starting a shift nearby at 7am. I went and grabbed some breakfast. Soon after, I was homeward bound again.