Tom Hodgkinson packs up a van and heads to a festival
We’re off to our first festival in two years, Wilderness in Oxfordshire, and this has led to a resumption of one of my favourite activities, renting white Transit vans and loading them up with boxes. I generally rent from Enterprise but I’m in a bad mood with them for charging us £500 to fix a tiny dent I inflicted on the Renault Kultur we rented from them last month.
So it’s the better named Zoo Cars of Chiswick for me this time. As well as magazines, we’ve packed our giant wooden snail, which has been removed from storage, plus bunting, books, anarchist tea towels, Mark Vernon’s philosophy book, flags, chalk, blackboards and a box of useful stuff including cable ties, gaffer tape, iZettle, blackboard paint, scissors, mallet, Sharpies, mini-toolkit, paintbrushes, clipboards and so on.
We’re putting on three live “Drink with the Idler” events in the talks tent: Idler cover star Jessie Cave, plus Viv Groskop and Geoff Dyer, with Mark Vernon providing philosophical inspiration.
Thanks to everyone who has signed up for an online course recently; our half price “Staycation Sale” is on till the end of August. By far the most popular over the last few days has been Ronald Hutton’s “Seasonal Festivals of Britain”, a brilliant survey of the feast days and holidays of Britain by one of the country’s top historians. Prof Hutton’s new book is The Making Of Oliver Cromwell and it’s been garnering rave reviews. Truly, he doth be so hot right now.
Our friends at the British Pilgrimage Trust have reminded me that we’re currently in Lammastide. They’ve quoted from Prof Hutton’s Idler Academy course notes, so I thought I’d do the same:
“Now is the time of Lammas (Loaf Mass), Lughnasadh and Gŵyl Awst (Feast of August). This was the most dangerous time of year for our agricultural forebears. First, medically, because this is when insects are at their most abundant. Fleas and mosquitoes would spread bubonic plague and malaria every summer.
“Also, in summer, animals are put out to pasture long enough to make them vulnerable to disease contracted from insects. High summer was nutritionally and economically dangerous too – crops had by this point grown tall enough to be destroyed by persistent rain (how have the recent rains affected your local crops?) or freak hailstorms. One short bout of bad weather could destroy a whole harvest.
“Also, the danger was of human violence too – in August, rivers are low, seas are calm, armies were abroad, so it was raiding season and bandits would steal your crops.”
I do hope the malarial mosquitoes, bandits and freak hailstorms spare the Cotswolds this weekend.