The six hours I spent waiting for the Stones to arrive on Saturday were not, admittedly, particularly productive.
I did manage to make friends with the lovely, slightly drunk, and also recently dumped South African woman next to me, and spent some time giving her some very bad relationship advice. This did not last long, however, as literally all I had to say was 'I'm sure you'll find someone else' which was The Wrong Answer, as he was Definitely The One. After that I had quite a lot of time to kill.
And I quickly noticed that not only were the people around me feeling quite fundamentally unsettled by the Temper Trap's ridiculously heavy bassline, they were also managing to upset each other by being generally rude, unpleasant and ridiculous. This made me think that there must be a better way. What with festival season coming up, here are ten essential guidelines for preserving peace and individual sanity at the front of a music festival crowd.
1. First off, stop complaining. The only reason, unless you are a long-suffering spouse or child, that you are here, in this expensive (probably), hot (most likely) uncomfortable (inevitably) position, is you. You got up at 8.45 to manically refresh that ticket page, you booked that taxi, or that bus, or stood on the side of the A34 with a sign saying 'SOUTH' on it, and then you subjected yourself to the ignominy of being relieved of your 50p packet of Hula Hoops and bottle of Coke by a man in a tabard, and THEN you hauled yourself right to the front and sat down there. This is no-one else's fault. Stop whining.
2. If you don't want to get stood on, don't sit on the floor. Sitting on the floor at the front of concerts while a band is playing, unless you're under the age of 10, feeling faint, or going for a wee, should be banned. It's dangerous, irritating and a total buzzkill.
3. Don't threaten to call security because someone stands in front of you. It's silly and ineffectual and what's more, now everyone knows that you have literally never ever been to a gig before, and that's not a good position to be in, especially when you're surrounded by die-hard rock-and-roll fans.
4. If you're trying to get into a packed crowd and you know you've left it too late, start right at the front (literally at the barrier) as people will be happier to let you move backwards past them than forwards. If you're really struggling, consider crying. This works particularly well if you're male. Alternatively, do what one lady in the crowd on Saturday did, and carry a full tray of beer with such drunken insouciance that everyone leaps out of your way in an effort to avoid becoming a human wasp magnet for the remaining hours of daylight.
5. If someone tries to get past you, be nice to them. The quicker you get out of the way, the quicker they'll be out of your hair. They're going somewhere else and will make no difference to your life. Of course, if it turns out they're not going somewhere else, and insist on standing directly in front of you, feel free to get a bit arsey. But only for a minute. And only if they're significantly taller than you (at least 2/3 inches).
6. If you're 6ft3, and a 5ft5 person tries to stand in front of you, don't kick off. It's pathetic, and shows that really you're not actually worried about your view of the band, but mostly about your precious half foot of space. I know it's tempting to behave like a territorial caveman, but please remember that you are still a human being, you are at an electronic music concert, it is the 21st century, and it is totally inappropriate to literally growl like an animal at the 17 year old girl who has just stood in front of you, before savagely poking her in the back of the neck with your glossy £6 program.
7. Don't bring your picnic blanket, umbrella, rucksack full of 'layers', bag specifically for suncream, spare shoes, raincoat, straw hat and hardback reading matter with you to the front. Travel light, or bring an older or more boring friend who is happy to babysit your cloakroom's worth of 'just in case'. It will get in the way and you will lose bits of it. On the plus side, it might make you finally realise that at least 90 per cent of the crap you carry around is utterly pointless and unnecessary.
8. Don't grope. Ever. Just stop it.
9. Not everyone came well prepared for this endurance test; some of us were just popping to the loo and ended up getting inexorably sucked into the vortex in front of the stage (ahem.), so share your water. Don't be an asshole and hog all the cups that get passed from the front. There are people behind you who are seeing mirages in the heat rising from their neighbours' chest cavity. I am not exaggerating. That is how bad it can get.
10. And finally- make friends with people around you. Relax. Chat. You're at a gig for heaven's sake, not on the 8.20 from Barking. Everyone around you shares at least one of your interests, and probably more. On Saturday there were at least three people near me who clearly shared interests in growing hair in interesting places, drinking copious amounts of cheap beer, and sampling unusual tattoo art. And yet they still weren't talking to each other. Totally baffling.
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