What We Learned At The Secret Garden Party 2014

31) Spitfires with fireworks coming off their wings that loop in the sky to form a GIANT HEART from their trails as the light fades from the sky: actual best thing ever. 32) A tiny flying-machine thing sprinkling blue lights over your head like something out of, blimey, I mean, look at that.

1) Kigu is a thing that is mostly played out.

2) Chorizo is not a thing that is mostly played out. It was in everything. Even the coffee. Also: sunglasses with orange frames. On every face in sight. Next year there will be tattoos of them.

3) The human body in its wondrous variety is a beautiful thing, even in silly trousers, or when engaged in a session of Dance Your Naked Truth. (We did not Dance Our Naked Truth, although we probably Danced Our Clothed Truth, and we did appreciate the fact that there was a facility for one to Dance One's Naked Truth if one felt that one ought.)

4) The Ikea gazebo is a shy and flighty creature of formidable heft, which will try to kill you as you yomp with it on trains and across fields, and it will do its best to escape as you struggle to put it up. But once tamed it proves a loyal and steady companion, a shelter from the elements and a lovely lime beacon showing the way home to weary mentalists.

5) If you leave your camp to explore the festival and all its lights and surprises and interesting dangly things in trees, people will apparently gather under your gazebo to paint each others' faces and leave glitter in hollows in the ground. But you may use this free surplus floor-glitter to decorate yourself, if you wish.

6) People will also gather in this place at 4am to have a bit of a chat when you are huddled in your tent. No really, that's totally fine. Perhaps you would also like to share my sleeping bag? Can I get you some cider? Do you need socks? Oh OK just let me know, I'm right here with my head about a foot from your arse.

7) Hiring a wheelbarrow to cart your gear in blistering heat: worth it.

8) Paying for the relatively posh loos: totally worth it.

9) Queuing for an hour and a half for a shower on Saturday morning: utterly extra worth it.

10) Parasols: slightly unwieldy, but superlative savers of life and skin. And they make you feel like a cocktail. I mean, they make you feel like a cocktail. See.

11) Shorts and flip-flops in the day. Leggings and wellies at night. This shall be the whole of the law. (Except for some sort of top. If you like.)

12) Looking only in a tiny hand-mirror for a few minutes a day does wonders for your confidence.

13) The train is doable. A car is better. Obviously. (NB if offered a lift, TAKE THE LIFT. TAKE THE LIFT. TAKE THE DAMN LIFT.)

14) It will take you a hundred thousand hours to get on site and another million thousand to get out again. I laugh at your erroneous estimates, self of a few days ago!

15) Ravers, when the music stops at midnight on Sunday, will rave around anything emitting any kind of repetitive sound. When the repetitive sounds are all gone, they will rave around the sounds out of their own mouths, such as ululating cries like you used to hear in terrible old westerns.

16) Ravers, when they are a total state in the shower queue on Saturday morning, remain surprisingly pragmatic. "I'm gonna rave it out tonight, then sleep, get up, rave a bit, go home." Boom.

17) Put more suncream on, you div.

18) Sit in the shade more, you div.

19) You're going to miss the whole of Friday night, including Fat White Family and We Have Band, with a terrible dehydration headache and nascent vom, you silly div.

20) People really are mostly alright. They are.

21) Some of them are even dead good. And a lot of the others are at least very amusing.

22) Especially when they are sporting a t-shirt with a picture of Hugh Laurie having a think, with the caption 'DEEP HOUSE'. Haw!

23) Or when they are politely asked to move out of the way of the loo queue they're not actually in, and they explain that "Sometimes, y'know, you just have to stop and smell the toilets".

24) Alabama 3 are dead good.

25) Martha Reeves is eleventy-seven and still pretty much dead good. She can't do the high notes any more and everything is pitched down and slowed down and a little wobbly, but y'know, Martha Reeves, damn. Also the Motown schtick never gets old. "All the way from DETROIT MICHIGAN, to MAKE LOVE to YOU." Yeah!

26) The Lovely Eggs: well dead good.

27) Grolsch is gross.

28) But Somersby is gravy.

29) A Great Dane dressed as the Cowardly Lion accompanied by a topless human Tin (Wo)man, Scarecrow and male Dorothy is the best thing ever.

30) Frozen bananas with chocolate and nuts on are the best thing ever.

31) Spitfires with fireworks coming off their wings that loop in the sky to form a GIANT HEART from their trails as the light fades from the sky: actual best thing ever.

32) A tiny flying-machine thing sprinkling blue lights over your head like something out of WALL-E, blimey, I mean, look at that.

33) Public Enemy: Public ENEMY.

34) Even diligent moisturising cannot stave off the dreaded Festival Finger. Give it up. Your hands are going to look like they've been lightly grated whatever you do.

35) He who knows how to collapse the pop-up tent is the man who shall be king of all the campsite. (But man who wears pop-up tent on head with gold hotpants is just a dafthead.)

36) It's totally alright to wear silly things, as long as that silly thing is not a racist hat with built-in wig or a culturally-insensitive if spectacular headdress. (Seriously, get out from here with that racist hat with the built-in wig. We will throw it in the lake. And then fish it out and put it in a bin because litterers are even worse than people in racist hats.)

37) It's totally alright to act daft. We need daft.

38) It is totally alright to walk around topless if you like, or get your belly out, or your big legs. No one is going to bother you or judge you.

39) Children are not necessarily interested in an impromptu activity that requires some concentration for ten minutes, especially if one of them has a horn thing that sounds like a cow that makes another child cry.

40) Also if you try to go and read to children after an hour-long theatre performance, children will probably want to do some dancing to music or go off to bed.

41) But still, taking a copy of your book to the place of its original conception and leaving it there with a man who makes really great street food is correct anyway.

42) Yes.

43) Festivals seem good for children, because the children are among adults at play and so they get to see how that works, and maybe feel a bit more big and grown-up and confident themselves - so we all meet in the middle. Especially when they do a little dance on a stage and a lot of grown-ups cheer and do the same dance back at them.

44) Fat babies in massive ear protectors are boss.

45) Crowds are the worst.

46) Crowds are the best.

47) Ferris wheels at 3am are WAHEY.

48) Hot chocolate and goddamn BRANDY.

49) Dubstep goes wub wub wub WUB wububbubb in a way that is mostly pleasing actually. Which is just as well because it goes it a lot.

50) Some people cannot even handle it right now, but most of them can.

51) Water cooling spritzy spray can things are exceptionally necessary.

52) You can't ever get on the Pagoda stage at all.

53) Nor into the Collisillyum ever. But there are 353 other things to see and do and caper about in at any one time, so hey.

54) The only time it is ever quiet is for about ten minutes at 5am, or whenever a lot of people are doing balloons at the same time.

55) On Sunday night, you will want to stay until the bitter end, but don't. You will get to hear a lovely chilled-out version of I Wanna Dance With Somebody at The Drop which will bring a tear to your eye, but it's probably better to crash out at 11.45 so you can pretend it's still going on forever.

56) Always keep an eye on all of your stuff all of the time because of knackered Monday bemusement on the part of you and others, you great big div. (On an unrelated note, if anyone finds a grey and black sports bag containing a white rhino-print t-shirt from Junk of Manchester and some rather fetching suede lederhosen... please get in touch. It wasn't meant to end this way. Ta.)

57) Sometimes when your weekend is over and you are at a low ebb and your gazebo seems ready to destroy you once and for all, a kind Ukrainian man will offer help even though you feel you are wretched and do not deserve it. (Ukrainian men are proud to help weary female travellers with their crap, he said, in not so many words and in a lovely accent.)

58) When you get home your dog will treat your trousers and all your assembled grubby stuff like duty free for his nose.

59) Old ravers are truly dope.

60) If all goes alright I will be probably be doing this when I am old.



What's Hot