NYWF15 – Thursday

Photo by Bridget Lutherborrow
Not for the first time this week, I get up before 6:00am. I worry that a debt collector will eventually come knocking about all this sleep debt but hopefully he won’t arrive until at least November.
I do my makeup and put on a sequin skirt and one of the octopus NYWF shirts that my dad printed. I go and sit in the sun and eat leftover Sticky Rice. We discuss ways to get Donald Glover to our Late Night Reading because he is inexplicably playing in Newcastle tonight (turns out he would have had a much nicer time if he’d come hang with us).  I text my friend Ian who is the only person I know who might know someone who knows someone who knows Donald Glover. He replies that this is the strangest question he has ever been asked before 8:00am.

Photo via Rachel

We go to Ground Floor to get breakfast. Hera is there. Hera is from New Zealand. The fact that none of us are particularly phased about running into her at a Newcastle café is pure NYWF magic. I order three types of pastries to share with Alex and the café bring each out on it’s own tiny chopping board. Soon our small table is comically crowded with food on chopping boards and drinks in mason jars.
I go to Staple Manor and there is some moving of chairs and organising and arranging. Alex, Seb and Luke (festival boyfriends) go shopping and buy matching shirts for the ball and also matching thongs. Sophie and I are very charmed by how adorable this is. Eventually Jess and I end up lying on the big ol’ pile of cushions that Lex managed to procure from somewhere because she is magic. I have a small nap. We marvel at the fact that we even have time to nap on Thursdaywhich is the day that the festival starts.
Davearrives to prep for Speed Dating and to go over the million other things he’s agreed to do this weekend. I am still lying on the cushions and refuse to get up so we talk through everything while I am lying down. Professional.
Go and get toasties from Good Brother. Sophie tells us that it is very bad luck to cheers with water in your glass. Dave spends a long time trying to trick Sophie into cheers-ing. We suddenly realise that we have been having such a leisurely afternoon that it is now the time when people are arriving and we should probably go back to Staple Manor.

I stood on a chair to take this and didn’t die.

There are people. And wine. And chips. I try and make sure everyone has someone to talk to and no one is lonely. I drink some wine out of a too large plastic cup. Talk to some people. Sian spends a lot of time trying to find someone who can ring a church bell. Turns out Seb can ring a church bell because he “has a knack for things”. Do some little speeches/a tiny panel with the fellow co-directors. Ring the bell. Put on “90s Sun & Surf” playlist because??? Sophie dances by herself to Mambo Number 5 and I laugh and laugh.  
Lizzy and Tim arrive. Fin arrives. Beth and Lauretta arrive. Dash across the room and pile into a group hug with my internet family. I met these people via this blog and now they are my rock. We get to see each other’s feet hardly ever but here they are. Feet and all. 
Meet and Greet finishes and we reset the room for Speed Dating. I try and program first and foremost for eighteen-year-old me. Speed Dating is 100% to help shy people make friends. The people who are in the room are exactly the people I wanted to be there. As each five-minute block wraps up, it gets harder and harder to move the groups along. People get locked in conversations. Bridget is taking photos and we both get a bit emotional about how the people in this room will find these photos on Facebook years from now and say “Hey look! That’s when we met!” I cry because this is exactly what I wanted this to be. I am literally watching friendships begin and fuck guys, this is why I do it. This is what NYWF is ABOUT. 
A lot of us wander up the road in a sprawling mess toward the Foghorn. It is very crowded at the Foghorn so we walk up Darby instead. Occupy Darby Raj. Eat curry. I look along the long table full of people who I love, eating curry and feel so emotional and so happy and fuck I love this festival.
Decide to go and find a pub. End up at the Crown and Anchor. Find the balcony. Occupy the balcony. I can’t really express how joyful it is to be sitting on a balcony, on a balmy evening, packed close together with people you love and admire. And then the bar tender brings you a very fancy and very large gin and tonic and just urgh NYWF is basically a magical paradise.

Photo via Tim.

Talk to Sophie for the longest time. Have the kind of conversation where everything else melts away. The hardest thing is that these conversations feel so normal in moments like this that you forget it isn’t normal and that you live a long way apart. You forget how fleeting and special it is. But also that it why moments like this are fleeting and special.
Dave and I leave the others and walk to the Royal Exchange. I stand outside a Convenience Store while Dave buys water and I look at the stars and I breathe. Bump into Kate walking down a darkened Hunter St Mall and chat while walking. In retrospect it is a fairly major miracle that both I and Kate were both so relaxed in that moment. But the stars were so damn pretty and did I mention how balmy the night was?
Late Night Readings are cosy and lovely and packed. So many people. I sit at the back. Everyone reads amazingly. Dave MCing the readings (for the record – his idea) is such a masterstroke and exactly the innovation they needed. Applaud heartily. 
Go home. Have tea. Talk quietly with team NYWF who I love. Bed. Sleep. Happy.

Check out more great stuff including a daily comic by Suus, on the NYWF Press Room

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year