NYWF16 – Thursday

For a long time, I’ve arrived at NYWF before anyone else. First because I was living in Newcastle and then because I was on staff. For years I have began with all the planes flying toward me as I am slowly enveloped by the festival. So it was strange this year, to come in late. I fly up after work (such a grown up thing to say) on a plane full of friends who also have day jobs. I know that the festival has started without me and it is strange but also it is ok. Sometimes you have to let go of the things you love.
On the plane I talk to Sonia about food and religion and marriage and mostly food. I was going to nap because I am very tired but we talk instead and I don’t mind because it’s better than napping anyway. We are sitting in the very last row of the plane. Where the window should be there is just blank, beige plastic plane wall. And it is so strange to be able to feel the plane’s movements but have no window to orientate yourself. More than once we wonder aloud if we have landed, only to realise that it is just turbulence.

Photo via Beth

The sun has long set when we land. Sonia, Adolfo, Chloe and I wait on the side of the road for Beth. I bounce up and down on the balls of my feet and the others laugh at how fidgety I am. But then Beth arrives and I throw myself at her because I talk to Beth almost every day but I only get to hug her a few times a year. Beth moved to Newcastle at the exact same time that I left. She moved into my room and inherited that house and that kitchen and my love of the coal piles at night time. It’s strange that somehow our love of Newcastle has bought us closer, even though we have never lived here at the same time. Driving into town, I talk in a sing-song voice about how pretty the coal looks all lit up because it’s so other worldly and so ethereal. Beth and I talk about important plans for the weekend ahead while the others collapse into private giggles in the back.
Photo via This is Not Art

We arrive at the Royal Exchange and I fling myself headlong into the crush of people. I still struggle to remember that not everyone has this. Not everyone gets a yearly opportunity to see pretty much everyone they know crushed into a room together, too warm, too twinkly, too much. I listen to readings and for the first time in two years, my brain isn’t playing over the logistics of the event, of what time we need to be finished, of what comes next. I just listen and I absorb and I smile at the people I know (so many people).

We spill into the night afterwards and clog the road outside in the traditional fashion. I shout at some people who need to be particularly shouted at and I refuse to let everyone go to bed. I have just arrived. Tea first. Bed later. Most people opt for bed, which is reasonable but Lauretta and Fin and Beth come for tea. We go back to the terrace we are staying in and I am overwhelmed by the proximity of people I love. It is a lot, to not see these people for so long and then to see them all at once. They are beautiful. And I have missed them and they are here. Eventually Rachel and Lukearrive and we all collapse in the direction of bed. Before we fall asleep, Luke puts a line of salt along the button of the door to deter the invading slugs.

Thursday – Friday – Saturday – SundayMonday – Comedown

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Further reading

December – home

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