Slightly religious beverage based experiences

Photo by Sarah-Jane Edis.
In which Alex writes nonsensical, rambling daily blogs about The National Young Writers Festival 2014, several weeks after it happened.

SATURDAY
Head to Staple Manor. Discover the enormous quantities of bread that have arrived since yesterday. Sacks and sacks of bread.
Go to café across the road for tea. Have bleary conversations with festival attendees while waiting for tea. Mostly mutter about how much I want my tea.
Sit in Staple Manor. Drink tea. Have a minor religious experience about tea.
Rummage in bags of bread. Pile a plate with scrolls and scones. Eat several hunks of baked goods before realising I have piled my plate much too high and begin offering some of my baked goods to other people.
Scoot my bike up to the Gun Club.
Chat to panellists in the stairwell while we wait for another panel to finish. The stairwell is not really large enough for this.
Have a lovely time listening to When It’s Time to Stop. This panel came out of a long conversation Fiona and I had over gin and tonics. I think we should program more events that are born of gin and tonics.
Realise I have actual lunch break today. Rejoice.
Head to a café where a collection of people are already lazing around, like people who expected to have a lunch break. Realise I have enough spare time to eat as much food as I want. Order a lot of food.
Attempt to hold conversations while stuffing my face with delicious eggs.
Excuse myself from the debate about the merits of True Blood and bike back up the road.
Settle into the side room at the Gun Club because I am apparently early and have YET MORE SPARE time. Absurd luxury.
Buy a lemon lime and bitters. Have another slightly religious beverage based experience.
Panelist arrive. Have a pre-panel chat with LefaGenKaraClaire and Lauren. Talk about lots of things.
Funny Ladies proves to be probably my favourite panel of the festival. Given it is the one I was most excited about there was a lot of room for disappointment but it manages to actually exceed all expectations.
Get half a dozen phone calls during the panel. Refuse all calls. Decide that I can deal with anything and everything once this panel is over. It can wait. I just want to bask in this for a while.
Am totally in love with all the people on this panel. They are fabulous wonderful people. Applaud heartily.
Spill out of the Gun Club after the panel. Make a million phone calls. Brain comes down from massive intellectual high with a thud, begins to protest at being made to problem solve.
Stand on a street corner while my brain slowly combusts because I am completely unable to make any decisions.
We are borrowing my brother’s car and I am trying to work out how to get the car from one place to another place and then back again and also how to get the ball decorations to where they need to be and Clementine Ford needs to be whisked from one end of town to the other in said car and I just have no idea how to solve all these problems. No idea at all.
Eventually figure it out. Realise it is quite simple. Send boyfriend in car with decorations to also get Clementine Ford. Having wasted far too much time having a mental breakdown, I am now running late.
(Meanwhile, on the other side of town Dani and Seb walk 100 helium balloons from Spotlight to the Cambridge. This is one of my favourite things that happened all festival even though I wasn’t there.)
Arrive at at the Elderly Citizens Centre for Get a Real Job. Somehow have time to spare.
Am briefly fascinated by the insights before my phone starts ringing and I have to spend the rest of the panel outside dealing with things.
Ewa wants to know if we have a “vision” for the ball decorations. Will someone with a vision be coming to supervise the vollies? I tell her that I officially condone anyone who would like to have a vision because I certainly don’t have the mental capacity needed for visions. Ewa deals with my indecisiveness like someone who is currently more able to deal with things than me.
Absurdly lovely vollie comes and asks if there’s anything she was do. I say thanks but that it’s all under control.
Go and check on poets currently cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Quickly realise there is more cleaning up than can conceivably be done before I need to lock the building in twenty minutes. Realise everything is not, in fact, under control.
Go and find lovely vollie. Tell her that actually there is possibly some things she could help with. Ask if she could maybe wash some dishes. Apologise for asking her to wash dishes.
Clean kitchen. Get everything organised. Briefly catch snatches of the end of the panel.
Vollie washes dishes without complaint and with a smile. Immediately becomes my favourite person in the entire world.
(Note: I believe the volunteer in question was called Stephanie? But I might be wrong. I feel awful that I can’t remember her name considering she was so great. My brain really was very fried. Volunteer in question – if you’re reading this, I love you.)
Panel finishes. Ask audience if they can help carry food across the road to Staple Manor.
Carry food. Have to prop open fire door. Recruit more people to carry food. There is a bunch of food.
After helping with food, vollie asks if there’s anything else she can do. Almost hug her emphatically.
Get poets set up. Lend Duncan my phone charger. Briefly panic in the vicinity of Alex and Julia who are on the NYWF board. Later feel bad for panicking instead of saying hello.
Dash out of the building forgetting that I literally just lend Duncan my phone charger and my phone needs charging.
The apartment is empty when I get there. Feel simultaneously pleased about the quiet and sad that I can’t get ready with friends like in previous years.
Get into my dress. Put on a skirt on under my dress so that I have *secret pockets* and can forgo a bag. Feel very clever.
Put glitter hairspray in hair. Am so pleased with the effect that I then proceed to cover whole body in glitter hairspray. Also cover bathroom. Everything is covered in glitter hairspray.
Stuff cash and phone in my secret pockets. Dash out the door.
Get a taxi to the other end of town. Feel pleasantly ridiculous being covered in glitter this early in the evening.
Drinks with the NYWF Board and key stakeholders. Do the majority of my networking is close proximity to the chips.
(Note: I am sitting in a pub writing this blog on my iPad and I really want some chips. I am attempting to wait until friends arrive. Writing about chips isn’t helping. Can someone come buy me some chips so I don’t have to get up?)
Order some chorizo and small octopus. Attempt to network while shovelling this into my face. Don’t think I’m doing a particularly inspiring job of networking.
Head across to the Cambridge.
Make half a dozen phone calls to DJs. Rearrange the entire DJ schedule because someone who I thought had pulled out rings and tells me they’re still in.
The room looks amazing. The vollies have done an incredible job of decorating. I bow in awe to their vision.
(Note: I caved and bought chips.)
Arrange DJs back to the original order after the person pulls out again.
Realise I haven’t asked anyone to DJ for he first hour.
Plug Luke Ryan‘s iPod into the speakers. Let Luke Ryan’s iPod DJ for the first hour.
Sophie looks at someone across the near empty room and says “Who’s that?!” in a slightly disgusted away. It is her boyfriend. He is wearing a wig.
As with so many moments over the festival, the room is empty and then suddenly it is full.
The next few hours are a blur of talking and laughing and drinking. Lefa buys me a drink. Fiona buys me a drink. Several people buy me drinks.
Discover the gin glows under blue light. Am delighted at the way this transforms a gin and tonic into a space cocktail.
The bar runs out of gin is less than forty five minutes. Later decide we should include this fact in future funding proposals.
Retire Luke Ryan’s iPod and put the proper DJs on.
Bar is also out of tequila. Order wine?
Dance and talk and laugh with people. Get more glitter off someone? Put more glitter on my face.
Am now tipsy enough that ordering a vodka raspberry seems like a good idea. What am I, sixteen?
Dance. Drink. Be merry.
Am happy. Almost unbearably happy.
Go to the toilet for a moment of quiet and write this note in my phone.
At some point the happiness bubble bursts and I am completely overwhelmed. The overwhelming feeling manifests itself as a strange paranoid panic. Not for the last time that weekend, I somehow carry on more or less as normal.
Drink more vodka raspberry. Feel like a teenager.
Talk. Dance. Resist feeling overwhelmed. By this stage it’s like I’m just feeling everything at once. In the same way that all the colours at once make brown, all the feelings at once make overwhelm.
The music ends. The lights come on.
Clean up as much as we need to.
Get into a taxi. There’s a glow in the dark star on the floor already from a previous inhabitant.
Cover shower in glitter hairspray while attempting to wash it off.
Set alarm for a time that is no where near far enough into the future.

Check out Lizzy’s wrap-up of SaturdayFin’s great daily comic and Chole’s excellent video recap. Also more photos from the ball.

Read all my festival blogs: Tuesday, WednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday and Sunday.

All photos below by Alan Weedon.



Further reading

December – home

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