Discrimination end game/festival apocalypse
Are there still shops in the world bravely holding out against the cold dead hand of corporate blandness? Is there a candle still flickering in that forgotten side street known as Independent Passage? We put the question because we at Accidental Republic are on the looky-outey for quirky boutiques that might want to stock our wares. Do you know of such a place that specialises in original, off the wall gifts and/or groovy fashion-wear?
If you stand in front of such a shop wearing your freshly laundered Accidental Republic t-shirt and notice the shirt’s reflection fits nicely into the arrangement of existing items then we could be in business. Don’t delay. Tell us about it! Any tip-offs that lead to something will be handsomely rewarded with a t-shirt of your choice and a virtual key to our website’s VIP restroom once it’s been mopped out.
Discrimination is for unbusy people
When we were at Green Man Festival a middle-aged man burst into our stall at a ferocious pace. “Have you got anything with sleeves?” he asked. “Yes” my mate Rich answered quick as a flash. “We do sweatshirts. I’ll show you the designs we have…”
“I’m not worried about that” interrupted the customer. “I’ll take an extra large”.
Richard passed the man a beautifully-crafted ‘Things Just Occur’ sweatshirt in a subtle navy with a vibrant yellow print. As the man roughly pulled the sweaty over his head and down to meet his jeans he handed-over the twenty-five notes without once looking at the garment in question.
“Fits all right” he announced before running off back into the festival melee.
“That was an easy sell” I commented, forever giving it large on the understatement.
“Wasn’t exactly discriminating was he?” said Rich.
I reflected on this momentarily. “You’re right. He might as well have said ‘Do you have any of those pieces of cotton with holes in that you can put your head and arms through to keep you warm?'”
“You should have had a tantrum and told him you’re an artist and shouldn’t be treated like that” said Rich.
I nodded wryly congratulating myself on my even temperament and started wondering on the man’s lived experience of the festival. No doubt he would have listened to some of that noise that people with guitars make and eaten some of that food that people with funny hats spoon into cartons and drank some of that bronze coloured liquid that people kept putting into his glass when he gave them coins. As for the people he came to the festival with he has absolutely no fucking idea who they were.
Things aren’t funny.
The problem if you haven’t noticed it is that things just aren’t funny. Intrinsically funny that is. Which means that people like me have to make a tremendous effort to make them so. How much easier it would be if things were just funny by themselves. Then, all people like me would have to do is read out lists of the funny things: “elasticated trousers”, “bassoons”, “some cheeses”. It would be so easy!
My faith in this feeling was briefly shaken a few months back when the story of Boaty MacBoatface was briefly in the news. For those of you who don’t know already this was the story of a public poll being conducted to find a name for a new vessel about to set forth on an expedition to the Antarctic. A member of the public with a subversive streak put forward the name of Boaty MacBoatface and the British public quickly weighed in behind him eschewing all the other sensible and no doubt redoubtable suggestions. Maybe the world is funny after all I thought to myself chuckling at the BBC Six O’clock news bulletin. But just as the boat was going to be confirmed with this splendidly absurd moniker, the brother of Boris Johnson (some low lying minister of something or other – who’d have guessed?) stepped in to ensure it didn’t happen. He pulled rank and instead christened the boat after Sir David Attenborough, making sure that everyone knew how amused he’d been and how he’d definitely got the joke and just loved it so much, it was brilliant but that er, it couldn’t happen for reasons that only proper grown ups would understand.
Boaty was a brilliant prospect but the world isn’t supposed to be funny intrinsically. Not in the open like that. Certainly not on the open seas where seaman from other nations would presumably laugh at the boat going past them. We can all agree funny has its place in the world but it isn’t on the side of boats in international waters flying a Union Jack. This particular funny clearly fell into an even more dangerous category than normal. It wasn’t just funny. It was too funny. And by that I mean it was obviously funny. It wasn’t remotely difficult to laugh at it.
Apparently that won’t do. Because laughs have to earned in the same way as kit-kats and pints of beer. With blood, sweat and tears in other words. Comedians presumably know this better than anyone else. It hurts to think up jokes and hurts again (in different ways) to share them. My son tells me it also hurts to hear them but I’m not sure that’s relevant to this discussion.
In my more idle moments when the effort of being constantly hilarious has overwhelmed me – I look squarely at the painfully unfunny, unreceptive world and say to myself “why do I piggin’ bother?”
My jokes leaves as small an impact on the world as to be negligible. As soon as they’re spoken they evaporate into the air like farts at a party, leaving a similar vista of appalled faces in their wake.
And in a few months time as a group of Icelandic fisherman gather to watch the big British boat glide past them and one of them points to the words ‘Sir David Attenborough” inscribed onto the side and bursts out laughing his mates will look at him disparagingly because they understand something he doesn’t. It just isn’t funny. That’s the problem.
Essential festival tips for next year
In the run up to summer 2017 summon up all your audio playing devices and start playing five very different pieces of music at the same time achieving the affect of an indigestible aural soup that invades and occupies your head with all the maddening effects of actually being stuck in Hollyoaks. (Devised by Phil Redmond it says here).
Remember to tie your stall to the ground with guide ropes. Otherwise it will blow away when you are serving a customer, thereby leaving you no access to brown paper bags with the words Accidental Republic stamped on the side.
When your stall does blow away run after it before considering what a bad omen it is. That can be done later with the assistance of beer.
Don’t under any circumstances go to Wilderness Festival again. It is not a Wilderness, except of the moral and spiritual vacuum kind. It is rather a contrived chicken run upon which entitled hedonistic idiots get glittered up and run amok like characters from Hollyoaks but with posher accents. The Governor of the Bank of England was only one of four decent people I met there. The others were from the band Mik Artistic whose booking to play the festival must have been a calamatous clerical error as they were properly witty and terrific human beings. Oh and there was a nanny whose job it was was to look after someone else’s kids because it was in the morning. The kids were feral. I felt sorry for her.
Own a van that doesn’t break down five times on the way to Womad (urgent). It is important to get to Womad as the people there (all of them so it seems) are bloody lovely.
Take some food with you as there won’t be food available until the festival opens and then you won’t have to beg the stall next door for some of their food. Thanks to the Dumplings people – you were very kind to us. By the way I’m diabetic you know. It was an emergency.
Don’t go to festivals in the British Summer Time. The weather makes you look silly.
Waterproof the stall.