Continued from Tuesday
The crowd appears to have grown larger. I suspect that people are reproducing at the back. That is what they do at festivals, after all. Big A is there with his family, and Eddie & Eddie – big fans of Eric’s from the previous year, and Medium-sized John, Len the Fish and the LTLP, along with loads of faces that I recognise from the Village Pub, Fish Shop etc. We weave to a sparser area, where I am introduced to a Man with a Moustache, who plays the keyboards, and a set list.
“Eric can’t make it,” informs Glen. “So we’re going to have to make do.”
“Fg?!?” I reply, with characteristic understatement.
“Probably best to just follow me on the bass.”
Ten seconds later I have him in a head lock and am smashing his face against some paving slabs screaming “other guitarists!!! There must be other guitarists here!!!”
There are no other guitarists. Nor, it transpires, is there a bloke from the Archers, player of banjos or no.
From the stage, onto which I have sleepwalked, I look out upon faces. There are faces everywhere. Faces. Faces. Some people seem to have at least eight or nine of them, all looking at me personally. There is an awful hush.
“What shall we start with, then?” says a voice.
The thing that people do not realise about guitar playing is that there is guitar playing and guitar playing, and the sort of guitar playing that I do is not the sort of guitar playing that is called for by the set list, which is full of guitar players’ songs. I would be quite happy to do some Leonard Cohen or Jake Thackray, or ‘I Will Walk 500 Miles’ or the complete works of Fairport Convention or whatever, but screaming rock soloing is just Not My Thing.
I suggest that I play some Leonard Cohen. There is dissent within the band.
“This one,” suggests the Chipper Barman, pointing out a screaming rock soloing thing. “It’s in G.”
I point out that if he’d handed me a clarinet and asked me to perform the Mozart Clarinet Concerto in A major then the helpful key-hint that Mozart dropped into the title of his piece would still not give me much of a head start in its performance.
Sometimes people talk about a dream in which they find themselves naked on a theatre stage in front of an audience of 2000 people. The current moment is very much like this, aside from the fact that there are 6000 people in this dream’s auditorium, and I am not entirely naked as I am sporting a bra and women’s shoes.
Behind me, giant video screens have been erected to project secretly-obtained footage of me frowning in concentration as I very carefully and methodically masturbate a hen.
My mother sits stony-faced in the front row.