It now seems that the new play thing of the landed rich is to host your own festival. This one, however, is probably the best festival I have ever been to. Even the website is beautiful. The land encircles a lake where a specially built pirate galleon floated. One could take out a dinghy and drink in the bar there. The gardens, bridges and decorated trees (bananas, shoes, dolls) reminded me of that gorgeous garden near Tunbridge Wells, Groombridge, where The Draughtmans’ Contract was filmed. The vegetation was lit up with green and purple lights. Seating consisted of velvet chesterfield sofa’s, comfy armchairs and covered haystacks.
I ‘tatted’ there at the end and picked up abandoned wigs, a Moss Bros mohair dinner jacket, unused wellies strewn amongst the empty champagne bottles and half-eaten boxes of gourmet chocolates.
The atmosphere reminded me of the party at the mysterious chateau in the country from that magical French classic novel ‘Le Grand Meaulnes’.
Everyone was dressed up: ball gowns, feathers and top hats were de rigeur and that’s just the men!
I spent my wages from Glade on a blue and white polka dot flamenco dress with red ribbon flounces. I briefly worried that I had wasted my money until I saw the reaction from the male half of the population: I received a marriage proposal from a Ghostbuster, a bed proposal from a 23 year old minor pop star and much more…to the extent that my old mate Ally, another Norf London girl, went straight out the next day and bought the same dress in purple.
Grace Jones played only her second British gig on Saturday night. She is Naomi Campbells’ spiritual predecessor. At one point she lay down with her legs spread-eagled directly on front of the photographers, inviting them to shoot up her fanny. I stood well back, not wanting to participate for feminist reasons and also, knowing something of her volatility, frightened that she might start kicking us with her heavy stilettos.
The seedy male photographers however, cheerfully continued to snap away with their telephoto lenses obscenely directed. (Recently speaking to a member of her entourage, he admitted that they were all terrified of turning their backs on her (who could forget Russell Harty’s fate when he did the same thing). The audience were camply enthusiastic, including one lady with a large snake coiled around her neck. Others insisted on performing with her, dancing sexily and enacting lesbian tableaux with Grace. When pushed back by security, they took the opportunity to crowd surf, carried along by hundreds of arms.
Grace is proud of her arse and rightly so…encased in black fishnets, it had not dropped an inch, despite her advanced age. She changed costumes for every song, wearing a selection of sculptural hats. Her son by 80’s video genius, Jean Paul Goude, played keyboards.
Secret Garden Party, however, is not really a music festival. The attraction, apart from the people and the gardens, lies in the art installations. My favourite was ‘Sparkly Nuts’ by Abby which I called the mutant teddy bear tent. She had collected hundreds of soft toys which were mutilated and reconstructed, Jake and Dinos Chapman style, into obscene and disturbing combinations. She works as a secretary for an engineering firm during the week and asked her rather straight colleagues to donate toys. She was reluctant to explain what would happen to them though, merely saying:
“Some of them will end up in good homes and some of them…won’t!”
My only low moment was being blanked by The Wizard, dressed all in white with his dreadlocks nesting on top of his head in the shape of a Mandelbrot set, who had two girls on his arm (whilst nonetheless continuing to look greedily at every other woman there): one, the ‘wicked’ witch from the East who flew in on her broomstick, flashing her acid queen smile, for his 40th birthday party whilst yours truly submissively cooked downstairs (I thought I could smell pussy on him as he walked past, laughing to myself that the situation was like something out of a 70’s Play for Today) and the other, “bug-eyed of Brixton” (as she has been named by Ms Puddleduck), whose charms remain a mystery to the casual onlooker. Why do they put up with it?
Kurt Cobain got so hot he left the tent and vomited. Cooking in that situation is like being in an army mess kitchen in the tropics. I was the only Londoner amongst mostly Mancunians who all live in the same building, the ‘Yellow bricks’ (in contrast to the mostly red-bricked buildings in that Victorian industrial town) also part of the Homes for Change scheme (locally known as flats for twats).
“But they all shit don’t they” said one guy “whether they pay or not”.
(Unless they suffer from the notorious festie constie, where you cannot go for the duration of the festival). Anyway, as a result, the pee was not pumped out of the toilets regularly enough and it is the urine, not the poo, that stinks.