Postman Pat, Postman Pat and his black and white cat!”
I smirk within our bubble of nervous excitement and ease the van into gear. We’re driving in radio silence, not because we’re cool hipsters, but Radio 1 made us wish we were all deaf.
“You can never be sure there’ll be a knock.”
Ross taps the yucky dashboard.
“Ring! Letters through your door!”
The van shudders up hill, I turn to Ross with a look of menace. He’s missed out the charming ring and playful chuckle conclusion of Postman Pat’s song.
But the menace wears, as today is a good day. It’s a beautiful early-September afternoon and I am doing more management-type things by driving Isle of Wight band, Valentine Gray, to the Island’s Bestival. Ross and Firm are sat in the cab whilst Betch, Owain and, cameraman, Pat are hiding in the rear.
But it’s not a complete sausage fest, we’re joined by a female. She is rather vertically challenged-sort of the size of a 3-year-old toddler.
Her clothes aren’t covering her modesty either.
She’s also gagged and tied.
I should mention she’s made of plastic before I remind you there’s six males in her company.
She’s the band’s Bestival mascot and, at present and after only a handful of glances, amusing. The plan is, she’ll be set on fire near the end of their set. As management, I approve, as it will be extremely amusing.
Inevitably, I take a wrong turn so Ross has to ask a sorry-looking ginger marshal for directions. He handles this enquiry particularly maturely before mocking my slightly ginger beard.
After encountering another marshal concerned with our van’s parking and unleashing the first of infinite Stevie Wonder jokes, we’ve made it and I breathe a sigh of relief.
24 hours previously, there wasn’t a transport plan and the band were looking at a costly and time consuming process of using public transport to play their biggest gig to date. Last night was also my parent’s Silver Wedding Anniversary, and after some champagne and wine I asked Ross for today’s plan. I received a reply that virtually screamed panic.
“Here is my chance,” I thought, “to act all managerial.”
I drive vans for a particularly chilly supermarket and at midnight last night, in a warped Jesus manner, the wine turned into pints of cider and I had a hire garage to call in the morning as well as an 8.30 am wake up call. At some point, I drunkenly tweeted:
“By this time tomorrow, I will be basking in glory #maybe”
It was a miracle I was able to walk this morning but I made it to the garage and gasped as the most crippled looking van sat waiting for me.
“That’s not mine,” I thought, “Only a cunt would drive a motherless fuck of van like that.”
“So, you drive Transits for a living” the man asked.
“And what do you need it for? Moving out?”
Once I was shown it’s extensively crude features, I jumped in and gave the gearstick a little rattle. My van driving but hungover brain detected it was still in gear.
“Only dickheads leave things in gear, I’ll show this lot some fucking van driving.”
I turned it over and stalled immediately.
I repeated my wee gearstick rattle, cranked the ignition and stalled again.
I reverted back to the apparent neutral selection, turned the key and the MOT failure rumbled into life.
Like I say, only dickheads leave things in gear.
Fast forward hours later, and after a brief escapade in a Gary Newman-less dressing room and admiring the royal-like artist toilets, the Doll is attracting a lot of attention from the Scottish soundcrew at the Psychedelic Worm. Both I and the band are, by now, completely freaked out by her although the Scottish roadies have been taking pictures of her and sending it to their mates. Either that or they're saving it for their wank bank, which is so far beyond wrong I think I should contact the police or Jeremy Kyle.
After a while spent waiting in the portakabin dressing room, the band walks on stage.
I stand, guarding water bottles they won’t use, whilst Pat sets up the camera. A crowd actually gathers, Betch makes a couple of ‘broken guitar’ faces and Owain grins as he sits behind a drum kit that is actually a drum kit.
Ross begins picking the ever-familiar notes of Intro and their sonic explosion begins. In a little breakdown during the first number, Betch raises his can of beer to the crowd in appreciation.
The crowd cheers and a tingle runs down my spine.
I begin to bask in glory.
More hilarity by Jack Gorman HERE
More on Valentine Gray HERE