I spent the weekend at Latitude Festival in Norfolk. I love Latitude – the so-called posh festival. I love the fact that you can sit in a tent on a cushion being read to, book the kids into the forest canopy walk, take part in a Charleston line-dance and grab a stone-baked pizza in time to sit under the neon-lit pine trees at the i-Arena and watch Icelandic Indie-folk – all in the space of a couple of hours. Latitude is all about the atmosphere and it’s a bit like floating on a multi-coloured cloud where everyone is welcome regardless of their age and the state of their hair.
Glastonbury it isn’t, but I’m not young anymore and I’ve got kids!
Obviously music plays a big part but so does art, cabaret, literature, comedy, film and dance. There is literally something for everyone on all the time. My highlights this year included Saturday headliners Elbow, who I didn’t really get until I’d experienced the full crowd sing-a-long accompanied by symphonic fireworks. Earlier Guy Garvey (in a yellow anorak) wheeled Richard Hawley onstage. Beginning with the appropriately titled Into the Woods, Hawley still managed to rock out and play no less than 8 guitars despite having a broken leg. I stumbled upon septuagenarian poet Tony Harrison whilst seeking shelter from a rainstorm. He managed to be both classic and irreverent at the same time and earned a standing ovation for his trouble. Another highlight was the moderately sunny Sunday lunchtime, featuring a picnic blanket and the gloriously languorous charms of Rufus Wainwright followed by a truly awesome set by Alabama Snakes, who seemed both nervous and delighted by the number of people watching them.
On Saturday at 11am I took the oldest to the Comedy tent to see The Infinite Monkey Cage with Brian Cox on a panel debating art v. science. This was one of the most popular events this year and my son played the ‘I’m a 10-year-old’ card to elbow his way to the front, there he learned that the Higgs field is like festival mud and the arenas are the Higgs Boson and we are electrons (or something!?) and Hitler was a bad painter but not a vegetarian. At the back, I learned that my arse, a small camping stool and the laws of gravity don’t make a good combination and that when Brian Cox recites Shakespeare the world swoons thus proving beyond doubt that art wins.
Just like a Higgs field so much was crammed into my weekend that I had to be reminded I’d seen Lana Del Rey. Not that she’s forgettable, in fact it was hilarious to watch hundreds of teenage girls and their Dads thronging the stage and chanting Lana, Lana (the girls not the Dads – though you never know!). Lana was pretty and smiley and sang ennui beautifully.
One thing I certainly won’t forget was the Word Theatre performance on Thursday night. Word Theatre are an old hand at Latitude this being their 5th year. Brilliant actors read contemporary short fiction and I was absolutely thrilled that my story Underneath was chosen for their first show. I have performed Underneath myself a couple of times and heard it read expertly by an actor before (Elizabeth Bower at Liar’s League) but Word Theatre turned it into a two hander with Gethin Anthony read the main narration and Diana Vickers providing the girlfriend, Rosa’s, dialogue. This worked brilliantly and brought a new vibrancy to my little tale. Lots of people have said that they find the main character too much of an arsehole to elicit any sympathy but Gethin Anthony read him as I intended him, young, flawed and a bit of an idiot but basically a sweet everyman. Besides, Rosa can hold her own as illustrated with Diana Vickers’ coquettish ‘maybe.. .’ at the end. So thank you Gethin, Diana and Word Theatre director Cedering Fox – you made my weekend.