Believe it or not I wasn’t going to write about ‘The Neverworld Festival’ this year but as it turned out it was all quite interesting and worthy of a few lines.
What we were expecting, from our perspective, was music from 10pm on Thursday until 1am on Friday then from 10pm until 6am on Saturday, starting again at 10pm until 6am Sunday and from 10pm until 6pm on that day, when we could expect the hordes of revelers to depart until our next four days of torment fall due in 2019. To sum up, in simple terms that means loud music for four consecutive days, from 10pm on Thursday until 6pm on Sunday. Effectively, we get a generous nine hours respite from 1am – 10pm on the Friday morning, with just four hours respite per day, in the mornings, from then until Sunday evening.
The first twist was that, in a masterpiece of liaison and organizational skills, Kent Highways turned up and, just as everyone was arriving, despite dozens of signs marking the way to the festival, promptly closed the access route and dug the road up. In this age of media and communications, with Neverworld advertising their intent for the past twelve months and supposedly paying huge fees to traffic consultants to ensure everything runs like a well oiled clock, that alone defies belief. Traffic chaos naturally ensued with lost hippies going in all directions, including hundreds passing my house. Cars were abandoned in every available lane and passing point, further jamming the works and compounding the situation, although I must point out that the organizers insist that this was purely coincidental and nothing to do with their event, which I of course wholeheartedly believe, yet strangely this never happens at any other time of the year. I have to presume that all was ultimately resolved as the revelers eventually parked somewhere and the event got underway.
Now in truth, once everyone has arrived and things have begun, for the past two years we have heard very little from our side of the event, so long as we stay put in our sadly beleaguered homes with the windows shut. I understand that things have been very different on the Trugger’s Lane side and many of the residents there now decamp for the duration rather than endure the assault on their senses. This year it seems, from what I’ve been told, they got a battering on Thursday evening but, for them, things were better thereafter.
Not so us. Throughout Friday evening we were aware of the thump of bass from across the fields. Not hugely loud, but irritating nevertheless. Saturday dawned bright, with temperatures reaching around 32c by the afternoon. Once again we were aware of the bass thumping away like a hangover in the background but then at 6.30pm our world exploded. Conversation was drowned out and the walls shook as the volume was cranked up, and remember we live almost a kilometer (that’s five eighths of a mile in proper measurement) from the event site as the crow flies.
Our tolerance finally snapped at around 8.30pm and I phoned the event control team to let them know that we could take no more. To be fair they passed my message on to The Environmental Health Team who were monitoring the situation and they arrived at my house around fifteen minutes later.
These guys are unsung heroes and seldom get any credit for their efforts, working horrendously long hours to keep tabs on situations like this while remaining impartial and recording sound levels from points all around the event. These were supposed to reduce after 11pm and again after midnight. My understanding is that ours remained above the permissible levels throughout most of this period and one stage was forced to close completely as a result, although any reduction in noise levels was barely discernible, with every word spoken by those on the other stage/stages still clearly audible during lulls in the so called music.
With temperatures still in the high twenties sleep was impossible without the windows wide open, and equally so if they were, for the racket outside. At 1.30am, with the lounge window tight shut and the TV on, the insistent thump of the bass could still be felt through the walls and in ones own vital organs. Eventually at 2am the actual music seemed to stop but we were still treated to a further half an hour of the gimpies hooting and screaming their appreciation for what had been.
My understanding is that ‘Neverworld’ has received a great number of complaints this year. I pray it is their last. Were I to believe that it would stop at one horrendous night, even one every year, I would say little but fancy that if this is not nipped in the bud we shall enjoy two or three days of misery next year as the situation is allowed to deteriorate year on year.
Now then, anyone into Christmas cracker riddles? Like, Q: “When is a door not a door?” A: “When its ajar.” Hilarious eh? Oh my aching sides! Here’s another, Q: “When does a democratic vote, with a majority of four and a half million in favour of leaving the EU mean we’re not leaving the EU?” A: “When its called Brexit.”
I can’t believe all the never ending kerfuffle surrounding the obviously insoluble conundrum that this has raised. Now, I’ve explained this before so pay attention while I go through it again: The problem is that people do not understand the British system. The gullible believe that we live in a democracy, ruled by Parliament. What that actually means is that you are allowed to say whatever you like so long as no one listens or takes any notice. If anyone sits up and takes notice and your views are contrary to those of our true system, ‘The Establishment’, then you will be discredited and your opinions will be very efficiently crushed into the dust.
Without campaigning for it, we were in this instance, offered a vote, simply put as stay in the EU or leave it, under the assumption that a government campaign of terror and negativity (just as bad from the other camp in all honesty) would result in the masses voting overwhelmingly to stay, thus ending all argument for ever more and ensuring the continuance of the status quo.
What apparently went so horribly wrong was that the the majority of us are too thick to understand the difference between stay and leave and foolishly put an X in the leave box by mistake. The two forces at work here are vastly different in the power that they wield, at least on the home front. Government of any flavour is a fluffy sop to us plebs, occasionally moving slightly left or right to keep the masses happily believing that they can change anything more than skin deep by voting, while ‘The Establishment’ on the other hand is the immovable, unchanging, institution that underpins our society and makes sure that nothing ever really does, no matter which party pretends to be in power at any given time. It is this ‘Establishment’ with its massive vested interests that finds our stupidity so intolerable and is still frantically searching for ways to fudge the issue completely, to the point where leave really does mean stay, in order to rectify our original wrong thinking. Clear now?
Like ‘The Establishment’ I am starting to wish the government had never pretended to ask us for our views and had saved the money in order to build ever more houses all over our once lovely English countryside to ensure a continuing supply of cheap labour for the future. Well away from where they live of course.
Speaking of which. Back around the middle of last month the wife and I decided to take a jaunt around some of our old stamping grounds in Surrey. This was all fine and we found The Surrey Hills little changed and as beautiful as ever, except for one thing. For mile after mile along the A25 beyond Dorking, towards Guildford, there were yellow signs every few yards informing the subservient car driver that on 29/7 Prudential Ride London in conjunction with The London & Surrey Cycling Partnership would be closing the road completely for a cycle event and this whole route would be a tow zone i.e. leave your car here and it will be removed and impounded. Not only were the signs all along the main route but also extended off to the villages along the way. At least back home they only officially impose one way traffic restrictions upon us, leaving the swerving, cursing, gobbing, litter flinging competitors to make the other side of the road equally impassable.
It doesn’t end there. This event affects a huge area and also means road closures around my cousins place in Merton and also our friends in Hampton Court. Perhaps I shouldn’t object to the main event, inspired by the 2012 Olympics but, like The Hever Triathlon, it attracts thousands to follow the route throughout the year. Not riding solo or in pairs, but in groups or huge pelotons, by no means all well mannered or of the best humour.
Why must we continually kowtow to these uninsured, unregistered, road tax exempt, light jumping, finger gesturing Philistines? Of course I get the charity and fitness angle, over 27,000 competitors took part in this years Ride London and the two day event apparently raised more than ten million pounds for charity but it does not stop after just one or two days if it is anything like our experience at home. Once the route has been discovered it continues in perpetuity on every day of the week, being ridden by cycle clubs holding ‘sportifs’ or practicing en mass, winter and summer, causing misery for residents and visitors alike. The main reason that this blog has strayed so far from its intended original content of country issues and wildlife is that, quite frankly, it is no longer possible to walk our lanes and their environs without being confronted, and often abused, by literally hundreds of cyclists.
We had not even considered relocating to Surrey, as property prices are just prohibitive, for our pockets anyway, but it still came as something of a shock to realise that it too has fallen beneath the iron fist of these pneumatically supported chain cranking despots. Watch out Poland, you could be next!
Having pedals and a slender saddle stuck up your arse seems to indemnify you, not only against the traffic laws by which the rest of us abide, but clearly absolves one of many other laws of the land also. Should I, for instance, walk naked down the road I would undoubtedly, and quite rightly, be arrested under the public indecency laws. Yet many of our major towns and cities now permit massed, naked, cycle events. If I, likewise, take up this noble pastime will I too be deemed above the law I wonder? The rear view of a large sweaty bum, clad in Lycra, is quite bad enough. Imagine then the horror of going for a quiet drive in the country with the wife and kids, looking to spend your share of quality down time indulging in a relaxing luncheon at some idyllic country inn, only, upon rounding a bend, to come up behind some vast mass of naked riders. A veritable ocean of jiggling brown bullseyes and greasy genitalia. Enough to put you right off your chicken in the basket and give the kids nightmares for months I would suggest.
Believe it or not I don’t dislike ordinary cyclists (no, really) who come to enjoy the countryside. Stop at a country pub, relax and enjoy themselves. Likewise walkers and ramblers who we welcome with open arms. They don’t come because they need a challenging new raceway but because they love our countryside just as it is, and God knows it needs all the love it can get if any of it is to survive. The Lycra brigade are, however, a different breed. Its the attitude. With them its nothing but aggression and stress. There appears to be no joy, whatsoever, in their hobby. They all seem to imagine that they are on the final leg of The Tour De France and woe betide any who dare to get in their way as they thunder past, flinging empty drinks bottles and other litter into the hedgerow in their wake as they ooze urgency and arrogance from every pore while straining every muscle in pursuit of a new PB. I should, of course, learn to love them too. Its a big ask.
The owner of the property down the lane, who decided to build a tarmac dam across her front gate rather than clear the ditch opposite with ten minutes of digging, also owns the field behind her house. A footpath runs for a couple of hundred yards across said field, previously owned by a friend of mine. Just an open expanse for as long as I have lived here at least. Suddenly it has been deemed necessary to ‘canalize’ the footpath, by erecting ranch style fencing with additional electric fencing tacked to the top and middle rail on either side to keep out livestock and jolt errant dogs and ramblers back onto the straight and narrow by rattling their fillings with a high voltage reminder not to deviate from their route. This leaves a walkway of about four feet in width, replete with warning signs. It may be a small issue on the scale of things but it now looks about as rustic as an underpass.
The weather has broken now but for me this is a welcome change. Cool bright spring weather is my favorite but the hot humid situation of the past few weeks is simply too much for me. True its been a great year for butterflies and insects in general and in my garden at least several species of bee including the honey variety have been showing in good numbers. Conversely the weather situation has accentuated the deficiencies of our modern specialised farming systems with the dairy industry now polarised in the west and arable in the east. This means that the bulk of straw and fodder must be transported from one side of the country to the other where it is needed.
You may remember that my neighbours across across the lane thought they might have water voles in occupancy around their rather large pond. A close examination has failed to produce further evidence, such as burrows with a close cropped ‘lawn’ around the entrance or additional sightings, and they now accept that my original suspicions that the observations made by themselves and their friends were more probably of brown rat were correct. This is an easy mistake to make as brown rats are also quite aquatic and will not hesitate to take to the water if disturbed or in pursuit of food.
Better news is that the tadpoles, kidnapped from the same source, may have survived in my tiny version. My friends told me that the spawn they observed was in globular masses (frog) rather than long strands (toad), however during the recent heavy rain I noticed dozens of both juvenile common frogs and common toads hopping around my lawn. It seems the grass snakes didn’t get them after all.