Determined to squeeze every last drop of pleasure from continental Europe before Theresa and co wind up the drawbridge, last month we headed to Holland for the Welcome to the Village festival. The drive to Leeuwarden took years, following the North Sea coast through France and Belgium. Way too much time in a van with people I only normally hang out with at night, watching them consume a fat kid’s diet of McDonald’s, ice cream and Fruit Pastilles.
But it was worth it, once we finally landed up in our Dutch paradise.
We’ve always said go hard or go home and we weren’t heading back through that Eurotunnel anytime soon. After-parties turned into pre-parties. We fell asleep upright on dancefloors. How could you fail to fall for a festival that provides a Polaroid dating service for artists? My companion scrawled a quotation from Nietzsche on a Post-it note — ‘morality is a metaphysical virus’ — and added my number.
Blacklung made their European debut. Dan did some trademark staring and the girl at the back held his gaze. One day we’ll find her …
We went over the edge and back again, my companion bursting into unsolicited, incoherent monologues, a naked sleepwalker gradually stumbling into the bewildering arms of consciousness. That works for me. I need to catch a flight to Vienna on Monday. What?
The world revolved around our demented picnic bench. Knocking back drinks in the blink of an eye. Conversations laced with promise.
Serchio Bathing Party were in their element, performing on a stage on an inland beach with avant-garde pioneers Bismuth. The girls by the lake turned the pages of their paperbacks in time.
The Character even made an appearance.
In fact, he fell in love, lying in a bath with his Dutch doppelganger and rowing into the lake after the Serchio Bathing Party set. Some meeting of minds beneath the black hoods. Which all goes to show that there’s nothing fictional about secondary narcissism.
But all good things must pass. ‘You can see why Hitler found it so easy to invade Holland,’ said my companion as we sped home across the flatlands in our Mercedes van, Arvo Pärt blasting from the stereo.
Before we got to Calais we took a moment to stretch our legs on the sun-drenched beaches of Dunkirk. We stared out to sea, contemplating borders and boundaries. The ghosts of war.
Give us some time to regroup in the White Hotel and soon enough we’ll be back, brothers-in-arms, liberators of the modern world, unshackling Europe from the invisible chains of the heart and mind, knowing we’re free to be whoever we want to be. Just like Dan from Oasis. Our hero.