I returned home from Bestival to find an email from a schoolfriend who I hadn’t seen in years. While I wish I’d known that she was there, so to have met her, I was still very happy to read it – “Hallo Nick, was reading the Bestival News and it said at the bottom ‘edited by Nick Pollard’, wasn’t you by any chance was it? X”. It was. It cheered me up to know that I was noticed by at least someone.
The Bestival Bugle was a paper, founded by Toby Collard in 2005, that is issued daily at the festival, covering the event in humorous fashion, assuming headlines like “Sigur-Sig-Ah” on the subject of Sigur Ros, are your kind of thing. However, while a joy to read in its printed form, its production was much harder work, as I would find out as an assistant to its creation at Bestival 2012. While my writing input was limited (one article each day, and written by hand before being typed up by Toby), I was responsible for a lot of the more physical work. I bounced around the site like a pinball, sorting out competition winners, interviewing attendees and covering several events, such as the fashion show. The latter took place alongside photographer Shaun Baxter. Each of the issues can be read here in their double-sided A3 glory.
DAY 1: WEDNESDAY
This was the final big event of my degree that I was stunned to get on having not noticed the offer email from the university. Shockingly, in spite of the offer being sent to 60 students, I was the only Popular Music Journalism student to even reply. I remember having to leave for the festival at stupid-o-clock (going to Southampton Solent University, only to get a coach straight back to Portsmouth for the ferry to Isle of Wight). Myself and fellow zombie students eventually arrived in Ducky Camp (the bizarrely named camping area for the stewards, which was irritatingly a very long trek from the arena. I still don’t know why it had that name. In spite of being far out, it had a great, big, pink wooden sign above its entrance arch. The fact that those arranging the festival went so far to stylise an area that so few would see, and was doomed to permanently be under an air of miserable tiredness, goes to show its charming eccentricity.
While the performers hadn’t yet invaded it, I fell asleep in the hallowed VIP bar behind the second stage – The Lucky Kitten (the little brother of the main stage’s similarly oriental tinsel-geddon bar, The Lucky Cat). A few minutes later, I was inevitably kicked out.
DAY 2: THURSDAY
Although I wasn’t permitted into the VIP bars, I decided to have a nose around the site to find out where I was allowed to go with my staff armband. This actually led me to event organiser Rob Da Bank’s office. He wasn’t in there, and I stumbled across it completely by accident. I spotted the sign on the door and realised that a security guard had made a mistake by letting me through one of the gates. Either way, I was lucky enough to meet Rob backstage in an area of cabins for the higher ranking staff. Very friendly he was too.
Speaking of those buildings, I can recall being pretty flabbergasted when seeing A3 pieces of paper being cello-taped to the doors of the portacabins, with the band names on. You hear about ridiculous demands by acts, yet that was where headliner Florence & The Machine would be staying for the afternoon.
DAYS 3-5: FRIDAY TO SUNDAY
One baffling moment came on the Friday when I walked out of the press area, and past Swedish folk-duo First Aid Kit, on their way to an interview. At the time, I didn’t know much about them besides their music, and how they were portrayed visually as quite cute and baby-faced, as is generally the case with most young (and especially female) popular talent who can play their own instruments. I think that I had only ever seen them sat down with their guitars, and my jaw dropped as I noticed that they are really tall. They are both about 6’1″, and were aided further by the big heeled boots. Nosing around interviews now, it seems that every second interview feature with them refers to their height, but I made the discovery in person.
The interviews led to various hardships such as being attacked by four people dressed as ‘security ostriches’, reminiscent of Rod Hull and Emu’s attack on Michael Parkinson… but the scale was quadrupled. This was quite a price to pay for the tiny picture and single quote in the bottom-left corner of Sunday’s issue. Ironically, this appears below a headline stating “I love the people man… everyone’s so friendly”. However, I had the pleasure of hearing this immortal quote from one of the ostriches, as I continued to ask questions and jot answers down while two of them pecked at my head: “Wow! Quite some journalist this one!” Seemingly more so than one journalist I did speak to backstage, although they shall remain anonymous, who I spotted writing a review of an act that they were not at at the time. Naughty naughty. I know you weren’t really watching Sigur Ros!
As a whole, it wasn’t quite a 100% incite into being a journalist on a festival site, and a tiring experience, but a great experience nonetheless. When I wrote a blog post on the matter, I sneakily closed it on the words “I would do it again.” And sent it straight to Toby, in hope that I would be invited along again. Unfortunately, after eight years, 2012 was the final year that the paper actually ran. RIP The Bestival Bugle.