Kay has spent the last 5 days at the Reading Festival. Having got all her horrible exams and revision out of the way, she is at last able to let her hair down. I was more than happy to see her off with her friends at the crack of dawn on Thursday (5am) to get to Reading in time to get a good spot for the tent. I was only a tad worried - the day before, it had been raining cats and dogs, in fact, no, it had been sloshing lions and whatever the bigger version of dogs are. All day Wednesday the South of England had seen a monsoon. I could almost believe that a whole year's rainfall had come down in one day. So by Thursday morning, any normal grass was looking a bit waterlogged. Add to that 87,000 pairs of feet trekking across it with rucksacks and wellies and you had a swamp. Did anyone see those pictures of it on the national news? If not, here they are again.... Lots and lots of squelchy mud. But still, I didn't worry. After all, Kay and her friends are sensible.
I had told her not to bother ringing me frequently but to enjoy herself. Just the one call a day perhaps to let me know she was alive, which she dutifuly did on Thursday and Friday. I felt pleased she was having a good time. However, Saturday's late-night call alarmed me a lot. Earlier on, she and her friends had bagged a spot at the front centre stage at the main arena to watch some of the big groups including the Maccabes, the Cribs and the Libertines . But 87,000 teenagers and youngsters were all trying to do the same, pushin' shovin' and swayin' to the music. After some six hours in the same spot, Kay knew the crowd was growing, the pushing increasing and she was becoming trapped against the front metal barrier. There was no room to put a pin. She tried to fight the force by pushing back, but her arms had fallen below the level of the barrier and there was literally no room to lift them and place them on the barrier to push hard, such was the crush. She was stooped forward, arms down,with her ribs being crushed more and more against the metal bar. She said she could feel her last breath being squeezed out of her. It was then that she alerted a security guard to lift her over the barrier to safety. He was able to lift her free, she put her arms round his neck and was whisked into the air over the barrier, leaving the person behind her to take her place in the crush. In fact, she was not the first to be lifted over and her friends eventually followed her some 40 minutes later,when they too felt the life being squeezed out of them. Kay reasssured me she was fine, although definitely bruised. I did not sleep easy that night.
She has returned this morning safe, although definitely not sound. She still has big bruises on her ribcage to prove it and she was sick twice on the return journey. She said that the toilet facilities were pretty crude,stank to high heaven and there was nowhere to wash hands. What with all the mud sloshing about, hygiene was very difficult to maintain, even with the use of bacterial hand gel which the girls had been sensible enough to pack. Whether she has a gastric virus or has picked up food poisoning is up for debate, but from the symptoms and the probability, our money is on the virus! When kids are small, you worry they are going to fall over and hurt their knee. When they are bigger, you don't stop worrying. But apparently a great time was had by all.