This is the sixth post in a series about a UK road trip that starts here.
We had arrived in Silverstone, England for the Mini United festival tired, hungry, crabby, and on a budget. “You can sleep when you’re dead,” is one of my mottos. Hungry could be fixed with overpriced, tasteless vendor food, but a budget was a budget, and incompatible with a long weekend of overpriced vendor food. I was doing okay financially—obviously—since I could afford the airfare to get there. But Rebecca worked as a carer, which is someone who cares for elderly and handicapped people in their homes. It’s a super important and supremely underpaid job.
We crawled out of the tent and surveyed our surroundings.
Yes, teepees—they’re big over there. I subtly strolled by one that was open to get a look at the interior but didn’t have the guts to take a picture. There’s a permanent platform, so you’re never going to get wet unless it’s flood-mageddon. You rent the teepee with all the gear, which can include cots and coolers and all the bulky heavy stuff that’s a drag to store and pack if you own it.
Is this cultural appropriation? I don’t know. Maybe they’re just triangle-shaped tents. It’s not like these campers were dressing in rawhide and eating dried strips of deer meat and doing war dances. At least, not that I saw.
We used the porta loos, which weren’t bad as far as giant storage containers of feces and urine go. There were sinks with warm water but no showers.
I was having a hard time getting excited. But hey, it was just three days. How bad could it be? I didn’t want to ask Rebecca what she was thinking because it had been my fool idea to come here.
We slogged for what seemed like a mile, following the other ratty-looking campers, to get to the registration point. “Okay I’ll just say it,” I said. “We can walk back to the tent and cook over the stove every meal, which will take forever but save us money. Or we can buy the overpriced food at the concessions.” I was wondering how much a beer would be.
“Yep,” Rebecca replied, stonily. Then she turned to me with a forced but radiant smile, “Let’s just see how it goes!”
“Hmm … what a novel but healthy idea!” I was on board.
“We can always bitch and moan later.”
“Yes, it’s a beautiful day!” I replied, and it was. We were tromping through a farm field on a sunny, warm spring day.
We arrived at the registration point and there was a line a hundred people deep. An employee came by and scanned our confirmations. “Oh,” he said meaningfully, “You’re North Americans.” I didn’t correct him, that Rebecca was not a North American, in case that was a bad thing which would cause her to be ejected.
He waved us over to a different line where no one was waiting. This was good. I showed the confirmation. “Welcome!” our staff greeter said enthusiastically. “Here’s your swag bag.” He handed us each some nice-looking messenger-type bags emblazoned with the festival logo and stuffed with … stuff, to be revealed. “And these are your VIP badges.”
Rebecca and I exchanged glances that said, “do we keep our mouths shut, or not?”
“Thanks for thinking we are VIPs,” I said regretfully, “But we just paid the regular admission like everyone else.” I waved my arm toward the hoi polloi waiting in the very long line.
This guy had the best job in the world, because he got to say this to people: “You are VIPs, because you–you North Americans–are our best customers.” I didn’t feel like an uber customer, but I just smiled and nodded in order not to break the magic.
We made our way straight to the VIP lounge, where we sat speechless, smiling dumbly at one another, emitting the occasional giggle. “What if it’s a mistake?” I kept asking.
“Let’s just stay in here the whole time so we don’t have to risk not being re-admitted!” was Rebecca’s idea. And that’s pretty close to what we did.