This is the eighth post in a series about a UK road trip that starts here.
Rebecca and I spent our first day wandering the Mini United festival grounds. As I wrote in the last post, Mini owners like to have fun. Cramming is some people’s idea of fun.
I did not participate in the cramming. The most people I have ever had in my car is five. Two of them were men well over six feet tall. I remember the elbows and knees everywhere, and only being able to get up to fourth gear because someone’s foot was blocking the gear stick.
I did happily subject myself to a fake pat down by a fake generic police officer. There are all sorts of things I could write about this, involving naughty British and German stereotypes, but I’ll just say, “Anything for a photo opp with a classic Mini,” and leave it at that.
There was a double-decker bus full of overpriced Mini T-shirts, hats, sunglasses, drink glasses, key chains, and lavishly illustrated souvenir books. I didn’t need to buy anything; I was more than content with my swag bag, which had turned out to contain a bunch of similar Mini trinkets in addition to the bottle opener.
There was lots of racing by professional drivers which I found boring. I’ve never understood the attraction of watching someone drive around and around and around a track.
But then, there were the trick drivers, a la the Italian Job, accompanied by a DJ.
We went back to the VIP tent for our evening feeding, then headed out for the headline concert by Paul Weller. I had never heard of him, or The Jam, his first band. I had never heard The Jam’s number one 1980 hit, Going Underground. There are probably Americans who would be shocked at that, but I was busy changing diapers and going to school full time back then, so I had other priorities.
But also, back in the day, it was probably more possible and quite common for music not to make it over the pond. Not every group was the new Beatles or Rolling Stones, but lots of groups, like The Jam, were huge in their home country.
So Rebecca and I jammed, and I never actually saw Paul Weller because, at 5’3”, I never see anything from the main floor but other people’s heads. There were clearly a lot of drugs in use. A guy near us was hopping on one foot the whole concert, yelling “Whooo!” over and over and over. He was as entertaining as the concert itself.
It had been a long day and we were barely started on all there was to see and do.
We trudged back to the tent, feeling like First Class passengers forced to return to Coach Economy. We should have slept soundly but we were so excited about going back the next day that we stayed up talking in the dark. Besides, Mr. Whooo was camping somewhere nearby, so there was a round of mostly good-natured “Shut up!” from us and our neighbors every 10 minutes until he finally ran out of steam around 3am.