With per­fect tim­ing, Mark Gra­ham brings his three-year Protest of Pos­i­tiv­ity to an end

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FUN & GAMES - ayearoffes­ti­valsinire­land.com

‘W e lost the run of our­selves” - a sum­mary of the bub­ble bath of bad bank­ing de­ci­sions that led to our col­lec­tive sub­mer­gence into eco­nomic hot wa­ter that steams me up like Davy Fitzgearld in the grip of dis­al­lowed-goal-rage.

WE didn’t leave the im­mer­sion on (safe to as­sume the politi­cians and high-rank­ing bank of­fi­cials who had their fin­gers on the switch and hands in the hot-press don’t fre­quent this patch of pa­pier real-es­tate). The throw­away re­frain boils my blood so much, it built up a head of steam pow­er­ful enough to pro­pel me through a three-year cam­paign to at­tend as many Ir­ish fes­ti­vals as phys­i­cal and men­tal well-be­ing would al­low.

It wasn’t just the ac­cu­sa­tion that I had con­trib­uted to our eco­nomic woes that set me off on a steam-pow­ered sulk. I’d squir­reled away a 10 per cent de­posit for a house, but mort­gage ap­pli­ca­tions were met with deaf ears. In one in­stance I was told that if I amassed a 20 per cent de­posit within three months, I could reap­ply. Feck that! Th­ese clowns had a worse credit rat­ing than I did and they were ex­pect­ing me to kow­tow to them?

I used the de­posit to buy a fourth­hand VW cam­per and I de­cided to opt out of our bro­ken bank­ing sys­tem, ven­tur­ing out on what I ini­tially called a “Protest of Pos­i­tiv­ity”. It was re­ally just an elab­o­rate scheme to cheer my­self up. It worked won­der­fully.

The plan was to at­tend three fes­ti­vals ev­ery week for an en­tire year, but I over­shot the tar­get some­what. Dur­ing the first 12 months, I hit 183 fes­ti­vals, and un­able to stop, I con­tin­ued th­ese en-fete frol­ics for three years – and was lucky enough to be af­forded the op­por­tu­nity to pep­per th­ese pages with my me­an­der­ing mis­ad­ven­tures for most of the trip.

Ev­ery shindig in Ire­land

Hav­ing at­tended ev­ery shindig in Ire­land that I’ve ever wanted to sam­ple (and sev­eral I never want to see again), the fren­zied fes­ti­val­ing is be­ing called to a halt. This is the last Fes­ti­val Fit and my ir­reg­u­lar blog­ging will be grind­ing to a com­plete halt.

It’s not that I won’t be go­ing to fes­ti­vals any more, I’ll just be choos­ing more wisely, spend­ing some qual­ity time at the good ones – and the in­ten­si­fied mid­week fear that writ­ing post-fes­ti­val anal­y­sis used to bring will be ban­ished. It’s not a huge tran­si­tion, I was never the most dili­gent of fes­ti­val cor­re­spon­dents, the ex­pe­ri­en­tial ap- proach al­ways won out.

As the leaves start to fall on our fields and on my fes­ti­val jour­nal­ism, I’ve ear­marked a few au­tum­nal chest­nuts to keep up my post-pa­per fes­ti­val fit­ness – Spirit of Folk Fes­ti­val in Meath next week, the cel­e­bra­tion of gypsy jazz and craft beer in Co Tip­per­ary at Cloughto-berfest at the be­gin­ning of Oc­to­ber, and Fad­ing Light Fes­ti­val in Ca­her­daniel Co Kerry over the Oc­to­ber Bank-Hol­i­day week­end. There’ll also be a spin to The Match­mak­ing in Lis­doon dur­ing Septem­ber to in­dulge once more in the de­ranged de­bauch­ery that see’s the usu­ally quaint Co Clare ham­let trans­formed into Ibiza for bog­gers. I can’t re­sist it.

After three years spent sam­pling ses­sions all over our shores on this pre­car­i­ous protest of pos­i­tiv­ity, I’ve learned a thing or two. The only way Monasterevin Venice of Ire­land Fes­ti­val re­sem­bles La Serenis­sima is that I sighed deeply on a bridge there. I would rather dip my gen­i­tals into a starved cage-fight­ing rot­tweiler’s bowl at feed­ing time than at­tend the Bray One Act Drama Fes­ti­val again.

And most im­por­tantly, even though we might still be short of a few bob, the peo­ple I’ve been lucky enough to en­counter at fes­ti­vals all over Ire­land have a wealth of character, cre­ativ­ity, cu­rios­ity, imag­i­na­tion, gen­eros­ity, divil­ment, wild­ness and a deep re­serve of laugh­ter. Thank you all for mak­ing the last three years the best of my life (so far!) and thanks for read­ing.

Safe trav­els, don’t die.

Divil­ment brew­ing: One more cuppa be­fore you go

I need a match: Hughie dis­plays his wealth of character

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