This time last week I was at home, recovering from the
Isle of Wight
Festival and basking at the sheer joy of being home, and clean,
and on a proper bed, and clean, and having had more than three
hours sleep, and importantly…being clean.
The idea to go the Festival was first seeded over a bottle of
wine, when I asked my friend whether being the tender age of 32 and
13 months made me too old to go to a festival. A gentle 'No babe'
was given in reply and a plan was hatched. Yes it might rain a bit,
yes it would involve camping and I'd be cold, but we'd have each
other and booze, which would make it all okay, right?
Our plan first seemed at risk when the weather report in the
week ahead looked shoddy at best. 'No fear', I said. 'I have a
Kagool and Jack Daniels, it will be ace.' The closer it got to the
event, the more it rained and the more nervous I became about it
being a mud-fest. So, I put my hope into modern communications to
aide me. After all, knowledge is power.
I became obsessed with weather reports and following anyone
vaguely useful on Twitter,
from official festival organisers and ferry operators through to
anyone tweeting about their journey. Come Thursday afternoon, day 1
of the festival, tales of woe were literally flooding in and there
was a Twitter frenzy with people complaining of being trapped in
their cars and on ferries in the Solent. No one could get
into the festival site due to mud and social media was awash with
panic. Rumours were spreading that thousands were trapped, the main
stage was sinking and the whole thing had been called off.
People wanted answers. What they got were two tweets. One at 2pm
in the afternoon saying that there were some difficulties getting
people on site. The next one six hours later saying 'Cerys Matthews
is opening the Big Top' which was understandably met with a torrent
of expletives from people who were still stuck on the road and
hadn't moved in eight hours.
It comes down to this. If you have a Twitter presence, use it.
If people have questions, answer them. If you have nothing to say
or update people on, tell them. Just keep in touch. The organisers
said that they were busy helping people get on site which is why
they were unable to talk to media or put updates on Twitter. This
sounds noble enough but just doesn't cut it in an age where
everyone is online. Knowledge is power but if you opt for radio
silence, you lose that power and the online world will make up
their own reality.
In the end, after purchasing an extra groundsheet and an extra
bottle of Jack Daniels to see me though, we had a surprisingly easy
journey to the festival. Yes we renamed it 'Mudfest 2012', yes the
mud will haunt me for years to come and yes it was a brilliant
weekend in the end, but poor social media management meant that we
could have called it off altogether.
So, my two 'take-aways' from the weekend are as follows. Silence
isn't always golden, and white isn't always a sensible choice for
festival attire - evidence below.