Let the music play (but please keep the noise down!)
I’M feeling a bit disempowered – as if my birthright has been stolen in the night. Not as dispossessed, admittedly, as the American Indians said to have sold Manhattan for trinkets worth $24, but let down nonetheless. Having finally come to terms with middle age (and, golly, aren’t the psychotherapy sessions dear?) I’m ready to exercise the righteous indignation of a fully-paid-up Grumpy Old Man. Indeed, it’s my biological calling.
The perfect opportunity for a cross-generational rant comes with Emma’s announcement that she and her friends want to go to this summer’s Latitude festival at Henham Park, near the A12 Southwold turn-off. I should launch into a full-blown condemnation of modern pop – it’s all just noise; you can’t hear the words; and, when you can, it’s gibberish; they’re not a patch on The Sweet – but all I can manage is a cheap shot of sarcasm as she asks for a loan to buy tickets. “It’s like Ireland expecting the EU to rescue it,” I say, half-heartedly.
My apathy is born of disappointment. Like BBC comedy, festivals are now too middle class: nice, but lacking edge. Rock ’n’ roll is these days served with a side-order of poetry and Radio 4 comedy performers at places like Glastonbury. Goodness, the dad of one of Emma’s friends is planning a Latitude visit this year. An aged hippie with a Harley-Davidson? No, he’s an accountant.
What annoys me most is that I have no idea who these acts are. I want to sneer “Tinchy Stryder? Pwuh! You should have seen Hendrix on the Isle of Wight in ’70,” or “Woodstock in ’69 . . . now that really did shape the history of rock ’n’ roll.” I have morphed into my dad, with my own modern take on his lament of “why does Top of the Pops have this Bowie person? Val Doonican’s got a much richer voice, and he doesn’t need make-up”.
True, I can’t fire both bores at Glastonbury when they present legends such as Rolf Harris and Stevie Wonder, but I bet acts like The Dead Weather and Seasick Steve couldn’t hold a candle to Slade and T.Rex. And as for Latitude 2010 performers Dirty Projectors, The Strange Boys, School of Seven Bells and Tokyo Police Club . . . great names, but I’m afraid their undoubted talents have yet to impinge on my consciousness. “Admit it, Dad; you just can’t accept you’re crusty,” fires Emma. “You still think of yourself as young enough to be in the mainstage crowd at 11.30pm, but you’re in bed with Ovaltine and a hot-water bottle.” Steady, girl, or the bankers of Brussels might well book you a front seat in the poetry tent for the weekend. All of it . . .