Friday, 4 August 2017

Dear Mr Motivator,

I saw you at Standon Calling festival recently, and I am writing to thank you.

I assume I am now part of your cult group, and I would be relieved to have your assurance that this is a life cult, rather than a death cult (there are more than enough of the latter, and I hope yours is the former, as it appears).  As it seems to be based on light exercise and motivational platitudes, I gave the benefit of my doubt.  Forgive me, Father, for I am a sceptic.

In the lead-up to the festival, Mr, (can I call you Mr?  I do hope so) I was not well.  In my head.  I had strong feelings I did not recognise, and they were not positive ones. 

But the festival was a good experience.  There were lots of moments that transcended the erstwhile gloom in my brain: the private talk with My Good Friend, the return of another good friend, new friends, CT’s song that made everyone cry, the jam on Friday night that went from sublime to ridiculous and back again and back again, guesting on mandolin with Brother Bus, sharing a stage with AK, the Sunday night closing jam (in which I got to sing a soulful version of In The Aeroplane Over The Sea with a full band including horn section, which would, on most other occasions, be the absolute highlight of my day, but on the day in question was one of many transcendent moments, as this list shows), guesting with the excellent Snazzers and, on a whim, busting out some brand new verses from a brand new song I’ve recently finished writing, The Fatback lads (gawd blessem), who made more than one of my dreams come true, Big D & JC (The String Section) beautifying everything they touched, those assembled on Saturday and Sunday afternoon who indulged/enjoyed/endured all my amplified rambling, and people who even went so far as to buy a CD with my name on…and all the other great examples of PFR Love (in case you’re not familiar with the organisation, Mr, let me just sum up as briefly as I can: The People’s Front Room is a collective and a festival venue and it is full to the brim love and beautifully weird art and great music and wonderful, hilarious, talented people).

All of the above was quite wonderful.

There were low times as well, of course; it was indeed an emotional rollercoaster.  My Good Friend and I discussed some of the difficult feels, which I hope helped.  At one point, I was asked if I am/was Christian (and, regrettably, failed to say/sing “Man, I am tonight!”).
(You know, like in Walking In Memphis by Marc Cohn.  I heard Cher’s version recently.  IT’s fucking hideous, obviously.  The worst thing about it is that Cher pronounces Memphis “Mem-fuss”, which sounds ridiculous.  Even the backing singers echoing her saying “Mem-fuss” don’t pronounce it like that, which only serves to heighten the abject stupidity of it.  Ugh.))

Anyway, all of this led me to waking up at 11.30 on the Sunday and hearing your familiar voice drifting across the site from the main stage.  I don’t know why I came.  Somehow, I just felt it was the right thing to do.  Almost automatically, like a cartoon dog whose nose develops autonomy and drags the rest of the body along after a visibly wafting smell, I came.  Hungover, tired, fuzzy-headed, wondering what the fuck is going on in my head, I came.

I’m not in your usual demographic of middle-aged women at home during the day in the mid-1990s.  But I came along for exactly what I needed: your gently booming voice, uplifting slogans and gentle, arm-waving exercise regime.  It saved me.  You saved me.  From what, I am not entirely sure.  But it worked, and I am grateful.
I gyrated, squatted, marched, stretched and waved along with the crowd, as mesmerised as any other member of the congregation.  Afterwards, I was somehow tired and revived at the same time: spent and refreshed. 
Thanks for that.

So, anyway, Mr Motivator, whatever you need, be it positive sloganeering, calisthenics, proselytising, or the crushing of all opposition, I am your humble servant.

Clayton B.

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