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I'm still tired. This is all I remember. It starts with this: A single sheet of paper, inscribed. The date is today's date. The time is now.

>Run "V2002"

Welcome to V2002, Virgin Musical Festival simulation. Which site would you like to visit: Hylands Park, Staffordshire, or Weston Park, Chelmsford?

>Hylands Park

You are in a car in a Manchester street. It belongs to your friends. They are in the front of the car. Your girlfriend is riding in the back with you. The sun is shining, it is a beautiful day. The whole weekend is ahead of you. You sense excitement in the air.


You are carrying:

>Goto house. Get tickets. Get sleeping bag. Get tent. Get into car again.

You are sitting in the back of the car again. There is still a sense of excitement. It is now mixed with relief.

>Use car

You can't "Use car". The car keys are mysteriously no longer in the ignition.

>Get stressed. Find car keys.

You retrieve the car keys from the boot. You drive to Weston Park.

You are at Weston Park, Staffs. You park the car, and set off for the campsite. You are given a fashionably orange camping wristband. You head to the far corner of the campsite where you know the grass is greener, and the air is clear.

>Pitch tent

Do you want to pitch the tent properly or quickly?


The tent is up. You have chosen to pitch it in a wind tunnel. If the wind gets up it could collapse.

>Fix tent

You can't "Fix tent". You know nothing about modern tent design. You mumble a few words - "...twisted...too far out...stretched...torsion..." and move bits of tent around, ineffectually. The wind calms.

>Goto festival arena.

Some time passes. You arrive in the arena. It feels familiar, as you were here only a year ago. It's as if everything was uprooted block by block at the end of V2001, and carefully re-assembled last week. Through the funfair, you can see the main stage ahead of you, The NME stage to your right, and the JJB Puma Arena to your left. Shops line the route, selling assorted festival wares, rings, retro clothing, henna tattoes. Oddly, no-one is selling music.

>Buy beer tokens.

You now have 20 beer tokens. Cheekily, they are valid for one day only. Each token is worth one pint of Budweiser, one of the main sponsors of V2002. There is no other beer. Of course, you could drink cider, or something from the Spirits & Mixers tent.

>Get beer quick, you fool!

You have beer. You drink. The beer tastes good in the heat of the day, as you lounge on the grass. But shouldn't you be listening to some music right about now? You really should find out who's playing when.

>Buy trusty laminated festival running order guide. Examine guide.

You buy one "trusty festival running order guide". According to the guide, Counting Crows are responsible for the noise coming from the main stage. And there was you thinking it was a tribute band. They are covering "Wonderwall". You begin to feel nostalgic for The Mike Flowers Pops. According to the guide, The Coral are playing on the NME stage.

>Goto NME stage.

You walk up towards the NME stage, stopping off for a beer. You are at the NME stage. The Coral are playing a decent set, in a shake-yer-maracas, Shed 7, larging it, it's 1992 all over again sort of a way. You're enjoying it, but secretly you wish it was 1992, or that this was Shed 7. Your girlfriend points out that Royksopp, who you just know are too good to miss, will be in the JJB Puma Arena shortly.

>Buy beer. Goto JJB Puma Arena.

You are at the JJB Puma Arena, where Royksopp are playing a brilliant set. They are a Norweigan pair, friends and remixers of Kings of Convenience, sometimes dancey, sometimes chilled, they play good, they look good, as all Norweigan bands do. Some people nearby are dancing. Possibly. The set covers the best moments from "Melody A.M.", including a storming "Eple". You are enjoying the music, but it's hot in the tent.

>Goto grassy area somewhere near main stage. Wait. Talk.

You are sitting down in the evening sun talking. You bought a beer on the way. You can't be arsed to get up and walk all the way to the NME stage to watch Idlewild, so you stay where you are until Doves are due to play.

>Go listen to Doves.

You are listening to Doves. As usual, they are brilliant. They're a bit tighter than last year, and now have more hits to draw from: "Caught by the River", "Catch the Sun", and a truncated "Cedar Room" are fireworks lighting the darkening sky. You are happy. You buy beer. All too soon, Doves complete their set. It is headline act time.

>Goto main stage.

You are at the main stage, listening to Stereophonics. You are suprised at how much you are enjoying yourself, considering you've always thought them a bit average. I mean, they're alright in their own way, but there's not much variety in it is there?

>I don't care. They're rocking it tonight, and Kelly Jones is even getting away with his new pseudo-mullet look.

Fair enough. Crazy people surf the crowd, while others content themselves with chucking beer over random strangers. You keep cool. You know all the songs, why worry? The Stereophonics play out the rest of their set. You can't find your meeting point, but you're better off than the stumbling stranger who cryptically asks you where "C" is. Something tells you he will be sleeping under the stars tonight.

>Goto tent.

Some time passes. You are in your tent. It has not blown over or collapsed. You worry too much. You talk over the day's highlights for a while.


You pass the night in uneasy sleep, having forgotten to bring any kind of pillow. Again. You awake early. Your friends are cooking breakfast. Do you want to eat breakfast?

>You bet!

You eat bacon and veggie-burger sandwiches. Scrumptious.

>Goto Portaloo

Nuh-uh, no way. You are not going near one of those plastic houses of stench. Do you want to throw up?

>I guess not.

Good. Hold it in. You pack up the tent, and take everything to the car. You move the car to a convenient getaway spot to avoid the late rush out. You head towards the main stage, buy beer, and find a good spot near the stage. A man appears - "Hello, I'm Ed Harcourt, and these are my friends". He begins. You listen. He's awesome. Perfect festival stuff, albeit slightly deranged. As is the way of gigs, there's more energy and passion in the music than on the studio versions. He apologises for only having one piano. You later find out he burned his other piano the day before, in Chelmsford. You don't mind, because during the set, he plays a gong, and a tiny drum set. You make a mental note after the set ends to listen to "Here Be Monsters" more often.


Good man. Some time passes. The Mull Historical Society begin their set. You are loving it. This is festival heaven. You are surprised by Stuart McIntyre's confidence and strong vocals. The band rip through "Watching Xanadu", "I tried", "Animal Cannabus", closing with their eponymous signature tune. You sing along occasionally (shame!). You wish they had been higher up the running order, given a longer set.

>Examine running order

There's nothing great on. You want the obligatory festival donuts, so you buy Chudos. You could eat fifty of them, they taste that good. You settle on two. You head over to the NME stage to check out Halo. They're not too bad considering they're churning out variations on one theme - Rawk! It's a tad clunky, though. You hear a rumour that Oxford's finest, Supergrass, are in the signing tent.

>Goto signing tent.

Bad luck! It was just a rumour. A passing stranger helpfully points out that "Supergrass are wankers". You ignore him. Still, you get to listen to Elvis Costello while you're in the queue. For an old man, he's doing well, mixing songs you know ("Chelsea", er..., and some others) with ones you don't. Supergrass will be on the main stage soon. You buy beer, and food. Some time passes. You go to the main stage. Supergrass appear. You haven't seen them since way back when, V96.

>Enjoy Supergrass

How could you not enjoy Supergrass? They play a blistering set, mixing classics from "I should Coco" ("Caught by the Fuzz", "Strange Ones") with more recent barnstormers ("Sun hits the sky", "Richard III", "Mary") and tracks from the forthcoming fourth album, which you all agree sound like a return to the good old days of the early material, as opposed to more recent releases, which you describe as being "a bit wanky".

>Go back to NME stage. I hear Sigur Ros are quite good.

They are, it's a mellow early evening chillout moment, as you listen to the last half of their set. The lead singer has an incredible falsetto (you hope), and the songs work their way inside your head, weaving a rainbow of sound. He appears to be playing guitar with a violin bow, but you are too far away to be sure. You make a mental note to see if they've appeared on any Uncut magazine cover CDs. After a short time, The Beta Band start their set.


You worry. The last time you saw the Beta Band you thought it was the worst gig since you had to review Pop Will Eat Itself for the student newspaper. Your fears are ungrounded, however. This time, they get it right. Even "Dry The Rain" (perfectly timed as the sun hides behind grey clouds, and the rain falls like bullets from the sky), announced as "its last live airing for two or three years, so say goodbye to it" is brought near to the arching beauty of the studio version. Your girlfriend points out that the Beta Band aren't as cool as she thought. "The lead singer's just rough." And he is as well. But what the hey. They finish with four band members playing some sort of percussion jam. Amazingly, they defy common sense and carry it off. Your friends think they were "ace!". You nod vigorously. I know you want to go to the JJB Puma Arena, so off you go.

>Buy beer on the way.

Good point. You buy beer, and enter the tent. It's packed. On stage, Turin Brakes have just started an acoustic set. The crowd absolutely bloody love them. you absolutely bloody love them. You try to remember other acoustic gigs you've been to, but only Robyn Hitchcock stands out. This is the nuts. Every song's closing chords are greeting with ecstatic uproar, the atmosphere is note perfect. The new songs sound like the old songs, the old songs sound like each other, but no-one seems to notice. It's hard to believe them when they say they were "shitting themselves" before coming on. Ollie Knights sings to perfection, while Dale Paridjanian's guitar solo on "Underdog" gets the kind of adulation your friend compares to "the leader of the party's speech at a Tory party conference". You nod vigorously. You want to be a part of this band, right here, right now. Sadly, they finish. You head to the front of the tent to wait for Badly Drawn Boy.

>What's that smell? and why are my feet sticking to the ground?

I have no idea, but it's ungodly, whatever it is. You stand on the wooden board next to you, to avoid stick-in-the-mud issues. You ignore the hecklers, and wait patiently for the star of this evening's line-up. He appears, stage left, and exits, appears again, stage right, and exits again. He's milking his time in the spotlight, alright. Eventually, he deigns to perform for the gathered masses, having thanked "all the support bands for, er, showing up. cheers." Tracks drawn from "Hour of the Bewilderbeest" are interspersed with a few from "About a Boy". Not for the first time this weekend, you make a note to stop neglecting these albums. And then, it's all over.

>Go home

You have no choice. You return to the car, and make a swift exit, taking advantage of your forethought in moving the car earlier. You're home by 1 a.m., and reminiscing. You go to sleep at 3, forgetting to set the alarm, and are woken by the taxi outside at 5:45. You pack almost nothing, and leave several items behind. You make it to the station in time for your train, board, sleep, and go to work.


Not likely. You're at work, remember?




Thank you for p(l)aying V2002. How about a nice game of chess?

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