AT the end of a summer which saw a number of festivals including Creamfields become a complete washout, the same definitely can’t be said of a festival-themed book from Eyemouth author Alan Dearling.
The Haymon Cove writer’s latest offering ‘Travelling Daze’ is on its way to becoming one of his most successful to date, with £3000 worth of copies sold in just a few weeks.
Over the years Alan has turned his pen to a number of subjects including education and the east Berwickshire coast but ‘Travelling Daze’ allowed Alan to write about one of his major passions in life - music.
Speaking to Alan a few weeks ago from the confines of his own living room rather than a field full of revellers, it became clear he was the ideal candidate to write a book on the people for whom going to festivals has become a way of life and the experiences they’ve shared. A lover of music from a young age, writing songs while he was at school, it would be fair to say Alan was bitten by the festival bug immediately.
“I’ve always been a lover of music, and the first festivals I went to were free ones, Harmony Farm and Phun City which pre-dated larger free ones at Windsor and Stonehenge,” he reminisced.
“Growing up I always remember being struck by the tremendous range of festivals to choose from. Festivals like Isle of Wight are still going today but back then you had anything up to 700,000 people there and there were no security fences. There was little difference between punter of performer back then - there certainly weren’t any big VIP areas or hospitality suites.”
In the eyes of modern day festival goers Glastonbury is the hottest ticket in town and although he’s unsure whether he’ll make the journey to Somerset for next year’s event, Alan is already well versed in all things Glasto having been to 13.
“Glastonbury was the first festival within a festival,” he continued.
“Like a lot of people I was attracted to its open green fields and although now people are more concerned about who’s on the lineup the top end of the festival is still more of a ‘hippy area’ if you like, full of travelling vehicles and spots dedicated to divination, yoga and alternative energy. The people involved in the early days of Glastonbury spawned the Green Gatherings which are attended by a wide range of people from punks to reggae artists.”
Alan said for him a successful festival was as much about the atmosphere and ambience as the music.
“When you hit a good festival you know pretty much straight away,” he explained. “The ones I enjoy the most have a real spirit and a sense of community. You can talk to people in a much more natural way about shared beliefs and things you have in common.
“I do go to some festivals for who’s on the bill but for me it’s more about meeting up with old friends and making new ones.”
In the last few years, a variety of acts such as Beyonce, U2 and Coldplay have proved big draws for festival goers and Alan said that going back to when he started going to festivals he was luckily enough to see some musical legends as they were just coming into their own.
“I remember being at the Isle of Wight Festival and hearing ‘Tommy’ by The Who for the first time and getting to see The Doors, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix. You realised that what you were seeing was something special. And at the other end of the scale I witnessed one of Jonny Cash’s last performances. He may not have been on top form but the crowd willed him to succeed.”
The performers on stage only tell half the story of the festivals that tempt people back again and again. It is the people behind the scenes or those who live for journeying the length and breadth of the country to go to them that can offer a different side to the tale.
“It’s not the first time I’ve written a book about travellers and I wanted to emphasise to them that I wanted to do a book with them rather than about them.”
“The idea was to let them tell their own stories. I wanted the book to reflect the range of people involved in the movement. They’re not all alike.”
The contents of ‘Travelling Daze’, whether it be pictures, words or both have certainly struck a chord with many both in and outwith the travelling community. Orders have so far come in from the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Australia, USA, France and Slovenia.
You can get your copy by visiting www.enablerpublications.co.uk.