Now I’d heard Download (the biggest rock music festival in Britain) being called Drownload a few times before I actually went there, but I never really took it too literally. Here is my warning to anyone thinking of attending, or working the festival. Its called Drownload because there is the chance you may literally drown.
Okay, maybe you won’t drown, but you may come back from the festival with a lot less stuff than you attended it with. I lost my place to sleep, my lift home, a pair of boots, most of my gear, and my festival virginity at Donington Park in 2016.
Yes, this was my first festival, and before the festival I was so excited. I’d wanted to go to Download for years, but my meager bank account had always stopped me being able to attend. So when the option came to go and actually get paid in return for it. I couldn’t wait to sign up.
The first few days were amazing, the sun was blazing, everyone was hyped, the public were all in good spirits. This is what I’d always dreamed that Download would be like. The biggest issue in that time was that the park is situated right by a motherfucking airport. Every 45 minutes the whole place seemed to shake as an airplane took off or landed just above our heads. This was hell for my Autistic, hypersensitive ears, but the atmosphere more than made up for it.
But when the music started something strange happened. Apparently rock music angers the god of weather. The rain began, now I’m not talking a drizzle of rain, I mean rains of biblical proportions. The end of days was nigh. It was like god had been on a week long bender, and needed to empty his bladder all over Donington Park.
The site I was working on, the campervan site, turned into a swamp. It was impossible to walk through, if you stopped moving you would get stuck in the ground which had become the equivalent of quick sand. There was a cabin that was safe from the torrential downpour but this was for the ticket salesmen, us meager stewards and security guards were not worthy of a dry place. (thank god, for water proofs).
After about 10 hours of the great floods, we began to hear rumors that things weren’t going great back at the staff campsite. But it wasn’t until we finished our shift that we realised the actual extent of the damage.
Now when we had arrived, we had chosen a lovely spot under the trees at the bottom of the hill. Right by the toilets (so we wouldn’t have to walk far for a piss). The shade from the trees had helped to keep us cool in the blistering heat. But now, our shaded sanctuary at the bottom of the hill had disappeared.
Now we had a swimming pool, made up of water from a burst pipe, and the piss and shit that had ran down from the portaloos. The problem with the swimming pool was that it was situated under and inside our tents!
When I got back to camp, my mate (who i was sharing a tent with) was packing up his stuff and loading it into the car. So were a few others from our team. I probably should have gone too, as all my stuff was soaked, and stinking, and some of my stuff was even destroyed. But I’d signed up to work the entire festival and one thing about me is that if I say I’m going to do it. I do it.
So, the guys who were going left. I had decided to stay, so rather than go in and enjoy the festival (which had been my plan when I finished my shift) I now had to sort somewhere for me to sleep, and some kit for work the next morning.
The dining hall had been transformed into a refugee camp, all the staff whose tents were ruined had assembled there. So I headed there and got told that the company we were working for was sorting out tumble driers for our gear, replacement tents, sleeping bags, and blow up mattresses.
I got a new tent, and moved to another campsite, this one wasn’t much better as the ground was red clay, i was soaked, the tent was stinking by the time it got set up. But I was tired and needed to sleep.
The next day the rains continued, we got soaked again, this time i gave up with the tent, instead i took my gear, sleeping bag and mattress and slept in the refugee camp with all the other homeless stewards.
This is how I spent the remainder of my time at Download. When it was time to go home, I still had the issue of no lift. Me and two others from our team jumped on the minibus of the company we were sub contracted to. It was a long drive home, helped by the fact that we had good company, good music, and it was dry. But I had never been so happy to see Cardiff.
Sadly I soon got sick of Cardiff too, as we waited around for ages with our gear, outside the Motor-point Arena for our lift back to Penrhys.
When I got home, I thought to myself “the next one can’t be worse than that one”.
Little did i know, the next one was “T in the Park”. It would be worse …
Thanks for taking the time to read this, the next steward diary will be uploaded soon and will focus on the absolute fuck-up that was the friendly Scottish festival.
Leave a like or a comment, and check out some of my other posts in the meantime.
“The School Dropout”