Monday 25th June 2018
Home time. A staggered leaving of the festival. Chris, Sharron, Gabe and Lewis were booked on the 6am ferry. I think they'd made the decision sometime during The Killers set that that wasn't happening. In the past you turn up at East Cowes and they get you on the next available ferry. Obviously they like you to turn up on the ferry you're booked on but at the end of the day they just want you off the island ASAP. This year with the numbers involved it wasn't gonna be so simple. I think Chris and crew were stuck in Cowes for the best part of ten hours.
The girls were on the 7.45am coach from the festival. No choice with that one. If you miss it you really are stuck there. A ludicrous time of day but they all made it. Brooky was on the more civilised 11am Ryde-Portsmouth one. I was booked on the 5.30pm with my coach from Southampton at 8pm but as mentioned the band had offered me a lift home. 9.30pm ferry but still get home quicker than with National Express. Allegedly.
So as everyone was packing up I wandered off in search of coffee and bacon. A security guard collared me and gave me a carrier bag full of beer confiscated off people last night. The no can policy at the festival does seem very random and it all depends on where you're camped. I wasn't complaining though. Fed and watered I said my goodbyes to people then started to pack my tent away. More goodbyes, this time to the myriad of insects who steadfastly refused to get out of my tent and are still in there, and I'm guessing probably in a bad way. I managed to get hold of Sam who asked if I wanted to go up to their tipi 18 miles away. I looked at my bags, looked at the burning sun, looked at the entrance to the car park 30 yards away where Sam's car was parked and lazily declined. I lay in the sun for a while before Sam, Rich and Ross arrived with their gear. We packed it in the car then yomped to the tipi to get everything else, including Stars. I copped for the merch box all the way back. Really wish we'd sold more merch.
And that was that, everyone and everything in the car we set off. We had to be off site by 12pm so were prepared for a long wait somewhere. It was a tad cramped and again I said I was more than happy for them to drop me in Cowes and I'd make my own way but they were having none of it. We tried for an earlier ferry but they also were having none of it. They pointed us in the direction of the nearest pub which became home for the next 8 hours. No complaints. The Folly Inn, Whippingham is a lovely pub on the banks of the River Medina with cold beer, excellent food and stunning views.
The band embarked on some social media work as I just chilled, watched some football, went for a walk and basically relaxed. Sat with my mates who have just stormed the Festival Main Stage on a glorious day in a beautiful place. Doesn't get much better than that. This was always planned as the last photo of the Isle Of Wight tale:
Ross dived into the menu again.
I had my Slow Readers Club t-shirt on. BBR had recently supported TSRC at Manchester Cathedral and gained another boost to the ever growing BBRMY. Some Readers clocked my t-shirt , we had a chat, I asked if they'd caught Bang Bang Romeo (they had and loved them) and casually pointed out that the band were sat just round the corner. A pleasant hour talking music and the merits of two of the best bands around at the moment.
At around 8pm we decided to head off. Still no chance of an early ferry and were told in no uncertain terms to come back at 9. We did. We got on a ferry, did a sharp left turn that set all the car alarms off and landed in Southampton. We needed petrol which it turns out was a good thing. We got to Eastleigh and stopped to fill up. It was at that point that Stars noticed smoke coming from under the bonnet of Sam's Zafira. We had a look. The oil cap was missing, oil all over the engine was burning. None of us have a clue about cars but we all knew this wasn't good. We abandoned ship as Sam called the AA. Had we not had to fill up god knows what would have happened. By now it's 11.30pm. At one point another Zafira pulled into the garage. The owner nipped in to pay and left his doors unlocked. We genuinely considered nicking his oil cap. We didn't. Some two hours later a mechanic turned up, did the whole sucking air in over his teeth thing and basically decided he couldn't do anything at that moment and that we'd either have to stay there till the morning or get a recovery truck to take us home. We opted for the latter. We waited all looking overjoyed:
Two hours later we'd not heard owt. Sam rang and we overheard words like 'hotel' and 'half-nine'. Sam was told there was no truck coming at that time of night (At what point were the AA gonna let us know?) and we'd have to book into a hotel and wait for a recovery truck that would come between 9am and 10am. Also the truck could only go 50 miles so it would be a relay of trucks taking us home. We were 230 miles from home. It was at this point that Rich, Ross and myself sat in the back seat and just started laughing hysterically. I have no idea why but it was uncontrollable. The AA would reimburse the hotel costs and breakfast. I had a tenner on me, Sam not much more. I never did find out who paid but I'm eternally grateful.
Rich and Ross walked to the Holiday Inn (thankfully only half a mile away) where the receptionist took one look at them and decided they were expecting an influx of people at 2am and there was no room at the inn. Again, thankfully, there was a Premier Inn just a little further on that was far more accommodating. After a three way phone call between Rich, Sam and the AA to discuss fees we were in. They only had 2 double rooms but Tom on reception offered to make up a single bed in one of the rooms. Young lad who really went out of his way to help us out. He was an absolute star. When we'd all arrived and explained who we were and what we'd been up to all weekend he got very excited. His sister had been at the festival and raved about BBR. He asked for a photo. Despite being severely frazzled by now and not looking their best the band happily agreed. So this was to be our home for the night:
The band in one room. me and Sam in the other. I asked the immortal question that I never thought would cross my lips, 'Which side of the bed do you want, Sam?'
Tuesday 26th June
So the AA were paying for breakfast. I properly caned it. Quality stuff too. Sam got the call that our first recovery truck was on it's way and would be with us about 9.45 Our driver was to be Eric and he's a maverick. Another hero of the weekend. Sod the 50 miles. he was doing double that and taking us to Warwick services on the M40. He also told us that last night's mechanic could have done more. A good clean of the engine, top up with oil, new filler cap and good to go. He offered to take us to a garage but with not knowing it would definitely get sorted, more expense and time we opted for the lift home. We all just wanted to be heading in the right direction.
Still, we'd had a comfy bed, a cracking breakfast and Eric's truck was a lot more spacious than Sam's Zafira. Think we were all feeling a little better about things. Eric was constantly trying to get hold of someone to arrange our next truck in the relay but whoever was on duty in the AA offices just wasn't playing. At one point he was on hold for 45 minutes. He finally got through when we were only 15 minutes away from Warwick and, bless him, had a proper rant on our behalf. By now it's 12.30 and the voice on the other end of the phone said our next truck would be around 1.20. Not too bad we thought till Eric informed us she doesn't have a clue and it could well be a 4 hour wait.
So we sat in the services just waiting, drinking coffee, watching YouTube on Rich's phone and nipping out for Stars to smoke all my fags. We worked out that in all my years I've known Stars she probably owes me about 10,000 cigarettes. Now she's quit I've no chance. After about an hour Sam got a call that the truck would be another 40 minutes. After another hour Sam got a call to say that the truck had lost it's roof lights trundling down the M40 and had to go retrieve them. Finally it arrived. We didn't get the driver's name. He was no Eric.
We were on the move again this time heading for Leicester, 45 miles. See, told you he was no Eric. Sam's parents live in Loughborough and he was hatching a plan with his girlfriend Jennah and his parents. If we could get Not Eric to drop us in Loughborough Sam was going to borrow his parents car and Jennah was going to drive down from the North and we'd do the final leg that way. Stars got in on it and Charlotte also agreed to drive down. Absolute legends. We arrived at Sam's parents to cold pints of water, cake and ice-cream and a gorgeous garden to chill in. Ross' car was at Sam's in Sheffield so the plan was that Charlotte would take Stars and Rich home and Jennah would take me, Sam and Ross to Sheffield. So we loaded up and said goodbye to Sam's family and his poorly little car. We were off again, following on Facebook as various members of our party made it home. At some time around about 6pm we were in Sheffield. Me and Ross loaded his car up and we got into our 6th vehicle of the journey (3 cars, 2 trucks and a ferry). I finally walked through my door just in time to catch Nigeria vs Argentina. Isle Of Wight Festival to Bentley in 31 hours. Awesome.
Now obviously had I gone with my original plan of 5.30pm ferry and the National Express I'd have been home way earlier but I'd have been gutted to then hear about their journey and not have been there for them. It was a horrendous journey but made totally bearable because of the company. I love them all dearly.