Friday, 8 September 2017


Three musicians: fiddle, banjo and guitar
The East Pointers, August 2017
I had plenty to do during the Bank Holiday weekend what with the Shrewsbury Folk Festival, another dental appointment, a trip north and trying to grapple further with the LTRP. I disposed of the debris from the garden before getting packed and ready to go to Shrewsbury. I arrived there around noon, thinking I would be among the early birds, but the steward at the festival campsite said "We've already been open for five hours - you'll probably have to camp over there."

'Over there' was a little bit further from the action, but still very close by. In the past my preferred festival has been in Cambridge, which I first attended more than 30 years ago. Cambridge Folk Festival has grown and grown, from a couple of stages and a bit of camping to a huge event sponsored by Radio 2 where tickets are sold out within days (or sometimes hours). The last time I was there was for my 50th birthday, and it was crowded and difficult to navigate about the site, and overflow camping (which is where I would normally go) is a bus ride or a very long walk away.

Compared with that experience, Shrewsbury was amazing. The overflow camping being very close was a bonus, so I pitched the tent and wandered over to the main site to get my wristband and a programme and check out the layout. The stages are inside marquees which weren't yet open, but I caught a glimpse and was surprised and slightly disappointed to see it laid out with seating! Although I don't like sitting on the ground, I do like dancing. How would this work?

Anyway, there was enough time to wander into Shrewsbury town centre (again, much closer than Cambridge) before coming back to the start of the music at about 5pm. Despite my scepticism, the seating was the perfect arrangement - I didn't have to sit on the ground, but there was a section at the front in the main tent specifically for those who wanted to get closer to the bands and dance. So there I was, for my favourite Oysterband, right at the front in the middle when the lead singer came out into the crowd. I happened to meet him later in the weekend, carrying a pint. I didn't realise it until the close of the festival, but he is a local resident and a patron and supporter of the event.

So it was altogether a great improvement on the Cambridge experience, the weather was fine, and the bands were (mostly) wonderful too. I saw a few Canadian and French bands as well as home-grown talent, nearly all unfamiliar but I'd go and see them again if they happened to be touring. Particular highlights were La Machine, The East Pointers, Le Vent du Nord and Daphne's Flight. And, of course, Oysterband. I'll definitely be going back next year.

The following weekend I went to High Wycombe to see the English National Badminton competition. Unfortunately none of the big name players was there, perhaps because the World Championships had taken place just the previous week, but there was enough to see to keep me occupied for the day. I saw the quarter- and semi-finals on Saturday, but didn't go back for the finals on Sunday.

At work I covered the ante-natal clinic for a colleague who was on holiday. I think there were twelve appointments altogether (one DNA), up to 30 minutes each, for women who have been diagnosed in the past week. This was their first appointment about the diagnosis of gestational diabetes, so they each saw the nurse first. She explained the diagnosis and its consequences and gave them a blood glucose meter and lots of paperwork, then passed them on to me where I said pretty much the same thing eleven times. By the end I had completely lost track of what I had said to whom, but I think it went OK. I don't quite know how my colleague copes with this every week - once was enough for me.

The only other item of note is that my iron count was too low to donate blood this week - oh dear, but also, hooray! All the virtuous smugness of doing a good deed without actually having to go through with it, and my haemoglobin level was low but still within the normal range so I'm not anaemic. I was also given a leaflet giving me all the advice that I am used to giving out to patients...

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