Santigold at Bestival © Kate Goodacre, 2011

Bestival 2011 Clockwatch: Thursday, September 8

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10.35: Today's marathon Odyssey down to Bestival - which ultimately requires the use of two buses, two trains, a catamaran, a taxi, the London Underground and my two fat little legs - has begun cheerfully.

A sighting of an Andy F lookalike in Manchester Piccadilly railway station provokes chuckles over an early-morning milky Americano (two sugars), and a sighting of a (very real) Motel co-conspirator Shaun is made even happier by a) the revelation that we will keep each other company on this long journey and b) coincidence of coincidences, we are sitting next to each other on the train. The thirteen-hour journey to the Isle of Wight just got shorter. KG

15.00: London successfully navigated, we dock in Southampton and only have to wait an hour and 45 minutes for the Red Jet to (West) Cowes in fairly pleasant weather - a great contrast to last year's three hour wait at Portsmouth in scorching heat where our group were surrounded by drunk, shrill and marginally annoying young things who appeared to be having far much more fun than we were.

The queue is jovial, and the commuters don't look too irked, with one or two asking if we're going to "the Bestival", bless 'em. Still considering chartering/commandeering a Fugitive Motel speedboat next year, though. Who's in? KG

Wight Rider II onboard Portsmouth to Ryde © Kate Goodacre, 2010

Wight Rider II onboard Portsmouth to Ryde © Kate Goodacre, 2010


16.45 Queuing is genuinely going really well until the discovery that the Red Jet - although it does have GPS which offers a satisfying diversion on the Solent crossing - does not have a toilet. Plus, unlike on Portsmouth's ridiculously-named Wight Rider II (which does have a privvy), we're not allowed on the deck to recreate Vampire Weekend's 'Mansard Roof' video and generally be smug about the next four days while doing so. KG

17.10 Twitter shout going out to the passengers and crew of the MSC Opera, which we've just steamed past. Further research since returning to the mainland has revealed that this 251 m-long beast (823 ft in old money) has nine decks and can accommodate up to 1,712 passengers and 740 crew members, reaching speeds of up to 40 km/h. That'll do nicely for the Motel charter next year. KG

17.30: Hello, Isle of Delight. You have been missed. Shaun makes himself useful by acquainting himself with the local constabulary, who advise us to cross to East Cowes for shorter shuttle bus queues. This requires the use of something called a 'chain ferry'.

If you've not been on a chain ferry before, dear readers, it's literally a boat which runs on two giant chains between two fixed points. It takes cars, bikes (and, one suspects, horses) and has cabins for foot passengers that run along its length, The walls are lined with locals' moody poetry past and present inspired by the crossing.

It's the fastest we've moved all day - no sooner have we sat down than we're docked and ready to go again. I hadn't even got past the fourth stanza of the poem I'd just started reading. KG

Lamps at Bestival © Kate Goodacre, 2011

Lamps at Bestival © Kate Goodacre, 2011


19.00: Getting impatient now, and both of us are starting to flag. However, spirits are revitalised as the first shuttle bus in an age rolls up, with an excitable Shaun especially delighted as it's got a picture of Pulp on the back. "We're going on the Jarvis bus!" we both shriek, before he and a complete stranger serenade me with a note-perfect version of 'Razzmatazz', making me blush like a kid in the school playground. KG

21.00 I've got 99 problems, but a pitch ain't one. Thank you to the Motel's Benjamin and his good lady Helen for their first-rate tent erection skills - in the dark, too. Time to venture into the site proper. KG

22.05-ish: Have only had chance to pick up photo pass and navigate the main site so far, but it's looking good. "Look at that giant cock," a tall man shouts, elbowing his friend and grinning bawdily. He is pointing to a large, colourful picture of a cockerel on the Main Stage screens. Ha ha, very funny. Punchline drum for you, sir. KG

22.20-ish: Hear first northern accent of the weekend that doesn't belong to someone I know, much to my relief. KG

22.45: This year's key Bestival fashion trend appears to be 'animal onesies'. If you're not familiar with the concept, imagine a giant, fleecy babygro with a hood and a design featuring an animal. The fancy dress theme isn't even animals. What's going on? Retreat to the Big Top for some programmed entertainment. KG

22.50: Richard X is on the ones and twos to rapturous applause, wearing the most ridiculous shiny hat I have ever seen. He carries it off though. KG

Santigold at Bestival © Kate Goodacre, 2011

Santigold at Bestival © Kate Goodacre, 2011


23.00: It's time for Santigold now in the Big Top. You'd hope that as a former A&R executive, she knows how to put on a good show, and your suspicions would be proven correct.

Flanked by two dancers dressed in what look like some sort of strange multi-coloured blouse/dirndl/hotpant hybrids, Santi White is whirled around as said dancers wheel a variety of props including giant Rank Studios-style hammers (er, obviously), umbrellas and the obligatory gold pompoms as she serenades an eager audience. Her voice is to die for - melodic, yet still powerful.

Every word of 'Lights Out' is sung back to White, crystal clear. 'Creator' - that one off the hair gel ads - sounds immense. About half a dozen people get invited up onto the stage during the intro to boogie along, and with that, Bestival is officially Going Off. And that's before White drops a pantomime horse into the mix to entertain the crowd while she gets changed. But because it's Bestival, nobody bats an eyelid - of course! KG

words: Shaun Curran, Kate Goodacre and Benjamin Thomas
images: Kate Goodacre

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