I'm not away any more. In fact I've been back for over a week, but things have been a bit busy. Sorry about that.
Greenbelt was enormous fun, and surprisingly relaxing this year -- in previous years when I've been doing stuff I've ended up getting rather stressed, but this time around I was able to incorporate my Surefish blogging into my daily routine quite happily.
I just want to tidy up by mentioning a few things which that reportage didn't have the space to cover...
Daliso Chiponda's comedy slot (which I went to after filing my last day's copy) was good in parts, but lacked structural unity. Despite the "Attack of the Colonies" title, and although some of his best material was political ("There are good things about living in a dictatorship. When you have phone sex, it's always a threesome."), the show as a whole was a stream-of-consciousness ramble through jokes about relationships, family life and -- rather archaically -- how white men can't dance, which never really came together.
I didn't blog about how much time I spent in the beer tent, which was rather a lot in the end. There were a couple more beers than last year, which I appreciated, although they could still do with expanding their range for next year. The tent was often very full indeed, I suspect partly because they'd relaxed the "No Under 18s" rule (not for drinking, obviously, but for being physically within the bounds of the licensed area).
I enjoyed a rather spendid worship installation which combined gigantic paintings of Christ's hands with a piece called "Prayer of the Heart" by John Tavener, incorporating multilingual Kyries sung by Björk. It was very powerful, weird and visceral music, which would have had substantial emotional punch without the spiritual content. At first I found the noise of the festival all around the room rather distracting, but after a while I was able to imagine it incorporated into the music itself. Which was also kind of weird. I don't tend to get much time for meditation, and this was a good experience. I went back a couple of times.
That said, visual art at the festival generally had dropped off compared with previous years. The emphasis seemed to be on art as a process, with several visual artists creating artwork around the site, but the gallery-style displays of previous years were prominently lacking, which was a great shame.
I enjoyed visiting the animals. I always miss my cats when we're away, and there's something very comforting about physical contact with other mammals. Plus there was a hen who could fit up to seven chicks under her wings at a time.
I bought Billy Bragg's book and the interesting-looking The Gospel According to Science Fiction. The former was sold to me by a very professional eight-year-old girl, which I found a little unnerving.
I have some photos which I need to upload at some point, although Lord knows when. Some are of some very exciting (and huge) kites being flown in the shapes of fish and lizards and things.
That's about it, really. Next year I really must get organised about speaking again, before everyone forgets who I am.