THIS week’s column is dedicated to those who are either about to become parents, or planning to have children, so they know what the future holds.

I spent the wettest weekend of the year driving round the country being a “roadie” for my youngest son – the drummer – who was due to play at two music festivals: Kendal Calling and Y Not.

My job was to be at Kendal Calling at 7pm to pick him up when he got off stage and drive him to a place called Pikehall, in Derbyshire, so he could camp out with his bandmates overnight before playing at lunchtime the next day. I’d then drive home sometime in the early hours.

My first mistake was thinking that Kendal Calling would be at Kendal. It’s not – it’s nearer to Penrith. I should probably have done my homework before I set off, but I was in Kendal before I checked the directions I’d been given, and realised I was in the wrong place. Maybe they should rename it Penrith Proclaiming.

No matter, I’d given myself plenty of time, so I drove the extra 45 minutes to the festival site, which I have to say was impeccably signposted, and I was directed to the pick-up point.

Music festivals are strange affairs – especially in soggy conditions. They become a sea of mud and people walk around in disposable transparent rain-macs that make them look for all the world like walking condoms.

As we waited in the gloom, a dad got out of his car next to me and tapped on my window for a chat. He was wearing a dressing gown, hiking boots and a sowester hat.

“They must be bloody mad – it’s like The Somme,” he said, with just a touch of exaggeration.

My son finally emerged, not at 7pm but 9pm, by which time the rain was torrential and he looked like a drowned rat. We swiftly decided to abandon Plan A and opted instead for the hour’s drive back home and a 7am start the next morning to drive to Derbyshire.

The Y Not Festival turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. We got up at the crack of dawn, drove for 125 miles, queued for an hour to get in without any sign of traffic management. With the clock ticking to the time allocated to my son’s band, we took a short-cut down a forest track, drove across a squelchy, rain-lashed field, and unloaded the drums in the “artists’ village” behind the main stage.

Then came the news that capped the weekend from hell: a very rude organiser decided at the very last minute that the bands due to play up to midday wouldn’t be allowed to take to the stage because the bad weather meant the arena wasn’t ready.

The representations about the time spent travelling, and the good money friends and family had spent on £200 tickets, fell on deaf ears. “Go on – clear off,” said the organiser, who couldn’t be bothered with protests.

And so, the Y Not Festival will live long in the memory – for a venue that’s not fit for purpose and utterly shambolic organisation.

We packed up the drums and drove the 125 miles back home without a note being played or a drum being banged.

Mums and dads of the future - don’t say you haven’t been warned!


ANOTHER update from former Mum At Large columnist Ruth Campbell…

GCSEs freshly completed, Ruth took her son 16-year-old son Albert shopping for a pair of jeans, holiday clothes, plus a prom suit, short, tie, and shoes.
Albert hates shopping and detests trying anything on so it was something of an ordeal.
After spending nearly all day in and out of shops, the purchases were finally complete.
“What a relief. I am so glad that’s over. It feels even better than when I finished my exams,” sighed Albert.

IN one shop, Ruth had bought Albert a pair of smart £79 black shoes to go with his prom suit.
He’d tried them on and said they were a perfect fit but it wasn’t until they got to the till that his Mum realised they were US/Canada size 11.5, not UK size 11.5.
That meant they were a size smaller than he needed, so Ruth went back and for a pair in the bigger size.
“Oh, they’re much better” said Albert.
“So why did you say the smaller size fitted?” asked his Mum.
“I just wanted to get out of the shop!” came the reply.