Electric Picnic day two: ‘Have you done the mushrooms already?’
Salvation is at hand on the second day of the Stradbally sesh amid Santa and shamans
The Electric Picnic crowd at the Main Stage on Friday night. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish times
On Saturday morning at Electric Picnic most people feel a little foggy. I stop at a big white tent and watch a woman leading some chirpy lunatics in a dance class. Some other bleary-eyed people are also watching.
“Maybe we should join them?” says a young man, dreamily.
His friend stares over his sunglasses at him, aghast. “Jesus, have you done the mushrooms already?”
Nearby, at the Tour de Picnic - Curious Circus, the “King of Balance” is astride five chairs, which are balanced on four empty brandy bottles. “Let me remind you,” says someone whom I presume also works there. “That this act is being performed with no security precautions whatsoever.”
“Oooh,” say some wide-eyed children whose lives are full of promise.
“Ah Jaysus,” says a bedraggled looking middle-aged man (me).
I am experiencing sensory overload today. I see a gent with a horned helmet ride a tricycle. I see some women dressed like 1920s flappers. I see several people in masks and velvet robes stroll by in a solemn procession (the “illuminati”?), followed by some giggling youngsters who are significantly less solemn (“millennials”?).
I see child-entrepreneurs scavenging recoupable plastic glasses in preparation for the coming apocalypse. I see dead people. Well, probably not real dead people, but people wearing skeleton masks. I see Pat Kenny.
I’m not the only person feeling overwhelmed. At the comedy tent John Colleary is doing his set while apparently wearing huge, artificially-long arms. “What’s wrong with his arms?” a woman behind me keeps saying.
“There’s nothing wrong with his arms, Jane,” says her friend impatiently. “Have a little sit down would you?”
This is a brilliant response in that it doesn’t deal with the fact that there clearly is something wrong with John Colleary’s arms. I conclude that “friend” is gaslighting “Jane” and that “Jane” may eventually crack and we’ll all read about it on the news.
Some people look more together than others. Claire, for example, looks bright and cheerful and wide awake. What is the secret of her healthy glow? “Yesterday when I arrive I accidentally ate a space cake,” she explains. “Which made me really thirsty, which meant I accidentally drank a lot of beer, which made me very sleepy and so I was asleep by 10pm. I didn’t see any bands. But I feel very refreshed today.” Wellbeing experts take note.
Other people have memory problems. “We saw a brilliant Norwegian band last night,” says Kelly Sweetman. “They were called Low Low.”
“Really?” says her friend, Don Smith. “I’m pretty sure Low Low is a low-cholesterol spread.” He looks it up on his phone. “Lowly. They were called Lowly.”
Like everyone else I’m feeling fragile (not due to intoxicants, of course, but because of how much I care about my responsibility to you, the readers). It’s not helped when a man named Conor Quinn suggests locking me up in an electric-chair-furnished jail he’s created in Trailer Park for a fictional despot named Terrible Terry. He insists that it’s possible to break out of Terrible Terry’s jail, using guile and wit, but depleted of such resources, I make my excuses and leave.
Before long I’m watching Santa Claus delight a child in the Tow Ho Ho caravan. The child leaves, off to play with a fidget spinner or listen to grime music, no doubt. “Don’t be shy young man!” Santa says to me and bids me sit on his knee. I regret this instantly.
“Is this not a bit weird?” I ask, perched on the knee of the out-of-season philanthropist (his real name is Francis Daly).
“No, I’m well used to it. These thighs are made of steel.” (That’s not what I asked.)
Over in the Body and Soul arena a nice woman from the Slí An Chroí School of Celtic Shamanism tell me apropos of nothing that Santa Claus is actually a shamanic figure. This cosmic coincidence blows my mind. “Santa! I know him!” I say, before volunteering for a shamanic cleanse in aid of the Dublin Women’s Refuge.
The cleanse is administered by a nice woman called Sherrie Scott who tells me me “ignore the madness”, close my eyes, think of something that’s holding me back and to let that thing go. The ritual involves a bunch of sage, a shaker, some mystical rocks tied in a bundle and some chanting. The thing I let go of, incidentally, is my fear of missing deadlines. So, you’ll probably never read this (sorry boss).
Anyway, it’s all lovely. As I leave Body and Soul I feel spiritually at peace. Then I see a man in tight golden pants doing an arse-based dance for a friend. “Look at this ye sexy bollocks!” he cries as he waggles his gilded globes in my direction. And I do, God help me. God help us all.