Ross does EP (part two): ‘Our daughter . . . is missing . . . at Electric Picnic’
We run into the Mindfield area and over to where a humongous crowd is trying to squeeze itself into the tent . . .
Our daughter is missing at Electric Picnic. I’ll say that again – just in case you missed it.
Our daughter . . . is missing . . . at Electric Picnic.
Me and Sorcha are suddenly running through crowds of people in the pissings of rain, searching for her, the panic rising in our chests.
“Anything could have happened to her!” Sorcha keeps going – although, if we were both being totally honest, we’d admit that we’re about one per cent concerned about her and 99 per cent worried about the general public.
“Honor!” Sorcha is screaming. “Honor!”
On and on we run, for an hour, maybe more, covering every mucky inch of the place.
We pass a tree completely covered in CDs – hundreds of them have been literally nailed to the trunk for no good reason – and a man with a T-shirt that says “I Prefer Their Early Stuff”, with a child on his shoulders wearing pink ear muffs that look like headphones, and two sumo ballerinas rolling around in the mud, cheered on by maybe 50 or 60 men, women and children – and all the time, Sorcha is shouting, “Has anyone seen our daughter? Someone must have seen her!”
We pass grown men and women sliding down a muddy bank on their orses and their bellies, while their kids look on, then a fast food van called the Osama Kitchen, offering a Jihad Special (kebab, chips and a can of Coke for €9.11), then a woman from a drama group based in Oranmore looking for child volunteers to form themselves into a forest of angry trees in protest at the political and financial establishment’s betrayal of their generation, then four men in banana suits queuing for a chemical toilet, then a girl walking around just ringing a cowbell, but without actually making any point.
We pass a maze made up of half a million VHS video cassettes, then some old friends of Sorcha’s from UCD who are off to absorb the energy current in the Zen gorden and try to drag us with them, then a dude in full Elizabethan costume down on his hands and knees being sick in a field, then a dude I know from Goatstown who asks us if we’re coming to Leviathan to watch David McWilliams, Paul Sommerville and Nick Webb reconstruct the night of the bank guarantee using Punch and Judy puppets.
But Honor is nowhere to be seen and Sorcha suddenly stops, then stands rooted to the spot, her head going from side to side, just sobbing. She goes, “Where is she, Ross?” tears running down her face. “Where is our beautiful daughter?”
That’s when I suddenly spot a huge mass of people crowding around outside one of the tents in, like, the Mindfield area.
I’ve spoken many times in the past about my ability to, like, anticipate things? It’s like a fifth sense that I’ve been given. And that’s exactly what kicks in at that moment in time.
“Over there!” I go.
Sorcha looks over her shoulder. She’s like, “Where?”
And I go, “Come on. I’ve just got one of my world-famous feelings.”
We run into the Mindfield area and over to where a humongous crowd is trying to squeeze itself into the tent.
“What’s going on here?” Sorcha asks this random goateed dude standing outside.
“It’s Speaker’s Corner,” he goes. “It’s, like, a stage and, well, anyone can get up there and say whatever they want. There’s a little girl in there . . .”
And without even seeing her, I know we’ve found our daughter.
Me and Sorcha push our way through the throng and we manage to get inside. And there, standing on the stage, one hand on her hip, the other holding a microphone – with that famous fock-you expression that will be familiar to all south Dublin parents – is Honor.
She’s going, “Do you have any idea how lame you all are?”
The first thing I notice when I look around the tent is that quite a few of the 200 or so people there have their heads down, their eyes fixed on their feet. I recognise that look straight away. All you can do when Honor storts ripping into you is choose a point on either the floor, the ceiling or the wall, then keep staring at it until it eventually passes.
And Honor is ripping into them.
She’s going, “I mean, seriously – take a good look at yourselves. You’re wearing T-shirts with the names of bands on them. You’re drinking in front of your children at, like, 11 o’clock in the morning. You haven’t showered for days. And you’re – oh my God – convinced that you’re having this amazing, like, spiritual experience together. Er, breaking news – you’re not? You’re just a bunch of unfulfilled, middle-aged people, drinking in a field and trying to remember a time when you were young and what you thought about anything mattered to anyone. And you smell like a soup kitchen.”
I turn to Sorcha and I go, “It’s like that scene in the Bible – you know the one where Jesus goes missing as a kid and they find him in the temple, literally calling it.”
Honor’s still up there going, “My so-called mum and dad are just like you. All the way down here, they were talking about what a great escape Electric Picnic is. And I’m thinking, an escape from what? From your responsibilities? From the fact that you’re supposed to be grown-ups? Maybe you didn’t enjoy yourselves enough when you were younger. Hashtag – tough. You can’t relive it. It’s over. Dermot O’Leary has his orm around you and he’s saying, ‘Let’s look back at your best bits!’
“But look back at them knowing that it’s never going to be that good again for you. So stop trying. Grow up, pack up your tents and go home.”
She puts the microphone back on the stand, then steps off the stage to this, like, deafening silence. I look around at all the faces – 200 people cut to the core. That’s 200 people’s weekends totally ruined.
Sorcha’s like, “Ross, maybe we should do what she says.”
And I go, “That’s the most sensible thing I’ve heard all weekend.”