July & August 1970
I spent the weekdays working at the Kodak factory, my Mum had a job in the offices and was able to give me a lift to and from the site. The work was relatively simple – the warehouse used pallet-sized boxes to dispatch goods to customers. These boxes folded down when empty and my job was to check the empty crates and if any of the 6 parts was faulty it got replaced and the damaged part was put aside for repair. The “main man” in this area was the fork-truck driver and during breaks he gave me lessons to drive it. I got quite good but he was a master and he’d won trophies at competitions.
Most evenings I cycled down to the nearby town where an older friend had a small terraced cottage and most nights there would be up to a dozen young people sitting around smoking and listening to music.
Weekends we’d go to Friar’s Club in Aylesbury. This was a music venue – Velvet Underground – David Bowie and many others appeared there. I guess the audience size was a maximum of 1000. No seating was provided, we just sat on the floor between sets and danced during the performances. Provincial Psychedelia at its finest.
Time slid along and then it was time to say goodbye to Kodak, pack up camping kit and get the train to the Isle of Wight. I don’t recall much of the journey but do remember arriving at the site just outside Freshwater. A huge fenced arena had been constructed but camping was outside this. I pitched my little orange garden tent and headed for the gates. It was late afternoon on Wednesday and I didn’t leave the arena or see my tent again until early morning on the following Monday when it was time to head home.
The lineup for this festival is well documented and available here –
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isle_of_Wight_Festival_1970 amongst much other info.
Stand-outs for me were The Doors, The Who and (my main reason for attending) Jimi Hendrix.
There were other vibes in the air – the organisers had provided toilets. These consisted of trenches with seating consisting of scaffolding constructed above. There were doors to the front of each cubicle but when (after queuing) you got to open the door you realised that the rear was open to view and there was no wall between cubicles. People were not happy.
Many people had come without tickets and had no intention to buy – the arena was overlooked by a long area of scrubby hillside and this quickly became “free festival” land. By the Saturday a large group from there had torn away sections of the fencing and anarchy and chaos ruled.
Highlight of the event for me was late on the last night (Sunday) – we’d been waiting and waiting for Jimi; I’d got a good place and crashed out in my mucky sleeping bag. I woke with a girl dancing on me – Jimi was on stage and all was right in the world.
Eventually I returned to my tent, amazingly everything was as I’d left it so I packed up and travelled home. My journey was through London and at Waterloo station I phoned home. My parents had opened the letter from school which contained my exam results (this really pissed me off) – I’d passed all the ones I’d been told I would fail and failed the only one that the teacher thought I might pass and thus began my working life as a Mining Student Apprentice (the ultimate goal in this to become a coal mine Manager.