You will know when it exists -- Obscure journalism direct from our man on the ground.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

CASTLE ROCK CLAMPDOWN - Heavy handed policing at rural music festival

I was asked to do a write up of Castle Rock 2012 for PL One Five magazine (a publication put out by a group of volunteers that work with the Launceston community), so I did. The first draft was returned to me and I was told to 'tone it down a bit' and 'make it more positive', so I did. I have just been told that it is still 'too provocative' and that 'it probably wont make it in'. Well boo hoo. I have a blog and I'm not afraid to use it.

'Publish at your peril'


Here is the toned down more positive second draft...

Launceston, Cornwall
Saturday 7th July 2012

The weather in the UK throughout summer is invariably disappointing. Some say this is the core reason that summer in the UK is festival season. Music as an antidote to disappointment.

On a recent overcast July morning an International Journalist lay, surrounded by empty lager bottles, asleep on the floor of a squalid flat somewhere on Launceston’s Race Hill. At 9am an associate awakened him with a slap. “Come on! It’s time” the smoky voice shouted, “We’ve got work to do.” Fifteen minutes later this under-enthused reporter stepped out into the drizzle and ascended the hill to the entrance of the town’s derelict fortification. Inside the grounds, strewn on the damp grass were poles and tarpaulin - the makings of the Barefoot Volunteers marquee.

Putting up a gazebo is not comparable to the science of launching rockets but -- bemused by the early hour and absence of espresso -- the volunteers tasked with erecting this particular oversized tent claimed to have felt like apes in a NASA laboratory. Eventually the Barefoot marquee took its form and provided respite from the worsening conditions. Soon camping chairs and a table arrived and copies of PL One-Five magazine were set out for distribution. And throughout the day Barefoot’s shelter offered perhaps the best seat in the house being within earshot of the Marquee Stage, where Rob Ramplin’s new band Blue River were standouts and got things pumping around lunchtime (get their debut EP here).

 At this point the International Journalist disappeared and a rumor circulated that he had been sighted entertaining a well-to-do family in a centrally-heated cave in Ashwater. When he returned at 5.30pm the sky had ceased spitting, the castle grounds had filled with the parish’s pleasure seekers and the sun was winking through the clouds. Music blasted out from the impressive main-stage whilst an alternative tune drifted out of the Marquee Stage and smiles could be seen all around.

As the sun began to set Patrick James Pearson band (interviewed in PL One-Five issue 1) grabbed the audience by their baby-makers and a lake of Launcestonians shook to the uplifting tattoo of “I AM A RACE-OR, YES I AM A RACE-OOOOOR”. Energized and in good spirits, the crowd mingled, danced, laughed, sung-along, enjoyed or re-lived their youths, and drunk pint after pint from the well-manned beer tent.

By this point, somehow - and possibly due to the all-encompassing gaiety - a white man with dreadlocks paid the entrance fee and unbelievably was allowed in by the cheerful security guards. As the fiend conversed with a group made up of local workers, event stewards and one member of the global press, a police strike force swooped and lead the pseudo-Rasta away in handcuffs. Unfortunately the damage had already been done. Fear and anxiety hung heavy in the air as onlookers realized there were now only half a dozen remaining police officers left to oversee the family event.

Last known photo of the accused.
Luckily the local constabulary were successful in keeping the perpetrator from returning to the festival. But in spite of the International Journalist’s best attempts to solve the central riddle, it remains unclear why - after seizing the offender with such gusto - the boys in blue then stopped short of what was surely their duty: shearing the suspect. It seems that they were unable to prosecute on this occasion, and many residents were left perplexed to find Launceston’s albino buffalo soldier returned to society with his locks of dread intact. Others raised questions about the appropriateness of the police response.

Discussion raged around the Barefoot encampment. Volunteer Nev Akroyd said that what he observed was “certainly over the top in number of officers for the size of the event. A domineering presence, which was unwarranted at a small local festival.” and Sophie Rebecca Rowe added “I for one would be totally put off future events in the town where there will be a police presence if this is the way they treat people.”

The debate reached a general consensus that echoed the ideas formulated by urban planner and theorist Jane Jacobs about natural surveillance. Jacobs proposes that the mixed use of community spaces is the key to safer neighborhoods – different types of people using public areas throughout the day, effectively allowing a community to monitor and regulate itself – meaning no need for harsh laws or heavy handed policing. However, this type of gibberish day-dreaming has been overlooked by the powers-that-be who by now, you can rest assured, are considering drafting the army in to secure the castle’s perimeter for next year’s event – with a practice exercise being tested in London at the Olympics.

Castle Rock 2012 poster.
The minor kafuffle may have been an additional catalyst to the increasing alcohol consumption but did not deter the bands who combated any negative vibrations with beats, melodies and love. Cornish-punk-rockers CROWNS roused our stumbling, bleary eyed International Journalist into a whiskey-stupor that did not end until the following day when CROWNS went on to be the support act for Blink 182 at the Eden Project. But that, dear reader, is another story all together.

After an absence of four years the return of Castle Rock Festival was much like welcoming home an old friend; one who has become proficient at playing instruments whilst away. Fingers crossed Castle Rock will become a permanent fixture and return each year to brighten up Launceston’s summertime with line-ups that demonstrate just how much locally cultivated musical talent is out there.