Last weekend was the M Festival, a one day music and family extravaganza held at Marlborough School in St Albans. Few things can make me happy, sad and reflective at the same time but this did. Have a seat and I’ll explain how. When I was a teenager my parents definitely weren’t into current pop music. They had their LP collection of Val Doonican, Perry Como, Acker Bilk, Barry Manilow, (strictly my mum’s) Manfred Man and The Beatles and they still listened to it all. Apart from The Beatles I thought and still do that it was a shameful collection of music, sorry Acker Bilk. When I was 13 my mum was 36 so quite young. I’m 47 now and listen to and enjoy all current music. Well, I say all but obviously only the decent music that doesn’t have totally inappropriate connotations but I guess that’s the growing prude in me!
My long and unnecessarily laboured point here is that it feels really special to be able to bond with my children over pop music, something I never experienced as a child myself. Driving in the car discussing Taylor Swift’s latest song and ranking it with her past efforts is special. Listening to Jade going on about how fit Jamie Dornan is, not so special. I’m still struggling with her emerging hormones but that’s for another day. The M Festival is an afternoon and evening of mostly music with local bands along with lots of food and an endless stream of cheapish tat to buy. The absolute highlight last year was all of us dancing together to the final band who were playing current hits. Last year seeing mummy and daddy dancing was still bearable and smart phones hadn’t completely taken our children from us. The girls also spent a fair bit of time with us along with going off with their friends. I knew this year would be different so I did my best to prepare for the inevitable.
Change no 1 was that the girls had no interest in being with us at all. Apart from food and schmoozing us for spending money they were like ghosts in the night. By this I mean they were never to be seen, not that they were wailing around in a sheet. That would be weird, especially in July. They were buying the aforementioned cheapish tat, playing games and other stuff I have no idea about. Basically, we’re probably a bit too loose with our boundaries but we trust them to be sensible and that’s empowering them, right? Change no 2 is that we are now starting to be embarrassing to them. Not with everyday type stuff like walking with them or even kissing them hello / goodbye in front of their friends but other activities……like dancing. By the way they react to seeing me and Rachel dancing you’d think we’d stripped naked and ran through the streets eating Nandos off our bare butts. That would actually be really difficult to do, due to struggling to reach our butts and with all the running the food would be everywhere.
Anyway, enough of that strange and slightly creepy example. Basically, when the girls and their friends see us dancing they laugh, not with us but at us. The final act this year was once again led by Mr Billington, the music teacher who appears in more bands than Miss Rabbit has jobs in Peppa Pig. Speaking of Miss Rabbit, I only discovered in researching for this post that she isn’t Rebecca Rabbit’s mum. That honour goes to Mummy Rabbit who’s Miss Rabbit’s sister. With that being the case, why does Rebecca Rabbit call her Miss Rabbit and not Auntie????? It really bothers me.
Mr Billington’s band this year was Monster Hits, who play hits from the 80’s. Oh yes, that glorious period that I still live for and continue to buy music compilations from even though I probably have every song ever recorded in the 80’s, even Save Your Love by Rene and Renata. I wanted us all to be dancing together once again, the family unit having fun and bonding over music. There was only one problem, both the girls hate almost all 80’s music. Jade particularly despises Ebony and Ivory which is disappointing as it was my fave song till I was 15 and discovered Kate Bush. They were adamant they weren’t going near the dance floor and so it was left to me and Rach to proudly dance and sing to Maneater, Easy Lover and other songs I can’t remember one week on. The tragedy of getting old. Finally, when they start the intro of Bon Jovi, Living on A Prayer the girls and their friends rock up with a “Oh I didn’t know this was the 80’s, I like this song” and start dancing. As the chorus starts and me and Rach go crazy to “Woah, we’re halfway there…” The girls recoil in horror and start screaming, literally screaming with embarrassment. What somehow made it worse was that all their friends were mocking us too, even the ones that didn’t know us. Whatever happened to respecting your elders? Luckily we don’t care and carried on regardless.
They did finally relent and we danced together to the last couple of songs but that might have had something to do with the fact that I told them they could walk home if they didn’t. Tough love and all that. During us dancing and jumping around together I felt pride, joy and a little sadness that I didn’t experience this with my parents back in the day. Saying that, we always dance together now although I have to contend with my mum normally being drunk and a little bit sweary. Bless her and her ridiculously low tolerance to alcohol. The fact that I’ve inherited this from her makes it worse although I’ve always been a cheap date, silver linings and all that.