On Tuesday morning, it was again too warm to stay in the tent. I made a cup of coffee, but then needed to go to the loo. I went to use the loo nearest us and found that only one was open because the company who were emptying them had locked two of the three (because people were parked or camped too close to them).
I quickly became aware that there was a large queue forming, and became utterly unable to go. I left that loo and walked to the next group of loos which were close enough to the main blocks that people would be likely to make the journey to the main block. They were dreadful... one was covered in excrement, the next was wet all over and with urine pooled in the gearstick lever.
I decided to make the jouney to the main block, which has always been better than the individual moulded plastic loos. They are like the sort of blocks you get at weddings, three women's loos in a unit, and urinals for men.
It was a spectacularly unpleasant experience. Despite the fact that they had only been cleared the night before, the stench was incredibly awful. This was a combination of the chemical, excrement and the overflowing sanitary bin... I was heaving before I had locked the door, and knew I would throw up if I stayed... I staggered out into the blessed fresh air and made for the disabled plastic cubicle next door.
If anything, this was worse... there was chemical and effluent leaking from the loo which stank, AND someone seemed to have put hand towels down it, but I was too desperate to care.
As soon as I had finished, I sought out Andy to complain. I could see that he was working flat out, flattening cardboard boxes to put around the two water taps, because they were getting muddy. It isn't that I don't understand that he was doing his best at the festival to make things as good as possible for the families... I do understand that. I was cross because you have to get the lavatory facilities right for the rest of it to be worthwhile... if people are having to live with terrible conditions they can't enjoy anything else.
He said that they were working hard to keep things usable, but that there wasn't much he could do if the company didn't come and clean out the loos when they had said that they would. I said I thought they didn't have enough, and they certainly didn't have enough if 2 out of 3 were going to be locked by the company cleanig them... he wasn't aware that they had been doing that, and said he would fix it...
By the end of our conversation several things were clear. Things weren't going to magically improve on the loo front. They were working flat out but were still unable to bring it up to an acceptable standard. And I couldn't make it to the end of the week.
I've done a lot of things I didn't enjoy for my children, and I hadn't been expecting to enjoy the week camping in a field, but I was able to do it because I thought they would have a good time. But my edler son was worried all the time that he would pick up something bad from the loos, I was struggling to cope with the awfulness, and though my daughter was enjoying being able to play football and play on the boat, she too was finding the loo situation challenging.
My husband was on his way to pick up Ali anyway, and so I decided I would go with him. My younger son was happy to stay on his own, and wanted to move from the noisy teen area to the less noisy area we were in.
The person I felt most sorry for was Kate, as she didn't want to go home with me, but didn't want to stay without me either. I felt terrible. I also realised that once you added up the money I had spent on tickets, buying equipment and shopping, we could probably have hired a cottage by the sea for a week.
We packed up the car, leaving Tom to take over the main tent and all the food I had bought. Ai and John will go back on Saturday to collect him and our equipment.
As my sister said, I had thought on Saturday that I lived in a dusty and badly maintained house. I hadn't reaised it was a heavenly sanctuary. Being able to use my own bathroom, have a bath, go to the loo was amazing.
It's changed my perspective on hme educators too, however in a much more negative way. It's a dilemma I have felt before, when considering people who do a school at home version of home education, which I think is the worst of all worlds. If I am going to defend my right to home educate the way that I see fit, then I need to defend the rights of people who do it in ways I don't agree with, maybe?
I don't know. I have been pro-choice for many years, while realising that I could never, would never have been able to do that myself. When I was diagnosed with toxoplasmosis with my first baby, even though they tol me he had a 10% chance of being very severely affected by the infection, I knew at once that I could not, would not, harm my unborn baby. Even if I had known for sure he was in that 10% I would not have been able to abort... and watching a programme about how horrible and inhumane late abortion can be, I felt that it was wrong to allow late abortion unless in the most extreme of circumstances where the mother's ife was at risk, etc.
However, I don't assume that I should be able to tell other people what is right for them: one of the tenets of my beliefs is that we all have our path to follow and that what is right for one may not be right for another... but I do not know whether that is actually an amoral position... or immoral.
The same is true of parenting and home education: if I defend other people who do things I would NEVER do, is that an immoral position to take? People who lettheir children have the freedom to drown themselves at 3am? People who ignore the right of othe people to get some sleep, or not to have their equipment broken?
Watching the Fire in Friedsee [Flickr]
4 weeks ago