Monday, 6 June 2011


Well, what can I say about being with The Prufrocks at Flat Lake 2011 at stunning Hilton Park? Firstly that the whole thing is as quirky as ever - haybales and mild mayhem are the order of the day; that Hilton Park is as lush and beautiful as ever; also, that it is as male-dominated a festival as ever; and that the 'organisation' is as shambolic as ever. Did we have fun? We did! Did it piss rain? It did! Was there mud? Lots of it!

I think for us it was a festival of two halves. The first half was a relatively mild and very sociable Saturday. We wandered from tent to marquee to barn, enjoying the mad shenanigans of David McSavage, and introducing Juno to what became her beloved donkey at the pet farm. We met fellow writers Brian O'Connell, Colm Keegan and Kathleen Murray, with their partners and kids, had nice chats, drank wine and gadded about.

Saturday began to darken for The Prufrocks when we discvered we weren't on the programme, despite having been allotted 9pm on Sunday night at the Gonzo Marquee by email and on the Flat Lake website etc.  We asked the production manager to fix this and didn't hear from him again that day.

Bemused Prufrocks!
The night darkened further when the artists' campsite, where we were staying, was disrupted for the ENTIRE night by a drunken posse who had parked their tent right by mine. We believe they were a band. Whoever they were, they were pissed, obnoxious, rude, threatening and relentlessly noisy. Complaints were made and security men called, but they weren't evicted until the next day, which was too late for the hundred or so campers who had put up with them all night. Not good.

It began to rain. It pretty much did not stop raining all day Sunday. We hounded The Pro Man for a restored - or new - time slot. Back and forth we went. We ate falalfels with chili sauce for breakfast in a red double decker bus. Our fourth member was on her way, driving three and a half hours through the rain from Galway. But we still needed a slot! With the help of texts to our absentee member, Jaki, (busy in New York with her play), we finally got a venue and time, but subsequently it kept getting pushed this way and that.

Writers Gina Moxley and Anne Haverty, with Butler the dog
We enjoyed a reading by Anne Haverty and Gina Moxley in The Butty Barn; Anne read poems and an extract from her latest novel and - in typical Flat Lake style - her dog hopped up and down off the stage to keep his mistress company while she read. Gina Moxley had the audience in skitters with her devilish story of a straight talking, not-so-young-wan who gets jiggy with a TD on holidays. There were some great one-liners in it and she delivered it with a lively energy.

Writer Órfhlaith Foyle waiting to go on stage
Our time slot came. Our time slot went. We waited to go up on stage, eating sweeties and chocolate to give us energy after our sleepless night. Pat McCabe invited Peter Trant up to read one of his stories, that is one of Pat's stories - a noirish tale of a delusional husband. He finished. We were ready. Pat invited another man up to read a story of his own. We looked at each other. We looked at Pat. He looked at us...

The Prufrocks - Geraldine Mills at the mike
The Prufrocks - Mary Mullen at the mike
To cut a long story short,  we took to the stage in The Butty Barn sometime around 6pm. We read our poetry. I read specifically to a woman with an animated, interested face in the audience. We shouted into the mike to be heard above the rain. We were interrupted by Pat announcing things. We resumed. The rain hammered on the roof of the barn. We did good. The woman in the audience with the animated face turned out to be my long lost cousin Carmel, whose father was from nearby Scotshouse. Only in Ireland!

Popcorn eaters - Lily Mullen & Juno & friends in The Butty Barn
Then, we drove home, unable to face a rain sodden night in the campsite. A few miles from Scotshouse the roads were dry. The sun shone. WHAT?!?! We had left behind wind, cold, teeming rain and mud. Does Hilton Park have its own micro-climate we wondered?

We slept like big old babies that night in the blissful quiet of Ballinasloe. The end.


120 Socks said...

Mud and mayhem! Sounds like a crazy time!


Flat Lake is always slightly surreal. I don't think the messing with the time slot and the endless rain made it easy for us, but we enjoyed lots of it :)

Anonymous said...

a pity ye were messed around. we had that 'band' on friday night in the artist's campsite and i decided to leave saturday because of it. we did our show friday in the gonzo, at the allotted time, and there was i suppose forty or fifty there. and we went down well according to the feedback. happy to be part of it but there seemed to be more artists than punters, and a lot of what dave rock called 'negative space' i.e sitting around in otherwise empty tents chatting to your mates.. i think the aim of the festival this year was structurelessness, which it very nearly reached. don't see how it can continue to be honest.
dave lordan

Miss_Úna said...

Jeeez! Sounds like Oxegen without the music. Wonderful & funny account though. What a pain that the weather was so crappy & the messing about & the drunks :( I never imagined a literary festival to be quite like that!
Yet another experience you shall always remember though eh?
And Juno is taking after her Auntie Una with the love of donkey's! Love her sunnies too.

Kar said...

It sounds nuts and fun all rolled into one! The time messing is very annoying and it's a pity about the rain. The photo of Juno is brilliant, so cool! she looks so grown-up, oh the cuteness!


Dave - I can't believe that band were there on Friday night too?!? Why did more people not complain and get the little shites turfed out on Saturday, I wonder? They really were horrible - abusing anyone who told the to shut up etc.
I'm glad your own gig went well. We did do a lot of sitting about in empty spaces too.
The rain is no ones fault but the lack of organisation is a bummer.


Úna - the artists campsite was much bigger than last time I stayed there. There were also a lot more younger folk at the festival in general.
It is hard to function well on no sleep. And it was c-c-c-c-cold.


Kar - she's a little madam. She loved the socialising, as always :)

Mari G said...

Sounds like great old stuff! Prufrocks is a brilliant name...maybe a gig at Electric Picnic?

As for the drunks, so vividly described by you, Nuala, I'm almost there with you, listening to them... eek.


Mari - I turned down Electric Picnic this year. I just knew I wasn't in the mood for it. And now I am so glad :)
I couldn't face a soggy tent and noisy little shites again.
I'm getting old.......

Anonymous said...

the security were well aware of those guys who, as you said, were abusive and threatening, but chose to leave them there


Well, that's just a heap of crap. Lots of us complained on Sunday as no doubt people had on Saturday morning too. Hmm. New perspective. Not happy.

Ev said...

Well, whatever went wrong looks like the JuneBug had a blast. In the meantime Listowel was ..beyond words...mainly because my firstborn blew them all away. The manchild has the soul of a musician/poet. I love it when a plan comes together

Bluestocking Mum said...

Whatever the weather, it looked just my cup of tea ;)

Sounds like a great time was had by all.


Ev - glad Listowel went well. I've never been there. Maybe sometime.


Bluestocking - an interesting time was certainly had. It is a cute and cool festival but it is a bit annoyingly shambolic at times.
Some of the advertised artists didn't turn up, some left before their gigs, some were left off the programme altogether. Mayhem! ;)

Peter Goulding said...

I've always liked the look of Flat Lake and the line-up seemed to be a cracker but in all honesty, I can't afford those ticket prices!

Rachel Fenton said...

Blummin eck - mad and bonkers! Enjoyed muchly the pics and super narrative! Well done for getting through the mayhem with a smile and your sanity intact!