Saturday, 29 August 2009


I leave in November on a five month motorbike journey through India. First I must get fit. I have a new BLOG for progress reports. To see, hit SHED THE FLAB...

Tuesday, 18 August 2009


Good day - though I am in a state of collapse. Bernadette has ordered me to take it easy for a couple of days. Meanwhile anyone wanting a signed copy of the book recording my septuagenarian ride south from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego, OLD MAN ON A BIKE (HarperCollins), can go to my web site by hitting the above title.
You may not need the read - I definitely need readers to help fund this winter's ride through India. For those who don't read books - remember that books are the perfect present - easy to wrap, cheap to post and everyone complains that books are expensive. £8.99 as an expensive gift - I told you, perfect!

Saturday, 15 August 2009


The Guardian has my piece on the BIG CHILL as a double spread in the travel section. The Guardian also has a video on line.

Friday, 14 August 2009


the most embarrassing dad EVER!

Hit the title button on this entry and you'll go to the WARP FILMS / FILM 4 site for the totally crazy zombie movie shot during the Big Chill. Go to pictures and you will find this remarkably flattering pic of me playing a zombie bookie...


remnants of open air stage

My take on the Big Chill is in this Saturday's Guardian. I am dyslexic and write slowly. Hence I have not worked on this diary while writing the Guardian copy. I am about to drive to Gloucester to collect a young Australian law student who is visiting her grandmother here in Colwall. This done, I will get to work bringing both my Blog and this BIGCHILLDIARY up to date. Meanwhile here is a pic taken yesterday - good-bye Open Air stage...

Tuesday, 11 August 2009


My four sons, wonderful wives, glorious grandchildren, delightful girlfriends and just friends have all been staying or bathing or dropping by for breakfast during the Big Chill.
What they enjoyed has given me a wider than personal take on the Big Chill. I am about to try reading my notes so this is good-bye for a while...


All over bar the writing - so here I sit back home and face the screen that dominates! 1500 words on Katrina Larkin's festival is due on the Guardian travel editor's desk by dawn on Thursday for this Saturday's Travel section. Please don't hate it. And there will be video on the Guardian's web site of Katrina and I. You can watch and listen to me philosophising - OK, being pretentious. I know, no need to tell me - the Resident Teenager (once he gets out of bed) will do that...

Monday, 10 August 2009


Kids care for the environment. They support the Green Party, criticise their parents, chill at the Big Chill. And abandon their garbage on the Deer Park grass.
Yes, I know. I'm a complaining Old Blimp...

Saturday, 8 August 2009


Camping is an unsuitable occupation for septuagenarians. Bernadette and I shared my tepee last night, cold, uncomfortable and a long way to the toilet. Our tepee was directly behind a row of gleaming air-conditioned Airstream trailers. Airstreams are camping with nail polish.
Only fools, masochists and the inexperienced criticise comfort...


photographing the photographer photographing me photographing her photographing me etc, etc etc

Filming from 1.30 thru till late evening - video and still photographers from the Guardian. The paper will use four stills at most - so why so many takes? Because I'll submit the piece on Wednesday morning and the editor needs all possibilities covered.


I am shattered but having fun. Glorious weather, great music, a multitude of eccentrics, manic events and friendly people...BLISS!


Aged 76, I am near to death. Thursday night I joined the ranks of the un-dead. Is this a promotion or a demotion?
Either way, it was FUN.
4000 zombies in a zombie movie directed by a Hot Dog.
This will be the worst zombie movie ever made - and the funniest zombie movie ever made.
We Brits are unique in reveling in the truly bad.

Thursday, 6 August 2009


It is here...THE BIG CHILL.
The family is congregating. Two youngest have gone to set up camp at Eastnor.
No. 1 son and family are staying in our cottage.
Had dinner last night with Katrina Larkin. She and I meet this evening at 5.30 for zombie make-up. My granddaughter, Emily (three months), is editioning as the youngest zombie. Will I be the oldest?

Tuesday, 4 August 2009


rewind to the pic of james taken from the same place

In watching the rapid spread of The Big Chill fast across the Deer Park, I am continually reminded of a military operation. I am connected to last night's dinner guest (he of the portable loos) through our both having served as junior officers in the same cavalry regiment - I more than fifty years ago while our guest left the army recently and served with the Regiment in Iraq. The Big Chill is a new client for his Company. He is impressed by the efficiency and calm and politeness displayed by the Big Chill's General Staff. He also remarked that all the General Staff were women.
Bernadette responded that women are naturally more focused and therefore less hysterical than men - being focused leaves them more time to dress up and buy shoes.


The elderly surprise me. I was talking with an neighbour yesterday (in her mid eighties). She had spent time in India during her youth. I mentioned that we had the supplier of portable toilets for the BIG CHILL coming to dinner. She remarked that he must be the Shit Sahib - his employees are Shit Wallas.
Well, well...And whatever.


both main stages near completion

In truth, I was exhausted last night - hence not putting the pics on the BLOG. I finished working on a long piece for the Guardian at 2 in the morning and was back at my desk four hours later. Plus going to Eastnor and shopping for the BIG CHILL weekend. All four of my sons will be here plus wives, children, girlfriends. Better cook ahead and freeze. I am sneaking a microwave into the house - Bernadette believes that that they leak rays - as Thurber's Aunt believed that electricity leaked out of unused wall sockets. As with Religious Faith, this isn't something over which one can argue with a believer.
And we'd invited the Shit Sahib to dinner. I cooked packets of trout fillet layered with smoked salmon and baby spinach. So, yes, shattered. Two bottles of good Rioja Alta Reserva came to my aid...

Sunday, 2 August 2009


main stage
Definitely beginning to look good...


from the aerial


7 a.m. looking from our garden across colwall cricket field

Makes for a lovely day. I have been up since 6.30 - mostly worrying. I am yacking about my journey through the Americas at the Big Chill on Sunday at 3.30. Will anyone want to listen? If so, will some of them want signed copies of Old Man On A Bike? How many copies should I order from HarperCollins?
And how do I ban the Resident Teenager and his fearsome friends?

Saturday, 1 August 2009


advance party for the first aid center

I am a Festival Virgin. What do I pack for the Big Chill? I guess the same as I do for a journey round the Americas by motorbike and the same as I will pack for this winter's exploration of India: ample heart medication, clean underclothes and a washbag.


main stage

The sky grows lighter by the minute. I have made myself a cup of tea and am now happily giggling at the image of capering crazies frolicking from John o' Groats to Landsend. Keep at it, Guys and Girls. Here, as encouragement, is a pic of the outdoor stage nearing completion. This year's Big Chill will be the best...


from the aerial

Hey to all you Happy Revellers. Live up to your responsibilities. Support the Big Chill. Go outdoors right now and do a Sun Dance.


Overcast and a light drizzle this morning - not a worry. Work progresses on schedule.