I spent the weekend at one of my favourite festivals, Greenbelt , which superficially appears to be a happy clappy Christian festival but fear not my friends entry does not require one to sing Shine Jesus Shine with one's eyes closed whilst 'jumping together in Christ' as my wonderful friend Joanne discovered.
No Greenbelt is something of a lefty gathering with fantastic speakers, filmmakers, artists, actors and charities from all over the world giving performances, workshops and talks on a huge range of issues. To give you a quick flavour this weekend I watched some hip hop from Long Beach, heard a talk on LGBT rights in Africa, watched a series of monologues based on the experiences of Palestinians and saw some amazing films all of which I will be describing in more detail in my upcoming 'Greenbelt Diaries'.
My highlight of the weekend was a performance from ska/folk/rock/punk/reggae (!) protest band The King Blues. This band are hugely outspoken on all things social and political and have been rather successful in recent months, two factors that do not usually go hand in hand. They really stirred up the crowd, getting us jumping and screaming protest lyrics into freezing night air.
My favourite moment however was when lead singer Johnny 'Itch' Fox came back on stage for an encore and treated us to an amazing poem about women he'd written entitled '5 Bottles of Shampoo'. He shouted powerful words and pulled no punches in shaming those who try to abuse and dishonour women using humour and cheeky rhymes to get his point across. I'm thinking of writing a piece on this for Thursdays in Black so watch this space.
Here's a video of Itch performing the poem at another gig;
Greenbelt is a haven for me, a place that challenges and inspires and fills me with hope that there are people fighting every day for the rights of others and to make the world fair for all. As Itch says 'Integrity is what black eyes were invented for' so don't ever be afraid to keep fighting, keep questioning and keep challenging and believing in the change you can make just by speaking your mind and lending your voice to a cause.
Inevitably after a rather awesome bank holiday weekend with some of my favourite people I was slapped back into reality by my work email inbox bright and early on Tuesday, what joy to be a grown up!