Thinking laterally at Latitude 2014

One of my personal challenges when I am teaching is to help students see new discoveries and advances from the perspectives of people living at the time.   I spend part of my course explaining the development of public health understanding in the mid nineteenth century as a means of setting the scene for describing our modern approach to water pollution.   I do this by using, as my starting point, the closest analogue most of them have to life in a Dickensian city: the music festival, with basic sanitation and no running water (see “I wish I was at Glastonbury”)

I used the opportunity of a day ticket to the Latitude festival last weekend to update my visual aids for my lecture which means, I guess, that my visit to the festival counts as “work” and, therefore, that the entire day is now tax-deductible?   Or am I starting to think like an MP?


Latitude’s loos, 2014.   Updated visual aids for my Aquatic Pollution course at Newcastle University.

To be fair to Latitude, their loos were amongst the finest I’ve ever encountered at a music festival, so perhaps this was not the full Victorian experience that I want my students to imagine.   But we don’t need to tell the taxman that, do we?

My trip to Latitude was partly to let my mother, a 75-year old Professional Grandmother experience these festivals that her children and grandchildren had been telling her about.   Fortunately, the gods smiled on us, giving us a warm, sunny day to experience music, poetry and dance, as well as to sit in the sunshine eating al fresco from one of the many stalls.   One of my memories will be the sound of an Indian dance troupe’s instruments fading away to be replaced by the chugging organ riff of Booker T’s Green Onions rolling across the lake from the Obelisk stage.   A few minutes later, Booker T struck up Soul Limbo, the Test Match Special theme tune.  A hundred miles away, England were battling to survive the second test against India at Lords but in Suffolk we all had smiles on our faces.   That, in turn, reminds me of Glastonbury in 2010 (see “An England fan in Vilnius”)


Latitude 2014: First Aid Kit on the Obelisk stage; my mother enjoying her first festival at 75.

One musical highlight for me was First Aid Kit on the Obelisk stage, whose folk-rock harmonies were a perfect soundtrack to a summer’s evening. But let’s get the obvious comparison out of the way: Swedish: tick; two pretty girls: tick; one blonde, one brunette: tick, but that’s where the resemblance to Abba ends, whatever some of those standing near me were saying.   I can’t go for that. No can do.




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