A weekend camping at the Latitude Festival barely ranks as hardship on any meaningful scale, but it does provide a brief opportunity to reflect on what, for 361 days of the year, I take wholly for granted. Water is one of the leitmotifs of this blog, creating the habitats that the creatures I write about inhabit. Yet I barely pause for thought when turning on taps or watching used water drain away whilst I am at home. Here, I am off-grid: if I want water I have to walk to a standpipe and fill a container; if I want to wash in hot water, I have to light my sturdy old Trangia to heat-up a saucepan; when I use the toilets, I have to walk 100 metres and hope that the previous occupant left the cubicle in a usable state.
Our sojourn under the Suffolk sun, in other words, is brief jolt into the extent of our disconnection from nature’s cycles. One immediate consequence of having to plan ahead and put in some effort (tiny, compared to that required by a large part of the developing world) is that the quantity of water that we actually use drops precipitously. Scale that up from the individual to a population, and I wonder how much of the UK’s water infrastructure would be unnecessary if everyone had to think as hard about water usage as Latitude’s campers?
We are a little closer to nature, a little less inclined to think of ourselves as separate from the wider whole, a little humbler …
That we live in nature
But can never possess it;
We can guide and serve
But never control
This is the highest wisdom
Highlights of Latitude 2017? Fleet Foxes’ first UK show since 2011 was worth the price of the ticket alone. 78-year old Mavis Staples on Sunday afternoon was magical. Ventriloquist Nina Conti left me crying with laughter. The desert blues of Tinariwen was memorable and, amongst the newcomers, I’ll definitely be watching out for Julia Jacklin in the future.
Tinariwen on the Obelisk Stage at Latitude 2017.