I am 17, and I’m in a van on my way to Festival: Manchester, a massive Christian festival. Big Boots is with me, and for the third time this summer we’ll be sharing a tent. We know all about bags of raisins. I’m not sure what to expect, but I’m hoping for some quality things.

17’s a funny age. TV says that by 17 you should’ve travelled the world in shorts, written two series of a cop show, and shaken the hand that’s shaken the hand of B.B. King.

I have managed to order chips.

Sigh.

I should have lived! But instead I’m  a social pauper! Incarcerated within the unwalled fortress of Bartley Green! Why is it that so few celebrities are from Bartley Green?… Because you can/can’t get out!

But now here I am. On an adventure. Grabbing a slice of life! I shall do… some quality things!

We arrive, and set up our tent. It’s… meh.

 —–

An hour’s gone by, and so has the dry weather. We’re in Manchester, and Gary Pallister is laughing at our naïve hopes of a dry day. We’re in Gibson’s tent. He’s a guest youth leader and my latest friend. Because he has top trumps. And a massive tent.

We play, with also-new friends Marcus and Becky. Marcus is short and hairy. Becky is neither. I lean over to Big Boots.

“Big Boots, I really want to do some quality things this week.”

“What like?”

“I dunno. Just some really quality things. Have you got any ideas?”

Becky is listening in to the conversation.

“Not yet. See what happens.”

I sit back. And lose a Lord of the Rings character named ‘Shagrat’.

And wait 

 —–

It is evening, and we’re all in a marquis with wooden tables and plastic chairs. Chawn have usurped a table, and are enjoying some table top trumps in front of many standing faces, when Youth Leader World Renowned (but not for his cooking skills) Chef Dave has a brainwave.

I am hunting for food. I am failing, and I am sad. I decide to head back to the table. My 6 foot 8-ness tells me from a distance that Dave’s saying something to the youth. He’s a man with stories. And I hope I get to hear what he’s saying.

And suddenly I hear it.

I see it! The whole group stands in unison as Dave calls out “1… 2… 3…” and the boys push the large wooden table to the ground, fold up its’ legs, and walk out carrying it like the SAS. It… is quality! I look around and capture the incredibly astonished faces of hundreds of Christians too middle-class to cope with Chawn antics. I love Chawn.

I run back to the tents to find the table erected in the space between our tents. Suddenly, we have a lounge. Various extraneous chairs filter through and we’re the coolest people in the park. Which is cool when you’re 17.

I smile. If only Gary Pallister could see us now.

“This is amazing!” says Big Boots.

“I know! This is what I’m talking about! A quality thing! I want to do some more quality things!”

Big Boots looks at the table, and at Becky.

“Dan, I think we need to tell you something. Me and Becky…”

My eyes widen.

“Are gonna nick the campsite area sign!”

Oh.

Meh.

“Alright. If you like, but I’m gonna keep looking.”

 —–

It is the end of the week, and the final day. I’ve had a wicked time, and made some very good new friends. I’ve got wet. And met a couple named Slap & Tickle. It has been a week of good things.

Good.

Not quite quality.

But there is still time! And today the sun is out! In Manchester! It’s a miracle! I decide to make the most of it.

“Big Boots!”

“Yeah?”

“Have you still got my camera?”

I just bought a £10 camcorder from Cash Converters, and planned to make a video this week. I’ve had no time, and haven’t seen much of Mexico, so I lent him the camera to try and get some footage, and that’s where we are.

“Yeah, here it is. What were you thinking?”

“Well I tried making a film, and so did you. What if we made one together? Dan and Big Boots Productions! Or… ‘DAB Productions’”

“I like it! What shall we film?”

I look around. And see tents. I see Becky’s tent.

And get excited.

“Let’s film you putting all those signs into Becky’s tent!”

Becky and Big Boots have managed to collect a Green 5, Orange 4 and Red 3, not to mention a couple of Fire Points. Big Boots runs and grabs one, and proceeds to stand in front of the camera, tell it to shush, and place the sign in Becky’s tent, zipping it back up nicely. It… is quality! We carry on, but very soon I feel the need to step up! I’m hooked! And I want even bigger thrills!

I see Richard Moss. And am satisfied.

 —–

3 minutes later Big Boots is putting a gormless Richard Moss into Becky’s tent and zipping it up. Followed by the camera. Perfect! I climb back out of the tent, and re-zip Rich. Now we just need the icing on the cake! The cherry! The Matt Cherry! Even though My Brother beat him at Hang Tough. We need a finisher. A left hook.

And then I see him.

He is a handsome man. Manchester’s answer to Lindsay Hodges. He’s wearing a white shirt and a cap. He’s definitely a hooker!

“Excuse me, mate?”

“Yes?”

I explain.

“Would you be up for that?”

He smiles.
“Sure.”

I smile, and film Big Boots zipping up a random man in Becky’s tent with the 17 year old Richard Moss.

“That any good for you, mate?”

“Yep! That’s a quality thing!

 —–

A year later the youth are watching a video of Festival: Manchester. My video. Richard Moss is being put into a tent. And it is a quality thing.

“WHO IS THAT MAN IN MY TENT???”

I smile.

Her reaction is another.

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