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In The Midnight Lands

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53. One gigantic, manic episode.

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AT THE time of first plan I'd hoped my travels would rally my far-flung friends - 


if I book the festivals, they will come - that it would be our last charge together. That I could trail along in their wake, as I had done so many times before, and together we'd forge an end worthy of all the dance scene had meant to us.

But they were too far gone. Only three responded and only two of those were definite: one for the first festival, one for the last. In-between, I was on my own. Now spending a summer travelling the world's largest dance festivals was one thing, but travelling to them on your own when you were as unsocial as I was?


Which brought me to my third point. I was not naturally built for travel. I had no sense of direction - in fact, I was directionally damaged. I got lost in car-parks. I got lost going to places I had been to a dozen times before. I did better if I went in the opposite direction to my gut instinct. And to me landmarks were mythical things, the whole world a blur of slightly different (but mostly the same) asphalt, buildings and trees.

This fault resided in the same part of my brain that dealt with languages and facial recognition, for I was also atrocious at both. Over the years I'd terrorised many a stranger with random twitchy-cheeked conversation only to discover they were not who I thought they were. A problem which would be okay overseas, I supposed, given I wouldn't be able to make myself understood in most of the countries anyway.

You see then why I had my doubts.

I would like to say in the face of them my fortitude kept me strong as my planning advanced, but that would be a lie. I could cut and run with the best of them. Better than most. However my foresight (oversight?) of chucking my job and booking a score of long-haul, non-refundable flights before I knew if any of my mates were going motivated far more.

Like it or not I had locked myself into a summer of travelling the world's largest festivals as a comfort-and-convenience-loving, ambivalently-social, directionally-and-facially-challenged man, who was known as being a bit useless, verged on being too old, was poor at languages, had limited travel experience, and now no mates.

And the only thing I could be sure of was that everyone else I encountered along the way would be there with their crew, because, well, who the hell went to a multi-day, open-air electronica festival on their own?

Hmmm, maybe Mum was right and I was in the middle of one gigantic, manic episode.

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