The year was 1989 and this writer was 16 years of age, The Brecon Jazz festival was the most looked forward to date in the diary for a teen in Merthyr,. This was my first year attending the festival and I had no idea what was in-store for me.
It was that time of year….the summer was at an end and the hormonally afflicted youth of Merthyr were getting ready to suck the last bit of life from the nights that were drawing in.
I speak of none other than the great festival that is 'Brecon Jazz'.
This writer was young and sensitive, who found solace in music, alcohol and recreation drugs. My drugs of choice at that time were magic mushrooms and cannabis which I consumed in very large amounts to take away the disappointment that fell upon every day of my angst riddled teenage years.
Growing into a man is meant to be an enlightening experience when childish things are thrown away and maturity replaces naivety….but did it have to be so cruel. I grew up in a small village called Pontsticill and was horrified to find that the wise all knowing elders who frequented the pubs were nothing more than idiots with kind hearts suckling on the communal nipple of the beer tap.
I looked down on their life experience with every play of Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon and wondered, would there ever be a moments relief from the tediousness I encountered on a daily basis?
Then a friend of mine who had just passed his driving test asked if my two friends and myself would like to go to the Brecon Jazz festival.
He didn't need to ask twice.
Once we arrived at Brecon, we proceeded to park the car in the car park by the river in the knowledge we would sleep there so we got our money together and walked into the busy town.
All of a sudden this country boy was taken from the dreary backwaters of a small village to an exciting and vibrant town with music on the streets (They had live bands in the streets and free entry to venues back then) and all sorts of weird and wonderful people wandering around smoking grass which I had never smelt before….resin I consumed in large quantities but grass was an unknown quantity.
Yes, this writer is going to tell long and tall tales of drug abandonment once again, so if you're sick of hearing it please click off the page.
Anyway we managed to get served in the pubs because back then no one really cared if you were over 18 or not…if your voice had broken you were old enough to drink.
The euphoric atmosphere was added to by the alcohol and it was definately time to take some magic mushrooms that I kept in a matchbox in my pocket. The lights became brighter, the musicÂ more intense and people looked beautiful…and then I got lost and could not find my friends.
I felt like a child who had been lost in a supermarket crying in the aisle by the toys but then as luck would have it I bumped into an old friend who asked me if I wanted to go and have a joint with him down by the river.
Now I could not turn down such a hospitable offer as that could I?
So we found our way to the park by the river and sat down in the pitch black for my friend to roll a joint. He only had a small amount and when he pulled it from his pocket it landed on the floor…in the pitch black. we went down on all fours armed with lighters to try and find this most precious lump of weed but to no avail.
My friend shouts "Whats this?"…
He picks up something that looks like an ounce of weed off the floor.
It couldn't be!!!!
He burnt it to smell it and guess what!!! it was cannabis.
Some Stoned idiot must have been sitting where we were and dropped his weed on the floor and couldn't find it….well we weren't going to hand it into the lost and found in the police station were we? so we managed to get ourselves into such a state that we needed to lean on each other at great angle to walk through the town without falling over.
My friend suggests that we go to another campsite where his tent is at the end of a long lane over a bridge and I agree so we walk down the long pitch black lane at the end of it is one of the most majestic scenes my eyes had ever seen and my ears had ever heard.
It was like going into a childhood fairy tale.
In front of me I could see a campfire and heard the most beautiful singing with exquisite harmonies coming from the fairy like creatures dancing around it. The guitars were being finger plucked producing most haunting music I had ever heard. As I got closer I found that there were women dressed like wood imps dancing and singing and I was in love….not with them but with the moment I didn't want it to end.
I lay back by that campfire smoking something that melted me into the soft fauna below me and looked up at the stars and savoured every moment like a wine connoisseur does over a fine wine. I fell asleep in a dream and awoke covered in dew and felt like I was part of my surroundings, the link between myself and nature had been re-established and I was alive and I loved it.
But I was alone except for my friend who had passed out by the side of me and the fairies had gone home and all that was left was two rather hungover but still tripping adolescents.
Life sometimes allows you such magic moments but not very often.
I just went into the kitchen to see my wife cooking and the satisfaction it gives her to be a mother and a wife to our family made me think that sometimes the most wonderful and precious moments don't have campfires and guitars, but they are much quieter and tender offerings from life and if missed they will be lost like a speck of sand blown across the desert.
Look around you and count your blessings….you would count them if they were taken away from you. So hold onto this moment with all you have even if you think your in a bad place…you're not.
You're alive and I hope you are well.
And even though you may not feel it…someone out there loves you.