Picture Above : Second from left = Dermot
Note homemade geodetic dome
T Shirts and everything! Note grass on roof.
'Twas on the morning of I don't quite remember when, Summer 2007, and Dermot of next door came over and told me today was Ditchfest. "It's invitation only, but I'm inviting you."
So I went along with himself and family. We carried hampers of picnic stuffs out across the fields from Westmeston to Ditchling. About a hundred yards into the journey there is a pond fed by a little spring at the foot of the Downs, near a stable. Here the path crosses over into a meadow adjecent to a field of llamas. I have seen stirrings in that pool, under the proliferation of pondweed, of unknown provenance. As we approached the bridge over the river Rosa told me how Dermot had seen a black panther at this spot. At the moment I sought to verify this with the man himself, Dermot was otherwise engaged due to his just having seen a large grass snake by the bridge. Then he confirmed that yes, he had seen a panther there, it had been down in the stream, had snarled at him and departed, and yes it had been on the way TO the pub rather than the way back (in which case a possible alternative hypothesis might be formulated, perhaps involving strong organic vintage cider.) Dermot, I must point out, is a very down to Earth fellow, practical, anything but attention-seeking, which makes this panther story all the more peculiar. Rosa then recalled how one of my landlady's daughters had recently seen a wallaby in nearby Hassocks - a sighting confirmed later by the fact of their having been an escaped wallaby in the viscinity at the time.
So crossing over that bridge felt like one of those limminal margin moments, and I stuck close behind the others and began looking around me for strange creatures - panthers, snakes, wallabies, llamas.
We crossed another bridge over a little stream which marked our entry into the outskirts of Ditchling Village and before long Ditchfest was upon us. It is a full on music festival in a back garden, with a stage, mixing equipment, PA system, all the works.
The house was built by Dermot about ten years ago. There must have been at least thirty different bands, all local, except Detroit Dave, who just happened to be in the area, stunning us all with his proffesional guitar playing. There was Latin Jazz, Indie Rock, Prog Rock, Brit Pop, Folk, Protest Songs, Parisian Tango, you name it. One of my favorite acts was Spalian Acecraft. "We do gigs in Brighton and stuff," announced the lead singer.
All the children already knew the chorus of "He's Got an Orange for a Head", you can hear it at their myspace page.