A slightly askew look at the Greenbelt Festival,
in the style of the Ship-Of-Fools Mystery Worshiper.
Mystery visitor: Jim.
The buildings: A mixture of temporary canvas and modern, multistory red-brick.
The venue: Clear evidence of a multi-use facility with provision for people of all ages, animals (mainly race horses and the occasional person behaving like an animal), vendors and bookies. Good efforts have been to make access as easy as possible for everyone, but the sprawling site and natural undulations of the area can make it quite difficult for users of manually propelled wheelchairs.
Well tended large, pleasant grassed areas and parkland but prone to localised flooding and mud on wet years; wellies an essential festival accessory as are good ground-sheets in tents on the festival campsite.
Plenty of parking but see previous note about flooding and rain if parking.
The neighbourhood: A suburb of Cheltenham with a range of property types and convenient local shops and facilities.
The cast: Too many to name but a few of the headliners were Folk On (missed their show), Vicky Beeching (excellent talk on Being Real in a Virtual World) Clare Balding (missed due to clash) and Barbara Brown Taylor (really wanted to see but venue too small for size of queue and my position in it)
Date and time: August bank holiday weekend 2013.
Name of the service: Think of a name, and you would probably find it on-site sometime over the weekend.
How full was the venue:? About 18,000 people on site but it only really felt crowded by the main stage for the Sunday morning service, which was probably attended by around 15,000.
Were you personally welcomed? They said hello at the box-office.
Was the seating comfortable? Yes, very but I did take my own.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere? Excited and expectant.
What were the exact opening words of the service? Can you hear me?
What books did the congregation use during the service? Service sheets.
What musical instruments were played? Guitar, Air guitar, Drums, Air drums, Keyboards and a few kazoos and digeridoos (without Rolf H)
Did anything distract you? Sitting on the ground, getting a numb bum.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what? Happy clappy, most definitely happy clappy.
Exactly how long was the sermon? Who times sermons (except the preacher practicing)?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher? 9 2/3 (might have given 10 if I could have gotton closer to the front, to see)
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about? Who remembers sermons!
Which part of the service was like being in heaven? Standing up after sitting on the ground, getting a numb bum.
And which part was like being in… er… the other place? Sitting on the ground, getting a numb bum.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost? I wasn’t looking lost, I was lost.
How would you describe the after-service coffee? Reasonably priced but a long walk to get it. Got cold quickly in paper cups.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)? 11, since regular wouldin this case be annually.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian? Erm, just give me a minute to think about that.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days’ time? In one presentation (sermon} we were given the name of the CofE’s new Communications Director, Arun Arora. Unfortunately, they didn’t tell us how to spell his name; when I searched on Google for Aaron Aurora it found an international gay porn star.