Digested week: the joy of missing out on Glastonbury, and why moaning works

Hurrah! After an enforced three-year hiatus (there was this pandemic thing – I can’t get into it now), Glastonbury is back! The older I get, the more I love this music festival of music festivals, its noise, its mud, its people. The knowledge that I don’t have to endure any of it gets sweeter with every passing year. The sheer Jomo of it all far outpaces the delights of birthdays (they start to pall once you’re past seven, and I’ve had 40 of them since then) and even Christmas (so much work, now that I have a child of my own and can’t slip into a mimosas-bellinis-prosecco stupor over the course of the day).

But this week I can sit in my warm, unmuddy home, revelling in the blessed silence, the solitude and the lack of exposure to the elements. I can wrap myself in a warm, dry duvet atop a supportive sprung mattress and hug to myself the knowledge that no one ever again is going to try to force me to go. No communal experiences for me now, not ever. I’m so happy. I have only ever wanted to be left alone.

Moaning is not a real part of the female orgasm, according to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, and should be taken off the official scale used to measure these things by the people who publish studies on the female orgasm in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

“Copulatory vocalisations” are, inquiries made of 637 women aged between 18 and 82 suggest, at least partly under women’s conscious control and therefore should not be considered alongside such involuntary responses as flushed skin, sweating and raised heart rate.

A word, please. And that word is – duh. Moaning is indeed at least partly deliberate. In actual sex, it’s a genuine guidance system. You moan when he (or she? I cannot speak for everyone) gets something right because it’s less inimical to mood than shouting “Yes! That! Christ, at last!”. Happy to help.

That said, I suspect all we Guardian folk are that much closer to the orgasmic brink with the arrival of the RMT boss Mick Lynch in our lives. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, do go online and find any or all of the interviews – there will be compilation videos of the highlights by now, but I suggest you tease out the sensation for as long as possible by watching the originals entire – in which he hands various presenters, pundits, ministers and members of parliament their guffing arses on a plate.

Piers Morgan (“Is that the level you’re pitching this at, Piers?”); Kay Burley (“Do you not know how a picket line works? Your questions are verging on nonsense”); Chris Philp (“That’s a direct lie”) have all hit the dirt.

It’s just glorious, though tempered somewhat by the realisation that much of his appeal – completely calm, completely unshakeable (“We’ll picket them. What do you think we’ll do?”) – derives from the fact he is on top of his brief, believes in what he’s saying and fighting for and not giving a mouse-sized shit about showing up pontificators who don’t. ’Tis but a short leap from watching Lynch to entertaining the notion that collective action itself could be a thing we start trying again. Rumblings about strikes are now being heard among teachers and the NHS. Guffing arses today, tomorrow the world, comrades.

Today was my real Glastonbury. Today, as part of the celebrations for Independent Bookshop Week (and, to be fair, to promote my debut novel, Are We Having Fun Yet? – look, I’m doing it again! – which is out in paperback at the weekend), I spent most of the afternoon at Phlox Books in east London, selling, shelving and – at the end – buying most of their gorgeous selection of books, resurrecting old skills gained 20 years ago on the till at Waterstones, Bromley, and even gaining new ones (Phlox sells coffee too, and I mastered the making of an americano on a proper coffee machine). I realised I might still be vaguely employable once print journalism twitches its last.

The Mangan family is mobilising. My mother and her sister, who are both as daft as each other in – very unfortunately – exactly the same ways, are going to the Eagles concert in Hyde Park on Sunday. This has required my aunt to come down from Preston by train, a feat challenging enough even without the disruption caused by the strikes (not that I’m complaining, Mick! Love your work!) and the fact she wants to eat her seven cheese barms and drink eight gins in tins without taking her mask off.

But she got here and now all we have to do is work out how to get them to Hyde Park without them causing a major incident on public transport by their refusal to accept that mass transit systems occasionally result in a) jostling, b) noise and c) occasional sightings of men with beards and/or long hair, none of whom should have their misdeeds discussed within earshot, no matter how warm and melodious one’s northern tones might otherwise be found.

Then into the concert, when the tickets are only online and neither has a smartphone and wouldn’t, no, not if you paid them. Then out of Hyde Park and home again despite the lack of clear signage every six feet from seats J17-18 to the nearest station to guide them.

We have no answers yet. But if anyone is going on Sunday, could they keep an eye out for two characters from a deleted Victoria Wood sketch peering at street signs and berating hipsters, and flag down a cab for them? Ideally one that will accept shillings and memories of TB and Willy Eckerslike’s mother’s teeth in lieu of payment by card, because it turns out they don’t have those either.

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