The thing is, when you’re standing in the grass and you’ve got a pint of beer in a warm plastic cup in your hand, and the sun is overhead and your sister is to your left and there are two small bottles of vodka nestled beneath your tits inside your bra, it doesn’t really matter who’s on the stage.
When a daisy from your home-made flower crown has fallen into your beer and hits you on the nose when you take a swig and the heat is rising up from the ground in waves, there could be no music or some music or bad music.
Except that it’s Taylor Swift, and when she comes onstage and cocks an eyebrow and a hip, wearing so many sequins that she might actually catch alight if the sun is allowed to focus on her for too long, which it’s not because she moves too fast, it’s about the only time in your life you’ve been moving in unison with so many people.
You don’t have to know her lyrics, though I do. You don’t have to love her personality, though I do.
It’s enough to be there for those 100 minutes, watching eight year olds in shorts sit on top of shoulders and stare wide-eyed at someone who might as well be her icon, because if not her, then who? Hilary Clinton? Angelina Jolie? Someone else far off and, yes, impressive, but so very distant that they might as well be on another planet while Taylor is right there, 40 metres way telling them, in a way that you believe, that she’s their friend?
There were 65,000 people packed into Hyde Park that day: some with picnics and rugs and games and the intention of lying down and letting it all wash over; others clad head-to-toe in Taylor merchandise and almost visibly vibrating with the impossible possibility of breathing in the same air as her, her her; still others on drugs and moving as if in their own world, reaching out confused and pulsing hands for something not quite tangible but very definitely there.
And me in my black jumpsuit, now covered in grass, now sloshed with beer, now slick with sunscreen, and my sister in shorts and a white top, a perfect hippy, freckled and grinning more than I’ve seen her smile ever.
The thing is, in that moment, being disparaging of all of it, of the picnics and the families and the flowers and the teenagers chanting the lyrics in unison – it’s just not worth it. Because what would be the point, really, of a wry comment or a sarcastic moment?
Just go with it. The smells and the sounds and the pressure on the small of your back saying, ‘yes we can go closer, yes we could see more’. Just go with it.