Bedlam and Spiral Tribe in Rhayader, Black Mountains

16th May 1992: A party report

It was a beautiful location, but there was 12 hours of driving and loads of calls to the hotline before we even had proper directions, let alone arrived! We were listening to Levitation, The Cardiacs and Butthole Surfers to keep us awake. Out of the darkness on a Welsh mountain road in the arse end of the arse end of nowhere a shape loomed towards us, and the driver braked sharply. It was just a paralytic local on his way back from a pub spilling off his antiquated bicycle and headfirst onto the tarmac. We were worried, and asked if he was OK. He clambered back on, grunted, and cycled off into the gloom.

Eventually we had to give up, and had a couple of hours of very uncomfortable sleep in a layby in the car (3 of us in a mini metro, a gearstick poking me in the ribs).

In the morning we were aching, but the weather was beautiful and we’d already decided that if we couldn’t find the party we’d take our pills and go for a walk. We finally got proper directions at 7 am or thereabouts. After driving through some deep valleys carpeted with thick forests, we stopped the car for my friend to get out for a pee. Two minutes later she came rushing back -‘I can hear it! I can hear it!’, after hours of uncertainty and confusion we arrived at the party at 8 or 9 am. A seemingly purpose-built dancefloor (actually a ruined building- part of a disused leadmine) on the side of a slate mountain with a waterfall over to the right. There was a river running past, parallel to the road that ran through the valley.

When we arrived we realised we needed something for ‘breakfast’. We started with Love Hearts and followed these up with some Special K.

Tired after the journey we spent a stupid amount of time in the car. This often happened back then, you’d travelled MILES with your friends to be in this special place and then, fuck it, let’s just stay in our mobile chill out room.

We were listening to Special K (an old house tape) in the car, and I remember attracting one or two curious stares because of this. Even then, things were quite polarised- you liked house OR techno. We liked both, which confused people.

A pair of girls knocked on the car window. They were tripping enormously and pointing to a piece of sheet music and gibbering at us through the window.

Sometimes, in certain states of mind, time seems to fuck up and start looping. At one stage there were about 5 of us sat in this tiny mini metro, so fucked that all we could do was sigh. This was all that could be heard for a while: ‘Ffffffffffff. Pshhhhhhhh. Phoooooooo! Ffffffffffff. Pshhhhhhhh. Phoooooooo!’
This was what passed for conversation in the old days. Then there was a new sound ‘Ffffffffffff. Pshhhhhhhh. Phoooooooo! Fwap. OW! Ffffffffffff. Pshhhhhhhh. Phoooooooo! Fwap. OW!’ The girl sat in the middle of the back seat was brushing her hair. Every time she brushed it, the brush twatted her neighbour in the head. It was a while before she realised and stopped.

We spent some time chilling out in/by the river.While we were sitting relaxing by the river, my mate, our driver for the weekend, heard the start of Aphex Twin’s ‘Didgeridoo’ and, without warning, sprinted back to the sound system.

Then, and this was something to do with the K, I had a very strong urge to climb the mountain (or at least get to the waterfall). I could feel, and this sounds weird, I’m sure, an invisible thread pulling me upwards. The mountainside was covered in loose slate and so it would have been a bit hairy even if you were straight. God knows how I managed it, but I reached the height of the waterfall. However, I’d gone slightly off course and the waterfall was now too far away for me to reach. I looked down. Mistake. I realised that if I wanted to get through this in one piece I would have to continue going upwards. I reached the top and noticed a gentler slope to take me back to where the party was. On my way down I walked into a field full of sheep. I could see a farmer in a Range Rover in a field below me, and I didn’t want him to see me so I sat on the ground and kept still for a couple of minutes. That was when I realised that the field I was sitting on was covered in clover and there seemed to be millions of bees everywhere. I carried on staying very still for quite some time. The farmer had left and the bees weren’t attacking me so I carried on down the slope. I reached the main road and had to walk a little way back to the party. I passed a lone Welsh country copper and gave him a cheery ‘hello’. Arriving back at the party I saw my friends, who had last seen me disappear up a mountain a couple of hours previously. They’d been worried, and I was oblivious to this.

On the way home one of the fluffed up casualties co-piloting the car insisted the vehicle be stopped and they be let out immediately so they could leap into a field and hug a lamb. I think the lamb ran away.

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