I arrived three days early, thinking to get the ovens and counters lined
and levelled up before things started. Dream on ... Lovely welcome ...
cups of tea and much more besides ... it took me half a day to get to
where the cafe was to be set up and pitch my own tent. The cafe was still
in the trailer then. Where were the crew? Oh well this is magic hat -
if you want a cafe then you have to erect it yourself! See on ... The
trailer was up on top of the hill, behind the little oaktree that stands
up so magnificently at night time. Ruined a beautiful skyline, but had
the advantage that all tat could be rolled downhill and tanks could go
up on its roof to give a better head for the water supply.
The flatbed lorry was broken, several others were trying to fix it, to
no avail, so a group of us spent the next few days dragging umpteen tent
canvases down the hill on a heavy trolley, while we tried to find which
bits fitted together for the cafe. Many of the canvases that didn't fit
remained where we unloaded them for the rest of the camp. It was rumoured
that there was someone on site who did know which canvas was which, but
they had a R.C. crew's bad leg and couldn't be arsed to come and show
This typified much of the setting up of the cafe. The plumbing got off
to a bad start too - anyone who knew the system was either absent or keeping
a low profile. I think it took two weeks and three or four complete reruns
before most taps worked across the site.
During the first week, the cafe taps were the only taps that worked reliably
- thanks to a dedicated few who sussed out sufficient for that, at least.
We never did get a tank on top of the trailer, so who knows whether it
would have worked better or not?
Compared to the organised regime under Starcus last year, the cafe was
a shambles at the start. The serving counters weren't needed, so the cooking
area was very open to anyone to walk into. No hand washing for the first
two weeks, either. Food storage on palettes in the main kitchen tent was
also open to anyone looking for sugar or whatever. Dish washing was out
the back, and became very smelly after a while because the drains all
leaked. The gas rings above the ovens all had vital bits missing and didn't
work anymore. Pots and pans lay scattered on the grass for a long time.
Very few plates, mugs, cutlery. No big scrub up at the start either. Kids
and dogs could freely walk through.
A lot of very small kids played in the kitchen marquee when it was raining.
No breakfasts or lunches, well there was occasionally burnt porridge or
muesli. It seemed anyone could go in there and cook breakfast if they
wanted to. We did have a very successful separate tea/coffee tent that
doubled as a night time party/music venue with a heater.
Michelle worked very hard throughout the camp organising money collections
and shopping for food each day, and we all ate dinner as a family in a
big circle, out in the open at sun set, served from trestle tables in
the middle. After dinner the kids took the magic hat round the circle
to the tune of a kid's TV show and Lynn harangued us to volunteer to cook
the next day.
Dinners were a very powerful bonding time that I hope we retain in future
years. Moaning circles in the mornings were less powerful, mostly because
the targets of all complaints were still sleeping off the excesses of
the night before. Dinners were excellent, as usual, we even had puddings
and cakes sometimes.
When I arrived I was told that noisy things like drumming and the cafe
were going to be high up on the saddle of the hill, by the electric fence
on the far side, so I pitched my tent in the shade from the morning sun
next to the cafe. But then it emerged that Darv's positioning on the main
drag from the gate was better from a drummer's perspective because noise
was less invasive from there - the shape of the hill and the deadening
effect of the woods behind him prevented the kid's area or the (mythical?)
magistrate who lived nearby from hearing too much. Whereas noise from
the cafe was broadcast far and wide and many of those who were camping
near it were used to it being a quiet area in previous years. Hence the
As a drummer, I think this was a shame. It meant that drunken ravers in
the cafe or woods, could whack away at 2am, broadcasting bad vibes across
the landscape, while the drummers around Darv's fire at night who kept
strictly to the midnight (1st week) or 11pm (2nd/3rd weeks) curfew, collected
all the criticism. Darv and Lindsey kept the best fire on the site every
evening - serving gallons of chai tea as only Darv knows how - it was
always packed with people, drums, dogs, pipes, laughter, music - in fact
it was only at that fire that I found the expertise to identify a mystery
tree that grew near me - thanks Zom.
Lu put in a brief appearance, for a few days, on his way to another camp
in North Devon. But he parked up on the main path from the gate too, and
proceeded to play his even-louder-reindeer-skinned-djembe right opposite
someone who loved to complain about noise, so like Darv, he got a poor
reception from some, too. For me, and I'm sure for many others, too, his
arrival was a high spot of the camp. I'd like to put in a good word for
Lu and Darv, because I did hear some old-timers commenting that they contributed
nothing. Lu has devoted many years now learning to understand some of
W. African culture, and passing it on to many English people. He has inspired
literally thousands of people to want to learn more, through his workshops,
tapes, songs, drums, cloths, ... an excellent teacher to many rainbow-circlers.
We would struggle to find better even if we paid W. Africans, as they
do in Rainbow 2000.
Darv, together with several others from the Golden Moon, has been a major
resource to our cafe, and with Lindsey, has provided an excellent fireside
venue every evening at our camps for 2 years or more. The criticisms about
noise are water off a duck's back as far as Lu is concerned, although
I fear they may hurt Darv and Lindsey. But Why Oh Why can't rainbow circle
sort out where the noise can be made and where the quiet places are? We've
been on that site for enough years to know how sound travels around it.
The kids must have had the best camp ever this year, with John's donation
of three large marquees, a cinema, swings, a gigantic swimming pool that
took 3 or 4 days to fill, snooker table, and lots more besides - this
dominated the lower part of the field. John was another who worked very
hard at this camp, he had big safety issues to address and he had to keep
it all together on a site where things tended to get lunched out sometimes.
I wonder how we can follow on from this in future years.
I echo Dave's and Steve's messages about the sad sad death of Deb's &
Courtney's baby. My eldest sister lost a child in a similar manner so
I can imagine a little of how they must feel. Fortunately, there was a
strong group of people living right down in the lower corner of the field
beyond the kid's area who appeared to gather around them to help them
get through the early days of grieving. I didn't know them well but I
got the impression that rainbow-circle used some of its strengths well
in that area.
The mood of the camp changed dramatically a few days after
the new moon. Firstly, there was a nasty 24-hour tummy bug that hit many
on the site, shortly after Louie's death. Then there was also a mad rave
in the woods that clearly broke any curfew. Shortly after this there were
rumours of a health and safety inspection - exaggerated for effect no
doubt - that led to the replacement of the ineffective moaning circle
with a business circle that concentrated on any shortcomings of the camp
and getting things like extra loos set up, extra hand-washing taps/sinks,
better enforcement of the night curfew ... the old-timers came out in
force and suddenly lots of things got sorted that had been festering for
By now, many of the R.C crew from previous years were on-site, and the
atmosphere changed from being like inner-city rainbow anarchy to more
like rainbow-circle of old. Also, Darv had left for the Northern Green
gathering, and Lu had also moved on to Ayodele's camp by then, so this
removed the (unjustified in my opinion) focus of many moaners. The dome
in the woods was taken down, John led a move to clean up the woods, Mick
finally sorted out the plumbing, there was a big sweat lodge next to the
kids area (with drumming that no-one complained about!) and the camp seemed
more focussed to me. I'm not an early riser, so I missed many of the moaning
circles, and I'm not into ethereal stuff like astrology/taichi/massage/acupuncture
so I cannot report on workshops - I can only pass on my own impressions.
I concentrated on trying to learn new rhythms from Garry, John, Julie,
Tracy, who had all recently returned from Gambia, in the daytime, and
sitting around Planet's fire in the evenings after Darv and Linsey had
left. I went out one evening with a small group to see the Severn Bore
(very beautiful) and visited Cinderford another day (no, none of its shops
stock liquid chalk, whatever that is!). The only workshop I accidentally
attended was about legalisation of cannabis (I just happened to be in
the cafe when it began all around me). It seems there may some very significant
legal test cases coming up soon - particularly on its use for medical
purposes. The cabaret was great, as usual, but us drummers made a right
mess of our act, we didn't play what we rehearsed! I'll let someone else
report on that in more detail, because I acquired a large glass of brandy
that evening and can't remember very much!
Tatting-down was definitely more organised than tatting-up. We had all
the canvas bone dry and back in the trailer within one day! I left two
days after the end, but unfortunately, much of the kitchen still lay out
in the field. This is when the real rainbow-circle crew get landed with
all the rotten cleaning up tasks - magic-hat ended at the end of the camp.
I guess this is why they were reluctant to show their faces at the start
of the camp. My heart goes out to them as there are probably still several
people on site clearing up. What do I think of magic hat now? Well I went
feeling very sceptical, but thinking it was all about money. I left thinking
that unless 'Chel was subbing the meals, it must have worked for meals
because we were all well fed throughout the camp. Dunno about site fees
though. As for magic crewing - that was a new one for me and I wasn't
very impressed. Things did get done in the end, but after a lot of wasted
time, effort and moaning. I prefer to do things under a skilled leadership
as run by Ork or Starcus than hanging around wondering what/how/where
and seeing so much tat being lunched out. I reckon about a dozen of us
must have spent many hours each trying to find the what/how/where of things
like dome bolts, marquee steel pegs, heater chimneys, spanners, ..., simply
because someone else had left them somewhere else in the field, not knowing
what they were for. Well there's some impressions, if not a report for
There's much more I've missed out, and several others who
worked very hard to make the camp work. Sorry but this message is too
long already. I enjoyed the camp very much indeed and was glad to see
so many friends after such a long gap. (I missed earlier camps this year
because of foot and mouth). There were many people missing though, are
they still keeping away cause of F&M? If so, they need not have, things
aren't quite how the media portrays them. There were cattle right next
to us, separated by an electric fence. We had fresh unpasteurised milk
from them every day (what lovely cream it had on it - Wow!).
Yeah! What are other's impressions?
Nine out of ten. (Thursday 6th September 2001)
I left our Flaxley site this Monday. 99.9% of the stuff was in the
trailer, the field was tidy, but I didnt check the woods.
What a great August that was - it took me back to Wandsworth Eco Village.
But my laptop's broke so I couldn't provide internet access, sorry.
Last year I arrived at the August camp in week two - (late due to mechanics
and Angel's broken leg and little Elkie's funeral) - and the Kids Marquee
didn't get put up 'til week three. This year there were lots of Kids
Marquees. But there was no Music Marquee or Empty Marquee!
This year at a morning circle I saw some kids playing with my trolley
near the earth mounds but stayed to say my bit about "No Kids in the
Kitchen or Gate Area" but didn't guess they'd take it to the steepest
drive and crash it smashing half of Adam's tooth. His mum was so good
and understanding about it but they had to go home soon because it hurt.
How many told me they'd seen but not acted?
Once at the sandpit I shouted "DONT THROW SAND" and a little kid got
scared and got out and the kid's teenagers said I was wrong but after
a while they came back and played happily - my intuition was right -
kids liked to feel safe -
"It really hurts, sand in your eyes" or "What - you want to throw sand
but nobody else can?"
The kids knew the justice of "DONT THROW SAND", new kids soon learnt
( I wish I had a photo of the huge sand castle we built one day)
Humans are naturally friendly animals, its grown up longword philosophies
like "justice" and Irene's 'incessant rationality' that complicates
and confuses us grownups.
Unfortunately Maggi Nichols, who invited me to August 2000's music,
couldn't come. I enjoyed playing music (whistle, flute, trombone and
lights) with Enid, Ian, Felix, Chrissy, Sess, Olly, Horse, the drummers
- I cant remember half of it
- I cant remember 99% of it
- wow it was good wasn't it!
love from george
An opportunity to reflect on the Magic Hat Camps after the slightly chaotic
atmosphere of our camps this year. I'm sure a clearer picture will emerge
later. In all I felt a new energy and lot of positive feeling about the
new way of financing our set up and fun and high spirits were abounding.
Starcus resigning left a big hole to fill. Michelle met the challenge
as far as the Cafe went. If she wants to continue next year I will be
happy to support her on that front.
There was a deal of chaos, out of which has grown a new spirit. It's an
opening for teachers to share their skills. All this needs an infrastructure
and the basics to stay healthy.
A lot have given energy over the years with an interest in the group as
a therapeutic community, benefiting it's members, helping the weakest
and those vulnerable. That's my agenda. I'm not into personality cults.
The power should be shared by a rotation of the key roles at every AGM
and that no one should hold a post for more than two seasons.
The camps until this year had a theme. I would like to see that returned
with music, dance, drama, along with pottery, rug making, carving, sculptural
earthworks, pottery, metalwork, candle making, etc. Also a return to the
Green forums and talking circles, hopefully liberating us with it's exchanges.
I hope I can make it to the A.G.M and share my feelings about where we
have been and where we should be going.
There should be a clear vision of a camps aims. A theme is essential,
otherwise they will be unfocused and the 'drinking' and excessive partying.
Working on the gate for the Alchemy Camp I met many people and listened
to opinions on Magic Hat and a lot were about the Cafe and being unable
to buy drinks and food at any time as it used to be. These were members
supporting Rainbow Circle for many years, living and working full time
in the Cities. For them our Camps are a holiday away from the stress and
tension of urban life. They work, have money and are happy to see a trading
Cafe on site whose profits were given to help us continue.
I don't see any objections to the site crew being paid as they are on
other Camp groups such as Spiral Women's Camps. The putting up of toilets,
water lines, Marquees, domes, kitchens and other structures requires skill
and a lot of physical effort.
From past experience, unless it's done properly people get ill and can
get injured. Let's get it right next season. My feeling of how we make
Magic Hat work as a viable option benefiting us poor and show fat cats
about how love really works. If people want ticketed Camps have them as
well. More options, not less. We can have camps, as diverse as people
needs make them, running at the same time on separate sites. It takes
people to work together for common vision to organise and execute them.
Perhaps my age makes me yearn for the small camps where we could meet
everyone and things were more laid back. My own maximum for a camp would
be 150 people on a theme for week. Longer and the site gets skuzzy. Let's
find new sites, do winter camps, travel abroad. Engender a spirit of adventure.
One for the KIDZ. Thanks J.C. and your crew for a great kids area with
it's swimming pool, proper pool tables, tabletop football and cinema tent.
There's a place for us somewhere. Love, credit and respect to all those
who given input to the circle in the past. Workshop leaders, site workers
lost over the past years, many thanks. Come back again. Help us get back
on the right track. Get to the A.G.M. on 27 Oct at Leominster Community
Centre and plan together how to make next year an inspiring experience
on a Camp.
I feel the A.G.M. should be held in Bristol, London or the Midlands to
be more accessible. I'm interested in getting poor people out of Cities,
not providing ego trips for the well off rural dwellers. Anyone interested
in working on structure for next years Camps, BE THERE!
Jim Carter (Kitchen Jim)