29th June


‘Let me up on your shoulders.’

You know those women, the ones at music festivals who get themselves hoisted on their boyfriends’ shoulders? They’re often small, petite even, but they are not light. They ignore the people shouting at them because they’re blocking the view. They just carry on singing and swaying, reaching into the air as if they’ve got a hold of something special. They look like sylphs or wood nymphs. That’s what they want you to think they are, spirits of the woodland blowing in the breeze, singing with the band up on the stage. ‘Get down!’ people are yelling. Their arms are outstretched and their fingers are making little signs of victory or peace. All they hear is the music. Their boyfriends are buckling under them, because how long can you go without your neck cracking or your shoulders aching as your girl bounces and sways on top of you? How long can you last, tell me that?

I once had a girl. We went to some concert in some stadium. When the band started playing she uttered the fateful words and like a fool I bent my knees and let her on. And before I was upright again I felt her legs lock behind my back and she was riding me.

She rode me for the next two hours despite the abuse of the people behind us, despite my own screaming pain and exhaustion. Afterwards I carried her away until we came to a quiet place where I begged her to come down. She was only small but the weight of her was immense. She laughed derisively, and rode me till I dropped. ‘Hag-ridden’, that’s what you call it. I was hag-ridden. At last I fell, and no matter how hard she kicked and cuffed me I could not rise.

She left me for dead. I was not dead, but my youth had abandoned me. That’s why, when I see those women now in the fields of summer music and mud, I want to warn those boys. I shout but they don’t hear me. All they hear is the music and the soft, enticing plea. They don’t know what it means.

Reader: Angus Taylor
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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