Chris Wells is… The Fifth Wheel

You didn’t even bother to take your jeans off, you dirty shit.” Ugh. My head throbs. Keith Moon is doing a comeback gig inside my skull, and it’s utter carnage. I try to unscramble my head as I slide out of said jeans, checking everything is where it should be; a quick rustle in my pockets here, a quick scratch in an inappropriate area there. Finally awake, I find myself inside a tent. This is either a festival or a camping holiday. It better not be a fucking camping holiday.

I clamber out of the tent. In front of me, far too many twentysomethings get an eyeful of a wild-haired, half-naked, student journalist. Did they recoil in shock, or in awe? It’s hard to tell behind their uniform of Wayfarers and straw hats, but either way, it’s probably time to get my trousers back on.

To my left, Laura Marling strolls down a temporary road in the direction of the Pyramid Stage. Kelly Osbourne makes her hourly lap around the press tent, generously giving the photographers more practice. In the nearby catering tent I can see Trevor Eve, Alex Turner, Alan Yentob, Alexa Chun… Oh. My. God. Is that Andrew Marr? It is! The Fifth Wheel is backstage at Glastonbury. Definitely time to get some bloody pants on.

The male companion expressing his disgust at my sleeping attire is the Boar’s very own Ollie Smyth. If the Fifth Wheel was inclined to employ lazy journalistic stereotyping, it would call Ollie the very definition of a metrosexual man.

Ollie Smyth IS the very definition of a metrosexual man. While I’ve been struggling to open my eyes, Ollie has been going through his morning ablutions. When we had departed days earlier, it was evident from the bags beneath Ollie’s eyes that the process of deciding which creams and lotions would make the trip had proven overwhelming. Judging by his curly, bouncy mop of hair, his fruity scent, and the mysterious disappearance of those eye-bags, I can safely conclude concealer joined usual suspects dry shampoo and mango body butter in his soap bag.

Having witnessed from the comfort of Westwood the chaos of Glastonbury 2007, Ollie is prepared for anything Glastonbury 2008 throws at him, including a slapdash dating feature, and so it’s on with the pith helmet and the drainpipe-thin army fatigues as he prepares to enter the dating jungle.

Elsewhere on Worthy Farm, another of our dating heroes is frantically readying herself for what’s ahead. She is Colette Monahan, a twinkle-eyed daughter of Northern Ireland. An economics student, Colette is the President and, by all accounts, the clucking mother hen, of the Running Club. The glower on her face tells of a swift outfit change from jammies and slippers to more appropriate clothing, namely a pair of bulky Wellingtons and a brown leather jacket.

The traditional recipe for a Fifth Wheel is to mix a pair of boys with a couple of girls, and to add just a pinch of journalist. We let this all marinade in several bottles of wine, and over the course of the date, we reduce this heady love-stew down until only the meaty chunks of gossip remain, which I usually like to accompany with a side order of awkward conversation. Such an appetizing option doesn’t appear to be on the menu at Glastonbury, so I’m taking Ollie and Colette speed-dating, a veritable fast-food drive-thru to our usual hearty fare.

We’ve come to the Greenpeace field (see right for an interview The Boar conducted with a spokesmen), and we watch wide-eyed and open-hearted as an army of volunteers force dazed revellers to sign up in exchange for a free Innocent Smoothie. Neither Ollie nor Colette has previous speed-dating experience, and Ollie seems uncharacteristically nervous, hanging on to his complimentary Cranberry & Raspberry for dear life.

I’m equally nervous judging by the incomprehensible stream of notes I jot down: “Half a person, half empty. Granny floods,” as well as the wonderfully cryptic “Norwich City FC lottery.” In my defence, Keith Moon is in the middle of his third encore. Colette meanwhile, still under the influence of last night’s alcohol, is finding keeping herself in a state of equilibrium enough of a challenge without bothering herself with the small matter of nerves.

Already inside Greenpeace’s “Carbon Dating” yurt are the event’s MCs (used in the more traditional sense). This is the last carbon dating of the whole festival, yet they seem more interested in performing the excruciating ‘banter’ they’ve honed throughout the weekend. Each date lasts 90 seconds, each stand-up segment almost twice as long. I’m sorely tempted to report them to Greenpeace for wasting a valuable resource – my patience – whenever they launch into a routine.

Between dates, all parties must rate the previous date. This being Greenpeace, however, I find the choice of comments (“Yes” or “Just a friend”) slightly too vanillary for my taste. It’s “PC gone maaad,” Richard Littlejohn might bluster.

As the M.Cs ridicule someone (Jason, if you must know) for participating twice, I spot Ollie pointing in my direction explain to his first date why he’s brought a dictaphone, and who the weirdo in the corner is. You see, despite the complimentary meals and the hordes of groupies,ment; this is distaste, communicated through the unfamiliar method of biro-biting.

Colette exhibits a completely different speed-dating technique. It’s one, I would argue, that is slightly more conventional. She has certainly perked up from her earlier hangover, her hands jabbing into the air vigorously as she chatters away. Even from my 25 yard exclusion zone, she appears to be pulling out all the stops. In contrast to Ollie, her nose wrinkles, she laughs and giggles, and she maintains eye contact. Nevertheless, evidently even Colette has her limits, and I document with regret her lack of hair-tossing.

After a honk signals the end of the penultimate round of dating, the MCs decree that the final round must be preceded by 3 seconds of awkward silence. Surely they’ve had enough practice at that so far? Obviously not, because several couples are clearly determined to extend the stillness for the whole ninety seconds. Most are on a downer from a blended fruit high, and have started to itch for another fix, or at least a way to get rid of those godawful presenters.

Honk! It’s all over. Volunteers sporting an air of general do-goodery descend on the daters to pick up the scorecards. They’re in a rush because there’s a pagan wedding for 200 couples in two hours, and they need to remove all the sharp objects before the hippies arrive.


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