Man About Town: Fake tan at the M&S ready meal of music festivals

  • @lukeblackall

For entertainment journalists, covering a music festival is as close as most will come to war reporting.

You're miles from home, having to deal with barren landscape, strange food and hostile locals, thinking all the while that the action is happening elsewhere.

For such cosseted individuals it is probably on the same discomfort level as those brave thrill-seekers throwing on their flak jackets and flying to Libya.

Some hacks speak with a thousand yard stare about the fog of burning plastic bags at Reading or ferry fails at the Isle of Wight, but Glastonbury in the rain is usually the toughest.

I've witnessed tears shed as muddy notes are read out to unsatisfied night editors. And judging by the 4am mind-altered states of some press members camping near me, this year's fest at Worthy farm could well be their Vietnam, flashbacks and everything.

But in the list of festivals, V in Essex is an aberration. It is like the Marks & Spencer's ready meal of music festivals, mainly due to its hospitality area. From competition winners to celebrities, to MPs to cast members of The Only Way is Essex, all human life is there – but only if you've got the right wristband.

The talk at most festivals is of bands to see and ones you've seen, but at V you don't have to watch any music at all. Actually, those who do are almost frowned-upon. The conversation seems to move between whether you should get your free fake tan before or after lunch.

Far better to stay in the "green zone" of the hospitality area where you don't even need to leave your inflatable seat. Sit there long enough and people (nice people, who work there) appear and bring you cocktails. There were even golf buggies ferrying people from the inflatable seats area to their cars and shuttle buses. Just as well, as otherwise they might never have left.