Dom Joly: VIP stands for Vaguely Impecunious Punter

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The Independent Online

As you read this I shall be at the poshest festival in Britain – Cornbury, near Charlbury in Oxfordshire. It's not far from me: apart from the local cider festival and the annual Steam Fair, it's our big local event.

In general, I hate festivals. I say this sweepingly as though I've been to loads. I haven't. The idea of sleeping in a tent in a field with a thousand hippies on bad acid didn't appeal as a teenager, and it certainly doesn't now. I've lied so often about going to Glastonbury that I actually believe I've been there. I started tweeting about the last one as I was watching the performances on TV. However, it soon became clear that a lot of people thought I was actually in the melee. Who was I to disabuse them? It ended up with me organising quite a large "all back to my tent" invitation. I claimed that it had a zebra design on it and, if they found it, to just come in. I really hope that nobody actually had one like that – if they did and got some weird visitors, then I'm sorry.

The thing I like about Cornbury is exactly what proper "festival-heads" don't like. I like the fact that it's really nice and tasteful – lovely food, quality stalls, a funfair, kids get in free, and there is a marked absence of tattooed travellers staggering about throwing urine at you from an empty Coke bottle. If I'm honest, the music is possibly a little too bland for my taste, but I'd rather that than brave a sweaty mosh-pit just to check out someone hip.

Cornbury has a clever system where you don't have to be a VIP to be a VIP. You just need some money. If you buy these VIP tickets, this gets you into a fenced-off tent where you can pretend that you're more important than the people on the other side of the fence. Of course, because you know that you're not really a VIP and have only paid for the privilege, there is always a suspicion that there is a "really" VIP section somewhere else that you don't even know about.

On my wanderings this year, I fully expect to see the full gamut of local Cotswolds celebrities. Jeremy Clarkson will definitely be there as, I imagine, will be the Indy's own Alex James. I like to spot Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen late in the day when I've had a few ciders and can speak my mind freely.

Over-seventies go free at Cornbury, like the kids. The deal for kids is inspired, as it's a great place to take them but would get cripplingly expensive if you had to buy them all tickets. The over-seventies idea is an interesting one. I don't know if the organisers feel that there's a huge untapped grey pound just longing to spend its retirement hanging around festivals watching the Noisettes – but we shall see. They'll be easy to spot. They will be in the VOP section – Very Old People.

Last time I went, I was trying to impress my kids by how rock'n'roll I was. I bored them to death, nattering on about the bands that were playing and the dull memories that were interlinked with the tunes ... I really was a desperately-trying-to-be-cool-dad and I shudder to think about it even now. This came to a grinding halt when I teased my kids about being too chicken to go on the waltzer. I hopped on and goaded them from mid-spin until I suddenly started to vomit profusely. Unfortunately, the fast rotation of the waltzer meant that I became a sort of human vomit cannon covering everyone within a 100-yard radius with the remains of my organic falafel wrap.

Nobody said much on the way home in the car. I think the family are dreading going back. But for me, it can't get any worse.