The Secret Diary of a Competition Winner

The Secret Diary of a Competition Winner

18 July 2002

Wednesday, 10th July, 2002

Dear diary, my name is Robert Parton and I never seriously thought for a moment that clicking my mouse on that 'submit' button on the Virtual Festivals website would lead to any of this. But there was the train ticket in my hand, with the words 'First Class' leaping off the surface. I arrived at London's Euston station with my partner in crime, Gazz, at midday, and we headed to Manchester with a couple of the lads from Virtual Festivals. There was Steve, the boss, who started VF from his bedroom a few years ago (respect!) and his colleague Mike. I have never travelled first class before, but I highly recommend it. We started on the drinks trolley. Beers and chasers. Things were off to a flying start, and we all toasted Virgin Trains.

After a short taxi ride from the station, we arrived at the hotel about 4pm, nicely warmed up for the weekend. It was the Official Hotel of Manchester United, apparently, and was about 4 miles from the festival site. There seemed to be a bit of a mix up, however, and we weren't expected. Steve called the organisers and it turned up that we had been upgraded to a different hotel called the 'Old Trafford Lodge', which was situated right in the middle of the festival itself (woo hoo!). Better still, our balcony actually overlooked the stage and a crate of Stella had been left on the bed for us!

The next couple of hours were spent sitting on the balcony, pinching ourselves whilst watching Suede and David Bowie performing in front of us, beers in hand. Suede were a little lacklustre for our tastes, but Bowie was pure class. A true legend, and an amazing show that took in all the classics, with a smattering of new songs, which fared surprisingly well.

A few cans later, we decided to take a look round and ended up in the backstage hospitality bar (as you do) and started on the great buffet of food prepared for us, with another free bar (God bless Virgin Trains). Gazz suddenly froze, open mouthed, as he realised that Johnny Rotten was sitting a few feet away. Then Steve turned up and introduced us to Tim Burgess, who is one of my biggest idols of all time.
I've heard that it's often disappointing meeting your heroes, as they never live up to your expectations, but I can happily report that Mr. Burgess was every bit as cool in the bar as he is onstage. He looked the bollocks, too, and was very friendly, happily chatting with us into the small hours. Badly Drawn boy was also in the bar - and whilst I've never been into his music, he's a sound bloke, and was as pissed as us!

This was a night I will never forget.

Before we continue the debauchery, I would like to send a heartfelt thanks to Sharon the hotel lady for all her help, Virgin Trains for the weekend of a lifetime and Steve Jenner from Virtual Festivals for making this all possible.

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Steve Perry @ Virgin Trains and Sarah & Mel @ Expoure

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