It started eight years ago with my wonderful friend and source of much magic, Lisa.
(Seriously. Most of my friends and an awful lot of the tea I've consumed in the last decade is because I once bumped into Lisa
.) She signed me up to volunteer at a new comedy festival being put on in a town I had never been to and certainly could not pronounce. Machynlleth. This was the brainchild of two of my now favourite humans, Emma
, who wanted to give something a go.
The first year was small and shambolic, but somehow we managed to put some friends and friends-of-friends on in a few tiny rooms and… it worked. It worked logistically, but most of all it worked because it was a bunch of friends giddy with the audacity that we could do this. And more importantly it worked because of Machynlleth.
Mach. Let me tell you of the ways you grabbed my heart.
It is a magical combination of deep Welsh history (it used to be the capital and is a heartland of the beautiful language of the nation) and is the home of the Centre for Alternative Technology,
which attracts open minds and an ability to welcome new ideas. These things combine to create a town that didn't just tolerate the idea that comedy was being put on, but ran at it with open arms and pure joy.
Since then the festival has grown. Some of the biggest names and some of the funniest
people in the world have graced tiny rooms, steam trains, sweet shops, theatres and every other corner of this most magical of towns.
I've spent the entirety of my 30s as a tiny part of this festival. Sticking things down, plugging things in and (I hope) trying to ensure the wonderful army of volunteers (who give up their time for no reward beyond just being part of something) and audiences enjoy the experience.
As someone who has a laughably stereotypical grown up job (I am a computer geek whoworks in the office of national statistics) the whole thing is a revelation to me.
The ‘that time when…’ list would be indulgent, but to give a flavour of the adventures over the years: Arthur Smith making a radio 4 documentary whilst I tried to get him into a funicular railway carriage that would take him to the stage he was meant to be performing on. Tim Key making me make a giggling noise I didn't know I was capable of. Being hugged by a sweaty Nick Helm. Watching my festival brother Jonny being high fived by Josie Long for playing a Belle and Sebastian song at a shambolic indie disco. High fives in general actually. You end up wanting to enthusiastically say hello to a lot of people.
These, however, are a backdrop, a pleasing hum underneath the main thing. That thing, quite simply, is that if a bunch of friends try hard enough, give a little love and a little time, they can create something that is actually magic.
We have made a whole town smile for seven years and I’ve made some friends who I will
cherish for a very long time. We’re doing it again at the end of the month and you should all come along. Seriously. It could change your life.