I can still remember it vividly. It was one of the most panicked moments of my life. Nobody could tell me what to do. I had to work it out myself. I had to take charge. And if something went wrong…it would be all my fault.
Friday 5th August 2011. The Underage Festival, Victoria Park. Sometime past 10:30am.
I wasn’t really that excited. Why had I forced myself and my friends to pay £30 each for some festival in which we only wanted to see one band perform? I’d have preferred to save the money for something else, since we’d usually pay half that amount to see said band in concert by themselves, no other acts or anything.
So, there we were, standing outside the gates in the middle of the crowd, waiting to be let in. I remember huge Mexican waves rippling through the crowd as the cameras filmed all of us, everyone screaming and jumping up and down with so much excitement that I think it’s safe to say that the atmosphere was incredibly contagious, and I could feel myself getting just as anxious and hyped up as everyone around me.
And then, just as I was getting into the mood, screaming my throat raw, I heard someone next to me speak.
“Hey, um, Law, I feel a bit ill...”
I turned to see my best friend of over eleven years looking unnaturally pale, her mouth tight shut in a thin line.
“Oh, okay. Let’s get out of here.” I suggested, pulling her out of the crowd, just thinking that she perhaps felt a bit ill from being smashed together in the midst of a crowd of angst-ridden teenagers. As we walked towards the middle of the field, I asked her what was wrong.
“I-I don’t know, Law. I think...I think I’m going to faint...”
I hadn’t meant to, but I immediately panicked. I was used to Alex sometimes getting a little bit ill from time to time, but even after eleven years, this was definitely something new to me. I couldn’t even stop myself from blurting out or attempting to stop myself from making Alex panic. I had to know what was going on.
“Ha-Has this happened before?!”
“Back around in September. When I was in school...I fainted...”
I felt a slight pang when she said that. Another thing I’d missed out on due to moving schools after year eight. It was hard enough already that we only saw each other at a minimum of once a month, even though we only lived five minutes away from each other.
I quickly shook my head. Focus!
“Hey, stop. Sit down.” I instructed, suddenly stopping. Alex did as she was told. “Do you feel better when you do that?”
“Um, yeah, a little bit.” Alex replied feebly, struggling to keep her eyes open as she lowered her back. “I think I’m just gonna lie down, I feel really-“
“No, stop.” I interrupted. “Lie down on my lap. Don’t lie down on the grass.” I sat down next to Alex and folded my legs as I pulled her head onto my lap.
“No, Law, it’s okay, I just need a paracetamol and I’ll be fine, I just...” Alex attempted to protest, but she looked like she was getting weaker by the second.
“Stop it. Just close your eyes and relax.” I ordered. Alex immediately quietened down and relaxed her head, her breathing getting steeper. As I looked up at the clear blue sky, I wondered what we looked like to everyone around us. To them, we probably just looked like two girls relaxing in the middle of a park. To me, I was seconds away from watching my friend pass out and having no idea what to do.
“Hey, um, Alex...” I suddenly spoke, interrupting the silence.
“Yeah?” Alex murmured, her eyes fluttering open as she attempted to get back up. I immediately told her to stop.
“What do I...what do I do if you pass out?”
“I...I don’t know...”
I froze. What would I do? I’d never been in a situation like this before, and never thought I would be. I desperately scanned my brain for what I had learnt in CPR training, trying to remember anything, but nothing came up. Just as I had suspected, my qualification in performing CPR was meaningless.
Thankfully, I saw one of my other best friends rushing towards us, and I waved her over.
“Here are my pills.” Viv huffed, shoving her hand out to reveal a packet of paracetamol. I immediately turned to Alex, who had sat back up.
“Can you take it dry?” I asked, but I already knew with a sinking feeling what the answer would be.
“Sorry, no.” Alex shook her head apologetically. “Um, I feel a little bit better, I’m just gonna lie down...”
We couldn’t just sit here and do nothing. This was the weakest I had ever seen Alex, in the entirety of the time I had known her. I had to do something. I quickly turned to Viv.
“Viv, look after Alex. I’m going to get help at the stands over there.” I decided, pointing to the fast track stands at the opposite end of the field. Viv nodded, understanding clear in her eyes.
I rolled up my overly baggy shorts and prepared to run, just like I always did. However, just before I took off, a voice interrupted me.
“Thank you, Law...”
I turned to Alex with a smile. “No problem, Ali. It’s what friends are for.” I nodded, smirking at the cheesiness of my words, before I sprinted across the field, the wind whipping through my hair as I charged towards the fence. I didn’t care that everyone was staring. I didn’t care that they were laughing, or pointing. This was a real life emergency, and I was going to save my best friend from passing out.
However, as I neared the stands, I realised that the booths were not for fast track, but instead, press and journalists, here to record the event. I suddenly came to a screeching halt. What next? I racked my brain for an idea, my eyes wandering as I thought. I suddenly noticed that one of the girls passing me was wearing one of those stupid necklaces with all the pictures of the festival line up on them, and I quickly flashed back to earlier.
“Hey, guys, d’you want a program?” A guy with spiky blonde hair wearing a neon yellow waistcoat, the type that policemen wear, approached us just as we had entered the park, waving a sort of chain with several pictures attached to it.
“Yeah, sure!” We chorused in unison.
“Oh, cool. That’ll be five pounds.” The guy smiled.
“WHAT?!?!” I yelled, my Chinese instincts immediately taking over. “FIVE POUNDS?! NO WAY! I CAN JUST LOOK UP THE BANDS FOR FREE ON THE WEBSITE!!!”
The guy opened his mouth to say something, but managed to twist his face into something that resembled the expression of somebody desperately trying not to lose it, and attempted to smile as he choked out a stiff laugh, whilst everyone else simply laughed.
The neon jackets! That was it! I could ask the festival ushers!
Spying two girls in the jackets, I raced over to them, and choked out a frantic “Where is the first aid tent?!”
The two girls looked at each other and half-giggled, whilst I, just the like the guy from earlier, desperately tried not to lose my cool. How could such frivolous minded females be laughing at what must be a serious matter if I was requesting first aid?!
“Um, uh, we don’t know. Sorry.” One of them shrugged. I opened my mouth to speak, but before I could even say anything, they turned around to try and sell those rip off ‘programs’ to another bunch of innocent bystanders.
Unbelievable! I narrowed my eyes and gritted my teeth as I raced back to Alex and Viv, just about managing to walk away and not rip out the girls’ throats.
“What happened?” Viv asked, looking up from the ground.
“I couldn’t get any help.” I growled, my blood boiling at the thought of the girls from earlier.
“Hmmm. I think I saw some policemen earlier. Maybe they could help us?” Viv tried.
“Yeah, good idea! Let’s go try them! They’ve got to help us!” I speed-nodded as we helped Alex off the ground and put our arms around her, leading her towards the direction in which Viv said she had seen the policemen. We navigated across the field, back towards the crowd, except going around everyone and heading towards the edge of the barriers. There, we saw two police officers; one man and one woman. Without hesitating, I walked right up to them, and got down to business immediately.
“Excuse me,” I began. The officers immediately turned around. “Do you know where the first aid tent is?”
The two looked at each other, and for one deathly second, I thought it was going to be a repeat performance of what those two moronic girls had said earlier.
“I’ll go and look.” The woman decided, with a nod at the other officer. “Why, what’s wrong?”
“My friend is about to pass out.” I informed them, gesturing behind me to Alex and Viv. Something similar to shock, or perhaps concern, registered on their faces, before they quickly nodded.
“I’ll go and look right away, hold on.” The woman told me, everybody staring as she walked through the crowd and past the barriers, voices raised as they called out and questioned what was happening.
“It’s you, is it?” The man asked, turning to Alex.
“Y-Yes.” Alex nodded. “Um, I think I’m just going to sit down.” She murmured, sitting down on the edge of the pavement. I quickly sat down next to her as the policeman began running through all those predictable questions that you ask when somebody’s ill.
Finally, the policewomen returned. Before I knew what was happening, we were being led through the barriers as we flashed our tickets at the security guards, envy slapping everyone in the face as they watched us skip the mad rampage that had just begun due to the festival just opening.
We were led into a tent where we were told to wait for the nurse. Coincidentally, the rest of our group had managed to get through the barriers and met us in the tent, just as the nurse arrived. Since there were now two more of us, she told us to wait outside whilst she attended to Alex, which involved sitting in a room and asking her several questions.
“They’re gonna ask her if she’s pregnant.” Viv smirked knowingly as we watched Alex and the woman like animals at the zoo.
“What?! Oh, come on!” I spluttered. “Why would you be at a festival if you were bloody pregnant?!”
Several minutes later, Alex was finally done with her interview, and came outside as we re-entered the festival.
“I don’t know why, but they asked me if I was pregnant?!”
“See! I told you!”