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Melanie Morris: I'm the woman you need when disaster strikes at Oxegen

THREE days, five stages, a funfair, a Dominos pizza outlet, the silent disco and, of course, the inevitable miles of Portaloos ... what can possibly say summer more succinctly than a music festival?

And as this weekend approaches, and the weather turns traditionally inclement, it's not just the 17-year-olds who are digging out their wellies and making lists of 'festival essentials'.

Nope, Oxegen isn't just for the kids; there's a whole generation -- or possibly two above them -- getting equally geared up. And I'm leading that charge.

I think I've been to every Oxegen since the festival emerged from the ashes of Witness in 2003. And while I may no longer be partial to crawling around muddy campsites, or hopping into denim hot pants, I bet I'm just as excited as a teenager. As far as I'm concerned, Oxegen is a festival that's all about the music, and this year's line-up must be one of the most exciting yet.


The key, I think, to festival going for anyone past their twenties is to pace yourself ... and that involves leaving the place at some hour each night.

I've tried 'doing' Oxegen a variety of ways ... I've travelled in a Winnebago with friends and done a sort of 'posh camping' thing; I've stayed in Naas and ferried back and forth each day, and I've travelled by car from Dublin each day.

Now, following a few years of study, trial and error, My fiance Trevor and I have devised our perfect solution.

It involves a combination of using the official park 'n ride facility on two nights, which means each of us has to suffer one day on the dry, and then for one big day/night, we entrust ourselves to the super-efficient Dublin Bus service and go for broke.

Then there's the annual 'festival breakfast' to be enjoyed each day, and usually consists of a full Irish fry-up, plenty of carbs and -- my creation -- a huge smoothie from the nearest juice bar, laced with a healthy glug of vodka. The perfect 'balanced breakfast' that includes all the food groups, and sets you up for the day ahead ... or gently eases you out of yesterday's fatigue.

Once transport and sustenance is sorted, all that's left is to pack the 'emergency' bag; everything from hay fever tablets to extra socks, eye drops to hair elastics, spare cash to local taxi numbers. I've got it down to a fine art and am most certainly the woman you need to be around, should disaster strike.

Festival going in modern times is far easier than days of yore. Back in the day, phones wouldn't work once a critical mass assembled, there were no charging stations to juice them up and the notion of a festival app was light years away. Now, not only can you map your tent with GPS satellite, but while you're waiting for your friends to find you, there's a beauty bar nearby to get a new set of false lashes and freshen up your GHD curls.

And while the younger crowd may make their pilgrimage to Punchestown without ever seeing a live band, such is the appeal and allure of drinking in a campsite al fresco, I'll have been on the Oxegen website, planning my programme.

Coldplay, Pendulum and Imelda May are musts, as are Calvin Harris and The Strokes. I reckon I'll have to do a trade with Trevor and tag along to Ocean Colour Scene so that he'll come to Primal Scream with me on the Sunday; and there'll have to be the trip to the dance arena where last year, we befriended a raver in a wheelie bin.

I've got to an age where I don't worry too much about what to wear, as long as it involves a warm outer layer and an Alexander McQueen scarf.


Having said that, come the weekend, I'll have every pair of jeans I own on the floor and I'll spend far too long deliberating over which to wear and what to put with them. And then I'll choose a dress.

Because just like the inevitable Portaloos and having a mate who'll get sunstroke on day one, when it comes to festivals, regardless of your age, some things never change.