(by neil crud)
In what was an absurd attack on the hugely successful Wakestock Festival held last weekend near Abersoch the Daily Post newspaper sank into tabloid journalistic hell in a pathetic attempt to boost circulation sales. The headline ‘Cocaine Festival’ greeted readers on Monday morning & the following 2 pages illustrated how shocked reporter Hugo Duncan uncovered ‘Drugs chaos at North Wales surfing event.’ What a pile of complete bollocks. It’s patently obvious this journalist either has aspirations on working for The Sun or thought a rock festival was something Bryn Terfel holds for his opera friends every year.
I was at Wakestock on Saturday with Pocket Venus, Treehouse 3 & Reef & none of us had to surf down mountains of cocaine, stand on blocks of cannabis or catch collapsing party-goers. It looks like Hugo Duncan was having all the fun as I don’t recall this ‘massive drugs party’ taking place. Wasn’t it a lucky coincidence he took his own photographer with him to capture the moment he was offered cannabis (shocking isn’t it!?) by a reveller? Quite frankly, those who have read the Daily Post article & attended the festival will probably deduct that to have written a story like that you’d have to be on drugs as the guy was obviously hallucinating! And anyone lying on the ground had obviously come under the affect as the ‘cocktail of drink & drugs took its toll.’ There is no denying that drug intake went on at this festival, as it does in every town every day; it is a scourge, but the level that the report descended to is quite laughable had it not been so potentially damaging to the O’Shea Wakestock organisers. Would you believe that as Reef blasted out their heavy guitar riffs most of the audience went wild! It must have been a frightening experience for poor Hugo (you’ll never make the NME sunshine, maybe Y Gadlas if you’re lucky). Thankfully the North Wales Police viewed the festival for what it was, a huge success, extremely friendly, no arrests & a huge boost to the income of a struggling part of our country.
There were 6 stabbing related incidents in Rhyl the same evening (2 with knives, 4 with bottles), I didn’t see any news stories on them.
Unlike the Daily Post, this website will not close ranks. Hugo Duncan & his editor are welcome to reply to this item.
They did…. (this from Mark Brittain)
WHEN the Daily Post visited the Wakestock Festival last Saturday evening, little did we know that we were about to stir up a hornet’s nest. Mind you, we didn’t know that we were about to witness scenes of blatant dope smoking and cocaine sniffing either.
Our report which appeared on Monday, under the headline “Cocaine Festival”, led to a total (so far) of 15 irate phone calls, e-mails, faxes and letters, all of them critical, and some extremely abusive, but all voicing virtually identical criticisms.Faced, therefore, with demands for an apology, it is incumbent on us to answer our critics and state our case – which I shall do having given you a taste of the more reasoned correspondence, which, for reasons of space and repetition, I have been obliged to condense – for which I do apologise.
First off, a very temperate rebuke from Mrs C. Fox, of Pwllheli. “My husband and I were present at the prizegiving and live music on Saturday night, having watched the competition events on Friday and Saturday,” she wrote. “I was amazed at your account of events and find it difficult to believe we were at the same venue! We have been to a great many live music events over the last 30 years and felt security arrangements were satisfactory – my bag was searched before we were allowed into the arena, and at no time did we feel threatened or see any `chaotic scenes’. As I understand it, the 15-year-old boy mentioned in the article had in fact been drinking `Red Bull’ and had his drink `spiked’ as suggested. As for `ten people’ climbing over the fence and `letting party-goers in and out at will’, you then state that `security guards replaced the fence soon after’ – and there were between 3,500 and 5,000 people present!!
“While I agree there were people a bit worse for wear towards the end of the evening, are you naive enough to think this doesn’t happen – here, or anywhere else?”It is a sign of the times that some people do take recreational drugs, and, as with anything, if you go looking for them, you will find them. We saw no one obviously flaunting or offering them. “I was, however, encouraged to hear that the police were happy with the way things went and, after all, there seemed to be no reports of violence as there have been in the past at other live music events in North Wales.
“It would be a terrible shame if this event ceased to exist after only three years due to one distorted view, when so much hard work has gone into organising it each year.”
Next up, Heather Torkington described our report as “spectacularly inaccurate and quite frankly pathetic”, but took immediate exception to our incorrect reference in the subheadline to “surfing”.
“Wakeboarding and surfing are two very different sports demanding totally opposite weather conditions and equipment … such a blatant inaccuracy is inexcusable,” she wrote.”I am absolutely disgusted with your `exclusive scoop’ and I, and other local business people, hope you fully intend to apologise to the organisers.
“Abersoch, like many villages in Wales, really felt the pain of foot-andmouth disease last year and our local tourist board are working so hard with people like O’Shea to organise events that can help regenerate our businesses and extend the season – you have quite simply gone out of your way to defame the festival and pull out all stops to prevent it happening next year.
“The festival has bought thousands of people to the area to enjoy fabulous music and an exciting growing sport in the heart of our beautiful Pen Llyn – surely this is something to be proud of. We enjoyed our busiest weekend this year, which is exactly what was needed during such a gloomy summer. The organisers spent the past year working tirelessly with the council/ police and authorities to make sure that every Health and Safety avenue was explored. If you go to any pub in any town in this country and ask for drugs, you will find them. I am hardly surprised that your stunt of going undercover to find drugs was fruitful! I was reassured by the police presence and security measures, but most of all I was bowled over by the amazing atmosphere people of all ages (I spotted at least two grannies!) having a fantastic time. I think that 10 people trying to climb over a fence is an impressively small number and that security should be congratulated. I arrived around 9.30 to have my bag checked, and witnessed enough police to put the fear of god into any potential drug user. The standard of music was unbelievable – with a superb mix of local bands and emerging bands from all over the coun-try – as for Reef, what a coup to have them play on their return to the UK after a sell-out tour of the US.”
Mike Atherton wrote, expressing his “disgust and disappointment. I have attended the Wakestock Festival over the past three years and very much enjoyed it on all occasions. Every year, a lot of people have a great time at what is widely recognised as a well organised, efficient and troublefree event. As, indeed, it was this year. Articles like yours cause great harm and send out a very negative message to all the people who might not have attended and been able to see that the very large majority of several thousand people had a great night in a great location. I would imagine that, if any journalist went to any event of any scale, looking solely to expose it as a drugs festival, they would indeed be able to find people with drugs.
“Why did you not mention that the Wakeboarding – not surfing – sends out a good message to young people of the benefits of healthy outdoor sports? Why did you focus on a small part of the festival – that, yes, there would indeed be some people taking drugs – and not the great music, good organisation, or lack of any trouble over the whole event? That the police again reported that there was no trouble and are very happy with the event organisation? Or the fact that a relatively small place has brought big names, from both Wakeboarding and the music world, to a beautiful tourist area, boosting and strengthening the local economy after much hard work and planning from local people?”
Someone called Pru e-mailed to say: “Can appreciate your concern with the drug problems that are apparent in society today – just a shame that you chose to pick on one event to highlight it. Not a very good angle considering that, if you go looking for such things at any festivals, then there will always be that element. Just thankful that there were only two incidents out of a possible 5,000. I came away from the event very happy, my only concerns being the camping capacity. The wakeboarding was spectacular, you must agree? Those riders are the most gutsy I have seen in a long time – shame that you didn’t feel it was worth a mention.”
Finally, Neil Crud, manager of Pocket Venus, one of the bands who performed, wrote to “protest strongly”. Although there is no denying that drug intake went on, to portray the event as a cocaine free-for-all is absurd and it is blatantly obvious that you went to ‘dig the dirt’ rather than report on an arrest-free and successful gathering. I spent the entire day at Wakestock and drove home in the early hours of Sunday. Having to stay sober, I vividly remember not seeing mountains of cannabis and cocaine, nor did I fall over any comatose 15 year-olds. Drugs are a scourge on society, but to tar 5,000 people with the brush of being in a `massive drugs party’ is an absolute lie.”
The Daily Post, in line with its policy, is pleased to publish the above “rights of reply” and, for what it’s worth, we deny absolutely that we went to deliberately bury, not to praise, the festival. Let me state unequivocally that we wholeheartedly support any venture which brings tourists to North Wales. We went to report honestly on a festival and found instead, sadly, what we later wrote about, and which we stand by. It may well be that, by concentrating on the drug use, we failed to adequately reflect the many excellent things also going on.
However, if the future of the festival is to be assured, then open drugtaking, especially of Class A drugs like cocaine, must not be tolerated. A minority, to be sure, but one which tainted the rest of the festival and which could, if allowed to flourish, jeopardise it.
By highlighting the problem, we hope we may have nipped it in the bud. To any disappointed readers, we say sorry – but not for taking the antidrugs stance we did.
We will never, ever, apologise for that.
[I preferred Wakestock when it was a Festival.. and not the X-Factor youth club bollocks it soon became] Neil Crud 2012