The Woodford Files 2014-15: Care Yourself*

An ounce of prevention beats a buttload of cure
An ounce of prevention beats a buttload of cure

Many festival survival guides are out there on the world wide weird, and sparticularly in the blogosphere. (Note: blogger roughly translates as, “I coulda been a journalist, but couldn’t be arsed to do a 3+ year degree in it.” WFJ Quinn, BAComms – not a journalist.)

So I don’t intend to replicate, duplicate, spiflicate or update those tomes of great wisdom, but I do want to share a few insights into preventative healthification gathered over many, many years spent curled up in tents and the backs of cars in far flung places.

Have you ever gone to a festival or been on the road and woken up one morning feeling like a rather large, furry toad has crawled into your larynx and is now doing early morning Zumba on your tonsils?

Or have you started heading into that long night when you really want to sit around the campfire singing 36-verse ye olde Englishe folke songse til the dawn breaks, but find you’ve started a coughing fit that might wake the dead? And you envisage joining the souls of the dearly departed in the not too distant future? 💀☠👻

The dirty little secret is something that one of my many, many former employers (at a medical Not For Profit/Public Beneficial Institution) will tell you about in great depth and detail under the banner of ‘antibiotic resistance’:

Some lurgies exist that you just can’t duck because they’re viral, and the best you can do is to pump up your general levels of healthiness and wellbeing, and look after your immune system.

The bad news on that score for folkies is that to best keep your system in good health, you should:

* avoid coffee
* avoid or limit alcohol intake
* avoid fatty, salty, sugary foods
* get lots of sleep
* don’t stay out at night in the cool air ingesting campfire ash
* don’t strain your vocal folds
* don’t sleep on uncomfortable, unsupportive mattresses or straight onto the ground
* and other stuff your mum told you, and
* always wear clean underwear.

It’s pretty much the anti-folk menu.

For all of that, there are some simple basics that a mere 5-10 minute regime can achieve to aid and abet your wellness.

I offer these as ideas as guides only, but as I  practises I always follow.

And by ‘always’, I mean most of the time.

And by ‘most of the time’, I mean some of the time.

Once or twice.

Sinus Rinses

I cannot speak too highly of these products.

It’s like a flush system for your sinus passages. All that greebly, gunky, grungy stuff that can sit up your schnoz and fester until it all morphs into a bacterial infection lays the ground nicely for a viral takedown to really plant you on your posterior.

An old bloke in a pub in Braidwood (NSW) told me about it one autumn night in maybe 2011 as we sat chatting about stuff in front of the fireplace. He worked for the council and used a sinus rinse three times a day to cope with the amount of mulch, soil, and dust that ended up his nasal and related passages.

“I NEVER get coughs, colds or ‘flus,” he proudly declared.

I bought a set the next morning, used it in the bathrooms across from the bakery, and then staggered punch drunk up and down the main street of Braidwood with more oxygen in my system than I was used to having. It was only just a whisper short of miraculous.

Two things: use the isotonic sachets if you want.

However, a little warm water with some salt, or just the tepid water (as is my wont) does the same trick.

The instructions say to replace the bottle regularly. I haven’t so far, though on reflection it makes sense that if the bottle perishes or bacteria builds up in it, you might be counter-productively spraying greeblies up your honker.

UPDATE 2019: I’m on my third.


Related to the above. If you’re the sort of person who sits there and cyclically sucks snot back up into your sinuses then:

a) there’s a special place in hell reserved just for you and your fellow snot-suckers, and

b) everyone, and I mean EVERYONE on the bus, train, tram and ferry wants to kill you.

They want to club you like an #LNP How To Vote Spruiker.

* Metaphorically, for the purposes of satire only. Disclaimer for ASIO porpoises. Hello, there!!! My file number is: ACTQ1966/07/21/LeftieSh1tStirrer#363636.


Like mum and dad told you, before you go to school (festival) and when you go to bed (especially if you’ve brought someone special back for a ‘sleep-over’), and during the ads once you’ve changed into your jim-jams: brush, brush, rinse, rinse and spit.

Or swallow.

If there’s no sink available.

Tooth Hurty

You’ve seen ‘Pretty Woman’: flossing is important. And using dental floss on your teeth is just as important.

That plaque will not wash off with a simple rinse of that mouth-wash – which you should not use regularly unless you want some fairly hefty problems with your mouth over time.

The alternative are these pretty pink-handled pipe cleaners which are very effective at getting out that stuff that can lead to gum disease or tooth decay (“Ooh, it does get in, Mrs Marsh!”*) and speaking of which, might detract a potential new friend from wanting to look you in the mouth.

* Australian pop culture reference.

Toenail Tincture

If you’ve seen those nasty ads on TV and/or billboards, you’ll know just how bad an infected toenail can look.

And when you’re on the go all day and all night, and sometimes one day rolls into another, you might spend more than 24 hours in the one pair of sweaty, moist, damp, moist again for people who have a dissonance to the word MOIST socks.

Me personally, if it’s a heavy day, I’ve been known to wear up to four pairs of socks. At once.

So a good airing out, drying out, and a salve or tincture of some sort MIGHT stave off the ravages of Infecto Pedo…..

That sounds wrong.

Infected Toenails.

Waxsol Waxoff

Wax build-up in your ears can cause hardness of hearing or even a middle ear infection.


A little Waxsol or similar product dripped into your ears at very irregular intervals just loosens it up.

Then go to your local fire station and ask the fieries to blast their number 3 hose through one or both at the same time.

Rinse, shake, repeat.


An absolute must for any festivaller if you value your sleepy bo bo time, and can’t sleep under a ton of mattresses high on a hill with a lonely goat herd.

If you heard what the goat heard….. Phwoar!

Festivals are noisy. Incredibly so.

The garbologists are hard at it in the early hours.

And then they go to work in big trucks, wheeling large skips and bins.

And at the other end of the evening you have les douchebags. 🙄

Flocks of human geese who have no self-awareness or concept of voice modulation and skip past your tent with their vocal folds pumped up to 11, screaming into their iPhoneys of Skype-on-the-move, “Where like are you like, you mad biarchhhhhhhhh?!” and “Man, I am like toooooooootally wasted like you know? Like?”

And that’s just the over-60s.

Don’t get me started on teenagers, tweenies and toolies.

Life’s noisy. Invest in 36 decibel earplugs or rolled up tissues work as a stop gap.

Vitamins and headache tablets

If you must. I’m no great fan of either.

However, a little light vitamin action can pump up the wellness factor. And headache tablets can take the edge off if you really do some cerebral damage.

But generally speaking, panadol and disprin just take away the pain while masking symptoms of what might be something more serious. If there are medical staff like Red Cross or St John’s on site, go and have a chat. They can back up all those myths and legends with a bit of soft to hardcore physiological know-how.

Really spectacular headaches are often simple dehydration, so your three mantra words for that are: hydrate, drink and hydrate.

Coffee, juice, tea, cola, other fizzy pop, and alcohol all have their place – and please do support the stall-holders – but do keep up the H20 as a first and overriding priority.

Especially where the humidity is dragging the moisture (that’s MOIST – YOUR) out of you.

I’m talking here about Woodford for starters. Front brain right now, as I sit in an un-airconditioned donga (oo er, missus) on my third cup of coffee for the day and scant water. Bad Billy.

Pretty red foil packets

Yeah, not sure about those. Someone told me they’re for protection.

(Reminds me of a true story from Maldon Folk Festival a few years ago when I was searching around in the dark for …

Ok, enough time has gone by. I was invited back to a lovely young woman’s campervan to count body moles and play night-time aerobics, but first I scurried back to my car, shoved a hand in the dark into my toiletries bag and returned triumphantly with – a handful of gastrolyte sachets. Yes, they have a place if you’re planning such activity, but…)

We improvised… 😋


All of the above are purely personal observations only. We are all wonderfully unique and individual, and our metabolisms react and respond differently.

Seek medical advice, attention, and if pain persists: have a cup of tea, a Bex, and a good lie down.

But mostly, ‘Care Yourself’.**

You don’t want your body letting you down when you should be out there festivalling your socks off.


Bill Quinn
The Big Cheesy
Overheard Productions

Sunday 28 December 2014, Woodford Folk Festival + five-ish years of edits

** ‘Care Yourself’ is a phrase a lovely Persian woman advised me to do after we’d spoken for a short time in the carpark at Westfield Hurstville in March 2014.

At the end of our chat, I put my hand out to shake hers and say ‘Lovely to meet you’, and she flipped it over, read my palm, and in four dot points she told the story of my life to date, aged then at 47.75yrs old.

She then furrowed a brow and pleaded with me, “Care Yourself!” as I nodded weakly, and nearly staggered backwards into traffic!

Since then, I’ve not done a very good job of ‘caring’ myself; there’s still time for you.

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