Friends and festivals: two things that make life awesome. This is the story of how my High Tea Cast partner in crime, Sam Sparrow, and a weekend ticket to Reading did way more for me than give me an excuse to dance. 

I got hurt yesterday. By a person I mean – though my propensity to frequently shut my thumb in the fridge is almost worthy of a talent. But no, a person hurt me. So I’m listening to heavy rock music to thrash the anger out. Doom Riff by Skindred, if you were wondering.


As a teenager, music seemed to medicate all menial problems, and I’d invest in that source of healing on a daily basis. Four years ago though, I was 21, and I spent just over a year unable to listen to a single note. Music couldn’t get me through my problems, because I couldn’t bear to listen to it. It’s a thing that does happen to people sometimes, but it’s also bloody hard to deal with when music is such a huge presence in all of our lives. This came about because someone hurt me again. And I don’t mean they did something a bit out of order. I mean someone I loved betrayed me, hurt me physically and mentally and brought my whole life crashing to a halt. I couldn’t see anything good through a horrible fog that I couldn’t understand.

Music carries so many memories, and I couldn’t bear to relive any of them. So that was it – no more music. Only talk show radio in the car. No opening iTunes on my phone. No watching festivals on tv. Nothing. Life was really quiet, and really colourless all that time.  When this bloody horrible event took place, my best friend rushed home from Manchester to be at my side. My parents did everything they could for me. The amazing people that surrounded with never let me be alone. And they got me through it. One thing in particular, though, turned everything around. I met my Co-Editor of The High Tea Cast. Yeah. This here website what you’re reading right now. It’s all involved.

Meeting Sam Sparrow

lea and sam first reading festival
Apparently we dressed the same at the beginning of our friendship as well as three years down the line

The second time I ever met Sam Sparrow, we were sat in Regents Park and she produced the Reading Festival lineup on her iPhone. It was killer. They’d taken it pretty old skool – Pulp, Parmore, My Chemical Romance… All the shit I loved before I turned 21. It was a scorching summer’s day, I loved my new friend, and I was desperate to break out of this funk and turn things around. So I swallowed all my fear, and said I’d go. In the weeks that followed until F Day, I was terrified. Could handle this? A whole weekend surrounded by exactly what id spent a year avoiding? At best, I’d find the festival hard. At worst, I’d be a convulsing, sobbing wreck who couldn’t get up off the floor.

The time of my life

And you know what? Thanks to this amazing new friend of mine, I had the time of my life. Now I go to festivals with Sam every year. But more importantly, I learned to fall in love with music again. Each gig we went to, each new album we shared, each night out brought song and colour flooding back into my life. We started a podcast and a blog together, and I learned to focus my energy on that. To focus on something other than the pain I’d been going through. It made room for the things I’d forgotten I loved.

lea and sam high tea cast first birthday
The High Tea Cast’s 1st birthday

Chances are you don’t count being able to listen to and love an album as a thing you’re lucky to do. I still find it a novelty. Without Sam, and without a weekend at Reading festival, I’d still have radio silence screaming in my ears. So whenever I get dumped by text or have a bad day at work, I hit up my friends and I put on my favourite song. I feel better instantly. Because someone wielding a guitar and singing their heart out can make the bad things in life better so often, and I feel really lucky I got a second chance to experience that.

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