Some people never leave their homes, after my trip to fucking Glastonbury I now understand why.
On the Thursday morning, oh it seems a world away, I met my bro and his missus at some godforsaken hour in the morning at Sainsbury as we had a few more items to pick up in order to facilitate our stay in a environment that would upset the residents of Darfur.
Off we all rolled, our hearts full of joy and anticipation, for the 2.5 hour journey to a large, huge, plot of land near Shepton Mallet in Somerset.
On the Thursday the festival was just starting to find it’s feet, the main stages are closed but the stalls and bars are functioning sufficiently. Despite the heavy rain that has been pervading the region for, well, forever, the going wasn’t too bad, my Doctor Marten boots saw me good and because there were only 2/3rds of the 175,000 expected, getting around wasn’t too much of a trial. I’d arranged to meet a mate, in an area called Lost Vagueness (Christ, doesn’t the name alone annoy you?) an area right on the outskirts of the site.
The walk back the fucking camper van took nearly an hour, the ground was already beginning to show signs of serious deterioration due to a resurgence of rain and the feet from the movement of people from one place to t’other.
I was woken by the thunderous sound of rain on the roof, sides, and from all I know, the underside of the van. Despite their tent bearing up well, my bro and his missus joined me in the relative security of the vehicle to cook breakfast and make tea. The rain came down so hard we had to delay our trip into the site by an hour; partially due to the cruel realisation that I’d at last have to wear my fucking wellies and my objection to the fundamental fact that if I didn’t, I’d be soaked to the bone.
By now the ground was getting difficult to navigate through and it seemed that the numbers for the previous evening had quadrupled, there were people absolutely bloody everywhere. The first band we saw were The Earlies, I wished I’d been late. Unfortunately I was late for the first 10 minutes of Modest Mouse as I’d wholly underestimated the time it would take me to walk 200 fucking metres through an Amazonian Swamp and nearly one 5th of a million people. Once there I caught one of four of the best acts of the weekend. I stuck around for The Automatic who were accompanied by heavy rainfall, I and the audience held fast, it was worth it despite the little shrieking git who bounces over the stage like Daffy Duck having a fit.
I made it back to the Pyramid for Amy Wino. She’s not bad, certainly has a pair of pipes on her but worth all the hype? I don’t know. Naughty Amy was off her box so I decided to join her and I rolled a big fat joint and got so stoned I got the fear. Food saw it off, a big cardboard plate of peas, beans, carrots, gravy and a single steaming pie, it was rather delicious and I celebrated with a pint of the local, a Somerset ale called Wirrey or something. It was a fucking sensation, so much so that by the following day they ran out of it and I’d forgotten what’s its called. Whirrey? Whir.. who cares.
The day was starting to get complicated, as the crowds began to pour into the Pyramid stage for Bloc Party my brother and his missus were keener to get stuck in the front, being a card carrying claustrophobic I remained in a position behind the giant screen and auxiliary speakers, providing me with a certain degree of comfort whilst not compromising on sound or vision. It was an okay set, a little bit too arrogant for want of a better negative but I know what I mean at least. After it was the turn of the fucking Fratellis. Foolishly I accepted the invitation by text from my bro to place near the front that was apparently ‘spacious and arsehole free’. Why on earth I wanted to even acknowledge their existence let alone get nearer to the cunts is beyond me but the area I found myself in was neither spacious and most certainly not arsehole free. By now the mud had turned parts of the ground to deep puddles of shitty, muddy soup which resulted, predictably I suppose, into swimmingly pools for wankers intent on covering themselves and as many people in fucking mud. What with that and all the ‘do wop tee do’ from the band I was outta there like I was on fire after 15 minutes.
Glastonbury mud is clay based, its deceptively soft but sticky, its cloying, clogging mud from hell. It can rip your wellies off in a second, it slipperier than a British Gas salesman in anal lube and it seems to have a limitless depth. In short it’s like trying to walk through quick drying cement. Throw in hundreds of thousands of people moving in every conceivable direction you may understand why my legs of have gone from those of a 90-year-old invalid to Thierry Henry in the space of a few days.
It took me nearly two hours to get to the cabaret tent. I was back in time to see Jeff Green. This was a, if not the, Glastonbury highlight for me. His act was so funny I spent a full hour honking like a goose, tears down my cheeks, breathing issues, the fucking lot. He’d managed to achieve that rarest of things that only a stand up at the top of his game can do, perpetual laughter from the room that occasionally peaked to hysteria. He was filthy, observant and delivered his jokes with the charm of a gentleman. Outstanding.
Saturday was the best day of the lot. Firstly, a splendid set by Biffy Clyro and then CSS a likeable Brazilian punk/electro outfit that forced good weather on the crowd. When the sun did appear the whole of Glastonbury let off a single roar of appreciation that really did feel quite, well, special. So much so it reminded one why one was at the fucking place in the first place. These were salad days, Glastonbury at it’s best, drinking in the sunshine with friends that had arrived by design or spontaneously, to share in the music and the whole atmosphere of the place. Despite my overall negativity of the experience, that’s one thing that I did engage with, largely, the people there are very decent and at times one does genuinely feel part of a celebratory collective, even when alone.
My brother and I had arranged to meet a mate at The Glade for one of my favourite bands of all time, The Ozric Tentacles. Without wishing to go into a history lesson, I’ve seen this band dozens and dozens of times over the years, mainly when they were unsigned and you could by their tapes for £2 and a hash cake for the same amount. This was the best music act of the weekend. The venue was a funky covered stage set up in a copse, the green light radiated off the trees by the flashing lighting rigs and lasers looked magnificent.
The band came on, lifted off the tops of our heads and poured some gorgeousness in, I danced, we danced, everyone fucking danced. Even when the set stopped dead so some crew could help out some poor tripper who’d freaked himself out, we danced. For a nearly an hour it was unsurpassed joy and energy, I was whacked out of my noggin and I didn’t care. At last I’d really found what I had come for.
By contrast Sunday was the worst day. Due to the bastard pissing rain we didn’t actually get into the festival til 4pm, I managed to cover the end of The Young Knives set which was magnificent, if I’d been in a better spot and seen the whole gig it would’ve been way up there. The struggle back to the Pyramid stage was almost impossible, by now parts of the site were totally inaccessible, and those that were heralded nasty surprises, I watch a girl fall up to her waist in a chasm of mud, to the left and right of me people were falling arse over tit and the general sense of humour that had pervaded the festival spirit were flagging, this wasn’t fun.
After we went and ate, kebabs, bloody good they we too and I went off to see Ian Cognito in the cabaret tent, I didn’t fancy The Who because the Pyramid stage area was virtually impossible to navigate and The Chemical Brothers on the Other stage don’t push my buttons. I made the right decision by my standards, Ian’s act was blistering, cynical, offensive and hilarious. It seemed a very fitting way to close the festival, though he was a lot funnier than most of the past 3 days. As I slid back to the van I passed a stage were Bill Bailey was performing. I bumped into a couple of likely lads from Derby, nice chaps, we shared a spliff together and I headed off into the fucking rain for the last time. When I got back my bro and his missus were attempting to get out of their wet clothes. I sat in the front, they in the back and we chatted and ate all the snacks we’d bought from Sainsbury, well most of them, I chucked a bag of Cheese Balls all over myself as I attempted to converse with wine.
Monday morning began early; we thought getting out of Glastonbury would take an age. As it turned out getting out at all was impossible because I’d drained my battery operating the small fridge in the back. Mercifully our neighbour helped us out, we packed up our stuff and attempted to leave.
At last we were headed back for London. I was shattered and the last thing I wanted to do was drive, but drive I must. We hit a fucking huge queue near Andover that took well over and hour to conquer which put my schedule back somewhat. I suffered a creeping trip through South London, which was made considerably worse by the sudden and violent need to take a behemoth shit.
So was it worth it? Spending four days in a raincloud and having to risk your life taking a piss in pissy mud, with other people watching you piss as their piss goes over your welly tops, having to pinch back unholy turds because you can’t face the stinking plastic chod bins again, having to spend so much energy getting a pint it was hardly worth the effort, well maybe that’s going a bit too far. Yes, the music and the company were good when I had it, the people were nice and when the sun was out and you were settled it was as good a place as any in the world to be. But it was all let down by the other factors.
One other thing, Glastonbury makes a big song and dance (literally as it happens) about the environment, all the carbon footprint ‘I count’ stuff is surely turned over and fucked in it’s freckle by the sheer fuel burning mechanical logistics of getting the site prepared, the bands that have to be flown in from around the world, the audience to congregate in one spot from all over the country and beyond. I reckon my carbon footprint is greater just by my having to do over 5 washes just to get the mud off my fucking clothes.
Still, I would consider going next year. Maybe. Maybe? Actually, fuck it. I’m watching it on TV. If at all.