Monday, 28 June 2010

I woke up this morning.....

I don't feel like dancing.........much these days, but then Kylie skipped out to join Scissor Sisters and the crowd went wild...... The last time I went to Glastonbury I got pregnant. Not on the actual site, you understand, but shortly after. I was wooed back to the father of the son by a backstage pass, the rest is history. The last 20 years have seen many changes to the hallowed hills of Avalon, not least of all the British public's attitude to live, music-based events in a field. Every summer the nation seems gripped by festival fever, Glasto tents go on sale in Tesco along with the BBQs and briquettes; no self-respecting celebrity, man or woman, misses out on the opportunity of being papped in a straw cowboy hat and denim cut-offs, larking about with Keith Allan, come rain or shine. It used to be Straights and Freaks, Them and Us. Now it's Them going to Glastonbury, forking out £180 a pop to spend three days in a corner of England that will forever rock. And it doesn't stop there: there are luxury Tipis and home-from-home Yurts, butler service, champagne bars and an impregnable hospitality area packed with would-be-wannabe Rock Gods, actors, models and Pixie Geldof.

It wasn't always like that. I can remember as a child visiting my grandmother, who lived in Glastonbury, and the locals were far from pleased. Signs were stuck in pubs and shops, 'no dogs, no hippies'. But the long haired boys with beards and skinny girls with kohl rimmed eyes looked magical to my childish eyes, I loved them. I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. And so I went to my first festival in 1979, hidden beneath a blanket on the back seat of an old Ford. We ate bean burgers, smoked dope all day and watched The Incredible Alex Harvey Band. I didn't think life could get much better. And then my boyfriend started working with the guys who built the Pyramid Stage and put up the sound system. He became one of the noise boys and we left the world of beer tents and the long-drop loo, and moved into the comfort and joy of the back stage bar and more importantly, the porta-loo.....happy daze indeed.

But the times they were a changing. I've never been much of a camper, in fact I actively dislike it. As the years rolled by I began to step away from the bar and really, without the aid of hard liquor and class As, me and the two-man ridge were going to have to part company. Besides, it was getting too big, the crowd had swelled to 65,000, people were getting mugged, the vibe had changed. And so, I hung up my cowboy hat and called time on Glastonbury. And although I have visited smaller festivals in recent years I have never had the urge to go to Glasto, in fact the phrase 'you couldn't pay me' is the one I usually employ come June. It seemed to have turned into the number-one-white-middle-class-lets-go-mad-in-the-country summer special, consumed by consumerism. I was out.

And then my mate Mickey said: "Saturday, it's work, you and me, like the old days....I can get you a pass...." So there I was, cheek by jowl with knotty-haired boys with public school accents wearing tales (it's a festival thing....) and girls with glittery faces, trying to buy a pint in a crowded marquee called The Cornish Pub. Number 1: it's huge, awesomely, relentlessly huge, it rolls out across the fields like some massive first-world, refugee camp. You need maps and a book to know where you are and what you're doing. In the sun it was hot, and there is very little shade. In the rain......absolutely not. And everywhere there are people. Moving people. Many with a buggy in tow. One couple had between them a double and a single buggy containing three small children. Why? But it has to be said, they were all smiling. Leaving my cynisism at the gate I began to explore the site and the amazing thing is that 150,000 people appeared to have gone on holiday together and were all getting on. Very well. There were a lot of blokes in dresses (as Mick Jagger, a man never afraid of a frock, once said, all English men like to wear a dress...), a group of orange-painted Oompaloompas, some chaps in cricket whites, a team of girl's in red and white Where's-Wally kit, flower fairies everywhere, a couple in 1940s evening dress, and these were just the punters. I visited an apocalyptic future amongst the fire-breathing machines in Arcadia and the peace, love and healing garden in the Green Fields. I walked for miles, I drank beer from a paper cup and ate a Real-Deal cheese burger. And after I'd watched Kylie cavorting across the Pyramid Stage with Scissor Sisters I left the safety of the mixing desk and headed for Avalon to embrace my inner hippie and dance inappropriately under a full moon to Alabama 3. And frankly, don't call the doctor......I'm gonna get better.

Top tip: do things you haven't done for 20 years........who knows what might happen...


  1. I just hope you dont get pregnant!!! xxxx

  2. Fantastic. I'm envious - I've never been to Glastonbury. I think that may be because of my innate distaste for camping more than anything else. If there are Yurts and butler service? Well who knows....!

    BTW, I can't help thinking that you should really be writing over at Wordpress - I'm pretty sure this would have hit the Wordpress front page. ...Just a suggestion... :)

  3. What a wonderful, observational piece of writing. Loved it.

  4. What a fabulously well-written piece. I had a blast at Glastonbury.

  5. Great post! I used to love it but big festivals scare me now! My friends all said this year's Glasto was the best one ever. I've just come back from a mini festival. I think I'm getting a camper van or a tipi next time!!

    That's the only way you'd get me there - if you put it on me at the very last minute. I'm so glad you had a good time! xx

  6. Great post, and what a great idea- do something you haven't done for 20 years..the possibilities are endless!