Why wasn’t I at Glastonbury Festival?
It was as I cycled home in the rain on Friday, that I remembered why I was at work and not at Glastonbury.
I have always been a fan of live music and attended my fair share of festivals, albeit single day ones, but by 1985 I had learned a big lesson about festivals. I don’t like outdoor events.
Festivals for me have tended to be days of extremes. When ZZ Top took to the stage at Castle Donington, I had spent the previous eight hours sitting in what was essentially a giant grassy wok. Add to this the flightpath of the East Midlands Airport overhead and Metallica as a support act, and it was hardly surprising that I ended up with the mutha of all headaches. But, sunstroke is not the only hazard of outdoor music. There is also hyperthermia. Earlier in the year, Deep Purple played Knebworth, and being June, it pissed down. The Scorpions, who were second on the bill, played a blinder of a set, but there is only so long you can stand in a field in the rain and remain cheerful. By the time Deep Purple came on, the merchandise stalls had sold out of anything resembling warm clothing and people were building bonfires out of fence posts and trestle tables.
So why is Glastonbury so popular?
Watching TV coverage of the first day of Glasto 2015 reaffirmed my opinion. It was raining.
If you suggest to someone middle-aged that they should spend a week in a muddy field, with nowhere to shit and nothing to eat but overpriced burgers, they will quite rightly tell you to fuck off. And yet, at the end of June, the time in Britain when we are most likely to experience heat waves and tidal waves, the world heads for the wide open space of the Somerset Levels.
When the Glastonbury festival was known as ‘Pilton’ (because of its location near Pilton, rather than a town six miles away) it was a gathering of youngsters covered in mud watching 1970’s bands. Some forty-five years on and it is now attended by many of the same people, to stand in the same mud and listen to the same bands. However, as many of the ‘revellers’ have now reached middle-age and acquired an appreciation for a more comfortable life, so the approach to festival going has changed.
Glamping at Glasto.
No longer is it essential to share a two man tent with your four closest buddies, because every year sees bigger and better accommodation available. It can’t be long before the glamping yurts and wigwams vie for position with a travelling Travel Lodge or mobile Marriott. As it is, each morning, after a hot shower, you can leave the comfort of your luxury accommodation and go in search of breakfast. This is no longer limited to a choice of hot dog or burger, but takes the form of a veritable farmers’ market offering local cheeses, meats and smoked produce. If things get a bit too hectic, you can always pop into the WI tent for a lovely cup of tea and a slice of cake. (Please note: While the members of the Women’s Institute are happy to get their kit off, health and safety will not permit the serving of lemon drizzle cake in the nude.)
Maybe I have been too harsh to dismiss the appeal of Glastonbury.Is there more to #GlastonburyFestival than watching tv in the rain at a distance? Click To Tweet
Glasto in the garden.
In an attempt to see whether I am suited to modern festival life I thought I would have a Glastonbury of my own.
I have opted to stand in the bushes at the bottom of the garden and watch the bands on a tiny portable telly through the living room window. This should emulate the experience of watching a performance from the back of a crowd of a hundred thousand people. For added authenticity, I have instructed Rachel to turn on the sprinklers at regular intervals. There will be the obligatory drugs presence and I am hoping that antihistamines, Gaviscon and Imodium will take care of most eventualities. For food, I will be walking to a nearby farm shop where I hope to find artisan breads, local honey and home cured rare breed salami. You don’t want to know about my toilet arrangements.
But, festivals are not just about the music. They are about the bonding, the camaraderie, and seeking out new experiences. To get the most out of this great festival, I will be taking part in various activities and meeting up with like-minded souls. I am particularly excited about the face painting later, but in the meantime, if you want me I will be in the Naked-Yoga Field looking up an old friend.
Should I stay or should I Glasto now?
At home I am guaranteed the best seats in the house, backstage access and a toilet with no queue.
Am I letting past experiences prevent me from attending a great festival, or would I really benefit from spending hundreds of pounds and standing in the rain. Let’s face it, when the stage is half a mile away, I would end up watching it on a screen anyway.