Glastonbury – Part 1

It’s been a year since Glastonbury so I want to share the blog I wrote about my experiences:

My Glastonbury blog will be split into three parts:
1. An introduction
2. A review of every act I saw
3. My Glastonbury do’s/don’tsThe majority of my adventures were with Emily and Rosie, @lovefromemily and @peggyatthestar respectively. I did meet some lovely folk and a special call goes out to Martin the mortician who could predict the weather to the EXACT minute that the rain would start.

Part 1 – An introduction

Before I start and everyone accuses me of not getting the vibe (man) of Glastonbury, I have to say that as an overall experience, I loved it. This love peaked while watching Beyonce on the Sunday night. Standing in front of the Pyramid stage, listening to what will undoubtedly become a seminal performance in Glastonbury history. I looked across the fields and saw a city alive with a generation of people bursting with colour and love, who were frightening the darkness of the night away with exuberance and lust for that very moment. We were the only ones truly there.

We were the only ones who lived it.

I wanted to stay, I wanted to stay forever.

Glastonbury as god is a concept that I have been playing with since my arrival on Worthy Farm on Wednesday 22 June 2011.

No one will criticise, no matter how much human waste you must crawl through to empty your cider rotted bowels, the Glasto gods know best…you only need 4,250 toilets for 200,000 people don’t you?

To begin with, here are five things I didn’t know about before popping my glastoncherry.

1. There are a LOT of traffic jams on the festival site, mainly involving tractors and lorries pulling containers of human waste (don’t walk behind them as all the ones I saw dripped).

2. By the end of the festival you will look upon someone holding a can of beer with more suspicion than you will the person rolling a spliff, popping pills or getting a line of coke together next to you while you eat.

3. Some people feel that the porch of your very modestly sized tent is the perfect location for their six person tent (for themselves because they couldn’t possibly cope with less room) and gazebo.

4. It is ideal to take your own booze as is it, as with anywhere, cheaper, but you will struggle to carry it, struggle to take it out with you every day and many of the bars are no more expensive than an average London pub.

5. No matter what your drunk girlfriend and drunk friend try to lead you to believe – Michael Eavis has NOT got giant fans with which he can blow away the clouds. If he did, he would have used them already!

So, Glastonbury festival eh? I have watched it on television since the late 90’s and every year I have envied  those who are there but like so many, I have always had my excuses at hand. Too expensive, couldn’t get there, too muddy, no acts I want to see…the list goes on and on. This year I was corralled into it and so no excuse could be forthcoming as before I knew it, my face was slapped onto a bit of paper that I would hand over to an Oxfam volunteer in exchange for a wristband that I now refuse to remove.

The weeks of preparation that I had intended, the diligent gathering of essentials, ended up with a mad dash around London the weekend before to purchase everything and a rather too loud “oh fuck” when I realised that I had forgotten my pillow whilst being driven to the coach stop.

I travelled with the Big Green Coach company who, as well as giving me a comfortable journey, are planting two trees for every coach they send to a festival this year and although I didn’t book it, by all accounts they were cheaper than other coach companies too.

I wore my wellies to travel in, a decision well justified as we pulled up outside the festival gates. I was told that from here, it was a mere trot through the car park and then my own personal hedonistic fantasy world awaited me. The mere trot turned out to be a mile or so through a trench like car park to be greeted by what other festival goers called, ‘the only queue to get in that I have ever seen’. The queue turned out to be a pivotal time for me, as I reached the point where I would normally have got very grumpy, I began to chat to others in the line. Being hit by someone’s fold up chair (chankers – more on them later), now became a reason to talk not a reason to scowl and want to throw them in the mud. We shuffled, oh so very patiently we shuffled until we were in. Laden down with rucksacks, bags of cider and tents plus the numerous free things that are thrust upon you, the walk began the very long walk from pedestrian gate D to Kidney Mead.

For those of you who don’t know me personally, I have a strong physical and emotional dislike of dirty public toilets. Sadly it interferes with a lot in my life as, well, human beings just seem to have very little consideration for others. When I opened the gate of my first Glastonbury long drop, I saw human faeces smeared around the seat. I turned, I wretched until my throat was sore and then went back to my tent. Filthy fuckers. Kidney Mead, for those who didn’t consult a map, was next to the family camping area and this turned out to be my saving grace. Despite there being so many children in prams at Glastonbury that you could mistake it for the Kings Road, the children seem to use toilets in a respectful manner. As such, some palatable portaloo’s for me and my cheeks to do their business.

As the final tent peg in our rapidly assembled camp was hammered into the soft Somerset mud, a woman that one would only describe as a ‘hippy’ strolled up offering valium and cider. Another side point for those who don’t know me, I work in the health sector, I have seen the damage that drugs bought over the internet and from hippies by tents can do. They are poorly manufactured and people sell them to make a profit, not because they give a toss about your health. The same goes for homeopathic medicine, a point well demonstrated by comedic pairing, Mitchell and Webb,

I do believe in the power of positive thought but I don’t believe in medicines manufactured in dustbins, concrete mixers and bath tubs and I certainly don’t believe that you should stop chemotherapy to follow a homeopathic route.

A big complaint from those camped around us, besides my going off on a tangent and ranting about pills and homeopathy, was that every year more tickets are sold but no more camping space is made available. This point was made abundantly clear to me when we came back to the tent following a wander and discovered a one person tent had appeared in a gap so small that we didn’t even sit in it when we had previously assembled our tent.

Sod it came the cry, we won’t get down over cramped, unsanitary conditions…we will go and experience this wonder for what it is.

We went to the bar.

The Brothers cider bar in West Holts arena was a delight. Proper bar staff, good quality cider at decent prices (£3.50 a pint). The arena area was in a relatively good condition and so we sat down on the grass and enjoyed pints of toffee apple, lemon and festival cider and then we enjoyed some more. We enjoyed so many that when a random person walked past announcing that that had vodka jellies for sale, we jumped at the chance, three times we jumped at the chance. Solidified red paint stripper rolled down our necks and exacerbated our hunger. There was only one conclusion amongst our party, Pieminister.

A chicken of aragon with all the trimmings later and my stomach was feeling the strain. Chocker full of cider, vodka jelly and pie, we went for a stroll only to eventually head back to the tent when the skies got so black we knew that a storm would control the activities of the night.

The storm came and the storm beat us as I forgot to zip up the bottom flap of the tent.

Everything was soaked and this did make me kind of grumpy, so we dried off and went for an explore because food makes things better.

Our first port of call was the Tiny Tea Tent, it had the appearance of an old gypsy trailer but with ornate curtains draped to cover a variety of tables, chairs, sofas and a piano. They served delicious tea in homely mugs and we watched the spells of rain make the pathways thicker with stodgy brown mud. After this we went to Faryes Fare for some breakfast and after much deliberation we ordered…the only thing on the menu.

Man behind the counter: “Beans on toast, who ordered beans on toast?”

Me: “Every fucker, it’s all you have on.”

To be fair to them, their kitchen had flooded and so they couldn’t cook anything else and they were frightfully good beans on toast but the confusion on everybody’s face as “beans on toast” was shouted every ten seconds, was a site to behold.

After a real breakfast, we decided on a cider lunch and so to the Somerset Cider Bus we went. Before I carry on, please let it be known that I have managed bars, I know the rules, so don’t get sarcastic with comments. The barmaid ID’d me…I had no ID but I had a VISA card, a card that the barmaid accepted could only be issued to an over 18. I have a full beard, I look haggered and yet I was ID’d. I didn’t even mind that much but the man at the bar next to me, was smoking a spliff.

Dear Glastonbury Festival,
To ensure that all visitors to the festival have a good time please don’t employ people behind your bars who have no real grasp of working in a bar. If someone appears to be over 18 and can provide evidence that they are indeed over 18, it means that they are. Also, if they then serve someone smoking an illegal substance, then please do not let them be smug and preachy about not wanting to break the law.
All the best,

After the disappointment of the cider bus, that was never to be returned to because I refuse to do business with jobworths, we went to the craft field. This was incredibly good fun and I painted a spoon! I did, I painted a spoon. It was free to do and I believe that I made a jolly good spoon. It was multi-coloured and said ‘2011 Glasto’ on it because my gorilla like hands aren’t delicate enough to have fitted ‘2011 Glastonbury’ on a spoon. Emily made an incredibly beautiful fascinator for her hair with a very cool material vintage flower lady. I toyed with the idea of making a necklace out of cutlery but feared that I would fall and spear myself in the chest.

We went back to the West Holts area because we wanted to meet one man. One man who seemed to have all the knowledge in the world…that man was @glastowatch *WHOOP WHOOP* I hear you cry! @glastowatch , real name Lawrence (hope I spelt it correctly/remembered it correctly), made the build up to Glastonbury that little bit special. He wasn’t an official source of information but he answered questions, passed on rumours and helped people share the excitement. He was taking part in a #twisto meet up and this meant that not only did we meet a smashing chap, we also got a fair few free pint vouchers courtesy of Brothers.

I then went to see a few bands with Emily (which will feature in part 2) and then via a lovely cuppa and flapjack at The Tea Shop bus, we went to meet Rosie in the Park.

The Park is as close of an equivalent to what I imagine parts of Paris would have been at the turn of the last century, circa Moulin Rouge. It screamed hedonism, the colours were an explosion and each sense was aroused as I dragged my already sorry and aching body through the mud. I looked in awe at the sand sculptures, the silent disco and the vibrant, florescent watch tower that stands over the Park. Glastonbury is spelt out, like the Hollywood sign, in multi-coloured letters on a hill overlooking this part of the festival, it really set it off.

We all sat in one of the park bars and drank our cider, made jokes and new friends and then undertook, what was now becoming quite customary, the long walk back to the tent in the cold, wet mud.


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