I ain’t going to lie to you, going to weekend festivals is my favourite pastime. This is lucky, as I am incredibly good at going to them. In fact, if there was a job at going to weekend festivals, well, I would be president of the company.
We were not put on this earth to shag spiders and in my opinion there is nothing better then loosing all inhibitions (and occasionally some dignity or a mobile phone) dancing in the sunshine like no one is watching, the rides, the randomness, the frivolity and general abandonment, that anyone who has been to a festival knows you are assured. And then there is the holy grail of weekend festivals, Glastonbury. Take everything I’ve said about festivals, add your best mates, a tsunami of mud, go way past your wildest dreams and take a left at what you never thought plausible – and believe me, you ain’t even close. From beginning to end, Glastonbury was the greatest, unbelievably, most amazing lottery of meaningful events that one could ever fathom. Starting with how we managed to even get tickets in the first place.
You see, it turns out I ain’t the only one who feels this way about Glastonbury. It is the most popular festival in the known universe. (Citation not needed. fact.) 177,500 tickets, charged at £145 – sold out in 1 hour 45 minutes, before they have even announced who is playing. Just to put it in perspective for ya.
For 4 years I had been trying to get my mitts on a pass to this magical place, and it was the bane of my existence that to that date, I had been unsuccessful in my quest. I used to moan about this over pints to people frequently. It’s healthy to get such issues off your chest apparently, otherwise you turn into Michael Douglas in falling down, shooting up a Mc Donald’s because the burger does not look like the one in the picture.
Post Work Drinks and it was usually about my 3rd pint when I’d start to bang on about missing out. “I deserve to go”, “it’s not fair.” “Oh, it’s so over rated anyway” (defensive mechanisms a go go.) I was beyond years of therapy being able to fix my problem. Well that is what I thought, till I met Inga Taylor.
She was our IT manager, a real lady, but with balls. And I don’t mean in a transvestite way. Power suit city chiqe – and she was good at walking in heels to. One night she walked those heels over to me and we started chatting randomly; office politics, a mutual appreciation for each other’s accessories, and as way leads on to way, I ended up venting about Glastonbury.
Turns out, Inga Taylor has run the “telecoms” at Glastonbury for the last 8 odd years, and informs that it would be a pleasure for me to be on her team…
So naturally I wet myself, jump up and down a bit, and get stupidly excited. I believe there was much squealing… then common sense and a bit of a hangover prevailed, and I put it down to random pub banter – a nice idea for a time. A glimpse of what it might feel like to actually get to go.
I digress. And I think I have made my point. Cordial version – It was my life’s mission to go to Glastonbury. And I was not very good at my mission.
2007 was no different. Having failed superbly once again, I put Glastonbury to the back of my mind. C’est La Vie. That was until they announced that Bjork, the light and love of my life was head lining. I realise to some she is like anchovies – but I heart her more then I heart anchovies. And I likes them a lot. So resigned to the fact that my dream was going to remain just that, I plugged my toaster in, ran a bath, put “Danny Boy” on the stereo and was ready to end it all – till my phone rang mid despairing sob, an old colleague of mine on the line, with some life changing news.
Granted, I had sent her an email offering her my first born if she could even potentially still offer me a spot on her team. (Little did she know that gingers are not actually allowed to procreate anymore. In an effort to breed us out.) I would have been content with a maybe, and then Inga went and informed me that “of course you can come and work on my team, you are top of my list darling. Shall put you down for 4 spots. We work in “telecoms” you will be wrist banding VIP’s – 3 x 4 hour shifts and you can all work together and then go play together. You and your friends can stay in the VIP camping section as well, which means you will have access back stage. So excited to have you on board sweetie. Bye. Bub Bye. Bye now.”
There are no words to describe the magnitude of elation felt. It really was going to happen. Glastonbury. The holy grail of festivals. Was going to be mine.
Of course there is no such thing as a free lunch (or tickets to Glastonbury), and duties were to be fulfilled. Wrist banding the VIPs. Meh, shouldn’t be too bad. Better than cleaning out port-a-loos, I suppose. But truth be known, I hated every minute I was in that sweat box dog kennel, no water, no air and no motivation. Seperated from my friends and wishing id bought a parrot with me so that it could ask all the c grade “celebrities” cousins, neighbours, dog sitters for their ID’s etc etc etc etc. etc. etc. repeat.
No break and no thanks – For 8 hours.
That is the equivalent of 16 episodes of “Home and Away” (with commercials) just to put it in perspective.
So after my first 16 episodes of Home and Away shift, and with the completely and utterly selfish motivations of not wanting to miss a second from when the festival started, I decided that retirement beckoned and I went and got amongst it. And as a wise sage once told me – we are not here to shag spiders – so I got amongst it good and proper. And this is what happened when I did:
After smoking some fag juice in the monsoon that spilt from the sky just as I caught my first glimpse of the pyramid stage in all of its glory, I decided I was done with nicotine for the day (!!) The heavens stopped having a tantrum, and then the Earlies made love to my eardrum and I can’t think of a better way to start a journey.
I got to skip and do a knees up like a banshee with Parkinson’s to gypsy punks Gogol Bordello, my first introduction to their live set – and one I am going to try really hard not to forget in a hurry. Follow that with Police and Thieves screaming from the speakers as the crowd dispersed – and if I squinted I was seeing The Clash…. I can’t remember the last time I giggled so much.
Oh wait – yes I can – it was when I saw Gruff from the Super furies eat a packet of crisps into his microphone and then perform “the man don’t give a f@ck” a song that has become my daily mantra and that has held, in the past, and will continue to do so for many moons to come- incredibly fond memories for me.
Then they played “Hello Sunshine” and it didn’t rain again for the rest of the day.
I can’t remember the last time my mouth was so open in awe…
Nope, its all coming back to me – Bjork – that was the last time my mouth was open that wide -and there really no words to do it justice, so I am not even going to try to find them – I can’t remember the last time I was speechless.
Except for when I had a moment watching The Blessing at the bandstand, sitting on a barrel of hay with the soundest group of people you could ever hope to be sharing the experience with.
That was the last time I was proper speechless.
Being in trouble, being out of trouble, Stonehenge Banksy’s, haggling with pirates, lying in 4 poster beds, the never-ending story, falcor clouds, high fiving Kevin spacey, side stage for the who, shaking hands with Howard Marks, being !!! at chk chk, circus audience participation, falling in fancy, drowning Canada, passing the dutchie, mud pies, Rodriguez and Gabrielle “wish you were here”, if it feels good do it, climbing dragons, fun, chai lattés and Yorkshire plates, miniscule of sound, wind surfing nations, egg and spoon races, Joga, survival of the unfittest, boomerang phones, paying the chicken back, sunshine, lollipops, cider buses, hay barrels, courage in the face of adversity, skipping stones, skipping in general, loosing a scream, gaining a new view, sham on.
It wasn’t even just the music, and what you’ve read does not even touch the sides. Glastonbury truly is the greatest festival experience one can ever hope for, these words you are reading, don’t begin to do it justice… But I want it on the record your honour, that had the conditions been above work, health and safety regulations, had we all been on the same shift – of the 4 hour variety, like we were led to believe we’d be doing, then I (probably) would have gladly served my time. Yes, I should have gone to work, and I will no doubt go to hell for evading my responsibilities, but regrets, I have none – and hell is a small price to pay – for if I had not done a Shawshank redemption impersonation (need I remind you of the mud) I would not be the owner of these fond memories, that I will cherish until I burn.
Forever and ever, amen.
And that, is the end of my story.