Yes, it’s that time of year again. The indoctrination that everyone is having a truly fantastic, awesome, lifechanging experience on a farm in Somerset. If the wall to wall coverage is anything to go by, we at home are missing out big time. However, all is not what is seems at Worthy Farm.
I went to Glastonbury twenty years ago. I had graduated from university so thought why not? Getting tickets weren’t a problem. They were £65. I think I got them from a record shop in Leicester. None of this photo ID and registration malarkey. I went with my friend Sooze who fortunately, had a tent and camping experience. So off we set on a chartered coach from Victoria Coach Station with high hopes.
When we got there, the security was quite tight. The previous year a lot of gate crashers had climbed over the fence. It got so bad that Michael Eavis had said that is the same thing happened at the next festival, he would scrap the thing altogether. We had been told so we were on our best behaviour.
Once we were in the next question was where to camp? I had no idea. Thankfully Sooze decided upon a location that was on top of a slope, quite close to the loos and a five minute walk from some shops and food vans. I wasn’t too happy about being so near to the loos, but we thought we would stay put for the night and maybe move in the morning. As we settled down for the night we were unaware of the dark clouds arriving.
The next day we woke up to a quagmire. It had rained all night and there was mud everywhere. I had bought no boots as I had optimistically, packed sandals and factor 15. My first mission was to acquire some wellies. This was done at a premium and then we could survey the damage. As we were at the top of the slope, our tent was still secure. As we made our way down the slope towards the Pyramid stage, the worse the situation became. Tents had been washed away. There were people who only had the clothes that they had slept in and nothing else. It was like a disaster zone.
This was a time before mobile phones so there was no way of letting loved ones know that we were fine. Our parents had to rely on really startling news reports that were showing mud of biblical proportions and not much else. That first day was pretty grim. We trudged to the Pyramid Stage. The Other Stage had sunk, so all performances on that, were cancelled. On the Pyramid Stage were The Levellers. For a band who were named after a band of revolting peasants, they weren’t really showing much comradery with their common man. They had Hawaiian shirts on and seemed to be taunting the crowd. Mud was chucked at them. The atmosphere changed to something quite dark.
“I think we should go…” said Sooze.
The Levellers finished their set. Beck was on next. I knew a bit about Beck but not much. But he was a revelation. As soon as he came on, the darkness lifted. Beck is more than a musician, but an artist. His performance include dance, DJing and music from every genre imaginable. More crucially it reminded us why we were all there in the first place.
After that, the rest of the festival was amazing. Radiohead were magical. I’ll always remember watching No Surprises while fireworks were going off. Not huge New Year Eve type fireworks, but little bursts of colour that matched the music perfectly. We tried to go shopping for wet weather gear and ended up raving in a clothes shop, which can only happen at Glastonbury. The decision to be near the loos was genius. You could hear them being cleaned each morning so we could time our morning ablutions to perfection. On the Saturday, we worked out we had stood for more than eleven hours solid. There was nowhere to sit because of the mud but we didn’t notice at all.
I nearly went again in 2011. However, I was still suffering from the trauma of radiotherapy to be fit enough to go. Although I regretted not going, nothing could ever better that awesome Glastonbury of 1997.