Life only gives you one festival spirit and Glastonbury is one of the world’s festivals that has a real chance at crushing it into smithereens if the two of you don’t get along. From the word go it presents you with a series of challenges to prove that you deserve a place in its wondrous kingdom. Your physical strength is tested and by Jove your mental strength is tried.
Lugging your body weight worth of camping gear through seas of people, in enormous lines, across kilometres of farm, to claim a piece of real estate for your tent is the first of many truly arduous experiences. And I don’t just think this because I also had to guard the safety of a triple-layered cake I had baked for my brother’s birthday the night before.
This was my third year at the city-sized pop-up village they call Glastonbury and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. My nostrils, my bladder, my patience and my peace of mind have been stretched and strained once again, and my sense of comfort is still all out of whack because I’m still suffering from post-tramautic-Glastonbury-dreams four days later.
It’s hard to know where your comfort boundaries start and end in a place like that, it’s a bit of a rollercoaster really. You might think you are going for an innocent morning stroll to pick up a chai tea to sip in the Peace Garden, but suddenly you find yourself surrounded by naked hippies in a sauna.
Or you might think you are going to watch the headline act with your fun friends but end up head deep in dickheads for three hours straight with only an empty cider cup to use as a bathroom.
Well played Glastonbury 2015, well played.
TOILETS THAT MAKE YOU SAD
Every year it gets a little easier to accept that you have to do your business while hovering over thousands of other people’s number ones and number twos. Sometimes an atrocious stranger leaves a number two on the seat and it just sits there looking at you while you quietly pray you don’t lose your balance and fall. It’s kind of just something you have to accept if you go to Glastonbury and run amongst the mainstream crowd (as opposed to the family, circus, celebrity or hippy crowds) – full of drugged up drunken morons who can’t line their anus up with a normal sized toilet seat. Late at night and first thing in the morning is the worst, and you’re likely to encounter this a couple of times at least. It’s grim.
THE PEOPLE YOU SHARE THE FESTIVAL WITH
When you live in London, different languages, mixed skin colours and glorious diversity become the norm. So it’s certainly one of the first things you notice when suddenly you’re surrounded by a big bunch of white people who have emerged from the cities, villages and hills. They congregate together and speak English in various accents you didn’t even know existed. Sure it’s not only white people who come together to celebrate music, take drugs, have sex with each other and poop everywhere, but it was funny to see them getting gangster with Kanye.
A place of peace, love, hippies and zen stuff; chai tea and naked saunas; human rights and spirituality; freedom of speech and moon cups; charity cases and charity for causes; stoners and stone making; fires and dreadlocks.
Surprisingly, the gipsy hippy types at Glastonbury are the cleanest people there. They are seasoned attendees and have devised clever money-making schemes such as making and selling organic food and drink, as well as setting up private tents with showers and cleaning facilities.
I love it.
NO LAUGHING MATTER: NITROUS OXIDE ‘BALLOONS’ OR “NOS”
The festival is full of so many idiots selling these ‘balloon’ things. One night I walked back to my tent alone at about 2am and all I could hear from across tent land was the sound of nitrous oxide being sucked into people’s lungs and the sound of oxygen being sucked out of people’s brains. Yuck.
FIND COMFORT IN FOOD
The food. It is wildly good. If you are feeling a little sad about some of the lowlights of Glastonbury, just spring yourself back up by eating something exceptional. The options are endless.
The hunt for the first meal of the day is always the most important, it is considered the main meal because you don’t know how crazy shit is gonna get after that. It’s an exciting and nerve racking experience because no one wants to waste an opportunity to eat something great. You should always just go for the places with the queues. Queues are like rainbows with gold at the end, and places with no queues is just asking for a good poisoning, or at the very least stale bread. I am pleased to say I didn’t mess it up once. My delicious daily meals went like this:
Wednesday: The Cake
Thursday: Moroccan beef, cous cous and salad.
Friday: Tibetan spinach and chickpeas with rice.
Saturday: Haloumi and summer salad cone with garlic aioli and sweet chilli sauces, and then a bit later, chunky chips covered in a wicked curry sauce dip.
Sunday: Butternut, lentil and spinach stew, and then a bit later, a plate-sized Yorkshire pudding filled with mash potato, chips, pork sausage and roast pork with crackling, stuffing and apple sauce.
‘LOVE WORTHY FARM LEAVE NO TRACE’
Every year Glastonbury drills in this message to protect the lovely farm and to a degree it’s probably effective. Some people bring and re-use things like water bottles and mugs, they travel in carpools and take home their tents. But some people throw rubbish around like confetti, they leave behind their camping gear and banned glassware, and every time they pee on the land, pieces of their souls seep into the soil.
The festival’s license is literally at risk because so many people’s urine runs into the river and kills the fish, which is reasonably horrendous.
Every year I watch as the luscious green grass spreading across 900 acres of land transforms into a field of sludge, garbage and apparently urine. Sad cows all the way across field.
VERTICAL BRAVERY DROP
I wanted to do this because it terrified me but, queue. Ain’t nobody got time for dat.
PHARRELL AND HIS MATE FREE DOM
“First name Free, last name Dom – Free-Dom, Free-Dom.”
Things got a tad Americanised in terms of patriotism which I felt got a tad lost in a crowd full of British people.
The guy is a performer, I’ll give him that, but he had an array of awkward moments.
“Tonight… England! We gonna get freedom!…. England are you with me? Say freedom!…I want them to hear what English freedom sounds like…”
Scottish guy behind me: “I don’t know, that sounds a lot like Scottish freedom to me.”
Mate, you came to the UNITED KINGDOM, not England.
Watch the whole set in all its cringe-worthy glory here.
Or just the Free Dom part below.
FOLLOW FRIENDS AND YOU’LL ONLY FIND FATIGUE
There are a few different configurations of routine you can do to get by at Glastonbury, it just depends who you are and what you’re made of. My friends, for example, survived on a regular routine of eat, sleep, rave, repeat, and they are made of steel. Whereas I went for the eat, sleep, sleep, eat, rave (mildly), repeat. I’m made of something a lot softer and I’m really good in bed.
I tried to keep up with them the first day and just ended up quiet and remorseful the second day. For me, it’s just not worth it. Forcing fun through partying too hard was out of my comfort zone and sometimes there is a flip side to breaching the old comfort zone. So there.
THE THINGS YOU TEACH YOURSELF IN GLASTONBURY’S QUIET TIMES
These conversations would only ever happen in the first two days. The answer is, well, look it up.
“I’m going to say this tonight because 20 years from now, 30 years from now, 40 years from now, I might not be able to say it, but I can say it tonight…You are now watching the greatest living rock star on the planet.”
Go home mate, you’re drunk.
I don’t really want to write about this anymore. I was so angry after this boring, over-packed set that I just went home and slept it off. I’m still nauseous.
Thankfully the greatest living Buddhist monk on the planet retrieved me from the darkness the next day. His holiness shared his wisdom on peace and happiness and other beautiful things. And we got to sing him Happy Birthday at the Pyramid stage, which was just the greatest.
FLORENCE AND LIONEL
After the Lama, of course, these two won my Glastonbury. Florence because she brought the festival to life on the first night of music, and she dances like a queen. And Lionel because he is a natural legend. Music from a man straight from the 80s won my heart. Gosh he pulled a crowd too. And in that crowd was the best crowd surfing stunt I’ve ever seen – a pirate in a blue blow up boat surfed for about five minutes without going overboard. He had a sword and a hat and everything. Ahhh… the memories.
SLEEPING ON BLOW-UP POOL TOYS FOR FIVE NIGHTS STRAIGHT
Dammit, my back! Nah, it actually wasn’t too bad.
THINGS I REGRET NOT SEEING/ENOUGH OF
The preview screening with director talk of Amy Winehouse film. I hear it’s tremendous and controversial.
Pretty much everything that went on in the Speaker’s Forum in Green Futures would have floated my boat. This is where the little guys have their say and other little guys have a little listen. I just love real people and opinions and events. But I was too busy trying to keep up with my drunk friends this year. Glasto fail on my part.
THE UNIVERSITY OF GLASTONBURY
“Education is everything in The Crow’s Nest, where The Free University of Glastonbury has a host of anecdotes aficionados ready to trade secrets.”
I LOVE comedy, but I only saw one comedy show, out of many over five days. Sigh.
There was a flipping circus tent with loads of fun circus things going on ALL THE TIME, but I only saw one because you know.. drunk.
OKAY, I’m literally still ill from Glastonbury and I don’t think I can do anymore work on this blog. I’m hitting PUBLISH. Let me know if you spot any spelling/punctuation mistakes. Love love love.