Ahhh, it’s Glastonbury Festival time of year again. Yay! Well no, not exactly ‘yay’ because I’m not a big fan. When I lived in London, I don’t remember Glasto having such a seismic effect on my life but since moving to the west of England, the end of June has always been a bit of a rough time for me. Glastonbury Festival is the largest green-field music and performing arts festival in the world and gets bigger, more popular and more expensive to attend every year. Glastonbury is about a forty minute drive from my house so, since I’ve been living in the west-country at least, Glasto has always been a pretty big deal. It’s an even bigger deal in my home since my husband has attended for nearly 25 years on the trot, usually working there as a nurse to earn his free ticket. The problem lies in that I’m not a natural festival-goer so on a yearly basis I need to think of newer and more elaborate excuses why I don’t want to go along with him.
I think I’ve always been old before my time. Even in my twenties the thought of Glasto brought me out in a cold sweat. But a few years ago, I told myself that I really ought to attend at least once in my lifetime just to say I’d done it. And I’m glad I did – even if only to add some weight to this blog post (the things I have to do *rolls eyes*). This is the voice of experience talking, people. And here is why Glasto is not for me:-
I’m not a huge fan of camping. I do camp on a yearly basis because my husband and kids are obsessed with it but if I was in charge, we’d hire a cottage or go abroad or something. However, when we do go camping it is never as bad as feared (apart from the setting up and taking down of the bloody tent which is a marriage-testing nightmare). But camping at Glastonbury is a WHOLE different ballgame. I like my sleep, and music-festival or no music-festival; I like to get to bed at a reasonable hour. What I don’t particularly enjoy is the sound of an acoustic guitar being strummed by a musically inept drunkard from early evening until three or four in the morning just a couple of tents away. You’re at Glasto you weirdo, sod off down to the Pyramid stage or something and go listen to musician whose job it is to play the guitar! But of course it’s Glastonbury, where anything goes – so sane people like me have to shut up and accept that common sense doesn’t exist here.
There’s a massive amount of walking to be done at Glastonbury. It’s a full mile and a half from the northern end to the south and it will take you a good hour to walk from one end to the other when there are thousands of people purposefully getting in your way. It is also a mile across from east to west too – plus at an additional mile in each direction from the pedestrian gates to the car parks. You can’t park anywhere near where you’ve camped so you have to trundle back and forwards between the car and your designated field about fifteen times before you can be fully set up. We camped in the slightly more salubrious medical camping field but it was a forty minute walk down to the main stage areas. Every day. Forty minutes there and forty minutes back – more if you were popping back to your tent for lunch. What’s more, it’s a fair old slog between stages too. Honestly, your feet hurt, your hips hurt, your knees hurt and your lower back hurts. And if it’s been raining and the earth is all churned to mud, the effort required is quadrupled. So if you’re going to Glasto, welcome to a world of pain.
It’s always one or the other at Glasto; baking hot sunshine (waking up in your oven of a tent and barely a tree to shelter under for shade) or flash-flood-type torrential rain. And it’s more often than not the latter. There’s no mud like the mud created by 180,000 people walking through it before you; it’s like The Battle of the Somme, a quagmire that could suck the boots off your feet. And nobody likes camping in the rain. Nobody. You carefully leave your mud-caked boots at the entrance of your tent (which you count yourself lucky is still standing as other less fortunate bastards’ tents will have been washed away) only to step in a puddle of water where the tent has leaked. Everything inside is either wet or mildly damp. You squelch through mud to get to the shower block then squelch through mud to get back – filthier than when you left. You’re dirty, your clothes are dirty. You wish you were dead.
Nothing can prepare you for the horror that is the ‘Glasto Toilets’ situation. Within hours of the festival opening, the stench of stale urine can be smelt from hundreds of metres away. You can’t avoid using the loo’s as every human needs to pee, but you’d almost rather self-catheterise than use the lavatories. Most people end up constipated rather than take a dump in one. And my advice? Don’t look down the ‘long-drops’. And certainly don’t allow yourself ever to fall in a long-drop (it has happened). You probably will be dead…
5: The Bands:
I’m not fond of live music (controversial? Moi?). It never sounds as good as the recorded version and the performer is usually standing four miles away (as Billy Connelly would say, you’d get a similar affect putting a CD case at the bottom of your garden whilst trying to get a good view of the band members on the sleeve from your back door [I have a long garden]). Ooh look, brackets within brackets again – result! And don’t tell me you can look at the big screens; if I’m going to do that I may as well be home watching the band on the telly! Which would be preferable! What’s more, I’m freakishly small so all I can see is some tall man’s sweaty back (that and the wildly gyrating woman sitting on his shoulders). The year I went, there were only two bands I wanted to see. Two. And my husband didn’t want to see either of them. So I was forced to seehis bands instead as I didn’t want to get separated for fear of being lost somewhere in Somerset or being crushed to death by youths moshing along to Vampire Weekend. So he shot himself in the foot really as this is the main reason I won’t go again. And after that first night, because I had so little interest in the music, I spent the majority of my evenings in the the calmer circus field (where you could at least sit down) watching various acrobats and the like. But there are only so many times you can watch an extremely bendy woman spinning from the ceiling of a big-top tent suspended only by a rope between her teeth. After a while you almost wish you were…(well you get the gist by now).
So I realise my opinions aren’t exactly the norm as the majority of people in my peer-group would love to go the Glastonbury if the entrance fee didn’t cost as much as a small yacht. And my feeling is, why waste a ticket on unappreciative me when there are so many out there who would enjoy the experience far more than I would? I used to pray for the odd year when Glasto wasn’t running because they were ‘resting the land’ so I didn’t have to think up a plausible excuse not to go. However, my husband has stopped asking me to come along in the last couple of years; the spare ticket always goes to a ‘lucky’ sibling or friend. And that’s alright by me. So all that remains for me to do now is await the return of my filthy but happy husband (stinking of fire) at some ungodly hour of the night/morning, telling me his tales of Glastonbury 2015 whilst watching highlights on BBC2 for the next month and a half. Yay.