Glastonbury Observations … warning, long and winding ramble!

And so we return home from another fantastic time at the Glastonbury Festival. This year felt very different from last year, very much more chilled rather than a manic rush from stage to stage, and of course the weather played an important part … but it was still the most amazing, fantastic, incredible weekend I’m likely to have this year!

So much to write about but it’s all a bit jumbled, so here’s some random thoughts on the last five days. By no means a definitive review of Glastonbury and probably won’t make much sense to anyone, but I know what I’m on about!

Last year we had a list an arm’s length of the bands we wanted to see, but this year I was happy to see anyone so long as I got to see Snow Patrol and Muse. So we were much more selective and went for quality rather than quantity, but we still managed to see getting on for thirty bands! For the truly anal (and as a record to myself) the next entry will detail everyone we saw but highlights were Snow Patrol (of course!), Keane, Franz Ferdinand, Elbow, Muse, The Divine Comedy and Longview. And The Others, who sound like a Buzzcocks/Cure hybrid. And Simple Kid, who was the first performer to make me smile on a wet day.

Lazing around (and dozing) in the Greenfields on a sunny Sunday afternoon, shortly before the heavens opened, guitars strumming in front of us and drums beating behind.

In fact, I love the Greenfields so much more than the areas round the main music stages; they seem to be the spiritual home of Glastonbury, people are friendlier there, the grass is (literally) greener.

The moment during Keane’s set when the sun finally showed itself after hours of rain, and the whole crowd cheered.

Sitting in the stone circle watching the world go by.

The staggered, amazed, joyful looks on the faces of the singers of Keane, Snow Patrol and Hope of the States as they realised just how many people were there to see them.

On the Sunday U and I were already suffering from sore feet (not easy standing for hours when I’m too fat for me feet!) so decided to set up camp at the back of the Pyramid field and watch Supergrass and Morrissey before Muse. During the Supergrass set we watched a rainstorm move in from the rear of the Pyramid, it swept across Glastonbury Tor and everyone braced themselves and huddled under raincoats, carrier bags, bin bags, brollies … we sat really still while the rain moved in and pounded on us for a good twenty minutes, but in the distance we could see the clearer weather and blue sky and when the clouds parted and the sun shone through everyone cheered and it was a really magical moment!

Bursting into tears when XXXthousand people sang along to “Run” … Hard to believe that less than a year ago we saw Snow Patrol in a tiny venue in Northampton, along with probably about 60-70 other people … how on earth did they get so big? And when is Gary Lightbody going to stop looking so surprised that everyone knows the words?!

Mud, mud, glorious mud …. Mud like you’ve never seen it, three or four inches deep in places, liquid mud like a fast flowing river in places, sometimes sticky and sucking up your boots, sometimes so slippery that even an Olympic-standard ice skater would have problems staying on their feet. Watching people skate down the muddy slope near the New Tent. Slipping up the slope on the way to our campsite, and then slipping back down the very same hill on the return journey. God, the mud!

Muse were singing about “this is the end of the world” and I looked around at the apocalyptic scene about me. Gaggles of people wrapped in blankets, sitting on muddy stools or plastic sheets or standing round in huddles around candle flares, everyone muddy and wet, the ground churned up and muddy and littered with rubbish … it certainly looked like a post-holocaust scene.

The toilets were much cleaner this year … apart from the long drop I visited where someone had done an enormous dump ON THE TOILET SEAT!!! Ewwwwwwwww. The flushing loos were bearable, even the portaloos were a lot less full and less smelly than last year. And we tried a couple of novelty loos too … the African pit latrines run by Water Aid, where you squat over a hole in the ground and then rinse away any spillage with a pot of water, and the much-debated ShePee, a pretty pink female urinal. Nice idea, shame about the mechanics … it involves standing against a basin with a cardboard funnel between your legs, and although some people loved it I just couldn’t quite coordinate holding down my trousers and holding up the cardboard funnel without squashing it and trying not to fall over, and I was so terrified that I’d pee down my leg that I got stage fright and just couldn’t perform! Think I’ll stick with the long drops…

Best cover version ever … The Divine Comedy did Queens of the Stone Age’s “No One Knows” complete with piano accordion!

Make sure you buy Elbow’s single “Grace Under Pressure”, which is out next Monday. It includes U and me (and several thousand other people) singing “We still believe in love so fuck you”!

Engaging in some culture .. We packed up the tent to the strains of the English National Opera doing Wagner’s Ring Cycle (Think “Apocalypse Now”)

Being cold and wet and miserable and tearful and tired and wanting to go home on Saturday morning … I’m so glad I didn’t :0)

Things on sticks … no Stuart Pearce this year but Tigger, Spiderman and a penguin.

Frisbees at the Other Stage (I found one in the mud and brought it home for Dan!)

Naked men with balloons in the Cabaret Tent … very bizarre.

The Dance of the Dying Swan, performed by a tattooed hula-hooping Australian girl wearing frilly underwear that made her look like a sexy sheep

Barbecued toast and marmalade

Longview … I just closed my eyes and soared while they sang.

Boogieing to the bhangra band in the Gaiaspace Dome

Sneaking away to get changed and have a quick shag in the tent ;0)

The Frank Sinatra singer in the Church of Love and Loathing in Lost Vagueness

Glastonbury smells wonderful (apart from the loos) — around the markets your senses are bombarded with a hundred different sensations, and you’re never far from the sweet scent of cannabis. Just wish I’d had some to smoke!

The flags at the Jazz World stage

Seeing Goldrush, our hoped-for wedding band, performing in the New Tent. Ostensibly they were there as a backing band for Mark Gardener (ex-Ride) but to me they were Goldrush.

Feeling part of something amazing.

Watching the England game on the field at the Pyramid stage — actually, we saw most of the game from our tent and didn’t realise for ages that England’s second goal had been disallowed (why? I still haven’t seen it properly!), but we did wander down for part of extra time and the horror of the penalties, and shared the moment with 60,000 other people.

Laughing at the crapness of Oasis (why did they bother turning up?) and Paul McCartney — his Beatles songs were okay but the rest was dreary. So glad we watche
d from the tent and not the field.

But the best thing about Glastonbury was just wandering around with no agenda, never knowing what to expect. And although at times we were cold and wet and miserable, I had the most amazing time, and I’ve probably only really realised how good it was since we came home, and I can’t wait to go back again! Roll on June 2005 — and thank you, Mr Eavis, for a fantastic time on your farm.


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