Wednesday, 1 July 2009
A born again Glastonbury believer! How I saw the event . . .
This time last week I wrote about the mixture of excitement and trepidation I had about facing my first ever Glastonbury festival.
Was I, despite my immensely youthful appear, too old for all this palava? Would I get my tent up? And would I need to spend the entire weekend with my legs crossed to avoid the toilets from hell?
Well, the answers to those questions in order are no, I wasn’t too old, yes, pop up tents really do pop up (but are strangely reluctant about popping down!) and no I did manage to use the ‘facilities’ – and I’m still alive to tell the story.
Oh but what a story it was.
Put simply, I discovered what thousands have already done in that Glastonbury is a truly remarkable experience which I could recommend to music fans and non-music fans alike. I have now become one of those boring people who discovers things years after everyone else and then waxes lyrical while they’re silently muttering ‘yes we know, in fact we’ve known for 30 years’.
Yes, I have gone from being a Glastonbury virgin this time last week to a born again Glastonbury evangelist today. Hallelujah, praise the Lord – and praise Michael Eavis.
I have been in many large gatherings – sporting, musical, cultural, political etc. – but never have I felt such a sense of community with strangers as I did last weekend.
It was the kind of place where no-one cares how old you are, what you do, what you look like, what race or background you come from or what your views are on politics, religion or David Beckham’s haircut. It is an incredible leveller – a classless community with hardly any sense of hierarchy or corporate awareness and it all feels like an unreal, almost Utopian gathering.
It is hard to pinpoint my happiest memory of the weekend but I think the general sense that a wide diversity of people can come together in often uncomfortable circumstances and form a special bond is what impressed me the most.
Also getting a big thumps up is the peacefulness of the event – I’ve never felt safer or less intimidated among strangers in my life. As an example I was with my son Oli, just 15, and having quickly established the vibe, I felt no qualms for his safety and let him disappear for hours on end on his own. I can genuinely say I have felt more intimidated in a pub with two chavs at a nearby table than in a series of fields with 180,000 strangers.
And what also brought a smile to my face were the huge amount of examples of British eccentricity on view. It was almost impossible to look silly and almost impossible to hear anybody ‘tut’ because there was a real sense of live and let live. You felt that no-one was judging you because everyone was paddling the same oddly-shaped canoe.
Coming away from Glastonbury I started to feel what millions must have felt in the past – a strange sense of anti-climax. It was a magical weekend with unbelievably good music and to return to the harsh reality of the real world was something of a let down.
Still, at least in the real world, the toilets flush.