I had the pleasure of going to a very jolly outdoor birthday party at the weekend.
My party was for someone’s ‘40th’ and the hosts had kindly invited a few people around to their home and were offering the odd glass of cider and a bit of live music to keep us all amused.
But, I have to confess, this was a somewhat bigger party than I usually attend. The ‘few’ guests totalled around 180,000, the amount of beer drank was expected to be over one million pints and as for the live music, well there was an estimated 2,000 acts on.
For this was the Glastonbury Festival’s ‘40th’. And it was the biggest, noisiest and cheeriest party on the planet.
Like all the best outdoor parties it was also helped by the somewhat unexpected appearance of the sun which kept a watchful eye on proceedings throughout and almost dared the storm clouds to be party poopers. They didn’t of course – they knew they were (weather) beaten which meant that the huge £12.99 I had invested in my essential last-minute pair of wellies was totally wasted. And I bet they don’t do ‘Glastonbury no-mud’ refunds.
I have done a review of the musical delights elsewhere but as I said last week in this column the joy of Glastonbury is that it is about so much more than what comes out of those enormous speakers. And for those yet to taste the festival’s bountiful offerings I just want to re-iterate that it is never too late to join this seemingly never-ending party.
You may still be thinking ‘Glastonbury is OK for other people but for not for me’ but trust me you are wrong. The answer to the question ‘who goes to Glastonbury’ is an easy one – everyone does. It is, I think, impossible to feel out of place.
People genuinely don’t seem to care what you look like, what age you are, or what your background is – there is an equality here that I have rarely seen elsewhere. Sure, there are ways of ‘upgrading’ your experience a bit but by and large the corporate side of things is kept to a bare minimum in the search for a kind of Utopian, democratic equality. The ethos is ‘we are in it together’ – come rain, shine or England defeats (I watched that one with 50,000 fellow sufferers). And it is hugely refreshing.
The other thing that struck me again on this my second visit (is there anything worse than a late convert)? is how safe the whole experience feels. Despite the fact that people didn’t exactly, ahem, hold back on their alcoholic intake, I saw no evidence of any trouble, no aggression, no fights, not even any cross words. It is as if once people enter the ‘Royal Borough of Pilton’ the Glastonbury spirit descends on them and encourages self-policing.
Overall I returned tired, hot but far from bothered and I thought again how lucky we were to have all this fun right on our doorstep. So, go on, try it next year.
For if you can find nothing to enjoy at Glastonbury then I am afraid the problem is yours – not the festival’s.