As we now enter a local election campaign where the various parties will be debating about why their principles should earn them power, it was truly refreshing on Monday night to listen to a non-political man who has ‘the power’ but has never lost sight of the guiding principles that inspired him to want it.
Michael Eavis was the guest speaker at a packed Ustinov event organised by Creative Bath which brought together people from all around the city to pick up nuggets of wisdom from a truly remarkable individual.
Mr Eavis, who still regards himself as a farmer who just happens to run the Glastonbury Festival, was as self effacing and modest as ever – something which I suspect the vast majority of those like him named by Time magazine as among the 100 most influential people in the world do not share.
More than 40 years ago having been inspired by the big concert in Shepton Mallet, the Pilton farmer decided he would set up his own (at that stage) free festival event. It has of course now transformed into possibly the biggest festival in the world and it is one that artists clamber to play out of respect for its core beliefs as well as the prominence it gives them.
Mr Eavis spent far more time on the night talking about the pleasure it gives him to raise some £2 million every year for charity as a result of the festival than about the actual event itself. To him the festival is five glorious days in Somerset but it’s real lasting legacy will be the hundreds of thousands of people who will have been touched from Pilton to Peru by the money raised at the South West’s biggest party.
What was also inspiring to hear was that the 75-year-old absolutely loved what he did. Several times he described running the festival as a ‘buzz’ and he said that he thought he had the best job in the world and one which he had always treated with great respect.
But, of course, respect is a two-way street and it is because some of the most famous performers in the world believe in Mr Eavis’s vision of using music to bring people together to do good in the world that they are prepared to forgo their usual commercial rates.
As an example, he quoted the fact that Sir Paul McCartney played at Glastonbury for around a twentieth of what he could normally command at a big stadium event. People don’t do that unless they believe in you and believe in what you stand for–- and people rightly believe in Michael Eavis.
Above all, as he continually told us, he enjoys every minute.
It is no coincidence that when we went into our archive of photographs of him, every one of them saw him with a big smile.
He loves what he does, he loves the feeling the festival gives to people but most of all he loves the fact that long after the last chord has been played, people are benefiting from a festival that uses its power to prove its principles.