A Quiet Night In

Will Frears goes to Glastonbury

Leaving for Glastonbury calls for the same last-minute purchases and elicits the same foul tempers that going on holiday always does. Only it’s not tablets tor Montezuma’s revenge (though that would help you to avoid the toilets so it might be a good idea for next year) and did you arrange with the Joneses to feed the cat, but bottles of vodka and Rizlas and arguments about who was supposed to buy the toilet paper.

An entirely normal train journey, a free bus to the site and suddenly you are confronted with the sight of Tent City. The most amazing thing about this is that so many people actually own tents and must use them the rest of the time for straightforward camping. But suspension of disbelief is put on with the suntan lotion and it’s off for the mile-long trek down to the gate, stopping only for a brief thought of the ‘I wonder how I’m going to get in without a ticket’ kind.

The walk down is obviously designed to separate the true festival-goers from those who just thought it would be a laugh to go to Glastonbury. The temperature is in the mid-eighties and everyone is loaded down with full pack. The French Foreign Legion could use it as an endurance test – or, if it comes to that, as a recruitment opportunity, since most of these people are about to commit some heavy-duty offences. One group that has seen the possibility of serious recruitment are the Christians, who are dispensing free squash. Hardly anyone is taking them up on their offer for fear that the drink has been spiked with some terrible drug that makes you want to wear socks with sandals. About two hundred yards from the gate entry is procured from a guy charging £20 to stamp you with the entry pass. Another half-mile hike to the Stone Circle, where I’d arranged to meet people; ‘let’s meet at the Stone Circle’ has a better ring to it than ‘see you down the pub.’

People met, bags dumped in the tent, plans made to meet again: this established a pattern for the entire weekend. Later on, waiting as arranged at the Hare Krishna tent, I met a 16-year-old from Manchester who had spent the last six weeks living in a car under a bridge in Paris, had hitched to Glastonbury and was preparing to head to Rotterdam, where he had heard he could buy 50 tabs of acid for £200. His big plan was to buy these and go and live in the mountains in Holland for a month. It seemed unfair to point out that there are no mountains in Holland – besides, after 50 tabs of acid, mountains would be among the least of the interesting geographical features Holland had to offer.

Having met up again, we made plans to meet up later and once again went our separate ways. If all this meeting up and then planning to meet up later is beginning to bore you, believe me it was a lot duller in real life. D. and I wandered around, stopping only to procure some herbal Ecstasy, which is thoroughly legal and, not surprisingly, nowhere near as potent as its chemical and illegal big brother. On the plus side, it doesn’t give you the Fear. In fact, it seemed to require alcohol to have any effect at all; and generally alcohol can be relied on to do the damage by itself. After this venture into the wilder side of ginseng it was time to get into position for Oasis, the biggest band in England and headliners of the whole shebang.

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