July 3rd, 2007


Mud and wonder

Glastonbury Festival
June 21-24, 2007

If I don't write this up soon I'll never get round to it, and the back(b)log will pile up like the Pilton traffic, so...

Glastonbury was MUDDY. That's the executive summary for those of you who've been on another planet for the last few weeks (or somehow managed to tune out the blah blah blah of festival-going friends). Sadly, the mud and rain and general meteorological misery really did eclipse pretty much everything else for at least some of the time; it's hard to feel the love or find the fun when you're worrying about whether you're ever going to be able to extract your feet from the swamp into which they're slowly sinking.

Despite the mud, we managed to see a lot of bands. In rough order of viewing, with the shortest reviews possible, Collapse )

Apart from seeing (at least a bit of) 35 bands, we managed to do some of the wandering around and seeing cool stuff that makes Glastonbury something other than a music festival. We saw a sand sculpture of a dragon, and sat on tree-stumps drinking hot chai, and admired Banksy's 'LooHenge' which seemed to be sinking into the mud with a big visual shout (unlike the 'real' stone circle, which just sat quietly underneath all the wellies and the weirdness). We got a portrait of us 'painted' (muddy felt-tip on notepaper) by the famous Jackson Pillock.

We watched "American Psycho" in the cinema tent, and heard absolutely everything else in the cinema field as we tried to sleep each night. ("This is England" sounded like a waking nightmare, all hate and misery. "Borat" just sounded like a load of amateurish rubbish.)

Owen wore fairy-wings. I wore my wellies of joy non-stop, and wore bright colours under cagouls. We ate tons of tasty hippy food (and a lot of doughnuts). We hardly had any alcohol for the entire four days, at least compared to some of the excess around us (half a pint of perry for me on the Thursday, hot chocolate with rum in it for Owen on the Saturday, a cup of hot cider each on the Friday, and THAT'S ALL, I kid you not). I ran across 10 metres of ankle-deep mud in 20 seconds to buy the Guardian (and get my free reusable fabric shoulder-bag from them).

On the last night Owen was ill, and we walked all the way to the medical tent and back, and had hot sugary tea in the café at the end of the world in the small hours of the morning, and got quite giggly at what looked like a bottle of MUD, though was probably just a bottle covered with mud. Later in the day I fell in the mud while trying to jump out of the way of a fast-moving tractor. A man laughed at me, but a nice girl gave me handfuls of wet-wipes.

At least 50 people asked me where I got my umbrella hat, offered me money for it, complimented it, or laughed appreciatively. (Seriously, umbrella hats are the best thing ever: your head stays dry, your hands stay free, and you make everybody smile.) A cheerful Scot asked me to do a twirl to show off the hat. He'd forgotten to bring his tent.

And that's about it, really; it doesn't add up to any bigger meaning, any shape or substance, it's just patterns in the mud. 180,000 different Glastonbury Festivals, as similar as snowflakes. It's as much about hats and chips and dancing in the rain as it is about being swept away by music or dazzled by fire. Fun in parts, difficult in parts, pointless and beautiful.

My photos are on Flickr.

Maybe it'll be sunny next year.