As promised last week, it is time now to take you back to last summer with a trip to the legendary Glastonbury Festival.
Glastonbury. Where the do you start with this? It’s legendary, possibly the greatest festival there has ever been. Five days of music, drinking, dancing, mud, drugs… and bums. Yes, bums. At this year’s festival (my first Glastonbury) I exceeded my normal number of bums seen in a week quota, by quite a lot. Girls in hot pants, in dresses that were too short, cheeks on show, underwear missing presumed absent – let’s just get that particular aspect out of the way first, then we can get on to the other things.
Yes, it was baffling.
It is possible that this one might not be as much about booze as it should be, but we’ll see. “Bare” with me.
What’s the first thing you need then, when going to the Glastonbury Festival? Well, of course it’s a ticket. And they were something like £230 this year (including a parking pass), which is fairly ridiculous considering how sharply that figure has risen over the last decade, but you are getting the greatest party in the world™.
You might also need some friends (or a partner) who are willing to get out of bed before 9 on a Sunday morning and continuously hit refresh on an internet browser while you sleep off the previous night’s debauchery.
Tick, tick and tick on that one for me.
Then you need to be thinking about logistics. How are you going to get there? What are you going to sleep in? What are you going to take? How much booze are you going to need?
People came up with all kinds of answers to those questions. Let’s have a look at some, shall we?
- How are you going to get there?
For us it was a case of drive down for a few days in Gloucestershire first, then head to the festival from there. It wasn’t exactly easy because you had to decide whereabouts you wanted to camp in advance, and then approach the enormous site from the right direction. In our case it was to be from the West, but we started North East. On top of that, signs to the site weren’t always as helpful as they could have been.The site is so big that it was like planning a military assault, planning which hills you were going to come over.
- What are you going to sleep in?
Most people chose the tent in a muddy field surrounded by empty beer cans option, some even by a busy path or notoriously daunting toilets (having to inhale that smell the whole time… ew). Some have camper vans, and get to stay in fields a little further away with toilets you can actually shit in without worrying about catching typhoid or challenging your hamstrings to support a marathon half-squat.
Luckily, our friends have a camper van with a convenient awning that they allowed us to sleep in. Quiet and comfortable. Nice.
- What are you going to take?
You can split this one into categories – clothes and booze mainly. For us it was oldish clothes and waterproofs while for everyone else it seemed to be hotpants and summer dresses (for the girls), and t-shirts and shorts (for the boys).
In terms of booze, I took 32 cans of Holsten Pils, 2.5 litres of cider, a plastic bottle of cheap dark rum and a litre bottle of the Stolichnaya. Mrs Cake took cans of Hobgoblin and Old Speckled Hen, a number of canned cocktails, a bottle of Spanish gin and the Green Mark vodka. All I saw anyone else lugging about on their trolleys was crate upon crate of Foster’s, Strongbow and Kronenberg. Occasionally you’d see a massive jug of local cider (which you can buy outside the festival from roadside stalls).
It’s also a good idea to take plenty of toilet roll and some of that hand sanitiser stuff.
- How much booze are you going to need?
Well, we nearly [nearly] took enough. But not quite. On the last two days it turned out I only had 6 cans left, so I had to allocate myself three per day. You can’t take glass into the festival, so one afternoon I walked back to the car to refill my hip flask with Stoli, and that only lasted one day. I couldn’t be bothered to make another trip because it had taken about 45 minutes that first time and my feet were killing from spending 12 hours a day standing around or power walking in wellies.
So let that be a lesson to you; overestimate, add a bit more, then add a bit more. That’s probably almost enough.
|not enough. anywhere near|
Things don’t really start until Friday, but most people arrive two days before that, as we did. So you spend a couple of days wandering around, getting the lay of land and all that. There’s always plenty going on with sound systems, bars, stages of performing arts of all kinds as well as just random shit that makes you go: what’s this for? Like a double decker bus that just has loads of shit in it – by which I mean pictures, dolls, toys, artefacts, knick-knacks. I just didn’t get it.
Come and have a look in me bus!
You just pick a destination, head over there with your can in your hand, and check it out.
In all honesty, the line-up of musical acts wasn’t as much to my taste as I had seen billed in previous years. This year I remember seeing:
Pixies – a favourite band of mine, who were excellent as usual.
Kelis – she did a cursory two verses and two choruses of Milkshake, and then we had somewhere else to be.
Metallica – interesting that a metal band should headline the Saturday night. They were ok, but I don’t think Metallica are all that.
The Subways – just about as average as a rock band can be.
Dolly Parton – convinced she was miming.
Lana Del Rey – yawn.
Kasabian – what it would sound like if Robbie Williams had a rock band.
Jurassic 5 – seen them before, it is what it is.
De La Soul – the first band I saw, I think. I have a number of their records, but was quite surprised by how good their set was.
The Radiophonic Workshop – one of the highlights; electronic music pioneers.
Jack White – I like Jack White, but this was disappointing.
Rodrigo y Gabriela – has anyone ever bought one of their records?
Warpaint – nothing to say, but I do like them.
Tinariwen – nice, groovy, bluesy north African pscyhedelia… with lots of toffs hanging around, talking loudly.
I deliberately avoided Ed Sheeran, Arcade Fire, Elbow, The Black Keys, Jake Bugg, Paulo Nutini, Kaiser Chiefs… so you can see… it was more about avoiding things I didn’t want to see than there being too many things that I did want to see.
Your Own Perfect Party
Now, after that last section about music, you’re going to think I wasn’t having a very good time. Seriously though: I was. It’s not all about the bands, and the experience alone is enough to keep you going. There are of course, other means of entertainment – one of the performance highlights in fact was the English National Ballet, which was just superb. The entire audience stood in solemn silence through the whole thing, holding back tears, the peace broken only occasionally by people wandering in from elsewhere going, “what the fuck is going on?” – that and a few of us that couldn’t help breaking the sombre mood by laughing at a girl’s dress that was riding up too high while she retrieved something from a friends backpack [back to bums again].
The greatest thing about Glastonbury is that you can go out and find your own perfect party. It’s all right there. My group’s best night was the Thursday night when we went to the South East Corner – Block 9, Shangri-La and the Unfairground where everything is a post-apocalyptic set filled with stages, bars and scenery. We happened upon a tiny bar playing a bit of metal (that you had to answer a rock-related question to be granted admission), and seemed to actually get the party to take off by requesting System of a Down. For the next hour we danced around and screamed like idiots before collectively thinking our work here is done, fist bumping the dj and a south American looking dude, and heading off for further adventures.
Two nights later I saw the same thing happen again when, after Metallica’s set we stopped off at a bar and a couple of Metallica and Rage Against the Machine tracks brought out a number of peoples’ inner rock gods and there was all manner of screaming, air-guitarring, gurning… just pure joy. I don’t know what happened when, 20 minutes later the dj played Eminem and then Outcast and… everyone just accepted the change in musical styles, though the atmosphere had been lost. For those 20 minutes it was the greatest party those few people had ever seen – just like two nights before. We wandered on.
Glastonbury is famed for its weather – so much so that the media tends to fixate on it to some extent. If you live somewhere in the world, and you’ve heard of Glastonbury you’ve probably seen footage of mud and people covered in it, wrestling in it, sliding in it, even canoeing in it. This year was the same in the media – we had a bit of heavy rain which resulted in some muddy conditions, but what the media conveniently missed out was that for the majority of the time it was sunny and hot – so much so that I got a proper tan.
We weren’t worried about the mud anyway – I’d brought wellies, waterproof trou and a jacket (I am in my 30s), and the worst thing was just that it made it hard to find anywhere to sit down. We actually avoided the heaviest downpour, as we were taking timeout in the camper van. I made it back from my epic vodka replenishment trip just in time.
Now, on that first Wednesday, when we arrived, the mood was surprisingly subdued as we pulled into the car park. I was expecting people to be squealing with delight, shouting bollocks, drinking cans immediately, as they began the weary trudge from their cars to wherever they were going to pass out for the next 5 nights (like at Leeds Festival), but nothing of the sort. It had an orderly sense of inevitability about it. Worry ye not, these people are going to party, and fairly soon they are going to turn into fuckwits – a term Mrs Cake coined one night with astounding clarity and accuracy.
Yes, these people are all fuckwits, with their ridiculous behaviour, ridiculous clothes, flower garlands in their hair, leather hats with horns, inhaling helium in the stone circle, painting their faces, queuing for half an hour to clean their teeth at the water point, when they could just have collected water earlier in a bottle, wearing a condom over their head and blowing it up with their nose while their friends point and laugh hysterically… but… in fairness the most ridiculous behaviour was perpetrated by only one or two individuals, and if you apply the rules of an infinite universe, these kinds of things are inevitable when you have so many people all partying together in one place at one time.
And anyway, I can’t exclude myself from these people. I’m older than most of them, I’m probably not having quite as much fun as them or being quite so ridiculous… but I’m a fuckwit too. We all become bellends after dark, but some are bellends all day. And fair enough. Is this a festival or isn’t it?
Glastonbury is way posher and way better behaved than Leeds Festival – at times you feel like you’re in an episode of Made in Chelsea, or you do if you grew up anywhere North of Cheltenham – but you still get certain types of lazy behaviour like pissing in bushes (near tents where people are actually living) instead of going to the toilets… Mrs Cake and “Veronica” actually started a chant about that:
Don’t piss in the bush! Don’t piss in the bush! You should be asha-a-a-med! You should be asha-a-a-med!
… which “Pablo” tried to copy to hilarious effect after we’d had a joint a night or two later.
There was also a Who’s the Douche in the limo? chant, which went down quite well as one drove past us towards the VIP area with two bored looking girls in it.
Anyway, everyone was having fun, getting drunk, taking drugs with absolutely nothing negative (in my experience) to report. Would I go again? Yeah, but not for a while.
So it was a mad, fun few days followed by a marathon journey home. Oddly though, I was left feeling refreshed and ready to get on with life again – until Wednesday morning when I returned to work.
So last summer ended up turning into one gargantuan drinking session after another, which is fine and all, but it had never been quite so prolonged before, As this summer approaches, for some reason I can’t help thinking things will be more restrained… for some reason… but that’s a different story for another time.
Whatever your plans for the summer, make them responsibly alcohol fuelled and fun. And if you’re going to Glastonbury, remember; don’t piss in the bush.