Letter from Glastonbury

Unless our editor wants interviews with a bloke from 'Dirty Sanchez', or a BBC presenter then there's little reason to come here. Oh ... hang on. The Arctic Monkeys wander into the beer tent, a full day before they're headlining.



Letter from Glastonbury


OK, so you're looking for a list of bands that I saw playing at the Glastonbury Festival? You're going to have to look elsewhere I'm afraid.


The music starts on Friday, but getting to Glastonbury from London, trekking to your campsite and pitching up generally takes so long that my party have decided it's best to leave on Thursday morning. Doing a quick inventory on Wednesday night I realise that I can't find my waterproof trousers. I know I'll need them: I've seen the weather forecasts. Trouble is everyone else that's going has too and I know I'll have no chance of picking any up in the morning... I know all the camping shops in London will have sold out. A little fretting ensues, but then I remember that a friend who lives up the road might have a pair. Success! I won't be wandering around in sodden clothes all weekend.


There are many landmarks on the four hour trip (roughly two hours to cross London, two hours to get to Somerset); getting outside the M25, getting out of range of London radio stations, the roads getting smaller and smaller, Stonehenge... and we're eventually in Somerset. We park up without incident and I need those waterproofs straight away. It's raining, and the last thing you need is putting up your tent in the wet. As we stumble from the car park the rain gets heavier, I put my head down and forge ahead. My companion is excitedly pointing out whatever catches her eye. Rain on my spectacles means I can't see any of her observations, but I'm relieved in a way. The rain is ridiculous: and as we're passing one of the marquees that'll be used as a venue for the rest of the weekend we decide to take shelter. We're not the only ones; maybe a hundred people that happen to be in the area have the same idea. Not for long though: the stewards are quick to wander over and kick us out. Jobsworths.


Eventually we track down our advanced party: yup these guys arrived sometime on Wednesday night and have kept us a place in the campsite. With the tent pitched we head off to get our bearings and generally have a poke around. Glastonbury has several big stages (The Pyramid, The 'Other', The Jazz World, The Acoustic, The Left Field, The Park) and numerous smaller performance spaces. We skirt down to one end of the site, picking up something to eat and then locate some authentic Somerset cider. Being a bloke I go for the dry stuff; it's like drinking malt vinegar mixed with gin. I'll give that a miss for the rest of the weekend. Using my 'excellent connections' I had managed to get myself tickets that allowed access to the media hellhole that is the 'hospitality' area, so I head off there to see the sights.


The first person that I see there is Donny Tourettes, he calls me a 'gent'. Unfortunately this seems to be the quality of the 'celebrity' that is here. Unless our editor wants interviews with a bloke from 'Dirty Sanchez', or a BBC presenter then there's little reason to come here. Oh ... hang on. The Arctic Monkeys wander into the beer tent, a full day before they're headlining. This causes a stir, even the media crowd back here, and all the little people from record companies and magazine rush to get their photos taken with them. I reckon I'll leave the band to it, and head off back to my tent to ready myself for the coming weekend.





It's raining when I wake up on Friday, but nothing too bad. I settle down in my tent with the schedule for today to make a note of who I want to see. A nice, steady flow of bands appears until about 6, then there's nothing to interest me until about 9:30, when their are 3 things on at the same time. Bugger it. So, a pleasant day unfolds. I drink, I see some good bands, I miss some bands, I drink and it rains some more... and some more. At the end of the day I wander up to the Park to end the night with Spiritualized Acoustic Mainline. Great, but as I slowly trudge my way towards the stage, the mud gets thicker and thicker, and I suddenly realise that I the last thing I want to do is associate Jason Pearce's wonderful performance with standing shivering in a muddy field. If I could relax on the grass with a nice beer beside me it's be bliss, but not this. So I turn around and head back to my tent. It's been a long day and there's plenty of festival left. 




Saturday starts perfectly. I wander out and have a veggie breakfast (sitting next to Harry Enfield), make my way back to my tent to have a red wine and plan the day's activities. As everyone heads off there's to see something I'm not interested in on the big stages I wander off to the BBC Introducing stage: I can't find listings for it anywhere, but I've a feeling that I might be missing out on something good. I think I might be able to find out what's on there today if I actually head over there... There's a passable band on stage when I get there and I join the small crowd huddled close enough to the front to get shelter from the overhang of the stage structure. I spot a guy with a laminated timetable for this stage around his neck. When I ask him where he got it from he tells me he's performing later on, but he lets me have a look. Nope: I've not heard of any of this lot. So it's off to see what my mates are up to. The Dirty Pretty things hardly register, but CSS put in a decent effort. It's got raining more and it's chilly now, so I head back to the tent to pick up some warm clothes. Almost as soon as I'm there I start to feel a bit iffy. I take to my tent. After about half an hour of shivering and my fingers going numb I throw up my lunch, and then my breakfast for good measure. Nice. I spend the rest of the day huddled in my sleeping bag, listening to music drift over from the Other stage.







I feel better, but not great. Determined to see something I stumble back to the main arenas and let Shirley Bassey drift over me. She can still belt out a tune, but as she attempts some sassy moves during Hey Big Spender I can't help thinking "She's old enough to be someone's grandmother". I wander aimlessly back through the 'hospitality' compound as a shortcut to my tent. The same faces are there, even the Arctic Monkeys, bless them; enjoying their first Glastonbury to the full. I've had enough so I pack up my tent, and wander to the car park, pausing to see my old mates Dan le Sac and Scroobius Pip on the way out. Glastonbury 2008? Right now I'd rather not, if it's all the same to you.   


Words: Chris Gibson

Picture: Chris Gibson