Pills, thrills and bellyaches: Glastonbury ain’t what it used to be

From the Independent

Through hazy memory, drug-fuelled recollections and names changed to protect the guilty, our anonymous veteran of the 1990s Worthy Farm campaigns reminisces over the days when you could pick up a ticket in a nearby cafe on the day of the festival – and it wouldn’t set you back £240

What follows is not to be trusted, other than the fact it all happened, more or less. Don’t ask for dates and times, because in the field of dreams watches are useless; time becomes a loop Rex

It’s Glastonbury o’clock. Do you know where your children are?

In the field of dreams of course, charging their iPhones from electricity generated by a clown on an exercise bike, watching the sun glint off the silver’d roofs of the glampers’ Winnebagos, getting down the front early for Ed Sheeran, sitting on the grass digging a wooden fork into a tray of falafel, looking fabulous in Hunter wellies and denim shorts, aching for a retweet or a millisecond of airtime on the teatime news. What memories they will make!

Maybe. Maybe they are indeed embracing the superficiality of Glastonbury, sipping the froth from the craft beer in the pop-up micro-brewery, licking the hundreds and thousands from the Fab lolly, enjoying the sheen of travelling media circus in search of the beautiful people. Maybe that’s all there is in these days of £240 tickets sold by lottery which are snapped up quicker than it takes to say “New Fast Automatic Daffodils” three times.

That was never my Glastonbury. It was there, of course, I’m sure, or aspects of it were. I saw these people who went just for the music and the bonhomie. I moved among them like a ghost. Or perhaps that should be the other way round. They moved among us like bright sprites, because it always seemed there were more of us than them. We, the night people.

And it’s always night at Glastonbury, even in the blazing sun. The best night out you’ve ever had, from early in the morning until early the next morning, rinse and repeat, fuelled by pills and thrills and bellyaches. When night-time proper rolls down the vale of Avalon like a sea-fret, you’re barely aware that the field of dreams has been cloaked in darkness, because darkness, of a sort, has already been served up for breakfast, dinner and tea.

What follows is not to be trusted, other than the fact it all happened, more or less. Don’t ask for dates and times, because in the field of dreams watches are useless; time becomes a loop. All I can say for sure is that everything happened sometime in the 1990s.

To Worthy Farm, where we set our scene. There is me, there is K, who is my constant companion throughout. There are others who move in and out of the decade-long, stitched-together Glastonbury narrative: J, T, P. I can’t be sure, but I think our first one was 1992, by dint of the fact that crusty rockers The Levellers were shouting about freedom. K and I had bought tickets – less than the cost of a parking pass this year. P walked into a cafe in Glastonbury town and bought one over the counter. Imagine! J headed off into the fields where a gang of scallies had ripped a hole in the fence and were letting people through for a fiver.

There always seemed to be a gang of scallies offering services for a fiver. Hooky Back To The Planet T-shirt for a fiver. Unwieldy rolled poster of Ozric Tentacles for a fiver. Slit your throat for a fiver.

Read more here

What’s your Glastonbury experience? Glamping or something a little more rough and ready, share you stories with us….












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1 Comment

  1. Visited Glastonbury for the first time in 1982 as at the time I was a big Judie Tzuke fan. As it happened Jackson Browne also played and made a massive impression – at the start of their set he and his band all donned dark glasses – pretty radical by their MOR tendencies.
    You could enter the festival with day tickets back then so if the bill was rubbish you didn’t have to hang out all weekend for your faves. On our arrival I recall a Commer van with a chicken wire fence round it, the rear van doors burst open and out tumbled a group dressed in black leotards with yellow faces and legs. This jaundiced bunch proceeded to clutch at the wire fence and make unearthly growling noises, a tad unsettling even for a West Midlands youth.
    More of a concern was the topless female who was running about jumping on anyone who took her fancy really. The thought of her jumping on me as I lay on the grass in the sunshine, unlikely as it appeared, could of proven highly embarrassing due to my raging hormones, a state which has thankfully diminished with age..
    For the record Judie Tzuke was great – lasers cutting through her during Ladies Night, our interpretation of an Irish jig during The Dubliners earlier in the day after too many beers that got too warm too quickly and a three A.M breakfast at a service station near Bristol as we made our way North to the Midlands in a mates Austin A30.

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