Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Glastonbury 1987, My Seventh Glastonbury. (My Little Bookstall)

1987 was the first year I did my little bookstall at Glasto. My hobby at the time was dealing in second-hand books so I decided to see if I could pay for the festival by selling my books. I spent all year scouring charity shops, jumble sales, car boot sales, auctions and house clearance shops looking for suitable books that festival goers might be interested in. The sort of subjects were music books & magazines, fanzines, counter-culture, Beat Generation, anything left-wing, science fiction, ecology, eastern religion, and anything else that straight people might consider dangerous and subversive. By June I had quite a collection.
That year I went with my friends Ian & Julia who I had worked with in the Night Shelter. They managed to squeeze about ten boxes of my books into their little Citroen. It took hours to get on site because of the traffic jams but finally we got in and found my family and friends in Glebeland. Our encampment was quite big by now. There must have been about twenty in our gang including kids. My sister Margaret had acquired some bunting from somewhere so every year with some sticks from the firewood and the bunting, an area would be cordoned off for all our tents. Margaret’s partner Wayne would get busy making furniture out of the biggest bits of wood so we could all sit around the fire in comfort. The rule was that every time someone went for a walk they had to bring some firewood back. By Sunday night though the furniture had usually ended up on the fire as supplies ran out. Wayne and Margaret always had a big tent which I found quite handy for storing my books in the entrance.

It was important to start selling my books early while people still had money in their pockets so on Thursday afternoon I set out my stall by the nearest walkway which had lots of people walking by. I just laid a blanket on the ground and displayed my books neatly on it, all individually priced. It was very unofficial but the security wasn’t going to bother with little old me when there were drug dealers all the way up Muddy Lane and people openly selling bootleg booze and baccy all over the place. I was pleased with how well I did selling my books. One year I made enough money to go straight to Ireland for a holiday afterwards, and it was a great way of meeting people and having a chat. One thing I learned was that women seemed to read more than men. They would browse for a long time looking for a good read regardless of who wrote it whereas men seemed more interested in finding books with a cult following or to complete a collection.  I could tell when someone was out of their brain on acid or something. They would stare for ages at the design on the cover of a science fiction book and go, “wow”. Sometimes a person would say, “I’ll buy this book but I don’t want to carry it around, can you look after it for me and I’ll pick it up on my way back?” Then they would wander off and completely forget that they had bought a book. If they hadn’t returned by Sunday I’d sell the book all over again. Another great thing about selling my books was that it kept me on the straight and narrow, for a few hours a day anyway. In previous years I would just wander around getting more and more off my face as the day wore on. With the coming of my bookstall I now had a purpose and I enjoyed it. My Bookstall became a regular thing at Glasto right up to 2003.

I had a few famous people look at my books over the years. Once in the 80’s this nice American lady was having a browse through my books and I noticed she was wearing a stage pass so I asked her what she was doing at Glastonbury and she said that she was a singer. Then she took off her shades. I recognised her immediately. It was Julie Felix. You might not have heard of her but she was very famous in Britain in the 60’s & 70’s. Julie had a big hit record with her version of Simon & Garfunkel’s El Condor Pasa. She also had her own television series. We had a nice chat and she was very friendly. Another time this bearded bloke came along and had a rummage. I thought I recognised him but when he looked at me he didn’t seem very friendly so I didn’t say anything. He didn’t buy anything and eventually  stomped off. After he had gone my brother Paul who was sat there said, “Do you know who that was?”. “No”, I replied. “It was John Martyn”, said Paul. A person who did buy a book in the 1990's was Margie Clarke. She was famous after appearing in the film Letter To Brezhnev and she was in Coronation Street for a long while. Margie bought a Daphne Du Maurier paperback. I heard later that Margie was the most famous person to climb over the fence to get into Glastonbury.

There is a theatre group called The Natural Theatre Group who come from Bath. I think they are the only performers who have appeared at every single Glastonbury festival. They specialise in street theatre where they get dressed up and wander through the crowds. One year they were Cone-heads and another year they were dressed like CIA agents with walkie talkie radios. I’m not sure if it was 87 but they were all dressed up as Conservatives and had placards saying BAN THE FESTIVAL, DOWN WITH GLASTONBURY etc. They came up to my bookstall and one of them said, “What’s all this then, a bloody jumble sale?”. We passed an amusing few minutes trading insults until they wandered off. It was all good fun. I’ll tell you more about my bookstall later if I think of anything.
One of the most memorable things about 1987 was the Mutoid Waste Company. They were a semi-anarchistic gang who might have evolved out of the Peace Convoy. They made things out of scrap metal. I have a vague memory of going to a party once at a warehouse in London which had lots of strange machines which might have been made by them. What they did at Glasto 87 was to build a Stonehenge but it wasn’t made from stone, it was made from cars. It was spectacular and was a focal point for a lot of late night raging. In the book Glastonbury Tales by Crispin Aubrey & John Shearlaw Arabella Churchill relates how she was walking past there one night only to notice her VW car was on the top of Carhenge.

Musically the highlight for me of 1987 was Van Morrison on the Sunday evening. It was only the third time I had seen him perform and the first time since 1982. To say his performance was a bit special is a huge understatement. I would put it in the top five performances in all the 38 years I have been going to Glasto. I have written about this show in my previous book so I won’t dwell on it now. Luckily for all the Van Morrison fans around the world it was recorded by the BBC and broadcast on the Johnnie Walker Show. This has become a must- have bootleg for the hardcore Van fans and most agree that it is one of his finest shows ever. Van was certainly on the top of his game back in 1987. The next time I was at Glasto I managed to get my first ever bootleg recording which was this show and I must have listened to it hundreds of times. If you scroll down, you can hear two songs from Van's epic performance. The sun was setting over Avalon as Taj Mahal brought the festival to a close that year. I wonder if Van stayed to watch his show because they have become good friends over the years and performed and recorded together.

The Communards were on before Van and although I can’t remember much about their show I do remember their bus passing me as they left with Jimmy Somerville and the one who later became a vicar looking at all the crowds through the window. Michael Eavis said later that Jimmy Somerville waived their fee for the show and told Michael to give the money to CND which was damned decent of them. I know I saw the Gaye Bykers On Acid on the second stage because I went to see them out of curiosity due to their unusual name but I don’t think I was very impressed because I can’t remember anything now about their performance. One thing I do recall vividly though was the late great Ben E King playing in glorious sunshine on the Friday afternoon. He had recently had a UK number 1 with Stand By Me and I had liked him ever since I bought The Drifters Greatest Hits back in the 60’s. I was watching him right down at the front with Dominic who had then reached the ripe old age of 9. Dominic wanted to see what was going on so I lifted him up onto my shoulders. During one song Ben E King looked right at us and Dominic gave him a thumbs up sign and Ben E King gave Dom a thumbs up sign in return. It was great. You can’t buy those magical Glastonbury moments.

It was to be two long years before the next festival because Michael decided they needed a year off to assess the situation and work out what to do about the drug dealers and other problems that needed to be addressed. After a good clear up, the cows reclaimed the land and were soon contentedly munching away at the lush grass of the Vale Of Avalon and peace returned to Worthy farm for another two years.


brian cummiskey said...

This is great,thanks for taking the time to share your memories of Glastonbury 87. I've just put mine on Facebook, I will probably add more to it as it was quite a weekend with so much to see.
I remember the mighty Carhenge very well,it was quute a site and so were the people gathered around it.
What a fantastic weekend it was,one I will always remember. I still have my programme, and lots of magic memories from a truly magical, mystical place.
Thanks for sharing
Kind regards
Brian Cummiskey

Pat said...

Thanks for your comments Brian. It is great to get feedback and know that somebody reads what I write. Are you going this year?. I'll be there this Sunday for 8 days. I work on the recycling team these days.

All the best,


brian cummiskey said...

Hi Pat, thanks for the kind reply. We always meant to go back, but we never did.Life seemed to get in the way, I got married ( now divorced) Jim and Marie split up.John and Andy also got married, children came along and our Glastonbury reunion never materialised.Every time it comes around I think back to that magic weekend. My friend Andy posted a few of the photos for my 56th birthday (56!) where have the years gone?
I have now been with my partner Elaine for 7 years now and we watch it in the comfort of our living room.
We went to The Wickerman Festival in Dumfries a few years back and it reminded me of Glastonbury on a smaller scale,another great festival, but sadly now no more.
Hope you enjoy this year's, and hope the sun shines down on you and that magic part of the country.
Ps, what are your books called, it would be great to read them.
Kind regards

Pat said...

Brian, now that I have befriended you on Facebook I'll let you know when my review of Glastonbury 2017 is on my blog page. The weather forecast is looking good, fingers crossed. I have only written one book. It is called 'Vanatic', The Story Of A Van Morrison Fan. It is officially sold out but I still have a few copies that I held back. I'm a bit busy at the moment but after Glasto I'll put the last few on sale and I'll be in touch and let you know where to get one if you are interested.

Cheers, Pat.

brian cummiskey said...

Just read your 89 blog, once again I have to say it's fantastic.
Have a great time this year, and yeah,get in touch about your book.

All the best