Friday, July 14, 2017

Review: Glastonbury Festival 2017. Part 1,'The Sun Machine Is Coming Down'

After months and weeks and days of growing excitement the big day had finally arrived. It was time to head once again to Glastonbury, 38 years after my first Glastonbury Festival in 1979. I had been packing and unpacking and re-packing my rucksack for about two days. I had decided not to pack my wellies because the weather forecast was good but at the last moment I changed my mind and stuffed them in the rucksack. It was a beautiful Sunday morning as I locked my front door and headed to my friend and neighbour Curly’s house 3 doors away. Curly had kindly offered to give me a lift to Westbury railway station. Sitting on the platform waiting for the train from London Paddington who should come strolling along looking as lovely as ever but my friend Odele from Salisbury who I first met at Glasto in 2013. She didn’t seem a bit surprised to see me but I was amazed because I didn’t even know she was going on the train. Soon the busy train arrived and we piled on it. Odele immediately met someone else she knew called Luke. It was so crowded that we had to stand up. That didn’t matter though because it only took 18 minutes to get to Castle Cary. This normally sleepy little town suddenly becomes for a few days every year one of the busiest railway stations in Britain.
Although the festival gates didn’t open for another four days, dozens of people laden with tents and rucksacks got off the train and made their way to the shuttle buses that took us to the festival site near the village of Pilton. Me, Odele and Luke made our way to the recyclers cabin at Red Gate A only to find that our wristbands hadn’t arrived yet so we had to sit around and wait. Finally, after about half an hour a lady turned up with the wristbands. After the terrorist outrages recently we got searched on the way in but we didn’t mind that. Then we hauled on our rucksacks for the long walk across the top of the site to our home in Tom’s Field near the farmhouse.

It only took about half an hour but it was a killer in the hot sun and part of it was uphill. Odele seemed to be carrying even more than me but she has got true grit. Our camping area is called Tom’s Field because there was once a horse who lived in there called Tom. Anyway, we reported to the office and registered and got our gloves and veterans t-shirts. It only took about ten minutes to put up my tent. It was tiny, I bought it on E-Bay for £19.99 but it was a nice little house for the next 8 days. I camped about 30 yards away from the toilets in case I needed to go for a wee in the middle of the night which is always a concern. I got a passer-by to take my photo of me and my little house. Then I went to visit Odele who was setting up her tent in a corner and took her picture. Odele said she was staying back at base for the evening but I wanted to go for a walk, so I set off.

It was great walking around the vast site when it was nearly empty. In front of the Pyramid Stage the grass was really lush. In a few days it would be trampled on by 200,000 people. In the market area most of the traders were only just arriving and I didn’t think there would be anywhere open but I found a nice cafe and bought a falafel which was really tasty and a cup of tea. Then I had a lazy stroll up to the Field Of Avalon. I was a bit disappointed that one of my favourite places The Tiny Tea Tent wasn’t open yet. I carried on walking as far as Shangri-La & The Unfairground but none of it was open so I headed back to look for a drink.
The Bread & Roses Saloon or any of the other bars weren’t open but then I remembered the backstage bar at the Acoustic Stage. Thanks to my sister Margaret & her partner Wayne I had discovered this bar about 4 years ago because our friend Rob had provided the marquee for it. I had two pints of Black Rat cider in there and chilled out and talked to a few people. The barmaid was from Dilton Marsh which is a village near Westbury and she told me that it was Rob who got her a job there a few years ago. She gave me two wristbands so I could go in there any time I wanted. I gave one to Odele the next day. I ordered a large gin & tonic for the walk home.

I walked back home via the Pyramid Stage and they have these benches made out of painted breeze blocks and I just sat there taking in the view with Glastonbury Tor in the distance. It was great, and although it was gone 9.00 in the evening the sun was still beating down. The words of David Bowie came into my head, ‘The sun machine is coming down, and we’re gonna have a party’. Finally, I walked back to Tom’s Field and there wasn’t much going on so I went to bed. About 1.00 in the morning I was awoken by the sound of fireworks going off in the distance. I just turned over and went back to sleep. Little did I realise what drama lay ahead !


1 comment:

brian cummiskey said...

Great stuff, Pat. Looking forward to the rest of your blogs.
Brian Cummiskey