Monday, July 10, 2017

My Glastonbury 2017 Review. Part 5, 'Recharge Your Activism !'

Saturday is the peak day at Glastonbury. Everyone who is coming had arrived and nobody had gone home yet. There must have been about 180,000 people on site now. I was up and about early and after breakfast I sat in the shade of the trees opposite the restaurant and studied my lanyard. I was joined by a baby robin who was really tame. That’s another thing I love about this place, it is a wildlife sanctuary. In the distance I could hear the music starting on the Pyramid Stage. It was the Bootleg Beatles & The Pepperland Orchestra. They were celebrating the fact that it is 50 years since Sergeant Pepper was released. I set off down Muddy Lane on an another day long adventure. I reckon I must have walked well over 100 miles at this years Glastonbury. In the market area I spotted a face I thought I recognised but I wasn’t sure. “Excuse me, is your name Tony?”, I asked. It was, I hadn’t seen Tony for over 20 years. I think the last time I saw him was when he had a clothes stall on Milsom Street in Bath. He recognised me immediately which was great. We had a bit of a chat and he told me that he was playing in a duo at the Avalon CafĂ© the following day at 2.30 so I put a note in my lanyard to try and remember that.

I said cheerio and made my way to the Pyramid Stage where Vieux Farka Toure and his band were playing. He is a musician from Mali, a singer and guitarist. He also brought on a guest female singer who was good. I like getting to the Pyramid Stage early in the day because it is easy to get right to the front on the barrier and there is always a chance of getting on the telly. That happened last year when I was watching Baaba Maal. I really enjoyed this show with its infectious dance rhythms. He even got the audience singing along to one song although nobody spoke Malian. I think the song was called yamore.
After that it was Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra. I listened to a few songs and enjoyed Midnight Special and he brought on a couple of guest singers who were very good. I got a bit bored after a while because I’ve seen him before and I can see Jools Holland on the telly any old time.   I wandered on and had a sit down at a bar in Williams Green and just watched the world go by and then watched a bit of Thundercat on the West Holts Stage but basically I was just passing time before the big event of the afternoon that everyone was waiting for which had nothing to do with music. I carried on and by the Leftfield Stage I could hear Billy Bragg singing so I sat down for a listen.

Then behind me I could hear cheering and turned around and this convoy of three land rovers was approaching and in the third one I could see the unmistakeable face of Jeremy Corbyn smiling through the window and waving out. I jumped to my feet and followed the vehicles as did dozens of other people. They disappeared through a gate into the rear of one of the market areas. Because I still had my Markets Access wristband on I waved it at the man on the gate and was allowed through. I whipped out my camera and approached Jeremy’s car determined to get a photo with him which would have been a real feather in my cap. Just as he got out of his car I was within 20 feet when this stern looking security woman ordered me away. “I have a pass”, I explained. “I don’t care”, she replied, “Out !”. I took one picture in defiance of her then another security man escorted me out.  Jeremy had gone into the rear of the Solstice Bar so I ran quickly around to the front of the bar where I guessed he would be. The Solstice Bar is one of the many bars that are run by The Workers Beer Company and all profits go to good causes. That was why Jeremy was here. To promote that and also the special pint pots that had been made especially for the festival from recycled steel. Jeremy came out and started pouring pints for the many, not the few. I was about 12 feet away along the bar and tried taking pictures but it was difficult with all the heads in the way.
Then Jeremy headed off to the Pyramid Stage to make his historic appearance. I didn’t go because I had got wind of the fact that he would be making an unscheduled speech on the Leftfield Stage. I went there and grabbed my place right at the very front and waited patiently. While we were waiting we were entertained by Billy Bragg, Ralph McTell, Steve Knightley from the band Show Of Hands and Louise from a band called She Drew The Gun who I had never heard of before. They were all very good especially Billy singing Sexuality and Ralph singing Streets Of London. Steve Knightley even recited Let The Slave by William Blake which is on a Van Morrison album.

Finally, Jeremy arrived to huge cheers and singing of 'Oh, Jeremy Corbyn'. I was a bit concerned that because there were no large screens in there that the crowd would press forward to get a better look and I’d be crushed against the barrier. It was fine though. Jeremy spoke passionately for at least half an hour. He recalled all the previous figures from the left who had spoken here such as Tony Benn and E.P. Thompson. It was a great inspiring speech. After it was all over I treated myself to a Leftfield T-Shirt with the slogan ‘Recharge Your Activism’.

I didn’t know what to do with myself after that. I did intend to see Toots And The Maytels but apparently they didn’t turn up. Katy Perry was on the Pyramid and Liam Gallagher was on the Other Stage but I couldn’t be bothered with either. I sat down outside the Theatre Bar and watched all the weird things going on. There was a huge turtle going through the crowd accompanied by lots of dancers dressed as sea creatures. Two guys dressed as mermaids being carried by dwarves, (How do you think that up ?) Also a giant ostrich wandering around and a man cycling a piano along accompanied by a woman playing the cello. I moved on and listened to Chris Difford & Glenn Tilbrook from Squeeze playing an acoustic set. I listened from outside and got chatting to two guys wearing red military jackets and had my photo taken with them.

At about 7.30 I made my way to the Pyramid because I had promised a Facebook friend that I would see The National. Also, Megan from Thursday night said they were her favourite band. I had never heard their music before. The first thing to say is that the singer got on my nerves a bit. At one point he gave out the phone number of a senator in Ohio and said anyone from Ohio should phone him about the health care bill. “For f..ks sake”, I thought to myself, “You are in England now, we have enough of our own s..t to deal with at the moment”. Also, he was obviously drunk and kept drinking glasses of wine and throwing the bottles around. Having said that, I found something compelling and moving  about the music even though this was the first time I had heard it. One song that I particularly remember was called The Day I Die. I think it was called that anyway.

After that I was at a loose end again. I did consider going to see Alison Moyet at the Leftfield but I was too tired so I just sat in the bar of Bread & Roses and listened to some girl singer who wasn’t very good. I should have made the effort to go and see The Jacksons but I didn’t. I went to see the Foo Fighters.
I have really tried to get into them because my niece Lee is a big fan of theirs and Odele thinks they are great as well. I watched all of their streamed gig at the Cheese & Grain in Frome earlier in the year. Perhaps it is because I haven’t got any of their albums but I just can’t get it. Dave Grohl said, “I think we are gonna play all night long”. I thought to myself, “No you’re not mate, you will play for the two hours which is advertised”. Nobody plays all night long. I was getting a bit cold now so after 30 minutes I started heading home. I watched a bit more from the top of the hill and then gave up.

It was great around the fire that night. I got talking to a bloke called Carpy who was from Cornwall and a big Van Morrison fan. We had a chat about favourite Van songs and I said I’d see him at the Eden Project a few days later. I didn’t though unfortunately. Odele arrived back from the Foo Fighters and Robin joined us. Me and Robin had a brandy coffee. The last thing I remember was me standing on the stones around the fire singing Status Quo songs and shouting, “Hello Wembley !”.
Finally, I thought I better get to bed before I fell in the fire. What a great day it had been and what an amazing day lay ahead.


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