It was Sunday at Glastonbury, the last day of the festival and I emerged from my tent all bleary eyed and goopy after the events of the night before. I soon pulled myself together though and was determined to make the most of the day. Carpe Diem, Seize the day. That’s my motto ! I spotted Odele in the marquee at breakfast and sat with her. “What’s top of your list for today?”, asked Odele. “You are”, I replied, with a grin. She said she was going to see London Grammar on the John Peel Stage later so I said I’d look out for her if I was up that way. It had rained overnight. Not enough to make the ground muddy and it was quite welcome to keep down the dust. It was quite overcast and windy though so I put a jumper on and my jacket. I was to regret that later.
The Black Dyke Band were performing when I reached the Pyramid. They are one of the most famous brass bands in the world and were founded in Yorkshire in 1855. It has been a tradition at Glastonbury over the years to have a brass band open the proceedings on Sunday morning. I listened for a few minutes to them performing a medley of James Bond music. I enjoyed it actually but I moved on because I’ll see them again in a few weeks when they are appearing with Brian Wilson at Glastonbury Abbey.
The other reason I moved on was because Dave had told me that Slaves were really good. They were on the Other Stage at 11.00. I hadn’t heard of them before but I’m glad I made the effort because they were great. They are a British duo from Royal Tunbridge Wells and are Laurie Vincent on guitars and Isaac Holman on drums and vocals. In Wikipedia it says they are ‘British punk with harsh bluesy garage riffs’. What I liked about them is that they are also very funny. Isaac said that they wanted to form a proper band but nobody liked them so they ended up as a duo. He said that Laurie told him, “Until we get a proper drummer, you just bash these”, and gave him some drums. They seem to have an obsession with manta rays and David Attenborough. They have incredible energy, the song I found most memorable was Where’s Your Car Debbie?.
It started raining towards the end of their set so I took refuge in a nearby beer tent and had my first pint of the day. Once the rain eased off I moved on. Passing the Leftfield I noticed there was a debate going on called ‘Is Democracy Broken?’. The Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell was taking part along with Jonathon Bartley from The Green Party and a couple of others. I sat in and listened for a while. It was very interesting. I think the Labour Party & The Greens should unite in a progressive alliance before the next election. Listening intently in one corner I noticed Billy Bragg so I asked him for a photo. He was happy to oblige but Looking at it later I looked awful after not shaving for a week. I didn’t stay right to the end of the discussion because I wanted to see as much as possible.
The festival was nearly over and there were huge areas that I hadn’t visited so I headed up to The Greenfields & The Field Of Avalon. I walked all the way to Kings Meadow and up above the Stone Circle. You get a great view of the site from up here. There was a choir all dressed in red who were about to perform but I didn’t wait for that. Standing in the middle of the field were two blokes playing piano and a saxophone just for the fun of it. I went and had a look at the 80ft long stone dragon in the stream and carried on walking. In the Field Of Avalon I had a look at all the craft stalls, which were amazing. I watched one bloke who had a little chain saw and was carving up dead wood found on the farm into owls. They looked brilliant. Finally, I arrived at the Avalon Arms and had a large gin & tonic because the pints were going straight through me. On the Avalon Stage I caught the end of a female duo called Sound Of The Sirens who sounded really nice. I wish I had heard more of them. After that I had another drink and watched Chris Jagger’s Rocking Kronies. Chris actually lives in Glastonbury town so he didn’t have to come very far. I’m sure me and Kim met him years ago one afternoon out the back of the George & Pilgrim in Glastonbury. Anyway, I thought the half an hour I watched him for was great. His band served up a lively blend of Country, blues, rock, Cajun & zydeco. I particularly liked his female fiddle player. I only watched a short while because I remembered that my old friend Tony was playing in the nearby Avalon Café. He was in a duo called Hodmadoddery and playing to a tiny but appreciative audience. They did one song that I particularly liked written by Peter Hamill but I haven’t got a clue what it’s called. After a while I took a photo and said cheerio because time was getting on.
On the West Holts Stage I caught the end of a set by a trio called Yorkston, Thorne & Khan. They are a sort of cross-over band of British & Indian music. I was really impressed with what I heard. Also, I was really pleased when they said that we should have a big shout out for the recycling crew for keeping the place tidy. As one of the army of 2,100 recyclers I took that as a personal compliment and my chest puffed out with pride. They finished with a Sufi song which I really enjoyed.
It was back to the Other Stage then because I wanted to see Rag n Bone Man. I have seen him on the telly and been really impressed with his soulful voice especially his song Human. Sadly there were about 80,000 people all with the same idea. This seems to be the year of Rag n Bone Man. It was so crowded that I couldn’t hardly move or get a good view of the stage. People were even watching from the old railway track at the back. It was getting really hot as well so after only one song I gave up and headed for the more bucolic surroundings of the Acoustic Stage. On the way there I stopped at Pilton Pasta for some food because I was starving by now. The lady in front of me had some food which looked delicious so I said, “I’ll have some of what she just had”. I can’t remember what it was called.
I knew I would find Dave right at the front for Justin Townes Earle and sure enough he was. Right on the barrier. I really enjoyed this set. He deserved a bigger audience. It was just him and a great pedal steel guitar player. The honky-tonk style ballads were the best I thought. My favourite song was called What’s She Crying For?. Justin said that the best songs used to be made in Nashville but these days Nashville is just 15lbs of s..t in a 5lb bag. When I spoke to Dave afterwards he said listening to Justin was like channeling Gram Parsons so I think he enjoyed it.
After that, Dave went off to meet Sarah who was watching Barry Gibb but I decided to go back to base to have a rest and I wanted to get rid of my jacket because I was too hot. I made the supreme effort and went and had a shower as well which was as refreshing as two hours sleep I reckon. I also had some dinner because I was still hungry and a can of Thatcher’s Gold. Then I set off again on one last epic walk.
As I walked down Muddy Lane on a beautiful Sunday evening I could hear Chic & Nile Rodgers so I watched for a bit through a gap in the trees and they sounded great although it’s not really my type of music. I was on a mission so I hurried on. Skirting the Other Stage I listened to The Courteeners for a while and this was another band I hadn’t heard of before but I was quite impressed with their guitar based music. I think they could be the next big thing. They might be already for all I know. I was heading for the John Peel Stage which is a stage I haven’t bothered much with in previous years. The Beat Hotel was as packed as the night before so no Jack Kerouac cocktail for me this year. The John Peel Stage was absolutely rammed. It is in a marquee but the vast crowd surrounded it for about 100 yards. As well as a normal bar there was a smaller cocktail bar so I queued up there and bought some drink that had rum in it among other stuff. It was nice though. I stood on top of a bench and surveyed the crowd hoping to spot Odele but to no avail. I should have got her phone number earlier but I didn’t think of that. I did meet a couple of my recycling mates but I can’t remember their names. Goldfrapp were on when I arrived but I couldn’t see them and the music meant nothing to me. After that it was London Grammar. This is another band I knew nothing about but people had told me they were great. I see they have an album in the charts called Truth Is A Beautiful Thing. I decided to get nearer to listen and was surprised how easy it is despite the vast crowd to get quite near the front by worming my way along the side. I listened for about 30 minutes and there is no doubt that the singer Hannah Reid has a fabulous voice. The trouble is with me though if I’m not au fait with the music it always starts to sound samey to me. Also, I was getting claustrophobic so I wormed my way out again.
There are some woods near there so I went in there for a bit of peace. It is really nice and they have built walkways so you can get right up in the tops of the trees. Also, I found a bar in there which was relatively quiet so I had yet another drink. Then I thought I better head in the direction of home. That was to prove more difficult than I thought. As I approached the Pyramid Stage area more & more people were going in the same direction. Thousands of them. “Where is everyone going?”, I asked someone. “To see the ginger one”, he replied. I hadn’t realised it was this late.
I fought my way out of the crush and sat down on a nearby bench. There was a man sat down next to me. “I can’t understand what all the fuss is about “, I said, “He is hardly Bob Dylan is he?”. “I can’t stand Bob Dylan”, he replied. “He can’t even sing”. This got me angry because I was tired and irritable now. “Bob Dylan is the greatest poet since Keats & Shelley, that’s why they gave him the Nobel Prize for Literature”, I exclaimed and stomped off in the opposite direction, leaving him with a flea in his ear.
I decided to take a long walk round via the Other Stage to avoid the crowds. It was empty compared to earlier in the day. That is when I noticed the little rucksack on the ground. I immediately thought BOMB !. Then I thought that nobody is going to leave a bomb in an empty field so I gingerly opened it up. There wasn’t much of any value in it except two pairs of really nice sunglasses. For a few seconds I considered keeping the sunglasses and throwing the rucksack away but my upbringing told me not to do that so I handed it in at INFO in the market area. After one last drink on Williams Green I braved the journey home via the Ed Sheeran fans. When I reached the top of the field I listened to a bit and I just don’t get it. I have tried really hard to get into Ed Sheeran’s music. Partly because he claims to be a Van Morrison fan and mentions Van twice on his new album and even had breakfast with Van. Also because of his Irish background. I still can’t get it though. I’m not ageist against music by young people. I said I like George Ezra and I loved Slaves at the start of the day. What is so great about Ed Sheeran?. I don’t think he is even a good guitar player. Even the lyrics seem very trite, all about liking the shape of someone. Youth to me is supposed to be about rebellion. There is no mention of all the shite that is going down in the world. He seems a very establishment figure. He goes to parties with Princesses Eugenie & Beatrice & James Blunt. I think he is the Brexit of music. One day soon people will realise it has all been a big mistake.
Anyway, When I got back to camp it was much more fun. There was a big gang around the fire tonight. I went and got the remains of my bottle of brandy and joined in. When you are Billy No-Mates like me and have spent most of the day on your own, you really appreciate the camaraderie around the fire. Nobody is going to tell you to bugger off are they?. I met a nice couple from Nottingham who I worked with two years ago. There was a sing-song going on. One guy had a guitar and was singing Beatle songs and Irish songs in an English accent which I didn’t like very much. Then this young guy asked if he could have a go. He was brilliant and sang Space Oddity by David Bowie, Psycho Killer by Talking Heads and best of all, a song I love which was Creep by Radiohead. It is really funny to hear two dozen people sat round a campfire singing 'I'm a creep, I'm a wierdo'. I enjoyed it more than the real Radiohead who were on Friday night. I asked him to sing some Lou Reed and he was going to but the guitar owner asked for it back, so that was the end of that. God knows how the night ended up. I can’t remember for the life of me.
Next morning I woke up in my tent which was a relief. After breakfast I realised the party was over and it was time to go. I took down my tent and packed my rucksack. The motto is ‘Love The Farm, Leave No Trace’. It was sad when the only thing to say that I had been there at all was a sad little square of faded grass. I made my way to the marquee and sat outside with Odele & Roger. Finally, I said cheerio to a few people such as Stella, Paula & her husband and some people whose names I can’t remember. I wondered if I would see them again. It was especially sad to say cheerio to Odele who had been such a good mate. It was hard to drag myself away but I knew I had to go. I hauled on my rucksack, picked up my tent and set off.
The walk to the bus station was a lot easier than when we arrived because lots of it was downhill. I waited patiently in the queue for about an hour for a bus to Castle Cary and passed the time with a bunch of people telling jokes. Finally, the creaky old bus arrived and we piled on. Sitting next to me was a punky lady with purple hair. I asked her what was her favourite act of the festival and she said Napalm Death. They were her favourite band. That’s what I love about Glastonbury, the diversity. Just the other side of Pilton I took one last lingering look out over the Vale Of Avalon at the fields that have been my temporary home for about four months of the last 38 years and took one last photo through the bus window. I wondered if I would ever return. I headed home, back to the forlorn rags of everyday life.