Life– Terror. Ecstasy. Fight. Denial. Flight. Failure. PAIN. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Hope. Love. Peace – Death.
Saturday 25th June 2022 – Pyramid Stage Glastonbury
I felt a small hand reach out for mine in the dark, my son’s hand. He gently held, then squeezed mine. The last time I (perfectly) remember us holding hands was around 35 years ago, he was aged 3 or 4.
I took him to view an exhibition of John Lennon illustrations, drawings and paintings at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. We visited with a friend of mine, a huge Lennon fan, gently meandering from picture to picture. Aubrey’s nervous little hand in mine. So quiet and content for a mere toddler, patient way beyond his years. He was genuinely interested, fascinated by the art and the magnificent, classical, surroundings of the fabulous gallery.
Thirty-five years on, we are both watching Paul McCartney headlining the Pyramid Stage. Not the first time we have watched Macca together. A Beatle, literally, a living (artistic) legend, performing one of the finest songs ever written, live on the greatest stage in the world. Let it Be to 120,000 dedicated souls, joined together as one. Hypnotically bonded together, sharing, yet another, magnificent, Glastonbury Moment.
Aubrey’s other hand was fixed within his wife, Charlottes. She is 37 weeks pregnant with their, unborn son. My, soon to be, second grandson currently enjoying his very first Glastonbury. Aubrey & Charlotte had married earlier that day, at Glastonbury. Another, truly special, Glastonbury (and life) moment.
Let It Be was penned by McCartney after a particularly, vivid dream. His deceased Mother, Mary, came to him during his troubled sleep. She reassured him ‘everything will be alright, if you just let it be’. Let it Be. To this day he is not sure if it was just a dream, or something more, beyond that.
A young Paul (he was just 13 when Mary died), awoke the following day and he wrote the full song, lyrics, chords & melody in a few, short, minutes. A story he has told many many times over, in numerous interviews. A story I was privileged to hear personally, straight from the legends own mouth.
Since hearing him tell this tale I have my own thing about the song. Perhaps it particularly resonated with me as my own mother, Nancy, had also died when I was just 13, the same age as McCartney when his Mary passed.
Saturday night, holding hands with my son and his wife, as soon as the incredible Let it Be string lines kicked in, I was lost, spontaneously weeping, pure emotion, tears of joy, tears of love (and sadness), the fabulous song, the trigger for a unique, long overdue, special moment shared at Glastonbury with my son, his wife, soon to be grandson plus 220,000+ brothers & sisters and millions of others sharing this with us, watching live on TV. Glastonbury Festival can give you that.
Earlier that day – The Paella Girl
On our way to our first band for the day, we stopped for food, chippy curry and chips!
Myself Franc and Darran, my closest Glasto buddies. We sat on a bench eating our one (guaranteed) meal of the day, sitting opposite another food stall, Paellaria.
The festival has more than 800 traders on site, 400 of which are food related! This includes everything from more well-known (but not corporate) brands to some more unusual options that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
It was earlyish, certainly not peak time, the stalls were not yet busy. There was an older guy ‘cooking’ stirring and cultivating the huge, burnt steel, pans of Paella. With him was a much younger, (teenage) girl, oldest 14, serving customers as and when they arrived. In-between serving she was dancing, to herself, for herself.
You are never far away from music at Glastonbury, music from any of the 100+ stages, from the stalls, from everywhere. She danced and she danced only stopping, momentarily, to serve food. It was fascinating, hypnotic. It was just so joyful, so spontaneous, so Glastonbury.
Glastonbury 2022 (nee 2020) was my eleventh trip to the fields. My first (accompanied by my wife, Gail), was a wet and muddy affair. Glastonbury Festival 2007 was my pick to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary year. Sadly, Festival 2007 was one of the wettest in history. Glastonbury in the sun, there is no place like it on earth.
It rained from the second we arrived on the Thursday until the second we departed on the Monday. The Arctic Monkeys, (Gail’s favourite band), played their first Glastonbury set headlining the Pyramid Stage on the Friday night and The Who pulled out all the stops as the closing band on Sunday. Other acts we braved thru the rain included The Killers, Saturdays headliners and a very fucked up Amy Winehouse.
15 years on, 2022 happens to be our 40th wedding anniversary year, coincidently, coinciding with, the Covid delayed Glastonbury 2020 the celebrating of 50 years of the Glastonbury Festival. After her first dreadful, (wet) Glastonbury Festival, Gail dropped out, ‘I would rather stay at home and put red hot needles in my eyes’. Since 2007 I have attended with a group of core Glastonbury friends, our own Glastonbury posse, my tribe that, at times, has included my son, Aubrey (who also has his own posse).
Off the back of an amazing, very hot and sunny 2019 Festival. We applied, (as usual), October 2019 for 2020. 20 or so, of us trying from multiple locations, with multiple devices. More than 30 individual, phones, high speed connections, low speed connections and we did not get tickets. We did not even get a sniff. Our first ever fail. Disaster. My son, his girlfriend, now living (and applying) from London, won as did many other friends. To say I was disappointed does not even come close.
Covid fucked Glastonbury 2020 and then 2021. We waited close to 3 long years for the opportunity to try for the impossible, the resale. Again, we had so many trying for us, including many who already had their tickets So much love. Those who appreciate how much it meant for me to go (or not to go). We won the lottery. Darren’s wife, Angela (bless you, you fucking Angel), got thru on her mobile phone, calmly, sitting in her bedroom, mobile data only, a piece of piss! Unreal.
The odds of getting normal sale tickets are high? Over 2.4 million people registered in 2019, tickets sold out in just 33 minutes. What must have been the odds for resale tickets? One Glastonbury forum calculated somewhere between 0.8% and 3.7% (6,500/750,000 and 13,000/350,000). 3 years of torture knowing we were not going and then, in a blink of an eye, about 3 weeks coming to terms with actually going.
It was surreal, it still is to be honest? I had given up and then along came the miracle.
27th June – Over for another year
Tuesday – I didn’t sleep well last night (Monday), the Glastonbury blues, the inevitable comedown, the end of another fabulous trip to the fields, the goodbyes, the realisation that it is 365 more sleeps until the possibility (never certainty) of my next Glastonbury. Monday night, crazy vivid, mixed-up dreams, featuring my (long) deceased father. Tuesday morning, exhausted, back to a, deeply troubled, world. Work.
People often wonder (ask)? Why are ‘people’ so emotional, so hysterical about Glastonbury? What is the big deal? Honestly? You have to experience it to truly understand that? It is impossible to put into words. there is just so much, so many things, ‘you had to be there’ moments. Words alone do not, cannot explain?
Watching a young band perform at Glastonbury for the first time, hearing about them then seeing them, often for (your and their) very first time. Sharing that moment with them, seeing their joy, their happiness to be playing live at Glastonbury, is just so special? It feels like you are watching them conceive their first child? It means that much to them (and then you). Sharing that kind of emotion is palpable, infectious, extremely emotional and priceless.
I was up early Tuesday, for work after about 4 hours (max) of disturbed, broken sleep. My restlessness had fucked up Gail’s night’s sleep. She understands, she did not complain. I started telling her about my ‘dad’ dreams and Aubrey and I, our holding hands, then the Paella girl. Suddenly, floods of tears again, emotion, pure emotion. I could not get my words out, I was, unashamedly, unembarrassed. Glastonbury.
She got it. The joy of my witnessing (seeing) the young girl dancing, who was oozing with so much optimism and joy? With the rest of her life ahead of her, with so many dreams, so many hopes, so many Glastonbury’s? Coupled with my realisation, my reality, older, less optimism? My tears were an admission, an acceptance of my own mortality, my own ‘Tears in Rain’ Monologue. We hugged.
Everything that could be said and or written about Glastonbury Festival, has (already) been said and many times over. I know at least 5 Glastonbury virgins from this year, I cannot wait to speak with them all, to share their moments, to welcome them aboard. I am confident they will be enrolled in the gang, the ‘Glastonbury lifers’ gang
Glastonbury is the same for everybody. And different for everybody. The (our)moments, the shared experiences, so powerful, so grand, so addictive. The dancing Paella girl, my sharing a truly special moment, holding hands with my son, a soon to be father himself and his wife a soon to be mother herself.
Some of my favourite Glastonbury comments
‘After seeing the Glastonbury festival, you will start believing in magic’. The most fun-filled and joyous days of my life are those days when I attend the Glastonbury festival.
The vibes in the Glastonbury festival are so high; you wish it doesn’t end. Glastonbury festival is the best time to make memories with your family and friends. Glastonbury festival share your similarities and celebrate your differences.
Glastonbury festival tells us it’s ok have talent different than others, celebrate what you have. You are never too old or too young to enjoy the Glastonbury festival’.
I am a bit bored (over) him now but Noel Gallagher nailed it when in 2020 he said,
‘There are literally hundreds of festivals in the world, and I should know because I’ve played most if not all of them. The funny thing is, though, there’s really only one festival in the world – in the truest sense of the word, anyway.
Glastonbury is more important than Christmas.
Glastonbury is more fun than New Year. Glastonbury can be brutal.
Glastonbury can be magical. The weather? Who gives a shit about the weather? No one I know. The music? Who gives a shit about the music? No one I know. Who’s headlining? Who cares? No one I know.’
‘Glastonbury is whatever you want it to be…Glastonbury will change your life and if it doesn’t then I suggest you get a life’!
A week before the festival I honestly still had no (real) idea, other than the headliners, who else was performing on the 100+ stages. No plan other than to get there as early as possible. It didn’t matter to me. It doesn’t matter to me. It will never matter to me.
As guy Garvey said, on Sunday, ‘If you don’t get Glastonbury, you have no Soul’
As I write it is announced on TV, the beautiful, brave, cancer campaigner, blogger, broadcaster, Deborah ‘Check your Poo’ James (40), died of bowel cancer. The same day another incredible, brave, beautiful woman, Radio 1 DJ Adele Roberts (43) announces herself free of bowel cancer. The same day that (another) 30, unknown, brave men died of Prostate Cancer, the day before another 30 unknown men will die of prostate cancer and tomorrow and the next day. All somebody’s dads, brothers, sons. 30 men die EVERY day in the UK of prostate cancer, even on fathers day. Please, get yourselves checked out brothers & sisters.
‘Find a life worth enjoying, take risks, love deeply, (try your best) to have no regrets, and always, always have rebellious hope’.
Thanks for Reading
See you in the fields 2023?
Hope. Peace. Love
Arcadia Metamorphosis – Glastonbury 2015 – Mini Documentary – Bing video