Some things are just meant to go together; albeit some are more readily appealing than others. Peaches and cream. Lemon drizzle cake with, uh, taramasalata icing. Glastonbury and trench foot is the classic formula, of course; as well known an equation as E=mc2:
[ Or … Rain + Mud + Music = Glastonbury ]
I honestly couldn’t believe it, though, when the inevitable Glastonbury torrential thunderstorms duly arrived after an entire month of unbroken sunshine and lightly baked earth.
I’ve never been quite unhinged enough to actually attend the legendary Glastonbury Festival, even though I’m only a relative stone’s throw down the road, but its appeal is very close to my heart. So… why aren’t I standing in the proverbial field? Well, I went camping. Once. “Never again”, I told my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder therapist while crying in her lap. Scarred me for life. But that’s another story, for another storm and tempest of an English summer’s day.
However, thanks to the BBC and my newly acquired flat screen television and sound plinth, Glastonbury 2014 still comes flooding into my living room… without the raw sewage. But it just didn’t feel quite right. So, determined to experience it fully, in the relative comfort of my home… I pitched a tent in the corner of the room and began peeing behind the couch.
As Friday evening drew in… I pulled on my wellies, filled up two big buckets with 1 part water, 1 part mud, 1 part bodily fluids, stood in the middle of my room, one foot planted in each, and gazed at the televisual marvels of the digital age. Well, I say gazed at it… To fully realise the authentic atmosphere I planted a few meaningless flags, hoisted an inflatable alien on a stick and erected some cardboard cut-outs of people’s heads who are just a bit taller than me and plonked them right in my eye line… So, in reality, I can only just see the top right hand corner of the screen. Perfect.
Later, after watching Friday night’s main headliners, Arcade Fire [and their one known song about Waking Up or something] – on my smartphone propped against the kitchen window while I stood squinting at it from the bottom of the garden – I grew increasingly hungry. Ideally I would’ve loved something hot, but couldn’t be bothered with imaginary queuing for some cow’s spinal cord in a baguette and still hadn’t quite worked out how to light the camping stove, so plumped for opening a tin of tuna with the rough edge of a stone and eating it with muddy fingers. Mmmm…
I wake up Saturday morning, cold and damp, to find some bastard has stolen my wellie boots from outside the tent! It’s a few minutes later when I realise that my wife has actually put them outside the back door and is wearing a disapproving expression. I thought she was staying at her bother’s for the weekend. She completely misinterprets the presence of the girls in wet T-shirts… It’s been raining! But the fact that I also persuaded them to wrestle in the mud is harder to explain away.
I finally cajole her into getting with the spirit of the weekend over a shared cup of cold tea and some damp bread, and we busily set about building a Solar Powered Wishing Tree in the garden. I hang up a cardboard sign that reads Healing Field and persuade her to give me a massage after spending a bit too much time aimlessly wandering around the house with a ridiculously heavy backpack all Thursday afternoon. Finally, I dig a rudimentary chemical toilet in the greenhouse and fill it with a dozen eggs that have been fermenting in its low heat for the preceding balmy month: the pure odour of authenticity.
And now, as the sun threatens to break through the clouds, and I sit here in my pants having neither shaved nor washed for three days while flicking bits of peanut shell out of my navel with a toothpick, I can only imagine how amazing Metallica will be tonight… singing along to all their classic songs. You know, the one about Nothing Mattering and, uh,… the other one.
I can think of no other place I’d rather be.