Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Arrive in black, leave in rainbows: Glastonbury tales 2013

Snapshots and memories and life changing challenges. 200,000 insane party people of all ages. 5 days in fields getting grubbier inverse to happiness increasing.

As you can see from the picture above, don't trust your GPS when it calculates the green route. I grew up in Somerset so I know how this was likely to end. My Northern boyfriend may have readjusted his assessment of South Western lanes. It got worse, it got better, we fell out onto an empty A303. Hurray for waiting for the rush to be over and getting straight to the site with no queues for midday.

Home for 5 days. Grateful, so utterly pathetically grateful for the kindness of someone who decided they could help me out. I hope to never need it again but I'd never have been there had it not been for the help this place gave me. Some of the nicest kindest people we met on site were here. This is not the place to get into disabled politics, but suffice to say, I wish someone had issued us with a viewing platform primer because I think we screwed up a view times completely unintentionally. I also wish I could go back to the fire steward at Acoustic who intimated I didn't need to be on the viewing platform because I wasn't in a chair or scooter and explain to him exactly what pace our festival was going at and why. We spent a lot of time sitting down and not always in front of stages - often it was more of a case of finding anywhere to sit. As the week progressed, the lack of packed painkillers became a massive issue and also led to a silly decision on Saturday. Lesson learned.

As an aside, if you're disabled, how should I try and approach you or 'make friends'? Smiling didn't seem to work very well, it'd be helpful to know why not and what we could have done better.

Top of the site, Flagtopia, 4pm Wednesday. A mostly full site. Random cheers echoing around the site. Peaceful, above the madness. Overwhelming for us, we've never been before. Vague feeling of impending insanity, mixed with a lovely feeling of the real world being very far away and ceasing to matter at all. Excitement got the better of us and off we bimbled into the madness.

It didn't take long for the first 'only at Glastonbury' moment to happen. Walked into 'Earth' in the Healing Fields to find a circle in mid flow. A chant began of Row, Row, Row your boat and off the circle walked, singing along, into the 'Water' field leaving behind a very confused and slightly amused group of people boggling quietly to themselves.

Into Craft. I think. Or possibly Sustainability. Or...not sure.

So much pretty. So many random touches. So much creativity - like all the imagination in the world had landed in one place at one time.

An obligatory unicorn. It looked like Valhalla should have been atop its back. 

Even the benches are beautiful. This was by no means an isolated incident of attention to detail - every single bench on the site is carved or painted. But this was the most beautiful I saw all weekend. Almost too beautiful to sit on. But not quite.

This was in the Crafts field. We stopped. And stopped. And stopped some more as the lulling effects of something as simple as a spindle being carved enveloped us in a reminder of a life where things are not stressful or hectic, but where productivity is measured in output and the means by which it is achieved. 

On we bimbled, by this point incredibly tired and with the light slowly turning to dusk. Through Cabaret we found the miniature world of Glastonbury recreated, replete with it's own Pyramid stage. The models are made by festival goers each year in their own images, though I don't know what they're going to do when they hit 177,000.

Also in the Cabaret field was the Sonic Forest. A number of poles, arranged in a grid, they emitted various beats and squeaks and squawks, depending on where you put your hands on 4 separate points around the lower ends of each of the poles. 

I sat watching while my other half disappeared to the Avalon Inn (a two floor wooden pub built in a field, why not?) and discovered a few things. 1. Adults, given half a chance, love to play as much as kids do. When did we lose our ability or cognisance of this fact? When did we end up in a world where the only opportunity for adults to play with sound and shapes is in a field in Somerset? Why is it we constrict the joy this play evokes, feel almost embarrassed by it, check if no one is watching? 2. People come in waves, even to these small things. In 20 minutes of watching, the space went from rammed to empty, rammed to empty, and with no discernible cause at all.

That I was thinking like this at all speaks volumes of my own state of mind at this point. Exhausted, but very very happy.

The sun set. Respite. Flags fluttered as the wind got up and temperature inversion inevitably happened as cold air hit warm valley earth. Mists rose. More people appeared. Stillness settled. And food was bought. Glastonbury food probably deserves its own entire blog post but I found myself eating less than I normally do, simply because I couldn't ever decide exactly what I wanted to eat. I think I ate a burger, and I think it was vegetarian but I'm not entirely sure.

We got back to the tent, tired and drifting and happy at 11pm. And do you know what? We went to bed. And that was possibly our first mistake, as a family of eight arrived and pitched practically right on top of us 30 minutes later, proceeded to get riotously pissed, and fall repeatedly over our tent guy ropes. Earplugs in, every time it happened I thought someone was going to fall on me and would sit bolt upright panicking. I was sober. Second mistake. I finally slept at 5am. And promptly woke up at 8am. And so the trend for the festival was set.

You can read about Thursday here.

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