Thursday, June 21, 2007

Glastonbury memories

It’s 15 years since I went to the Glastonbury Festival. Typing that sentence makes me feel rather old. The sands of time may be running out on my 30s, but give me a ticket, and I’d be there again like a shot.

Going to Glastonbury these days involves jumping through lots of hoops and a certain amount of luck. When I went with three friends from the radio station where I worked, Operation Get Glastonbury Tickets was planned with similar military precision. The presenter targeted the record companies, and I, as the journalist, was set upon Greenpeace, which was that year’s Glastonbury chosen charity. Blagging is not my strong suit; I am not very good at asking people to give me valuable things for nothing. Luckily, I was able to do my blag via letter (I am much more persuasive in writing) and eventually four wristbands arrived in the post. But they weren’t just any wristbands: they were blue backstage wristbands.

My Glastonbury is a kaleidoscope of memories. Poppies in County Durham cornfields as we headed south to London; the coach from the capital with cockney lads in the back seat smoking strong spliffs (nowadays they wouldn’t even get away with a cigarette); dragging bags; pitching tents; the beautiful longhaired man with a faraway look in his eye that I bought love beads from; people with no tickets being cheered as they scaled the wire fence and melted into the crowds; eating tempura and drinking warm mulled wine as the long hot, hot, hot June days drifted into the cool of evening. In those pre-mobile phone days, we were inhabitants of another, bedazzling country that was cut off from the rest of the world. After dark, campfires glowed around the tented city and the beat of drums was an unconscious backdrop; Henry V’s troops encamped on a hill on the eve of Agincourt.

Backstage, too, was another world. There were showers, proper loos – not stinking pits dug in the ground – and there were rock stars. In a Glastonbury that was still more crusty than corporate, we repeatedly bumped into The Levellers, their partners and their dreadlocked children. Rather than the flashy tour buses parked around them, they inhabited a beaten up old van. They sat on the roof and banged their army-booted feet in time with the music.

It was the year of Shakespears Sister's massive hit with Stay. Marcella Detroit had the voice of an angel, while the former Bananarama babe Siobhan Fahey looked brittle, demanded champagne and hid in the corner of the field with a friend because she didn’t want her stage make-up done. Boys threw boxer shorts at Tom Jones. Peter Gabriel wore shorts and disappointed my friend who had a long-running crush on him. “Oh,” she said sadly, “he’s got old man’s knees.” Van Morrison looked sour and refused to let anyone take his photograph.

My moment of awe came when I spotted Lou Reed. I knew if I didn’t speak to him, I would regret it for the rest of my life. Dressed in a khaki jacket, jeans and carrying a bottle of water under his arm, he didn’t look particularly dangerous. But his drawl was just how I imagined. He fleetingly touched my arm when he took the pen to sign his autograph. I didn’t wash it for the rest of the weekend. “Can I have an autograph for my boyfriend, too?” I asked, “Then he’ll love me for ever.” Lou obliged; my boyfriend, alas, did not.


22 comments:

Drunk Mummy said...

I heard on the radio today that Shirley Bassey is going to be at Glastonbury this year. I can just imagine her in her sparkly sequinned dress and wellies.

Brom said...

That's cool. I have managed a couple of backstage forays in the past. I'll save them for another bloggy rainy day. It's great when you meet people you admire, especially when they are even cooler than you imagine they would be, yes, and also a big let down if the are not.

I really should do a festival sometime.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Well that was a very stupid boyfriend to let a fish like you slip through his fingers... You remember Glastonbury while I remember The Isle of Wight 1970, fixed in my memory like the day I left school... so good to be alive.
P.s. My son told the Arctic Monkeys what to do for an encore at Glastonbury this year - cover of a Shirley Bassey number but I can't tell you which. Shhhhh! Top secret!

Omega Mum said...

Backstage passes!!!! What with this and Lady Macleod's swooningly gorgeous account of her childhood, I am beginning to feel a tiny bit whiney and ungrateful for my life.....I am sure it will pass soon.

Big Chip Dale said...

I've now posted a comment on the blog of somebody who touched Lou Reed.

I won't wash these fingers for a week!

Gill said...

I still have my wristband from when I performed there(how sad is that!)The Poetry and words area wasn't very posh backstage though, or thronged with Rock gods but I did make coffee for Carol-Anne Duffy.

Stay at home dad said...

Wow, I'm impressed Gill. I still have my wristband from when I went which is much sadder.

I thought you had written you weren't good at blogging for a moment there, M&M. Very good post, brings everything back, a long way, too.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

oh that was lovely! I am going to force my children to grow dreadlocks, then i can be cool like the levellers. And i'm going to find some cockney boys to give me one of those huge spliffs. i could crumble it into a gluten-free chocolate cake, then everyone would love me!

drunkmummy, I will not hear a word against Shirley Bassey, she is fabulous!

Pigx

Mopsa said...

Nothing like a good bit of nostalgic reminiscence. Mr Perfect Day himself. Swoon.

Anonymous said...

Hmm..you could at least go and see Lou Reed who is still touring and getting rave reviews [see today's Guardian]

Drunk Mummy said...

Absolutely Pig - I am a huge fan myself. My own Bassey repertoire (with empty wine bottle for a microphone) runs from Big Spender, through to Diamonds are Forever. Grown men have been known to weep at the prospect of my Goldfinger.

lady macleod said...

wonderful poignant descriptions. i love the Lou Reed story! that's brilliant! stupid boyfriend.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

drunkmummy, could you post that rendition on YouTube? I feel that would make this a memorable weekend. Nice close up on the goldfinger please.
Pigx

mutterings and meanderings said...

DM, I heard her on the radio earlier in the week - she's getting a helicopter in as she detests the mud!

Brom, I love going to festivals ... espcially when they're free...

YP, your son knows the Arctic Monkeys? Wow...

OM, it was the best fun...

Chippy, as a stripper, is that a wise promise to make?

Gill, that is amazingly impressive!

SAHD, thank you ..

Pig, I'm sure the piglets would look fab with dreads... everyone loves you anyway!

Mopsa, we was pretty fab ..

Anon, he's not in my neck of the woods I don't think...

Thankyou Lady M..

Victoria Bennett said...

I think I still have my wristband too from when Gill (Dark Blonde) and I performed in 2005 (and the debt for the drowned hire car) - it was cool, though the 10 am slot at Glasto is a hard one to pull off, especially with poetry! We also did a Love Poem to the Earth - which involved getting lines of poetry from people from across the globe and catching punters as they struggled through the mud (we were dressed as Fairies!) - we discovered people are not that into loving the earth when their tent has washed away! But we did end up with a 500 line poem to read!

Gill said...

I remember playing djembe with a load of North Africans; and when that boy fell out of an oak tree into my lap! Such things can only happen at Glastonbury.

Lizzie said...

Omygod, ain't it just so ... festival-light?

I loved the bit about 'but my boyfriend didn't,' etc.

Thanks, m&m.x

debio said...

Oh m&m, we were only talking about Glastonbury at dinner this evening and my daughter decided she would go when she's older if she could arrive by heli and be airlifted out each evening to stay in a hotel! AND, were there any decent hotels in Glastonbury?
Jeez, where did I go wrong?

Anonymous said...

eminem - sorry about the column - but Jon Ronson seems installed there at the moment. However he seems to be moving [hence today's article about Foxton's estate agent].

So there may be a vacancy there in the not too distant future.

Anonymous said...

A possible opening for you, eminem, Julie Burchill is putting down her pen..

"At any rate, Burchill will not leave journalism poor. Writing for The Times, she commented: "I was paid £7.50 a word. Therefore "fuck off" was £15. Bit more with the VAT."

Well, I guess it beats working for a living..

Anonymous said...

Shakespeare's Sister - Wowarooney..

I don't care, I juust don't care...

Ace, amazing, awesome...

Shame they ain't ever going to tour again - they would be fantastic live.

DeeDubya said...

Lovely memories. I remember those long hot sunny Glastonburys. I was even backstage one year too and spotting the liggers, prima donnas and bands that were happy to get down and dirty was almost as good as the short cuts between stages.
You should try it again, its a different event but still the best.