Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Mud. Mud. Glorious Mud
OK. So it's been a little while since the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts took place. However, at £150 a ticket, I think the least I can do is extract a blog post from my five days away from civilization and sanitation.
So lets get one thing straight. Yes, the mud is quite bad. Actually it's terrible. What the pictures you see in the Sunday newspapers as you chew on your toast don't show is just how extensive, deep and varied the mud is. It doesn't take an awful lot of rain to turn Worthy Farm into one enormous puddle with a few ice cream vans gently bobbing up an down in it either, not once 175,000 people have been tramping round it for 12 hours. We had heavy rain every night.
The ground was a little soft on Thursday evening, distinctly mushy Friday morning, and impassable without the use of a pair of Dunlops by about 3pm Friday.
The mud gets everywhere - inside tents, on your clothes, in your sleeping bag, on cameras, bags. It splatters onto everything. You can be as careful as you like to avoid falling over and rising disguised as the creature of the Black Lagoon, but you will still get covered in mud to a height of five feet, due to inconsiderate bastards joyfully splish-splashing their way to the Other Stage.
I spent several hours when I got home removing mud from firstly myself and then my possessions - everything went through the washing machine, turning the water an interesting shade of beige.
The mud was actually a bit of a downer for me at first, but after the first 24 hours, it became second nature to adopt this odd walk on my toes which meant my wellies stayed on my feet and not in the mud. With a bit of effort you can almost forget what the mud is made up of. Almost.
One of the things they don't mention when reporting how many inches of rain have fallen in Pilton, how many people have been taken to hospital with mud-related injuries, and how many millions of gallons of sewage are produced by the revellers, is the sheer variety of mud on offer at Glastonbury. You can actually pinpoint your location when you've lost your map and/or your ability to read it by the colour and consistency of the ground beneath your feet.
Thus I present David's Glastonbury Mud Guide:
- Light brown, creamy consistency, approx 1" deep - Other Stage
- Dark brown, almost black, sinking to a depth of 6-7" and deeply rutted - Pyramid Stage
- Wet and splashy, unable to hold a footprint, 2-3" deep - Dance Village
- Vast light brown puddle mostly 8" deep with surprise hidden depths up to 10" deep, extremely slippery underfoot - John Peel Tent
- Cadbury's Bournville brown, and making a concerted effort to suck your boots off - Lost Vagueness
- Localised puddle 5-8" deep, extremely fluid with hidden submerged objects - Most likely in the vicinity of the urinals.
- Klaxons (In the Dance Village) - Distinctly OK, and performing in a tent full of drug dealers
- CSS - foul-mouthed Brazilian electro-rock fronted by a pocket rocket in spandex
- Shirley Bassey - an absolute trooper who's definitely still got it
- Chemical Brothers - amazing visuals to distract us from the two boring blokes on stage and some stunning new material
- El Presidente - sadly underrated singalong stuff being enjoyed by Keira Knightley
- Mark Ronson (DJ set) - Party music
- Ralph Myerz & the Jack Herren Band - Norwegian electronica dance-rock comin' atcha
- Mark Ronson (Live) - Proper live band stuff with loads of horns
- Mr Scruff (DJ set) - maybe a little too much bass and not enough whales...
- Kenji Williams - weird taiko drumming electronica with a beautiful dancer, had me transfixed.
- Kava Kava - Better live than they sound online
- Subgiant - Bassy dub
- Pendulum (Live) Utterly insane, the whole tent was jumping for the whole set.
- Seasick Steve - Blues to start the day on the Pyramid stage
- Hot Chip - At the end of the day, some guys behind Casio keyboards, tuneful but a little bit uninspiring visually
- Mahala Rai Banda - Electric Gypsyland - Toe-tapping balkan stuff that I woud have danced to had it not been peeing it down at the time.
- Ben Westbeech - great vocals over drum n bass with a live band, love it
- Bill Bailey - Long-haired comedy freak lacking in amplification
Of course it's not all mud. Glastonbury is infamous for its mud, music, mellow hippies and mind-altering substances. Whilst I didn't partake in any of said substances, as I suspect they were even more expensive than the beer, I have never seen or been offered so many drugs in my entire life to date.
But it quickly gets quite boring to have two guys skinning up in industrial quantities whilst you're watching cabaret, or have topless men with saucer-eyes tripping over their own feet and careering through the crowds whilst gibbering, or be asked anxiously if you can supply 'pills' or know where to get some. Drug dealing and taking is rife at Glastonbury, and don't let anyone tell you different. The Dance East tent performances were blighted by men squeezing through the crowd calling out "Pills! Pills! Pills!" or "Pills, Acid, Charlie!"
Between us we decided that bearing in mind how slack security searches are (we didn't have our bags searched at all), for next year we'll be buying up several hundred little resealable bags
and a wholesale box of Tic Tacs. We reckon we could cover the cost of our festival tickets and have a sizable amount of spending money after just over an hour's 'work' on the Friday night...
Getting home was no fun at all. Over 2 hours standing in the rain, unable to put bags down in the mud, just queuing to get to a bus to take us to a queue for the train [see pic above]. The train looked like a refugee evacuation, full of dirty tired people in tattered clothing carrying all the possessions to maintain something resembling normal day-to-day living that they could carry.
When we got to Paddington, I spotted two members of the BTP's dog unit and their handlers. I'm guessing they must have been explosives dogs rather than drug detectors, as everyone on the train had at some point during the weekend either used cannabis or walked through a cloud of it, not to mention those who'd been using slightly stronger brain chemicals. If they'd sent drug sniffer dogs, the poor things would probably have gone insane at the range of substances floating up their nostrils. Happy days.
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