Glastonbury: A Virgin’s Tale

I have finally popped my Glastonbury cherry. The days of anticipation prior to the event; the hours of preparation, filled with excitement, nerves and just a little sexual frision whenever my eyes spied those wellies stood erect and waiting in the corner of my room; the occasional bout of trepidation as to whether my tent could tear and leak; all usual feelings before one’s first time and completely normal for every Glastonbury virgin.  

Getting tickets on a – very expensive – whim on resale, it was only a group of four of us that were headed of to the wilds of Pilton. Luckily, our motley crew was headed by a very keen Geography student, who sent us packing lists similar to those handed out on school trips, including necessities such as suncream, first aid kit, and waterproofs which slightly modified my glitter- and garland-filled rucksack. Due to numerous expeditions to the Arctic, the swathes of the Saharan deserts and the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, she was made self-proclaimed ‘team-leader for the week’ which essentially consisted by actually pitching our tents. 

Having arrived very early on Wednesday, we had two days of sun and actual grass to enjoy before it turned into the mud-pit it would later become. Full of families, old couples and hippies, this was possibly my favourite part about the entire trip. It was also entirely responsible for my transition into hareem-wearing, pink-haired, free-love hippy that in turn enabled my acceptance of not washing for six days – which, it turns out, really isn’t that bad as long as you have two bottles of dry shampoo and four packs of baby wipes. Heading along to the Healing Fields (a haven for those who have a dislike of shoes) we stumbled upon their opening ceremony, although it would have been hard to miss considering the huge bonfire and loud chanting that accompanied it. So, obviously, we joined in. Slightly apprehensively standing at the back of the circle we were content to watch as an assortment of people in tutus, fairy costumes and sporting enviable dreadlocks, intoned to the earth. When, however, they began the procession around the field singing ‘Always look on the bright side’ at the top of their voices, I couldn’t resist. My inner hippy let free, I threw my shoes onto the nearby pile, grabbed the hand of the innocent bystander next to me, and skipped around the circle calling to mother ocean to bless me with her wisdom. What can I say, it was a catchy tune. This initial revelation was followed by an even bigger one in the form of hula-hooping which had always filled me with horror and dread. During my afternoon of Glastonbury enlightenment, however, I thought I’d give it another whirl (excuse the pun) when an angel in the form of a five year old girl with extraordinary hula-ing abilities showed me the way, the truth and the light. Finally, after eighteen years of the shame and embarrassment of looking like a drunken dad dancing at a birthday party, I could do it. Glastonbury really is the land where dreams are realised.

After two days of fun in the sun, involving salsa-dancing, much hula-hooping (to cherish my new found skill), and some loud singing and tambourine-playing in the free-for-all ‘jam tent’, the so-called ‘main part’ of the festival finally started. Starting up the show on main stage was Blondie, the renowned Debbie Harry, who sadly experienced the first drizzle of the equally-renowned Glasto rain. Getting there late and having to hover at the back amongst the people who had just turned up because they might potentially have heard of one of her songs before and felt like they needed to go meant that atmosphere was thin on the ground. In fact, more excitement was caused by a beer can and a fiver hanging on the end of a flag than by Blondie herself. However, happily, this slightly lacklustre start was not a hint of what was to come. Since I don’t want to give you a long and yawn-inducing account of what we went to see, their positive and negative points listed in chronological order, and a balanced judgement of their relative advantages at the end, all I will say is: I fell asleep in Lana Del Ray and I have a new-found love for Dolly Parton who is an utter goddess – and no, she wasn’t miming contrary to rumours. Never doubt Dolly. 

Coming back muddier and with a lot more pink hair than I set off with (cliched I know, but it’s the only time you can go for the spray and not feel like a twelve year old all over again), as well as a new-found love of intoning and hula-hooping, the overall consensus was that, for once, my first time was not a painful anti-climax. I also learnt that, firstly, if you are low on money, head over to the Hare Krishna tent and chant a bit to get some free food, and secondly, the try not to overdose on caffeine or, like my friend, you might end up in the medical tent, having a panic attack, and leaving a note saying ‘if I die, tell my mum I was abducted’.