Glastonbury 2020 has been cancelled

Glastonbury 2010

To nobody’s surprise this year’s Glastonbury Festival has been canceled thanks to the Coronavirus with deposits for this year carrying onto next year though for those wanting tickets for next year, I’d expect a lot of cancellations as this year is going to fucking hurt badly.

I’d been given the heads-up a while ago that the festival was likely not happening, which is a shame not just because this is the 50th, but because a lot of good people are going to be screwed for money over the summer. See, like myself in regards comic conventions in April, Glastonbury gave traders, and those working there a base to build their year with some working every week of the summer to make enough money so they either don’t need to worry about work for the winter, or are on minimal hours. All that lies in ruins as Glastonbury will be the first UK festival to cancel. Expect others to follow so June and July will be barren months.

If we’re lucky the tail end of the season in August might still happen. Realistically you can forget the 2020 summer festival season and wish good luck to those traders and staff who’ll be working out how to make a living in an industry also completely left to ruin by the UK government.

So to sort of help, I’m going to not so much update my Glastonbury blogs but threw some stuff out in parallel to them because there’s so, so much stuff I could write about. Stay tuned!

End of the decade

We’re nearly at the end of a decade many of us are glad to see the end of. It’s often said the second decade of a century marks how the rest of that century more or less goes, and if the last one is anything to go by then we won’t hit the end of this century, but after the relatively quiet 90’s and troubled 00’s we hit the decade where things start to solidify which means we’re in the middle of a dystopia what with Brexit, Trump, climate change, the destruction of modern culture, the death of facts and critical thinking and many, many more.

Take my pet topic, comics. A decade ago the comics industry in the UK was suffering thanks to the recession. The annual big convention in Bristol, London or anywhere had died and things looked bleak. The Marvel films kicked it all into overdrive though so that now a decade later the UK can’t move for ‘comic conventions’, which sadly most have nothing to do with comics.

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Yet comics are in a position of cultural dominance like never before as the culture of 2019 shows compared to 2009 where frankly, most of us were thinking mainly of keeping our jobs. Today we’re entering something new for a generation who’ve spent the last decade knowing things were the norm, but having lived through many a recession what comes next endangers every industry.

What I’m talking about is Brexit. We’re about to face what it’s like to be a small country outwith of all the planet’s huge trading blocs and hey, 99% of the world think we’re utterly fucking insane. We live in the era of the liar, the cheat,the strongman who never backs down even though they are horrifyingly wrong because they don’t want to look weak. Propelled by the internet which a decade ago was still mainly a curated space but is now open war encouraged by a handful of massive corporations who have turned our lives into tradeable commodities to sell to other massive corporations. Assuming the planet doesn’t fry or freeze we have no idea where the next decade ends but for many of us it’ll end badly.

Of course things might improve but not before something awful happens on a massive scale until then let’s raise a glass to the decade which set up the horrors of the forthcoming one and hope there’s something good coming at us…

Boris Johnson goes to Glastonbury

Yesterday and today Jeremy Corbyn has been making an arse of himself here in Scotland. Today though Boris Johnson stepped up to the plate to show himself incapable of normal human interaction, plus he managed to be kept out of a staged visit to a bakers in Glastonbury.

However this wasn’t his first time at Glastonbury. Back in 2000, the BBC invited Johnson down to the festival to be escorted around by Billy Bragg on the Friday of the festival. At that time Johnson was editor of The Spectator, plus he was gathering a strong media profile as an ‘affable Tory’ so here is paraded on the Leftfield stage on the Friday.

Now I missed Johnson’s slot having ingested some quantity of alcohol and mushrooms, but here it is clear how Johnson is shaping his image, and how easily it was for it to be formed by people playing along with the gag.

Here we are 19 years on and the act seems to be wearing thin but the question is to those of us in our nice, leftish wee bubble is it really wearing thin with the people who’ll vote for him, or place him as a better option as PM than Corbyn? Stick our heads into the real world and Johnson has supporters across the UK, well, England who will put their vote to his party in less than six weeks.

Johnson is dangerous. He’s a shapeshifter who lies continuously and cannot be trusted. As a Unionist he’ll strip back devolution, leaving us with no way to insulate ourselves which means we have a situation where someone who wants power so much and to wield it without opposition will do anything to win.

No Glastonbury 2020 for me

Next year is the 50th anniversary and it’d have been my 19th festival. So first time I went the place looked like this.

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It now looks like this

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We expected it to be tough this year but not one of our group got tickets leaving open limited options. There’s a resale in April, but that’s super-tough to get tickets on an ordinary year, then there’s volunteering which would be an easy way to get in but stroke/cancer recovery rules that out and then there’s winning tickets in a competition…

So yeah, I’m fucked and not going. Some C list celebrities will walk in because they’re on a comp list and wealthy yuppies will also walk in but folk who save all year? Nah, it’ll be a Saga holiday for us.

Fuck it, I’m going to play the new Sturgill Simpson album yet again and read some comics…

 

A small return to Glastonbury 2002

2002 is a weird year. 9/11 had happened but the aftershocks hadn’t fully kicked in, while the idea of a Tory government ever happening again was laughable due to a Labour government which was doing a job (insert how well of a job here as by 2002 I was done with them) than the Tories could though history has now shown they were writing cheques to be cashed in the present of today. The 21st century hadn’t really kicked in yet while UK culture was in a flux with the 90s still casting a shadow as there wasn’t really a developed idea of where things were going.

Which brings me back to the Glastonbury Festival of 2002. This was the first year back after the massive year which was 2000, and the first of the superfence which did its job so well that the festival felt quieter than it’s ever felt to me. Still busy and frantic but there were chunks of open space and room to move. Compared with 2019’s frenetic crowds it felt so bare but this and 2003 are the transition years of the festival as a meeting of the British alternative to something of the establishment because by the time Paul McCartney rocks up to play in 2004 you can’t really hide what you’ve become and where you’re going.

So I feel a massive fondness for 2002. It’s one of the last festivals I did myself over a beautiful weekend where it seemed the sun would always shine and things could only get better.

Imagine my joy then at YouTube’s algorithm spitting the video below at me. It really is a delight to see this raw footage to remind me of how the festival was, and how I forgot writing about previously about seeing Richie Havens being fucking brilliant or just how nice everyone was even though the lineup wasn’t one of the greatest it was one of the best years for the festival. There’s never going to be a year like it ever again so sit, watch and soak up a piece of history.

And the post Glastonbury depression kicks in

I loved this year’s Glastonbury Festival. I wrote a shitload of words saying just that. Today I went back to work properly and hated every second of it but I was just about holding it together til I saw this Tweet.

And then this happened.

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A post Glastonbury depression slapped on top of anxiety and depression (and yes, I’m being clear on this rather than hinting it) is not a good thing. I realise it is only a daft post holiday blip but the reason I’ve barely watched any of the festival on iPlayer is that I don’t want to be reminded I couldn’t see so much, but that I’m no longer there. But reality sucks and as per usual I’ll muddle by which I really shouldn’t be doing.

Anyhow, it’s less than a year til the 50th anniversay.

 

Every Time the Sun Comes Up-The story of Glastonbury 2019

Glastonbury 2019 was one of those years where the line up was actually very good, but as is normally the way I managed to miss half of what I wanted to see and catch loads I never knew I wanted to see. As a festival I loved this year, even though I was melting and had to deal with a grim realisation by the Friday morning. More of this later, but first, the beginning.  S

I’d decided to spend some time in Bristol before the festival to catch up with friends, but before leaving I had a funeral to attend and a speedy rush to the train station to enjoy a pretty painless journey across half the UK with some essential provisions.

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The one thing that’s always clear when travelling the UK is how empty much of it is and how close we all are to water.

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Eventually we crossed the country and sighted balloons which meant Bristol wasn’t far.

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So a few days in Bristol were enjoyed before Wednesday morning came screeching up and my friend Alan picked me up early in the morning to take me through the morning fog to the festival. Weather forecasts had been sketchy in the weeks leading up to the festival with one saying the opening few days would be pestered with thunderstorms, but things changed with the forecast saying long, hot spells. Which we got. A lot.

As we joined the queue for wristbands, etc in the disabled field, our other group turned up and we all managed to get in together.

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Of course we didn’t get a fancy opening ceremony like the guys at Gate A just a few hundred metres away from where we were.

This year I had an enormous tent as I can’t crawl in and out of a two or three man tent anymore. Thankfully I had nothing but the most modern transport for it.

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Eventually we squeezed into the shuttle bus, pitched up in the disabled field, and set up everyone’s tents realising we could have done with another body to help. Next time we’re going to be a tad more organised.

Wednesday at Glastonbury is a bit of a free for all. Not a lot is on, mainly because most people are setting up so it is a perfect time to go wandering round the site when the site isn’t quite ready. I’ve always loved this day since I started going down for the full week in the early 2000’s.

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Wednesday is also the day when a lot of people grab an early night, and with temperatures starting to rise  it seemed smart to duck out and grab an early night.

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Thursday saw a showing of the Jim Jarmusch zombie film, The Dead Don’t Die, but that was in the evening.

Til them myself and Alan decided to wander, which thanks to my glacial walking speed and the by now baking heat, this too ages so we ended up at the Acoustic Stage taking advantage of the bar.

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And of course the cold, cold drink it sold.

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After the film (which is rather good) we all wandered back, with myself staying out later drinking with a mate from Bristol but a mix of exhaustion and fatigue meant I left before things got messy.

Now when the bands start things always become vague in these blogs mainly because by this point things are vague. What was clear is that seeing Stormsy was to be essential as this would either be astonishing or a road accident. Thankfully it was astonishing as he dipped into 60 years of pop history for inspiration, including a backdrop inspired by Elvis and Jailhouse Rock.

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It was a remarkable show that was one of those Glastonbury gigs where an act becomes something else entirely along the lines of Pulp in 1995 or Radiohead in 1997.

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Saturday came and so did the hottest day. As we’re all outdoors shade is a premium so by late morning people were either still lazing round their tents or shade, or risking the blazing sun which by now was melting people around the site. See, there’s a bit of a myth that really hot days are great for festivals and they’re not as every inch of shade was occupied. Luckily most of what I wanted to see on the Saturday was in the John Peel Stage, which meant sitting in the shade on a pretty empty disabled viewing platform near the bar selling cold drinks. It was a pretty good way to spend an afternoon at Glastonbury, plus things became cooler and more akin to a festival rather than the heatwave baking heat.

As for the night I didn’t fancy The Killers as it isn’t 2011, and seeing as people who did see them said they were a bit pish, I made the right choice which was to soak up the night by falling alseep. I struggle with fatigue and this was a time when my body decided to rest itself ahead of what I wanted to do. Ah well.

Sunday came. It was a perfect day, so time for Kylie, who’d supposed to be headliner in 2005 but cancelled due to her fight with cancer. It was a controversy she’d even been booked at the time, but this is 2019 so instead of indie purists sulking, the Pyramid Stage saw tens of thousands of people. I’d put it at around 150k people crammed into a field. It really was extraordinary.

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I mean, there was just a sea of humanity for this tiny Aussie.

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And the crowd barely shrunk for Miley Cyrus who did the Ashley O thing much to the crowds joy or bemusement.

Topping off the festival were The Cure. Now I’m a passing fan but I’d seen them close the festival in 1995 though back then I’d dropped a load of mushrooms which is not something I can do these days. As the crowd on the viewing platform transformed into old Goths, the stage was set for a classic headliner performance if you were a fan. As said, I’m a casual fan and found much of the first half, well, boring. The last half however where they cranked out the singles was great fun and reminded people just how much of a great singles band The Cure were.

As The Cure ended that was it for most people, though many vanished into the South East of the site to not reappear til well into the next day which for us, involved packing up slowly, getting back in our cars and relunctantly going home.

And that was Glastonbury 2019 where I learned the lesson that trying to walk everywhere isn’t going to work anymore. Next year (tickets permitting) I’ll have to get a scooter because there’s no fun in spending hours walking around making myself fatigued ages before I need to be. Next year will be the 50th anniversary and internet rumours range from it being the last year before Michael Eavis retires (I don’t think he will now) to the festival expanding to a full seven days for the one-off anniversary (which I can’t see either) but the lone fact is that demand will be much larger than usual.

2022 will mark my 30th anniversary of attending the festival, but the 50th will be special and I hope to catch you there. I’ve learned my lessons this year so no more trying to do stuff I can’t do and take offers of aid, or use things that’ll help make things more fun!