The Rise and Fall of the Reading Festival part five

Part one. Part two. Part three. Part four. 

After last time at Reading in 2001 I was unsure whether  to go back as I was single, fed up and couldn’t be arsed, however the lineup was a cracking one.

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I was prepared to go by myself but I’d gotten to know a few people from an online forum I was part of at the time, and in particular I’d gotten to know a girl by the name of Nat pretty well so to cut a long story short (and a long story probably for another time) we’d arranged to camp together at the festival as we were getting on well considering there was a largish age difference (she was 19 and I was 35) and she was in Welwyn Garden City and I was in Bristol.

Regardless we’d made a plan to meet at Reading train station on the Thursday afternoon with myself turning up early to grab a good camping spot while she struggled to get through London. This meant I turned up amazingly early but found the site was already heaving, so as I got into the site I headed as quickly as I could to find a good place but the campsites were full from the arena outwards, and I didn’t want to go too far out as Nat wanted to be close to the arena so I found a good place near a corner of one campsite that would fit her tent as well. After pitching up my tent and asking my neighbour to try to keep a space, I headed to the train station to meet Nat in a sate of being still amazingly sober.

At the station I walked back into the crowd of people pouring into Reading for the festival and spent the next half hour waiting for Nat to pop up in the crowd, when I got a text from her saying she was on the next train and would be in. Thankfully there is a bar next to the station, so I slipped a beer down my neck quickly and before I knew it I waited no longer as she finally managed to get to Reading. After we met up we considered nipping into town to stock up on beers but the priority was getting her tent set up in a very, very full festival. We threw her tent up quickly once we got to our campsite and we didn’t fancy going into town, so we went to get her wristband when Nat noticed there was a Carling stall selling cases of Carling, a crap beer but it’d save a walk into the Sainsbury’s in the centre of Reading, so we got a couple of cases, headed back to our tents and proceeded to neck as much as possible while wandering around the site.

Here’s the thing about this year. The site was rammed even though it’d split into two with another leg in Leeds with Guns And Roses playing exclusively in Leeds, so it actually had a stronger lineup than the parent leg of the festival but Reading was utterly rammed with a crowd much, much younger than even the previous year and much rowdier, and even though there’d been a rape in 2001 not far from where I camped, the feeling of insecurity in some parts of the site on that wander in 2002 was scary, especially since I was supposed to be sort of looking after Nat, even though she was perfectly able to look after herself. The festival however was in a state of flux as it was moving from a festival full of kids to adults wanting to indulge in music one last time in that summer, to one where lots and lots of very middle class kids wanted to turn up and make themselves very ill while smashing a load of things up. The atmosphere in parts of the site was dark, and even being a veteran of raves 12 years earlier, or those early Glastonbury’s I did which were still edgy, this was different and somewhat scarier at times. Still, where we’d camped seemed ok and Nat and myself were getting on well, so that first night we got horribly, horribly drunk and talking bollocks before ending up in the same tent together.

Next morning we got up in a very, very hungover state to sort ourselves out and wander off to get some breakfast in Reading, so we ended up getting some food, drinking more and staggering (and I mean staggering) back to the festival and into the arena to plant ourselves by the beer tent to drinking heavily and generally muck around while watching the White Stripes. After this we wandered round the arena for a few hours drinking heavily while waiting for Pulp to come on and seeing as we both adored them, this was our main thing to watch on the first night. Sadly it was also the last gig they played for nearly a decade, but it was a spectacular gig we both loved in our by now amazing pissed states. After Pulp, we legged it across the site to watch the Aphex Twin play a set which to be honest I don’t remember much of apart from the fact by now we were hammered and falling over each other. After that we staggered back to our tents to crash out in a heap.

Saturday came as a shock, and we took it easier on this day mainly because we’d broken ourselves the day previously and we wanted to make it to Ash and Muse.We both loved Ash, but whereas Nat wanted to see Muse, I wasn’t convinced but fuck it, I was having a great time so I went with the flow as we were getting on like the proverbial house on fire and then some, so we had an amazing time watching Ash who played probably the best set I’ve seen them play, and as the rain came down I was more convinced about Muse, but to this day I’m still dubious of them as they still remind me of those prog bands from the 70’s who went on and on and on and on…

The Saturday night was closed by Foo Fighters who played a good show but seemed like they were clocking on for a days graft rather than anything else, so we decided to go back to the tents to drink vodka and fall over, which we did and by now we were sharing the same tent and using Nat’s tent to store beer. As it was we were running low, so we made a good night of it and that Saturday night was one of the best days/night at a festival I’ve ever experienced. Next morning was about getting up early, having a wander into town and getting breakfast before heading back into the arena for a quietish day of music.

There’s not a lot I remember about the Sunday apart from noticing that suddenly we seemed to be the tallest people in the field as kiddie Slipknot fans poured into the arena to see them play. Later on we decided to leave after watching the Prodigy try to capture old glories but fail horribly, so we wandered by to our tents to finish off our beer and discuss what we were going to do next in our lives. Monday morning came, we woke up, packed up our tents after a cracking weekend, walked to the train station where she stood on the London-bound platform and I was on the westbound platform looking at each other being quite miserable we were splitting up. A few weeks later Nat moved to Bristol and this started an odd few years.

In 2003 Reading rolled round, and Nat had moved back home, but we were going to go to Reading together as again, it was a good line-up.

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We were both by this time utterly obsessed with Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and if you squint we’re in this video somewhere, but again this year was a blur, though I did watch a great set from the Polyphonic Spree, Scissor Sisters and FC Kahuna. We both watched the Libertines collapse and Blur go through the motions, but we did join in with building a mountain of rubbish on one of the many casualties Reading throws up each year.

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That sadly, is the only picture I can find that we took from that year and we took loads, but all seem to be lost, though I do have a load of floppy discs with pictures on them but sadly no way of reading the discs!

Oh progress…

Anyhow, 2003 ended with me being very, very, very drunk on the Monday morning fighting my way back to Bristol smelling like a tramp, before staggering into my bed for 12 hours sleep and a vow never to go back to Reading. The reason being things had changed. It was no longer a music festival per say, but rather another box for teenagers to tick before starting university, which festivals kind of had been but with working class kids mainly priced out the festival was pitched towards the sort of person the festival previously wouldn’t have allowed near the site.

2004 though saw myself buy a ticket more out of habit than anything, so did Nat, but I wasn’t working full time at this point as I’d decided to make my money from low-level dealing of comics and mushrooms, which was actually more profitable than it sounds. We’d done Glastonbury together that year, but Reading was something we really wanted to do out of habit as this year the line up was iffy to say the least.

Reading_2004

 

It was an ok lineup, with Friday standing out, but Sunday was awful, but hey! It was Reading!

August came that year and for those who can’t remember it started raining at the start of August and didn’t finish til September, which seeing as the Reading site is right next to a river then this means that you should expect serious flooding and we got serious flooding. In fact up til the Thursday morning when the gates opened they were still pumping water out of the campsites around the arena, so when I arrived on site I struggled to find a dryish bit to camp our tents on. Eventually I found a reasonably dry bit though it was not too far from what was a swamp. I just had to wait for Nat to show up and she  was stuck trying to get through the swamps which were now the carparks. Eventually she turned up and we struggled to be cheery in a what were conditions which were dry, but were threatening rain and next morning on our way into the centre to get stocked up it rained, and rained, and rained.

We stopped at a pub to get a breakfast, not to mention tidy up a bit before heading back into the swamp. The barmaid took sympathy at us as we must have made a pitiful pair sitting there dripping wet covered in mud. She kept bringing us tea and tried to cheer us up but that couldn’t last all day so once the rain died down a bit we headed back to the festival site hoping it’d not been washed away.

We tried to have fun. Really we did. We found the mushroom stall that had served us so well a few months earlier at Glastonbury to supplement my mushroom supply. Once ingested, we proceeded to enjoy another cracking performance from Ash, letch over The Distillers before Nat went off to see Graham Coxon and I laughed at The Darkness who were, briefly, the biggest band in the world for around a fortnight.

Saturday was dry, but we were knackered from being soaked the day before, plus the comedown from the shrooms hit us hard, so we tucked into more shrooms to try to make the day better. It was all good fun, but Nat went back to the tent to have a kip as I stayed to watch a Morrissey set vastly better than the one he’d played a few months earlier at Glastonbury. I couldn’t help feel that Reading had changed for me and that all these people burning plastic, or talking over songs they didn’t know weren’t people I wanted to be at a festival with. Maybe it was the comedown mixed with the rubbish weather but I wanted to go home so when I got back to the tents after The White Stripes, I mentioned to Nat that I might go home on the Sunday afternoon to which she said she was thinking the same so we decided to leave it til the morning to decide.

Sunday morning saw Nat decide to go home early afternoon, while I fancied stayed a bit longer after waking up a bit cheerier, so I helped her pack up and walked the long walk to the train station to see her home. After we said our farewells I popped into the pub next to the station to have a couple of beers and watch the Olympics which were on at the time. At this point I really just fancied going back to Bristol to sit down the legendary Cat & Wheel watching the Olympics and drinking from a glass while sitting in a comfy seat.

I headed back, watched the Loose Cannons, wandered round the arena for a bit, before going to my tent, packing up and fucking off before 50 Cent came on. In fact as my train was passing the site on the way home I could see the hail of bottles aimed at him as he was on stage and I partly wished I’d stayed to see it, but that would mean staying to see Green Day who are pish, and staying another night in a swamp. The prospect of a nice pint in a pub after a shower was too attractive.

That was the last Reading I really did for a full weekend.  I’ve been back to do the odd day to see Rage Against the Machine, but there’s nothing to attract me. The crowds are full of joyless, empty kids burning tents and acting like thugs and I can’t be dealing with that acrid smell of burning plastic and faeces as another portaloo goes up in flames.

So here we are and as I write this coverage of Reading 2013 is on BBC Three with a faceless pair of middle class presenters who look like they’ve been genetically bred to be as bland and empty as possible. Bands like The Blackout wander round the main stage throwing empty poses while saying nothing to an audience lapping up the empty words because they fit the current style of the day. Having an opinion or actually saying something is frowned upon now as it’s all about empty statements from empty vessels. A$AP Rocky prances around singing about ‘niggers’ and ‘bitches’ without being pelted off stage for being the prick that he clearly is.

Reading still has the odd shining diamond, but the Indiefication of the festival to become the festival current NME readers deserve is sad to see. I may well return should the right band turn up and of course, should the inclination and finances be there, but the festival is no longer for me, although I do appreciate people and festivals change, seeing Reading become what it has and the carnage left by those attending it is a pity. It deserves better.

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The first cut won’t hurt at all….The Rise and Fall of Festival Culture in the UK-part two

Last time I outlined a brief history of the rise of festival in the UK in the 90’s which drew a very wide bow but with good reason as all my experiences in the 90’s needed to be put into context as I discuss the fun and games at the other festivals I went to outside of Glastonbury (which I’m still outlining in a series of separate blogs) and Reading (which will be done in separate blogs) so let’s get stuck in.

I’ve outlined how I used to attend free festivals & raves in the late 80’s and early 90’s but memories of them are vague, plus I’m keeping some of those reminiscences back as I really want to focus on the corporatisation of  festivals in the UK. One of the first to highlight this was T in the Park held in Scotland since 1994. Sponsored and run by Tennants brewery it’s original idea was to give Scotland it’s own festival on the size and scale of Glastonbury or Reading. This was (and is) a bloody good idea as Scotland has always supported live music in all shapes and forms, plus getting to the likes of Glastonbury was expensive and impractical for most people at the time.

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So in 1994 and buoyed by the relative success of the first Phoenix Festival in 1993 which showed a larger market for festival than most people thought, T in the Park was born on a July weekend at Strathclyde Park in Hamilton, a smallish town just outside Glasgow. The fact it was held here meant easy commuting from Glasgow, which meant no camping so crashing at Gary Erskine’s flat was the option rather than camping at the festival campsite which was the other side of the M8 from the site. Not a good idea.

That first year was fun and the idea of a festival in the West of Scotland where summer weather was at best erratic was a risky business, but it was hardly beating away people at the door as one of my big memories of the festival is lots and lots of wide open spaces, oh, and lots and lots of branding for Tennants everywhere. Being used to the free festival/rave culture, not to mention having now a couple of Glastonbury’s and a few Reading’s  under my belt meant that it didn’t really feel like a festival to me as opposed to a big series of gigs in a field. Which is fine, but pitching this as a ‘Scottish Glastonbury’ as some have over the years misses the fact it owes more to Reading than the Glastonbury type of festival.  It didn’t even feel like the Heineken Free Festivals which I’d attended in Nottingham in London in previous years (it was at one of these in Nottingham that I saw two girls hold a third girl as she squatted into a men’s urinal to have a piss which is a sight  I’ll carry with me til my death) as they were glorious messy affairs where you could bring your own beer in rather than have to endure drinking the swill that is Tennants.

That first year was deemed a success even though it seemed numbers were thin on the ground. The next year I’d managed to convince around half a dozen friends from Leicester to go, and so it was that during the long, hot summer of 1995 two cars set out from Leicester to Glasgow and with Gary kindly offering to turn his flat into a home for us all (poor sod) we drove the amazingly long drive to Glasgow.

I’d like to say it was fun and much of it was. I remember pulling the Pulp Fiction ”royale with cheese’ line to some wee girl at a Burger King in the Lake District as we stopped off for a break. I remember  being amazed at how truly lovely this country is when you get out of the cities & how dry everything was due to the weeks of dry warm weather that’d started before that year’s Glastonbury a few weeks earlier. Most of the time though it was dull, and trying to keep two cars in a convoy for 300 odd miles in the days before mobiles was easier said than done but somehow we got up to Glasgow, and to Gary’s flat which we then invaded for the next four days. I should also point out that several of Gary, and his then partner, Magz’s friends were also staying so how we all crammed in I’ll never know.

That first night was getting my mates from Leicester to acclimatise to the Glaswegian accent, and to the general carnage that awaited us all. One of our number even got a wee bit friendly with one of Magz’s ex’s but hey, we were at a festival and the line up looked good.

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That year’s festival was fun, but like Glastonbury a few week’s earlier it was boiling hot all the time and there was even less escape from the heat here. Also the crowds were phenomenal so by the time we rolled onsite the festival was crammed full. You also couldn’t move without seeing a Tennants logo in front of you trying to convince you  that their urine coloured swill was worth drinking but it it was hot and it was one of the few choices to drink at the bars.

As the festival ended we all looked back on a fun time but the festival was outgrowing it’s location and that was very clear in 1996 when the site was just too full. It was also a pretty bad festival even though I’d again brought up a little group from Leicester in an attempt to capture the previous year’s glory. The less said of 1996 the better.

Which amazingly brings us to 1997 and the festival moved to it’s current location on a disused airfield in Balado in the middle of nowhere. Amazingly it was a dryish weekend and the new site was larger, better and if it rained it still had former landing strips so you had somewhere firm to stand/sit for a bit rather than drudge through mud. This year the group boiled down to just a few of us as I’d made the trip myself from Leicester as nobody could be bothered after the rubbishness of 1996, plus Glastonbury had taken it out of people with it being a muddy year. So it was myself, Gary, his cousin and a couple of others from Glasgow who went. Here’s some of us in all our glory….

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We’re all so young thin and dynamic aren’t we?

Which was more than could be said of the line up.

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Dodgy! Ocean Colour Scene! Gun! Bush! Reef! ‘Take yoir ‘aaaaaaaannnnnndddssss’

There was Daft Punk though, and did I say we were dynamic?

titp2

Anyhow, it was fun & enough worth seeing but I couldn’t shake off the increasing feeling this wasn’t going to be the festival for me as the larger site meant even more Tennants branding everywhere.

The following year was to be my last. I went up with my then girlfriend Tash, and went down again with Gary, Magz and a few of their crowd from Glasgow. It was all fun, with the first day being amazingly hot and bright (If I can find them I have pictures of the main stage taken at after 10pm which was still bathed in sunlight) but the Sunday was wet and shitty. I remember just sitting on the bus back to Leicester being depressed and fed up as I don’t want to go to festivals to be sold crap as that’s why I go to festivals to avoid that. Also the type of person going to festivals had changed from a load of dropouts, students and wasters to the sort of person who thinks going into town for a kebab and a fight is a quiet night out.

This was clear during my first and last appearance at V Festival in 1996. Pulp were playing and it was the festival’s first year, plus it had a pretty good line up. OK, it was all about Virgin selling you their services but the real horror of that didn’t dawn on us til we got onsite. Imagine being in a house on the hottest day in the year, and the coldest drink you’ll ever drink is at the end of a very long corridor but you have to fight through people lined up on each side trying to sell you insurance in the smarmiest way possible to get to that drink.That’s how it felt. Plus there was the amazingly odd sight of plastic laid down on the grass in front of the main stage so that as the day progressed it became slippy and and bit risky as you spilled your overpriced slop of a drink.

Pulp were great and everything but it was a dreadful experience, plus being in Chelmsford meant you had people there who frankly were looking for a scrap. Again, I go to festivals to avoid these people who litter our city centre’s, not to stand next to them as they should ‘show us your tits’ to any passing person who may have even the possibility of having a vagina.

Which isn’t to say Glastonbury and Reading were immune to this as the BBC coverage of Glastonbury made it look like a big gig in a field and skimmed over the other aspects of the festival as it’s never been a music festival, but a performing arts festival while Reading changed post-Britpop from somewhere which was a bit tasty but still fun, to somewhere where people setting fire to toilets and generally being pricks was seen as ‘fun’ rather than the kickable offence it actually is. The problem was that festival culture had been packaged up and sold to the masses in an easily digestible, and overall safe, package that screened out some of the flaws of free festivals but also screened out the creativity and general ambiance of these festivals where everyone really was of a same mind and culture even if they weren’t, for just a few days.

It also helped to depoliticise festivals so they were no longer something which may attack or challenge the mainstream as it’s hard to challenge the mainstream when you’re trying to flog beer or insurance to pissed festival goers.

This isn’t to say either that the type of festival I’m talking about is totally dead, but it still lives, albeit most of the time it’s wrapped in a cosy Guardian-esque middle class comfort blanket. The festival culture in the UK has endured a death of 1,000 cuts, but it lives on in parts of Glastonbury, & the few smaller festivals which try to marry past and present. The likes of V or T in the Park and even now, Reading aren’t for the likes of me anymore as I’m not that type of consumer as that’s what they are-excuses to sell shit to wankers rather than creating a life affirming event free of the pain of everyday life.

When you’ve got people like Emili Sande or The Script as your top bill then you’re going to attract a certain type of person and the organisers know this, hence the blandness.

Like I said-selling shit to wankers.

So when you’re sitting down to watch highlights of these festival think of what once was, and how these festivals only took the shell of what a festival is, but they didn’t think of adding a soul. It’s only the people going and the ethics of the festival itself that can do that.

 

 

 

Find me on a pale horizon-The Rise and Fall of Festival Culture in the UK-part one

As those who do follow this blog might know I’ve been doing a series of blogs about my experiences at the Glastonbury Festival from 1992 onwards, but there’s a bit of a larger story to tell in regards festival culture in the UK.

There’s been festivals of some shape or form in the UK since the 1950’s. You can study the history of the growth of festival culture by looking at the excellent site, The Archive, which details festivals from 1960-1990, or searching out the splendid Festivals Britannia documentary that BBC Four broadcast a few years ago. It’s really the story of my perception of what happened to festival culture from the late 80’s onwards that I’m on about.

As I’ve outlined in the past, I grew up in a very working class part of Glasgow which didn’t mean I was ignorant of festivals as I knew they existed thanks to reading the NME from an early age, but that was mainly things like Reading Festival when it was going through it’s Jurassic phase. I only really learned about the wider world of festivals after reading an article about Glastonbury in an edition of the NME from 1985.

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I was intrigued by the sounds of Glastonbury and the idea of a load of people sitting in a field somewhere listening to music and generally getting together. Not that was an alien concept to me back in Glasgow in the mid-80’s as sitting around Kelvingrove Park was a pastime, plus the odd open air gig used to happen in Glasgow so I’d had a tease but nothing anywhere near the full experience.

It wasn’t until I moved to Leicester in 1988 and drifted gently into various scenes in both Leicester and London that I started to dive into the whole festival culture. Leicester was, oddly enough, where I experienced my first full one day festival with the Abbey Park Festival which was a one day event normally held in August in Leicester featuring frankly a selection of some pretty naff bands, but I enjoyed the whole ambiance of the day and it was fun most of all.

Most of 1988 and 1989 was spent splitting my time between London and Leicester which was easily done thanks to my job, and being a young man with more money than sense I took great advantage of the delights and pleasures of London at a time when rave music was not only at it’s peak but it was colliding with other cultures such as the traveller and punk culture which is where it caught me. I used to finish work on a Friday and rather head back to Leicester, head into London to see gigs, or hang around various pubs in Camden or Kentish Town. I’d stay overnight wherever I could, so a floor, a bed or when there was a comic mart the next day, I’d find a cheapish hotel round Holburn and spend the previous night in Soho after being at the Astoria til the wee hours.

Then in 1990 I decided to take the plunge and go to that year’s Reading Festival, which had seen itself make the dinosaurs which used to play there extinct and started showcasing bright new talent from both sides of the Atlantic. I didn’t end up going, but I did start going to various free festivals on my increasing trips to the South West of England, and I’d stumble across groups of ravers in London pubs who’d drag me to a field somewhere in Hertfordshire.

When I left my job and became rooted in Leicester I fell out of that lifestyle, but festival culture was still attractive to me because it was very much still an underground and alternative thing to do, plus the free festivals were fun, but had a huge element of danger to them thanks to the somewhat dubious people often involved with them, not to mention the gangsters who’d follow them around selling drugs. Most of the time though the free festivals of the early 90’s were fun affairs which sometimes seemed never to have an end as they’d go on and on and on….

There was also a beginning and end to the summer with Glastonbury kicking it off with this huge life affirming party to welcome the summer months and Reading ending it with this dirty, filthy party in a field next to a railway line.

By 1992 or so the amounts of festivals had started to grow partly due to the response to the Castlemorton festival which saw the government start to crack down on free festivals, which meant all these people who were going to festivals wanted to go somewhere and there were decreasing amounts of places willing to host them. By the time the Criminal Justice Bill became law the amount of free festivals were dropping to single figures, and the days of the illegal rave were numbered. This meant big business saw a market and a chance to repackage what was an alternative and underground culture for a mainstream, so by 1993 you had the Phoenix Festival rear it’s head in what was the first attempt to introduce a new major festival to the calender to challenge (the 1996 lineup is to this day the best of any festival of any kind I’ve ever been to) Glastonbury and Reading.

The first year was frankly a disaster with security extinguishing campfires and getting people to turn off soundsystems which for those of us used to free festivals was a bit of a shock, also there was not enough water standpipes and toilets. It never really recovered from that first year as it gained a reputation after this, but it was where the campsite cry of ‘BOLLOCKS’ originated which hung around festivals up til the early 21st century. It did peak with the 1996 festival though more of how that failed in many ways in the next part of this series of blogs.

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Phoenix never really brought in the mainstream punter, but rather the Glastonbury/Reading veteran & the person who couldn’t get their free festival hit any more.  Attracting the mainstream would mean a change in the mainstream itself, which is exactly what happened when Britpop broke which meant the mainstream wanted to see bands like Blur or Oasis or Pulp and they played lots of festivals, so the mainstream slowly started feeding into festival culture. It wasn’t until 94 or 95 that people started seeing festivals as something to do rather than a Spanish holiday or a trip anywhere else. The fact you now had festivals organised by beer companies (Reading was only sponsored by Carlsberg Tetley) like T in the Park and also by large mega-companies like Virgin with the execrable V Festival.

And that sets up quite nicely my experiences at all the festivals I went to that wasn’t Reading or Glastonbury in the 90’s. This gives you a little bit of background as to what was happening and in the next part I’ll outline the exploitation of festival culture by the corporations and how it all went horribly wrong.

 

Let’s party like it’s 1999-Glastonbury 1999

I’ve covered my own little history of Glastonbury from the highs and lows of 1992 and 1993, the sun and dust of 1994 and 1995, the mud of 1997 and the crapness of 1998 which takes us up to 1999, obviously…

We reach a period in my often quite turbulent and messy life where I’m actually quite secure  and settled. I was living with my then partner Tash, and my job was day manager and wine and spirit buyer for a chain of licensed venues across Leicester, including the mighty Pump and Tap. In fact I’d been in this position since doing my back in, and been in a cosy relationship for over a year. I wasn’t doing anything naughty, plus I was genuinely quite chirpy and settled.

So by the time of planning the 1999 Glastonbury I had to deal with introducing Tash into my life. She’d already seen the comics side of things by going to the first Comics Festival in Bristol earlier in 1999 and was now ready to go diving into the first festival…

Firstly though I needed to sort out a lift. The group I’d arranged to camp with were the extended friends of Denise, the girl I went to Glastonbury in 1995 with, so I knew them well but Tash only knew Denise, and not the others and some of the others were a bit, well, messy…

Firstly though, a lift!

A week or so before the festival I spoke to Chris who’d come with me in 1998 and endured the hell of that year, and neither of us wanted that again, especially Chris who became quite ill after 1998’s festival. Chris at this point managed the tapas bar which was part of the same group I worked for so I spent a week wearing him down until he finally said ‘ok, I’ll drive us down’ only after sitting in down and studying the weather forecast for an afternoon.

We couldn’t go down on the Wednesday due to various people’s work commitments, so I agreed to meet Denise somewhere at the top of Big Ground, the big camping field in front of the main stage and this was in the twilight era before everyone had a mobile so meeting them was purely a matter of luck, but they were keeping some space for us which meant being really lucky.

The other thing was that Chris didn’t have a ticket, and neither did his mate who was also coming but as I’ve pointed out in previous blogs, it was dead easy to get in however myself and Tash had tickets so the plan was formed. Chris would pick both of us up on Thursday morning and we’d get there late afternoon, find Denise’s camp, get set up, unload the car and get settled before dark. Job done!!

Thursday morning came along but Chris didn’t. Early afternoon came along but Chris didn’t. Now Tash and myself were packed and ready to go. The cat was safely looked after and we were ready to go. I’d tried calling Chris at home, and at work but he wasn’t answering at home and work said they thought he was with me?!

At around 2pm Chris pulled up outside the front door of our little house. The car had broken down as soon as it started so he’d spent the last two hours in a garage getting it fixed and his mate had let him down with a tent, but I had my old tent which I loaned him so he and his mate could get some cover instead of sleeping in the rain and mud like he did the previous year.

We eventually headed off and sped quickly out of Leicester with me navigating. At this point Chris broke it to us that we had to cut through Bristol to pick up his sister’s boyfriend who was a student at Bristol Uni, and did I know a quick way to Bristol? I said yes, and this ended up with us taking the most roundabout route ever as instead of just cutting down the M5 and being direct, I decided to me a smartarse and took us through Oxfordshire which was very nice in the sun but it was an arse over elbow route down to Bristol and everyone in that car made that clear.

Ah well…

Eventually we hit the M4 at late afternoon just as all of London and the South East were pouring down to the festival. Joy. There’s nothing worse than being stuck on a motorway going to somewhere but going nowhere. That was the M4 on this afternoon.

Eventually though we got to Bristol around late afternoon, but we’d arranged to meet Chris’s sister’s boyfriend at Temple Meads station and we were slap in rush hour. Joy. We’d not bought any provisions or beer yet either so we were skating on thin ice timewise so we really didn’t need to sit around Temple Meads waiting for this lad to turn up. So we spent about an hour sitting in the carpark outside the station, but Tash did bump into one of the lads from SFX magazine who she knew through her brother who offered us both some work which we were daft enough not to take up. Tsk.

Eventually this lad turned up around 6pm, and we quickly discovered why Chris had been cagey about him. He was a cock. A total and utter cock. The fact he was at Bristol Uni should have been the hint but no, we were not prepared for his cockness.  We loaded everyone back into the car, and before Chris got in I asked Chris if he was camping with us, to which Chris said he wasn’t sure.

Fuck.

One the way out of Bristol we finally stocked up on beer and food, and it was here that we tried for the first time to ditch the lad in Knowle, but sadly we didn’t as he managed to jump in the car and bray loudly about how much fun we all were for having a laugh , etc.

Fuck.

Seeing as it was now early evening as soon as we got out of Bristol and hit Shepton Mallet we also hit the queue to get into the festival. It was here we again tried to get rid of him as he staggered out of the car to try to chat some girls up in the car in front of us, which was a classy thing to do when your girlfriend’s brother is giving you a lift.This prompted another attempt to dump him. We failed.

Eventually the queue started moving quickly and as this lad was out the car again trying to chat up these girls, Tash and Chris’s other mate in the back seat pulled out his rucksack, dumped it at the side of the road, jumped back in shouting ‘GO!!’ as we saw clear blue sea between us and this lad. The last we saw of him was him running futilely dragging his rucksack behind him trying to catch up with the car while we managed to pull away into the village of Pilton and a good, safe distance from him.

Thing was all this fun and games had made us forget the fact it was now nearly 8pm, we hadn’t got in to meet up with Denise nor had Chris and his mate worked out a way to get in, though Chris had brought his Showsec jacket from the previous year to try to blag in.

Then before we knew it we were onsite!

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Now it’s worth noting that in the pre-spoilers era that you didn’t know that the festival grew or that something had changed until you turned up to see it for yourself, and this year the festival had grown massively, plus the fact we were turning up very late on Thursday night meant we were far, far away from the main entrances which meant a very, very long trek from the car to where Denise’s campsite would possibly be in Big Ground, not to mention we had two people without tickets to get in all before dark which at this point was starting to creep in.

We parked and decided to take what we needed and travel as light as possible, which meant tents, rucksacks, sleeping bags and only a slab of beer out of the four we bought back in Bristol. First of all though was getting Chris and his mate in. This happened to be quite easy after Chris tried the Showsec stunt for the second year running and failed yet again, but as I told him that Al Green was due to play he was fired up for it as I knew he was a massive fan so the cry of ‘AL FUCKING GREEN!!!’ was heard all weekend….

Thankfully some cheery Scally’s were around who’d nicked one of the stamps (back in those days there were no wristbands, just stamps to say you’d paid) the doorstaff were using to stamp people on the way out. For a tenner each the pair were promptly stamped, and we all got in with only the small problem of finding Denise in the increasing darkness to worry about.

It’s hard to stress that trying to find your way around the festival site in the dark with two people who’ve never been loaded down with stuff with tens of thousands of people milling around is not a fun experience so let’s say I held back the fact we’d have to walk up a very steep hill to get where we needed to go til the last possible minute. I was cursed more than once, however Tash wanted to camp with someone else who was female that she knew, and there was still the slight possibility that Denise had somehow managed to keep us space for our tents.

As we eventually got to Big Ground I then went on the only clue as to where Denise was camping which was it was near the Kids Field. Also I used my big mouth to shout her name very loudly which after about ten minutes actually worked when I heard her shouting back! We’d managed to somehow stumble across them in the dark, but there was a hedge between us which we managed to crawl through to find Denise and her crowd safely camped up (as they had been for nearly a day) with space to cram two tents in! to this day I have no idea how I pulled that off, but we were on the verge of just camping where we were standing which was about two metres from their campsite.

The priority now was to get the tents up, but we still had stuff sitting in the car so Tash, Chris’s mate, Denise and some of the others helped put the tents up while Chris and myself went back to unload the car. In the dark. When people were still pouring in. However the next day was forecast to be a scorcher and none of us fancied lugging stuff in the boiling sun so off we went in the dark chatting and quite desperate for a beer as we’d forgotten to bring any with us out of the small amount we’d carried in that first trip.

We got to the car after a good hour’s walk back. Grabbed what we could carry, leaving only a small trip to pick up some wine in the morning, we headed back but once we were through the gates we ended up being split up and I ended up completely losing my bearings and being lost for what felt like hours as I lugged slabs of beer up and down hills before eventually finding where I needed to go and turning up at the campsite to find that Chris had been back for nearly an hour and everyone else happily chilled out round the campfire and our tents had been put up.

I collapsed, grabbed a beer and fell asleep only to be woken by Tash to tell me to go to bed. To this day I’ve never had as good sleep at a festival as I did that night. Normally I wake up at festivals at dawn regardless of the state I’m in but I was asleep til nearly 9am! I crawled out the tent  to find that everyone had been up for hours and I hadn’t even noticed Tash getting up and out of our tent.

The plan for the Friday morning was to get some breakfast, have one last trip to the car and then chill watching bands. REM were playing that night and most of us wanted to see them play, but first things first. To the car!

Problem was the weather forecast had been right and it was boiling hot. We dragged ourselves the miles to the car, picked up the stuff and emptied the car and very slowly headed back stopping only for a spot of lunch at one of the beer tents where we took part of some very nice beer as Chris and I were beer snobs, but Tash just wanted cider seeing as it was hot and we were at a festival….

Eventually we got back just as everyone was off to see Blondie. In all the excitement we forgot about bands, but we couldn’t be arsed going down however where we were camping was perfect for the main stage as we could hear perfectly, plus see the stage fine if we squinted through the hedge and saw the giant TV screens at the side of the stage.

After Blondie, Tash wanted to see the sight so I did a big tour of the site as I’d done with people in 97 and Chris and his mate tagged along in what became a bloody fun afternoon as I took them all up to the Stone Circle to see the site from the top of the valley.

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It’s an impressive site when you see it for the first time but the things you don’t get in a picture is the noise. It’s unlike any other festival and incredibly hard to describe. There’s also the smell which depends on the weather. If it’s wet, it smells very farmy and damp and quite dank. When it’s sunny it smells of sugar and sweet things. The sweetness is actually things rotting, and the sugar is the alcohol.

Getting back to the main area we watched Hole, who were actually not too bad compared to the previous time I’d seen them at Reading the year after Kurt Cobain’s death where it was like watching a nervous breakdown happen live in front of thousands of people. However this was ended by a rain shower, so we headed back to the campsite as Chris really had enough of being rained on after his experiences the previous year.

Thankfully this was just a passing shower, and the sun back back quickly and hard as the rest of the day was building up to REM who were quite wonderful.

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At the end of the night, we wandered round a bit but headed back after an hour or so to the campfire and the camp antics. Chris and his mate had found some weed and had spent the night being stoned which was a state they stayed in for the next few days..

Saturday again brought the sun. By now Tash was happy and settled into the festival, and everything was quite jolly. She wanted to see the Manic Street Preachers being a huge fan of them, and I really wanted to see Ash and Joe Strummer, but first it was a wander around to show Tash the comedy stage and all the little bits and bobs which make Glastonbury so unique.

The Saturday is a bit of a blur. I remember some serious rain which lasted an hour. I remember being back at the site trying to defuse an argument as some tosser had stumbled onto our campsite and was being a cock with one of the group. I remember loving Ash. We watched the Manics. We had a load of banter at the campfire, and I don’t remember details, just flashes of light and colour.

See, that’s the thing with these blogs. You might have noticed that the descriptions of getting to the festival are more detailed than the descriptions of the festival itself. There’s several reasons for that; alcohol is one, but a festival tends to blur. Only a sound or a smell brings back a memory. I’ll often go to Glastonbury and remember something from a previous year that I’d forgotten about until that point.

Anyhow, we quickly move to Sunday and another lovely day. We’d all appreciated the weather, especially Chris and myself after the previous year’s horror, but here’s the other thing about the last day at a festival; you’re settled and don’t want to leave. The day was a lovely perfect one as we started out with Chris and myself going to one of the bars at the bottom of Big Ground for a long matey chat while everyone else chilled at the campsite.

Then the afternoon was all about Al Green and that was a sheer joy but everything was building up to the Fun Loving Criminals who we were all big fans of at the time but it was a dizzy blur for all that day til the time when FLC came on stage to what is still one of the biggest crowds I’ve ever seen at the main stage.

After them it was Skunk Anansie who none of us especially wanted to see, so the idea was to grab some food, get changed and have a wander round the last night’s antics. Problem was we all decided to grab a hot dog from the same stall and that came back to hurt us all about 30 minutes later as it came right back up as we all threw up in the hedge that was our shelter and home that weekend.

I was especially wiped out for some reason and all I wanted was to climb into my sleeping bag, but Tash was in a better state so she sat outside with the others as I lay there sweating out the food poisoning listening to Skunk Anansie being crap and realising this was the last band to play the main stage this century as next year it was the 30th anniversary and a new millennium. Back in the heady days of 1999, millennium fever was rife and everyone was caught up in it. Even me. It also proved to be a benchmark for Glastonbury itself, but this was one last hurrah for the festival in the century it was born in.

As we got up the next day again after sleeping most of the night, and packed up we all knew something had past in some way. The increasingly corporate side of things were becoming easier to see at the festival which you never used to see, even the year before. It was difficult not to avoid the TV cameras, or the feeling it was becoming something else, even more establishment in places as you now started to see yuppies and tourists in designer wellies pose around the stages waiting to be seen. BBC presenters were everywhere. Something had shifted that weekend but we didn’t really know what, and it wasn’t until well into the new millennium that we’d see the results. Right now, it was packing up to go home.

So we did that. Made our farewells to Denise’s crowd and hiked back to the car for the long, quiet journey back to Leicester where Chris dropped myself and Tash back home to a happy cat and a comfy bed to end that year’s Glastonbury adventure….

The next year was the year 2000. It felt like something that would never come when you were growing up as it felt so far away but it was six months away and the next Glastonbury was a year away. Would we survive?

Of course we did, but in the next year my life changed drastically. More of this another time…..

I Wanna Live Like Common People-Glastonbury 1995

I’ve already outlined the tale of Glastonbury 1993 and how that affected me, so let’s go diving right into 1995’s festival after a quick outline of the horrible failure that was Glastonbury 1994.

The plan for 1994 was to share a stall with the Deadline crowd, which meant Comics and CD’s (who I was still associated with even though I’d moved back to Leicester from Bristol) would share the space, so we’d put up the basic capital and they’d give us a load of creators doing stuff at at the festival. This would ideally have seen people like Jamie Hewlett  drawing Tank Girl  at the festival and all manner of frankly mental ideas while we sold comics and we all made loads of money as Deadline had a great mix of comics and music.

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Unfortunately what happened was that the Tank Girl film happened which meant everyone related to Deadline and Jamie Hewlett especially got a mountain of cash which he spent on an ice-cream van. The idea went quickly down the bog, and I was stuck with a week to go before the festival and no ticket, so like 1992, I managed to blag in using the cunning technique of walking right through the main gates behind a Channel 4 truck as it was the first year the festival was televised to a national audience.

Like 1992, I don’t remember much. I dropped a pill in Leicester and came up on Saturday. Everything else was blurry, and I had to leave very early on the Sunday to get back to Leicester to work. A pattern however had been set with me having one shite year, then a great year so I left 94’s festival hoping for 95 to be great.

I should point out that at this point the festival was changing from the messy rabble of disorganisation it’d been since 1970 to a more modern version, but these years are the last of the real festival as it was and the start of the more commercial tourist years we see today. That isn’t to say Glastonbury now is crap, it’s not, but it’s lost a part of it’s soul but more about this some other time…..

Anyhow, 1995’s festival is coming up and The Stone Roses are headlining on the Saturday night. Britpop is everywhere, and yet again I don’t have a ticket. At this point I’m sharing a house in Leicester with a lad Joe who I’d met down the pub as you do which brings me to the evening we were sitting in another pub talking about Glastonbury a few weeks before with his girlfriend Denise (who I’d tried chatting up before Joe pulled her, but he used cunning tactics to deflect me elsewhere. Bastard!!).

I decided I wasn’t missing out and spent the night trying to convince them that not only would I be able to get us in for nothing, or next to nothing, but it’d be a piece of piss and we should do it! This was easier said than done as I didn’t have a clue how to do it as I was blagging it, but I needed a lift down so spent the next fortnight trying to talk them into it.

Then a week before the festival, The Stone Roses pulled out and were replaced by Pulp, who was all of our favourite band at the time and a plan was hatched. We’d go down after I finished work on the Thursday night, but as I was working in a nightclub called Mosquito Coast at the time, this meant leaving at around 2 or 3am. We didn’t have a tent either, but thankfully a friend Roz came through with a loan of hers,

We were sorted apart from the fact I knew Denise didn’t fancy it, and Joe was a flaky bastard at the best of times so the plan was doomed to failure.

Thursday came. I worked my shift, and bought a case or two of beers waiting for Joe and Denise to pull up outside. As 2.30am passed I thought ‘they’re not doing this are they?’, so I sat there looking glum with my bag all packed up ready to go then one of the doorstaff Rich, came in telling me there were two people in a car outside waiting for me who were Joe and Denise in her battered old motor. As I grabbed Rich to help me quickly load up the car with booze, I remembered (adrenaline kept me going)  that I’d smashed my right hand loading up the cellar that day with barrels of beers. In fact I’d smashed it amazingly badly, and my little finger and ring finger were utterly useless so I got some industrial tape and made a very dodgy splint with the help of Roz who had trained as a nurse.

So making sure we had beer, and Roz who was going to chuck us her tent on the way out of Leicester we were off. We dropped Roz home, grabbed her tent and Joe, Denise and myself sped off on a boiling hot summer’s night/morning to Glastonbury with only a few cases of beer, some changes of clothing, a tent and some Class A drugs taped to my leg as you do of course…

There was also a Best of Scott Walker and The Walker Brothers tape, which we played all the way down. In fact I remember the sun coming up just as we passed Coventry singing My Ship Is Coming In very loudly with Joe and Denise as we were all massive Scott Walker fans and it helped hide the fact I had no bloody idea how to get in and I’d just sneaked some speed up my nose in order to stay awake as by now I’d been awake for nearly 24 hours while Joe and Denise had slept a bit before coming down.

I decided the best thing to do would be to cut through Bristol. I have no idea why as it’d have been easier to go straight down the M5, but I had this mad idea it’d be quicker so we promptly got into Bristol very early in the morning before getting lost on Park Street, and finally getting on the right road down.

As we got nearer the festival it dawned on me I’d better start working a way out to get in, but I still didn’t have a clue. I was utterly blagging it but I was sure my ship would eventually come in but as we got to the main entrance to the site itself we all shat ourselves and instead of turning left to go in, we drove straight on. And on, And on. Until we ended up in Glastonbury itself at what must have been around 5 or 6am.

And here we sat for a few minutes trying to work out a plan. This plan involved going to a supermarket to buy more beer and vodka, neck it and build up some Dutch Courage before getting back in the car and heading back to the festival site. It was at this point I realised I was still in my work clothes, so promptly changed in the middle of the street giving early morning commuters an eyeful before jumping in the car and heading back….

Which is when we got lost. Not slightly lost, but ending up in Cheddar type of lost. It’d also changed from a boiling hot day into heavy torrential rain which meant we couldn’t see the roads, and my navigation skills were rubbish by this point as I was wearing down. Somehow I managed to get us to Wells after working out I’d directed us in one huge loop when we came out of Glastonbury, so we decided to find the nearest petrol station, fill up, get directions and if it was still pissing it down by the time we got to the festival site, fuck the weekend off and just go back to Leicester as by now the three of us were pretty fed up with each other and my cunning plan wasn’t working.

It was at this point we pulled into Wells in the sheeting rain and saw some poor hitch hiker in his yellow raincoat by the side of the road as we drove in, and I joked ‘bet you he’s working at the festival’ so Denise pulled over and asked him if he wanted a lift, which he did. We asked where he was going, and he said it was the festival so we gave him a lift as he could direct us from Wells to the site.

It was then he sussed we didn’t have tickets and were very, very lost. He then informed us he was one of the heads of security.

Bollocks.

Then he told us he could get us in, and not just get us in the festival but give us free passes, and get the car parked in Michael Eavis’s secure car park by the farmhouse. All he wanted was 30 quid a few lines of speed. A very reasonable price we thought if he was who he said he was and not an axe murderer, and we’d find out soon enough as we were at the festival site.

Lo and behold he pulled out his huge security pass and we sailed past police, security, and in fact everyone as we drove right into the secure car park by the farmhouse, and he did indeed give us three passes but advised us to use them only if needed. We were chuffed. I was chuffed. My blag had worked in spite of itself, so we chucked him some beers as well as the money and speed we’d given him.

It was the least we could do but he wasn’t finished with us yet. He actually helped us take our stuff to one of the campsites in front of the main stage and it was here he left us. The reason being that there’d been some robberies and a few muggings around the site the night before and he wanted to take us somewhere in the middle of it, but safe.

At this point the rain had stopped, the sun was back out and it was beginning to get very, very hot.

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We managed to struggle to put up Roz’s tent. Realised that three people in the tent would be cramped but fuck it. We were in & my blag worked. Even If I didn’t have a clue how it did.

As we set up, we had some young hippie girls give us hash cake, so we offered them vodka which they took and we settled down as we all chatted away about stuff as you do at festivals. You spend lots of time talking about stuff at festivals.

Eventually we realised it was early afternoon and this is where things get hazy and blur into one, which again, is something that happens at festivals, especially good ones. I know we saw The Prodigy. I know I spent a long time in the comedy tent hiding from the sun which had become so strong there was no escape. I was toasted that weekend, utterly broiled in the harsh sun as the site is actually a huge bowl and there’s little shade if you can’t get in a tent, not that you would stay in a tent long as it’d be far too hot to stay in one.

Also, the first day at a festival is always a blur plus I’d been awake for 36 hours and my body was on the verge of collapse, so were Joe and Denise and we crashed fairly early on the first night.

Only problem was three people sleeping in a tent really best for two at a push wasn’t fun, plus we’d spent nearly two days living in each others armpits, so the next morning after a bit of breakfast we decided to go our separate ways for a bit but meet up for PJ Harvey and of course, Pulp.

I wandered round for a bit, bumped into some friends from Bristol and Leicester. Had some cornflakes. Had some cider. Drank lots and lots of water, and slowly cooked in the sun which by now just didn’t care how hot it was. It was out to burn anything and anyone however we managed to get to the Saturday afternoons main even which was PJ Harvey.

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To be exact, PJ Harvey in a pink catsuit. Leaving aside the fact most males in the crowd were having their gob smacked for obvious reasons it was a simply great gig.I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone hold over 60,000 people in their hands as well as she did that afternoon.

After this I went back to the tent with Joe to meet Denise, and get some beers and food in preparation for Pulp. Joe and myself had also made a purchase of some acid from a Yardie after the PJ Harvey set.

This is where I have to make another point that although I say Glastonbury has lost a lot of it’s soul, it’s also lost the gangsters from Bristol, London and Manchester who would not only charge people to jump the fence, or sell drugs but fight over territory on the site. In 92 in my brief first Glastonbury I noticed there were areas off-limits after dark, and even in 95 when things were becoming more organised there were still areas far too dodgy to go in the dark. Of course tent thefts were common which they are still, but they don’t tend to get the mainstream coverage they used to because it doesn’t fit the nice media narrative that it’s a nice Guardian reading middle class jolly in a field, because middle class kids can’t possibly be thieving wee bastards.

Anyhow, back to the dodgy acid. It was brown and Denise wisely chose to avoid taking it, though Joe and myself did as we went as near the front for Pulp as we could. Thing was it was a massive crowd as Pulp were near the top of the charts with Common People and their set was simply one of those festival moments that will live with everyone there because it was magnificent.

Only thing was the acid wasn’t working and we’d paid a fiver each. Or I thought the acid hadn’t kicked in until my legs started feeling weird as the lights kicked in during Common People, Pulp’s final song that night..

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As Pulp finished, so did my legs and I decided to take a little sit down as tens of thousands of people left the arena. I remember sitting them calmly grinning like a sweaty Jack Nicolson at the end of The Shining staring at the main stage for what seemed like hours, but must have only been 20 or 30 minutes before my brain told my legs to ‘get up’ and commanded me to find some water and drink as much as possible, which I did. This sorted my head together but I was still tripping harder than I could have expected and harder than I was prepared for in a field with 20,000 people. So I walked. As I walked someone said Portishead hadn’t been on due to Evan Dando running vastly late, and so I followed the crowds to the tent where Portishead were due to play.

I remember standing on a slope listening to Portishead’s music and slowly getting back in control of myself, and as they finished I was lucid enough to go for a late night wander which is a Glastonbury tradition I still do today. As the sun was coming up I made my way from the Stone Circle back to the tent to find no sign of Joe or Denise which was great as I had the tent to myself.

A few hours later Denise woke me up. They decided to sleep in the car as they’d also spent the night wandering around the site after Pulp, and Joe also suffered the pains of the Yardie acid.

After a chat swapping late night stories, we decided to wander around the site and get some breakfast, but the sun on the last day was again unforgiving and by now the site was baked into a giant dustbowl so dust was everywhere. But at least it wasn’t raining…

Again I don’t remember much of that last day. I tried to meet my mate John who was one of the lads who worked at Comic Showcase in London who was working at the circus field in a double decker bus. The three of us wandered around but I decided to head back to the tent  which meant I saw Page & Plant & The Bootleg Beatles.

It was around this time I realised I hadn’t had any alcohol since the incident with the acid the night before and in fact, it was probably a bloody bad idea considering the heat and the fact that I was losing a lot of fluid walking around. Only one way to cure this; more water and then beer!

That evening though was about the build up to The Cure and I spent the last evening of that year’s festival sitting on the slope looking down at the main stage watching the Cure play a blinding set. This night though I was only a bit drunk, no more drugs for me and anyhow, I’d used them all up the day before….

After this, I wandered off again in an attempt to see the end of Goldie, but failed so I just drifted wherever the crowds took me which meant I saw all the weird, wonderful and unplanned sights you don’t really see at Glastonbury anymore but we’d planned to leave early to get back to Leicester. I headed back to the tent to find it again empty, so assuming Joe and Denise decided again to kip in the car, I just laid down outside the tent and watched the stars. The sky in the country is a different thing from the city, but the sky over a Glastonbury Festival is an amazing site with all the spotlights, lasers and whatever else you can imagine. Eventually I crawled into the tent to get some sleep.

A few hours later Joe woke me up urgently as we’d all slept late, and they had kipped in the car so we needed to get going fast. We packed up the tent, legged it the relatively short distance to the secure carpark by the farmhouse, and sped out of the site only looking behind us with more than a few tears in our eyes once…

On the way back Joe got us lost, so we nearly ended up in Stoke, but we managed to get back to Leicester by early afternoon, so they dumped me off at the house while Joe and Denise went back to hers to tidy up and sleep.

I however couldn’t sleep, so I called Roz and arranged to go out that afternoon, and bumped into another friend Sarah in the pub, so after I updated the pair of them on the weekend we decided on that gloriously sunny Monday afternoon to for to the local Odeon to see the Tank Girl film.

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It’s still a film I love purely because I was still high from the wonderful weekend that was Glastonbury 1995, but as we left the cinema and headed back to the pub I knew I had to let the weekend end so I left Sarah and Roz, wandered home and slept 12 hours in a comfy bed after some of the best few days of my life.

The thing is though the genie was out the bottle. Channel 4’s coverage of Glastonbury had opened people’s eyes, especially as both years were dry years, and 95 was amazing in terms of weather and lineup. There hadn’t been a really wet festival in some years and people were used to the dry warm weather, and this was selling not just the festival but a lifestyle to people watching on television.

1996 was to be a fallow year as the festival took a year off to let the land recover. It was to return in 1997, and I said to myself that I’d get a ticket for this one.

More about the run up to the 1997 festival and the events of the  1997 festival itself another time…..