If you’re very lucky indeed, you’ll be reading this from the questionable comfort of a wonky camping chair, possibly with a bit of congealed sick in your hair, maybe while nibbling on a soggy supermarket Scotch egg, and definitely with the sticky remnants of last night’s cider on your jeans. And you know you what? You’ll be having the time of your life, because you, my friend, are at Glastonbury Festival, the greatest place on earth. Life can be a horrible bastard at times, but places like Glastonbury provide an important escape, one where glitter is mandatory and an overwhelming urge to hug a bearded 81-year-old farmer funnels into your every thought.
Worthy Farm is a magical safe haven, like a spa retreat but with more bands and fewer baths. But that’s not to say that everyone there is living in some kind of blindfolded bubble – politics, activism and engagement with the wider world have always been a key part of the event. This means watching a renewable energy panel discussion or taking part in a placard-making workshop has always been as much a part of the festival as swigging whiskey from the bottle in the middle of a Pyramid Stage moshpit or singing ‘I Will Survive’ with a gaggle of half-naked drag queens at the NYC Downlow in dystopian disco paradise Block9.
Glastonbury has always been about so much more than the music, meaning this year’s booking of Jeremy Corbyn and previous appearances from the Dalai Lama and the late, great politician and writer Tony Benn aren’t as bizarre as they would be coming after, for example, a Judas Priest set at Download.And these appearances are just as powerful as the big-name draws on the bill. I’ve only cried once at Glastonbury, and that was when I found myself overcome with emotion after being lead in a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ to the very same Dalai Lama by the majestic Patti Smith. It had though, if I’m being entirely honest, been quite a big weekend.
Last year, thousands of happy Glasto campers woke up to the news that Britain had voted the leave the EU. The Brexit blues hit the camp hard, but instead of moping, people started talking and organising. A year down the line and there will be post-Brexit debates in the Left Field and, hopefully, as many answers as there will be questions. The true spirit of Glastonbury is about collaboration and working – and yes, partying – together. If that sounds like hippy tosh, then plait flowers into my hair and shower me in crystals. See you at the Stone Circle for sunrise.