I shouldn’t be here. Not sat at this desk typing the words, ‘I shouldn’t be here’. Where I should be is 300 miles away stuck in traffic rubbernecking Stonehenge on the A303. I shouldn’t have slept at all last night. Instead I should have been packing wet-wipes, waterproofs and Wellingtons into a well-worn backpack at 3am.
Tonight when I’m masochistically watching The Apprentice and mustering up the energy to give a solitary shit whether Team Prolapse or Team Dildo wins the challenge to cup Alan Sugar’s balls for half an hour, my body will be firmly on my couch but my mind will be walking up the Stone Circle, arms around my closest friends, trying not to look back at the festival in all its splendour until we reach the summit.
I shouldn’t be here. I should be at Glastonbury.
It’d be easy to blame Bono. It’s easy to blame Bono for a lot of things, but it’s particularly easy to blame him for ruining my weekend. Yet in this instance it wouldn’t be fair.
What seems like a long, long time ago in a mindset – far, far away, back when the Glastonbury 2011 tickets first went on sale – myself and my nearest and dearest, were far too lackadaisical about this year’s greatest weekend.
From our first eye-opening trip in 2002 right up to last year’s lovingly laid-back 2010 (with the exception of the 2006 fallow year) we’d centre our lives around the Worthy Farm experience. In the case of two of my regular companions, this was literally the case as they’d fit their TEFAL careers around the final weekend in June. Nothing seemed as important as making sure we were all together for the five longest days of the year.
And despite some ups and downs in both morale and the vibe of the festival (it has a dangerous habit of shifting with the weather and the headliners) every year we were glad that we made the epic journey. We were glad we got sunstroke and glad we got mudsoaked.
In years when it looked like we might not make it, like life as seen through the eyes of Jeff Goldblum, we found a way. In 2004, having missed out on the ticket rush I scoured the internet to see if the Cinema field needed assistance. Months later I was projecting The Goonies to 30 odd thousand people. Life will find a way.
This same year another of our good friends, Steve, sans ticket, managed to enter the festival using little more than a smile, a pair of puppy dog eyes and a healthy dose of Jedi mind control. I should add at this time that Steve is also convinced there is a tree that overhangs the giant fence, perfect for illegal entry. While we have yet to see this tree, I like to think he’s hanging from it as we speak.
With so many happy memories, and such a love for the people and places of Pilton, why the hell are we not sitting just outside of Frome? I’m reluctant to admit that part of it stems from a misplaced desire to embrace the end of my arrested development. I’m not the only one that’s had to chew my lip as sceptics have informed us that “We’ll grow out of it one day” and for a moment or two it appeared they were right.
But as I flick through the NME site as photos of the farm pop up like memories of a deceased pet and I fill up at the merest glimpse of Thom or Jarvis cavorting around the Pyramid Stage on BBC4, I realise the extent of my folly and cry: “If growing up means missing this, then call me Peter Pan”.
And it’s then that the realisation dawns that the justification of ‘the headliners are all shite’ is as hollow as Kevin Bacon in the film Hollow Man.
It matters as much that U2 are playing in one area of the field as it does that JLS are playing the O2 while Bright Eyes play Brixton Academy. If the Irish penii aren’t your cup of tea then walk for ten minutes and watch Primal Scream or run over to DJ Shadow or, and I can’t recommend this enough, go hunt down a man to throw rice at you to the delicate strains of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.
But alas, all I’m doing is making myself more depressed. Short of a Lotto win tonight or a personal invitation for me and 5 friends to stay at the behest of Emily and Michael, the year of our Lord 2011 will be as Glasto free for me and mine as 2012 will be for all.
So those that are going, enjoy yourselves. The experience can’t be summed up in words typed from a laptop. But perhaps this, as told by Emily Eavis to NME yesterday, comes closest to showing why so many of us care so much about being a part of it…
“My dad fell asleep on a train the other day and woke up with a note in front of him. There was no sign of its author – it just said, ‘Thanks for bringing so much happiness into people’s lives.’ It means a lot to Michael after over 40 years.”
Roll on 2013.
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