It was the renowned poet and scholar Ricky Wilson out of Kaiser Chiefs who once told me that once you’ve found your spiritual home, you should just go and live there. Which is why I’ve been in intense legal wrangles with Pilton Council for decades over my long-stalled request for planning permission to build a luxury three-bedroom family home right next door to the Other Stage wine bar.
You see, for some people Glastonbury is a rite of passage. A once-in-a-lifetime, never to be repeated late-teen lost weekend full of hallucinogens, long drop mishaps and the metaphysical revelations to be gained by watching the sun rise while attempting furious copulation with a sacred stone. The rest of us, though, get drawn in on our first visit and become Glastonburians for life, lost souls destined to wander the wasteland of the world for 51 weekends of the year until ‘home’ materialises for a few precious days, like a slurry Valhalla.
Each Glastonburian has their own routine. You might be of the tribe that turns up as the gates open on Wednesday morning, bags a prime camping spot on Pennard Hill and proceeds to get as stoned as Snoop’s chauffeur for five days straight, until you’re swept out of the festival on Monday evening, painted black and white and arguing that you have to stay because you’re one of the cows.
Perhaps you like to arrive at your luxuriously appointed tipi mid-afternoon on a Thursday, turn off your crypto alerts, shut down your market analysis software, don the hand-woven pashminas of your Glastonbury alter-ego Crystal Craig and throw yourself into the aura-expanding wonders of the Healing Fields until your chakras prolapse.
Or maybe you’re a lieutenant of the righteous Pyramid Stage army, who muster in the craft fields for two days before the music starts, making the largest and sturdiest flags imaginable before marching on the front barrier of the main stage and holding the line for the entire duration in a heroic frontline effort to ensure that only people watching on telly get to see a fucking thing.
Myself? After two frustrating years away from my second home of Worthy Farm, I’m looking forward to the comforting familiarity of riding the psychedelic cider bus to Old Albion on the Thursday night – even more than seeing Kendrick. As much as Macca’s set, I’m excited for traditional midnight pilgrimage to the American 1950s diner club in Shangri-La. And to failing to find the mythical underground piano bar – which I’m pretty sure Michael Eavis imagines every year – as much as any secret set. Particularly if the mysterious Gold Rush Kid on the bill at the John Peel Stage really does turn out to be a secret set by George Ezra, itself a fruitless trudge through watery slush in search of something supposedly worthwhile.
Our regular routines are there purely to allow us to settle back in, of course, to re-acclimatise to life in Glastonbury’s Bliss Dimension. Once the music starts, everything goes out the window and it’s a frantic three-day blur of rushed falafel, ill-timed drugs and Elbow’s ‘One Day Like This’. It’s at times like these that I’m most looking forward to sneaking away from the music for a few hours at a time and enjoying the stuff on the outskirts.
A rotisserie chicken among the lucky few who have correctly followed their mates’ confusing directions to William’s Green. An hour in the cabaret tent, listening to the Glastonbury misadventures of big-name panel show comedians, whose stardom generally hasn’t shielded them from soiling themselves at a blanket stall rave, just like the rest of us. A roam through the Theatre Field, to see what manner of man-sized seabird will attack me this year in the name of wandering interactive drama. Or a jaunt to The Common, where one year you might find an all-night cocktail cinema showing Flashdance back-to-back with Un Chien Andalou, and the next a bar themed around a Latin American Day Of The Dead carnival.
I relish the years with disappointing headliners, as it gives me the chance to slip into Shangri-La before the crowds and really get involved. In 2011, the year that, in a futuristic pandemic hellscape – no shit – a ‘virus’ spread through the area via ‘infected’ volunteers patting you on the shoulder with invisible ink that lit up under ultra-violet light, I was first in to the ‘quarantine’ bars specifically for the infected like a shot seller at a Downing Street lockdown piss-up. Thanks, U2.
Most of all, though, I’m desperate to get back to my beloved Wine Bars, dotted around the site beneath giant inflatable Nebuchadnezzars, playing indie-rock on crappy speakers all night long for the discerning gaggles of alt-rock fans who appreciate the pairing of ‘Last Nite’ with bulk-bought supermarket merlot. Until I’m singing “rock the wine bar” to the strains of ‘Rock The Casbah’ with a plastic bottle of vastly overpriced rioja raised triumphantly above my head, I won’t truly be home.