Friday, 5 July 2013

A7: S1 - Top 10 Glastonbury '13 Moments


So, I have juuuuuust about finally returned and recovered from the most incredible few days of my life at The Glastonbury Festival 2013.

In a combination of majorly suffering from the Post-Festival Blues and waiting for my disposables to come back from the developers, I have been waiting to put up this post, and in the meantime, stewing over how exactly I'm going to do it. I began keeping a diary of every day at the festival, by writing down all I could remember before I went to bed each night, but after the first night I realised that that was going to be a completely unrealistic prospect.

So, alongside some guest posts from some of the lovely people that were with me, including my darling Pistol, I've decided to summarise the entire experience into my top 10 moments of the festival!

It's been a hard task narrowing everything that has happened to me in the last few days into just 10 major points, but I think I've just about done it. So, drum roll please, in reverse order, here they are:



#10.

Accidentally stumbling across a secret gig after getting lost



The one thing about Glastonbury which I was totally unprepared for, was the sheer and absolute  enormity of it all.

I've been to quite a range of other music festivals before including my fair sure of Reading Festivals, but despite Pistol's persistence in claiming that Glasto would be above and beyond anything I could fathom or I would have ever experienced before, I took his praise-singing with a pinch of salt, as one of the things Pistol and I seem to be so fond of, is a wee bit of rose-tinted romanticism.

But even my most optimistic expectations of what the place could actually be like, were completely and utterly blown out of the water. There really is no place on planet Earth quite like The Glastonbury Festival.

From attention to even the minutest of details to the almost unnecessary depths of creativity and integrity in crafting themes and stories behind every single thing you see, the vast rolling plains from the plethora of gigantic stages, the multitude of secret micro-cities and an absolute gold-mine of unexpected discoveries, the place was quite simply, in every way possible ENORMOUS.

Another thing which was massive were the crowds, especially around the main stages. 

After getting completely separated from everyone whilst watching The Rolling Stones on the Pyramid Stage, I decided, in my usual style, to go and have a walk around and see what adventures could find me.

Whilst stumbling drunkenly through Silver Hayes, penned as Glastonbury's Dance Village and styled in a fusion of a sleek, sloping, sci-fi-esque space station, combined with a rusted reggae shanty town, all centered around a giant statue of a gorilla holding its hands to the sky, I hear something familiar. I locate the sound to a small-ish stage called The Gully and find a very small yet extremely over-excited crowd completely losing their shit as Skrillex performs a secret gig, to only those random hundred or so people who'd gloriously and unintentionally happened across it.

Awesome.


#9.

Inventing the 'Pistol's a Dickhead' drinking game
(Part 1)














What was interesting about our Glastonbury group, was that of all 15 or so of them, I actually only knew Pistol from before. 

Pistol was undoubtedly (however much he is going to love reading this) the glue that held all of us together. Some of our group were Pistol's childhood friends, some were old Dutch roommates from Holland, some were his Uni friends (me) and the rest were his brothers friends. Most of us did not know each other, but the one thing we had in common was that we all knew Pistol.

So, naturally, the first way we all bonded as a group was to mercilessly tease the shit out of him.

Thus, at a beautiful area between The Pyramid Stage and The West Holts Stage, we gathered by The Cider Bus, (a giant double decker bus covered in ribbons, flags and streamers and painted with daisies, that distributed large quantities of Somerset Festival Cider), we sat in the sun and laughed while we tried to name all of Pistol's quirky mannerisms, which we turned it into a drinking game. 

These included downing your whole drink if he said the phrase 'But, uh' followed by a dramatic pause (which he says a hell of a lot), drinking half your drink when he answers the phone in an unnecessarily dramatic fashion (For example, "Ahh my main man, Captain Ross! Maestro of fun! Lieutenant of debauchery and pioneer of shenanigans! How's it going man?!" which is barely even exaggerating), and taking a sip of your drink every time he justifies completely unreasonable and unnecessarily reckless behaviour with the painstakingly repeated phrase "But come on... you're at Glasto!"

And the best part of it all, despite how much he laughingly protested that it was unfair and cruel, every time I stole a secret glance at him, he could be seen with his head down, secretly smiling to himself as he picked aimlessly at a piece of grass.


#8.

Seriously enjoying Pistol's punishments
(Part 2)





















On the Thursday night, the dreaded yet inevitable turn finally happened, and it started to pour down with rain. As the music hadn't even started yet, we weren't too fussed, as there was just so much else to do. 

In fact, the music is actually the most minor point of the whole festival. Every single one of us said we could have gone home at the the end of the Thursday, after just two days of being there, and said Glastonbury was the best experience of our lives - and we hadn't even seen any music acts yet.

So while we waited out the rain before we hit the vast, still unexplored cities, districts and ghettos of The Glastonbury Festival, we decided, all 15 or so of us, to rendez-vous in the biggest of the tents and just get smashed. 

Our campsite was in one of the best locations of the entire festival, just a two minute walk from the Other Stage, and about 10 minutes to the Pyramid Stage. I'd taken my ukulele and one of the other guys we were camping with (as seen in the awesome duck jumper in the picture above) had bought a guitar, and we just all got drunk and made music. 

As the rain poured and poured, our warmth, laughter and music was infectious, as soon, random strangers from neighbouring tents came knocking and asked to join us.

The 8-man tent was absolutely packed to it's green canvassy rafters as we played the most silly childish games like Spin the Bottle, I have Never, Truth or Dare, and we all delighted in informing everyone with the rules of the Pistol is a Dickhead drinking game.

Things get a little blurry, but one memorable forfeit for Pistol, and an image that will be etched in my mind forever, is him having to strip down to just his boxer shorts, and run outside around the tent twice in the rain and cold, waving his hands in the air, screaming 'I love my life! I love my life!' Which he did with a surprising lack of persuasion.

(One of the best things I have seen in my life, and unfortunately the picture of that was lost to one of the disposable cameras that is currently in the possession of the Dutchies, but as soon as that picture surfaces, I shall add it to this post!)



#7.

Being sacrificed to the neon gods whilst watching Foals























Now this is a bizarre but surprisingly distinct memory from what turned out to be the most crazy Friday of my life, and the overall best day of my time at Glastonbury.

Just quick, you need to listen to this song here on Youtube as you read to truly appreciate just how weird and amazing this moment was. 

I was possibly the drunkest I've ever been in my entire life, dressed as a cat with ears, nose, whiskers and glitter, and I'd just been stopped by Cosmopolitan so they could take a picture of my make-up. In a drunken haze I shouted "I'll be working with you in December!" but luckily the woman had found it funny and let's hooooooooope I still have a job there. 

So we headed to Foals that were performing at the Other Stage, the giant flag-surrounded, second biggest stage at Glasto, and the one right by our tent, when I suddenly spotted a massive group of people all covered in neon glowing face-paint. They looked like tribes-people or native Americans from space (or maybe I was just super drunk) and suddenly, I just need that. Pushing through the bustling crowds in a trance, I found my way to them, stood dead still and just pointed at my face.

They all turned, saw me, and as if in slow motion, started pushing toward me with these luminescent tubes of paint.

I sort of remember it like it was a film, and at if it was, then it was at 2:43 that this next bit happened.

Like a horde of paint-wielding zombies, they descended upon my face and body as I just held my hands up, bright orange, yellow, pink and green fingers just smearing across my face as the Foals - Prelude filled the entire air, and the heavy guitar rattled right through my bones and body. 

Was a pretty surreal moment, and apparently I somehow got a picture of it, as seen above. And now listening to that song never fails to give me hot, sickly goosebumps.



#6.

Watching the sunrise at the Stone Circle
























Overlooking the entirety of Worthy Farm, The Glastonbury Festival and quite a lot of Pilton, Somerset, The Stone Circle is arguably the best lookout point of the entire farm. It sits right high up on the valley hill, framed by a thick copse of oak trees, laced with little tinkling streams and playing host to the giant Hollywood-esque, patchwork 'Glastonbury' sign, the view from the Stone Circle really was breathtaking.

I guess the only downside, which also can be quite nice, is that it's not exactly a secret.

Around the hours of 4am and 5am, just before dawn, the place gets packed out with ethereal hippies, beatniks, druids, pagans and all sorts of bizarre people, combined with an absolute plethora of hallucinogenic and psychedelic drugs, laughing gas and quite the strong tendency for random improv circus acts and sudden acoustic guitar superstars - you certainly do see some odd things up there. 

But none of this is done in harm or in an aggressive manner, as everyone mostly sits around their candle flares, laughing and chatting, and then uproariously applauding and cheering as the sun's first morning rays finally peek above the trodden muddy grasslands on the horizon of Worthy Farm.

Twice during Glasto I went up to The Stone Circle with JK who I actually saw surprisingly little of the whole time) and we sat together on the damp grass next to the giant protruding stone obelisks, gazing at the stars. Then he'd put his arm round me when it got a little too chilly and we'd sit there together watching the sun rise before finally calling it a day and heading back to camp. It was lovely.

I think my favourite part of that, however, had to be before the sun had risen, and we were lying back on the grass, and a bedraggled old woman with long blonde dreadlocks, stands over us, eyes glazed and spinning, and in a really deep crackling voice, creaks, "What you two 'ave 'ere..." and points at us "You never let that go. You 'ear me?" and then disappears, which was simultaneously contextually hilarious and absolutely terrifying.



#5.

In a desperately hungover state, trying to recharge our phones via exercise bike


This, above, is my tent-mate Jo, who actually appears to be quite enjoying her cycling recharge sesh. I however, was not quite as jubilant.

After the absolute annihilation of Foals, followed by a ridiculous night-long adventure in Shangri-La, ending with sunrise at the Stone Circle with JK, after two hours sleep, me and Jo felt it was an appropriate time to do some strenuous exercise.  

I'd taken my phone, as I was to be travelling alone and didn't want to lose everyone, and they did had a giant recharge tent, but you had to queue for a minimum of 45 minutes and pay, and time and money are not things you want to fritter away at Glasto. So, we headed to the Healing Fields, near the Fields of Avalon. Aka the hippy, peace love and happiness side of Glastonbury. 

All around us in the long grass and wildflower fields were interpretative dancers, people meditating and giant massage trains stretching from tent to tent, people holding political talks and preaching about global warming and save the trees, and lots of people with flowers in their long flowing hair and beards. A far cry from the Glasto I had seen so far, but more like the Glasto I had expected. 

After being unable to take anymore, we finally collapsed in the NSPCC tent where we found a place where you could recharge your phone by plugging it into an exercise bike, and using your muscle power to give your mobile some juice. 

After 45 minutes of continuous, sweaty, hungover mess pedalling, desperately trying to transfer some of my rapidly depleting energy from my body to my Samsung, we triumphantly surrendered, only to discover we'd only generated 9% battery on my phone. 

Fantastic. 




#4.

Accidentally missing all my favourite bands and ending up drunk off my face in the improv comedy tent 



























This was the daylight portion of the ridiculously odd yet still somehow amazing Friday.

When I'd arrived at London Paddington Station on my way to Glastonbury, there was a problem with my tickets, and after a heck of a lot of stress and confusion, I realised I had to wait 3 hours for the next train. I hadn't slept the night before and was so stressed out that I wasn't going to get there, and was genuinely close to tears in the station whilst waiting. 

But then I noticed three other people in the same boat as me. 

I got chatting to them, and it turned out two of them were part of a media crew that were going to be filming at Glastonbury, and one of them was an actual performer - a comedian by the name of Tommy Croft, who with his brother, were part of a comedy acoustic duo called 'Jollyboat'. What absolutely amazed me and made me laugh is that Tommy Croft, the random comedian I sat with on the train is actually very good friends with Mr X! 

We named ourselves 'Team 10:30' and had a riot of a journey to Glasto, and I've never been more glad to mess up my travel plans so dramatically. 

Anyway, Jollyboat were performing at 7pm on the Friday, and I thought I'd just pop in to show my support and see if they were any good, before shooting off to one of my favourite bands in existence, Alt-J. 

My whole carefully devised plan quickly became shot to shit, as after being blown away by how great The Hives were then getting completely smashed at Kodaline earlier in the day, I ended up spending the entire day with JK and his old friends who for reasonable reasons because of reasons I shall call Old Man Conway, BFG and The Iron Dwarf (Sorry JK, totally jacked your nicknames), and we stumbled around Glastonbury, missing all the music. Me and JK spent about two hours sitting through this really bizarre improv show, cringing at how awkward it was but crying with laughter, then watched the entire Jollyboat set, including an encore. Only then to realise we'd spent so long in this weird tent, we'd missed everything else we'd wanted to see.

But that's one of the best things about Glastonbury, and what sets it just so far apart from any other festival - it's barely even really about the music. On Friday, I missed almost everything, yet I went on the most ridiculous adventure in all the other crazy places they have around, and it turned out to be the best day I had of the whole 5 days. With places like Reading, Leeds, Bestival or Isle of Wight, if you miss the music, you've missed the festival.

At Glastonbury, missing the music only means making way for more adventure.



#3.

#PaulGlasto



Probably the most infamous tale to come out of my Glastonbury experience.

One day, before the music had started, all of our team were relaxing by the Brothers Cider Tent at the West Holts Stage, when an incredibly drunk guy came stumbling around, much to the enjoyment of everyone at the stage. I grabbed a pen and wrote his name, Paul on his front, and #PaulGlasto on his back.

Suddenly the whole stage was chanting 'Paul! Paul! Paul!' and the hashtag was trending on Twitter. 

When I returned there was a media storm about it and I had to do a phone interview about it, and two articles were written about it in the Western Daily Press, which became their two most popular articles ever published! To read the full story, the two articles are here and here.



#2.

Meeting Douglas Booth in Shangri La



Now although the former was my most notable moment, my most favourite was definitely this one.

Shangri La was hands down the best place in all of Glastonbury. Just like Silver Hayes and many of the countless other micro-cities Glastonbury boasted, Shangri La had its own very distinguishable style, back story, certain rules, hushed rumours and secrets. 

The theme to Shangri La this year was 'One mans Heaven is another mans Hell..." With two main stages and areas, named, yup you guessed it, Heaven and Hell. I did not step into Heaven once and spent all of my time in the absolute debaucherous delights of Hell. 

My favourite part of Hell was the alley of Seven Deadly Sins. Wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony - there were separate clubs/stages for each of them, each with their own twisted and macabre dancers, DJ's and performance artists. And it was deep in the dark labyrinthine depths of Lust, when I was with JK, Old Man Conway and the BFG, that JK just suddenly stops dancing and whispers;

"Shit, that's guy's well famous! He was in Harry Potter or something, I swear."

I turn and look behind JK to find a tall bored-looking guy wearing a beanie with high cheekbones, talking to a pretty blonde. I definitely didn't recognise him and I definitely would've recognised him if he'd been in Harry Potter. I was about to refute JK's preposterous claim, when suddenly the beanie guy and pretty blonde part, and between them stood only Douglas bloody Booth. 

I'm gonna put another picture of him in here, just for good measure. And because he is just out-staaaaanding. Imagine seeing this lurking sexually in the dimly lit depths of an intimate club.


He absolutely shone like a beacon in the small dark lust-hole, and he wasn't even trying. He looked Glasto-scruffy and was drunk as hell, but my sweet god. He was just beautiful. He caught my eye for a split second, smiled, and looked away. Thaaaaaaaaaaaaat's when I remembered I had half glitter cat face, half Foals neon face-rape. 

JK went over and talked to him, and suddenly he threw his arms around JK shoulders and gave him a massive drunken hug. He, beanie guy and the pretty blonde, who turned out to be his girlfriend and one of the nicest girls I have ever met, joined our group and danced with us for a bit while we chatted asking each other how our festivals had been, who we'd seen and such.

It was the most surreal and incredible thing, something which I could only quite process the day after. I'm just glad I was so damn drunk otherwise I probably would've been hyperventilating or something.

And then they said goodbye and disappeared into the consuming darkness of the various sordid back alleys of Shangri La, and we were left elated and dumbfounded.




#1.

Pistol at Mumford and Sons


This has to be, hands down and for so many reasons, the highlight of my entire Glastonbury Festival.

I have been a die hard fan of Mumford and Sons for as long as I have had music taste. I have all their tracks, listened both their albums to death and covered countless songs of theirs on my uke, but I've never had the absolute honour of seeing them live. This was one band at Glastonbury of which there was no compromise, I HAD to see them.

So after being spread out here and there the entire festival, all of our group were finally as one together, and got to the main stage two hours early to ensure we had a good spot. We waited and waited (Mumford and Sons reference here somewhere...?) and finally, we were granted with what I feel like I've waited years for.

It was the single most incredible experience of my entire life.

I must've pissed everyone off by knowing every single word to every single song, but I slugged down my drink, threw back my head and my hands to the sky, and belted out the songs which have held such significance and importance for me in my life for so many years, feeling the swelling bass notes rattling my bones and the soft banjo and guitar chords plucking away at my heartstrings.

When 'I Will Wait' came on, I felt a lump rise in my throat, as suddenly the phase came hurtling back to me, as it had done before. 

I thought about Alex and Liam, and all the unnecessary pain and heartache that had come from that, all the friendships soiled and bad blood spilled. It was a whole world away to me now.  

When I looked over at the faces of the people I had grown to love over the past four days, their exuberant faces illuminated orange by the giant flaming phoenix atop of the pyramid stage, happiness and drunkenness mingling in their eyes... suddenly I realised that I didn't feel sad anymore. I was choosing to accept it, and finally let it go. The resentment I held with that song was gone, and it was actively being replaced. Now, that song would always remind me of looking out at the faces of the lovely, kind and beautiful people of the Glastonbury. 

I looked up into the stars and tall telescopic flags fluttering softly in the wind, and as the song changed to Winter Winds, the first ever song I listened to that made me thing I physically can't listen to songs I like, I closed my eyes, letting it consume me and then I felt something grip my hand.

I looked down but amongst the pressing, jumping, screaming bodies I couldn't see past. But then I realised that Pistol was next to me, and under the swarm of bodies, he'd grabbed my hand. 

I looked up at him, and he smiled with such sincere peace and happiness that he needn't have ever explained as I felt the exact same flooding my body, and as the chorus began and rippled about in gargantuan waves across the thousands of people in the crowd, as we stood in the middle in front of the most iconic stage at the greatest festival in the world, he smiled as he mouthed to me:

"I love you."


And I said it right back.

Because it's true, I have never loved someone like I love Pistol. 

Not that I have never loved someone as much, but I have never loved someone in this way

There is no romance, there's no chemistry between us. 'Platonic sibling love' doesn't seem to quite do it justice, yet it's probably the closest we'll ever get to finding a definition. Because however much we rip into each other, enjoying each others mock-misery and rolling our eyes at each other successes, underneath it all is a very real, deep set, reciprocal and unique affection.

Pistol was the one that got me here, he was the one that bought me to Glastonbury, and if I'm quite honest... he is the one that makes the person I am, allows me to go on these crazy adventures, live life to the full and be silver - his influence upon my life, alone, is the fundamental basis of Scarphelia.

And in that moment, the crescendo of the finale of the greatest time of my life with my best friend in the whole world, all these small stresses that had been playing around my mind pre-Glasto just melted away into incomparable obscurity. 

And that's when I realised... that's what being silver really is. 

It's not about being better than anyone else, being a rebel, taking risks and just going on adventures. 

It's being able to understand that when it comes down to it, the serious, boring, dull, grey stuff, stuff that we all have to deal with, is what'll kill you if you let it. The understanding that you need things like having a cuddle with someone whilst watching the sun rise, hanging out and talking to people you would never normally come across - complete strangers, watching your favourite band live, telling your best friend that you love them, those free, simple, beautiful things to reevaluate your perspective on what you deem truly important in life and worth caring about.

It's those things that make you realise that in the grand scheme of things, the grey is irrelevant, and the silver is what life is supposed to be for. And I may seem like I have been brainwashed by the hippies up at the Stone Circle, but that's fundamentally what The Glastonbury Festival is all about. It's not a music festival, or a hippy protest. A performing arts event or a fashion show. It's pretty much one big giant celebration of 'Fuck it, let's just be happy!' 

And I guess I was just lucky enough to be able to go to such an incredible place, which is built, immersed in and empowered by that same philosophy. An experience that my life, mind, and way of thinking will never be the same, for having been.



Choose to be free. Choose to be happy. Choose to be lucky.

(Also, if you can, choose to go to Glastonbury.)







14 comments :

  1. LOVE! I wish summer would hurry up now! Love your blog! <3

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    Replies
    1. Aw so glad you like it! Are you going to Glastonbury next year? :) x

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  2. I've never been to Glastonbury but I'd most definitely love to. I did go to see Mumford & Sons about a year ago in Phoenix Park so I can relate to that part of your experience. The crowd was phenomenal, just like a big family, the randomers we grouped up with were wonderful and it was one of the best days of my life. I'm having major post concert blues but I loved this post. Great blog! :D

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