I was going to do a screed about Glasto in response to Samizdata’s post, but things have gotten away from me rather this weekend. For one we have been at a Nephew’s wedding in Cardiff last weekend, and the bloody dongle wasn’t working anyway…
Is Glasto better or worse than it used to be? Is it too Middle Class? Is it this… Is it that? Well if you want an honest answer, then it is ineffably better than it was.
I wrote that (hope you can read it, click to enlarge) for Sounds Magazine back in 1979. Back then Glasto was a half arsed hippy dippie festival that you had to provide all the jollies for yourself, there weren’t even bars back then( except for us Back-stagers). There were hot dog and burger vans and folks knocking out Falafal and curries. All kinds of alternative lifestyle stalls and two stages… The Pyramid and the Other Stage. There were theatre, cinema and comedy tents/stages too, but this was all in its infancy then. Now there are over a hundred stages catering from everything from Jazz to folk to Indie to Rave to… well you just cannot imagine what Glastonbury is like unless you have experienced it. In sunshine or in rain, in hail and mud (the British spirit of the blitz really kicks in with the mud!). It is truly Alice through the Looking Glass for three days or so. A world you would love to live in but like Brigadoon, vanishes oh so quickly and you have to get back to mundane reality and the 9-5 come Monday morning.
Now the above piece has an anecdote attached (don’t all your pieces?… Ed) I was a freelance and new kid on the block for Sounds Magazine when they commissioned me to do the first day and a half of the 79 Glasto. So off we set with our tent and provisions and it was just about possible to cover it as a music event with only two main stages. We had a wonderful stoned time and I went home to Bristol and wrote up my copy on the Sunday night.
Well I’m an Executive Officer in the Crown Court by day and a journalist at night at this time in my life, aren’t I? So I roll into the Crown Court around 9.30 ( I have always been allergic to mornings) with my pristine copy in my hand.
Sounds had a deadline of 12 noon on Mondays. So I made myself a cup of coffee and got on the phone to the Printers. Now my Seniors were always very indulgent with me, it must be my natural charm or something, because I used to get away with a hell of a lot. I even used the Chief Clerk’s office now and again because the Sounds secretaries were chosen for the size of their boobs and the shortness of their skirts, not their Shorthand skills, and took a fuckin age to get copy transcribed, and even then they often misheard it.
But anyway I’m through to the Printers with professional copy takers, people who can transcribe as fast or faster than you can talk… So did you stay the whole weekend and see all the bands? says the copy taker. Well of course we did! You don’t go home half way through a festival do you?… Great! says he… It’s like this… The Staffer who was supposed to cover the last day and a half, got so wasted he never even got out of the cark park, let alone saw the bands, so can you re-write your stuff and expand it to cover the whole festival?
This is how you hone the craft of Journalism ladies and gents… Not by going to Journalism School and learning about pyramid leads, it’s born of fear, adrenaline, and a ferocious deadline looming. I now had about 2 hours to re-write my copy to cover the whole festival and phone it in. I had no notes just memory and inspiration.
So sheepishly I asked my boss if I could take an early lunch…. Lunch! Lunch! you only just got here! It’s only ten o’clock for Christ’s sake!…. I explained, and again they were incredibly indulgent with me. I repaired to the tavern across the other side of Broad Street, got one in and set about my task in a sweat driven frenzy. The above is the result. Not my most pristine prose by any stretch, but I did the job.
The Glastonbury Festival is one thing you all should do before you die, it is like nothing else you will ever experience. provided you can afford it these days of course. I have never paid to get in.