I hadn’t really thought on it but as last weekend approached, and I chatted to people I knew who were going, I realised how much FOMO I was feeling with not going to Glastonbury this year.
Add in three of my favourite bands playing (one of which was a surprise addition) and the FOMO was strong with this one! Ohh and then ALL the sunshine whereas last year we had ALL the rain… pfffttttt!
Trying to explain why Glastonbury is such a wonderful experience, especially to those who haven’t been before, is tricky. Yes it’s massive, yes if it rains it kinda sucks to be sodden all day long, yes I have seen many of the bands already, yes you are outdoors the entire time, but none of that is the point.
It’s also tricky if your only experience is the bampot-laden drink/drugs/twat fest that T in the Park has become. Not that there aren’t drinks/drugs/twats at Glastonbury, more that it’s so massive you can easily stay away from them and even the drunkest drunk (or highest high) is usually apologetically stumbling around rather than looking for a fight.
So why do I enjoy Glastonbury? Why are the queues, the loos, and the expensive booze worth the hassle?
From arriving on the Wednesday you can revel in those first couple of days before it gets really busy, you have time to just wander about, marvelling at the artwork and the installations, and that’s when I find I start to relax and embrace the whole Glastonburyness of it. The entire space feels disconnected from the rest of the world and from the circus area to the green fields, everything is focussed on having fun, being happy, and being good to one another. What’s not to like?
But maybe it’s me.
I have a basic assumption about people. People are nice.
On the whole the majority of people are nice, caring, kind at heart. Sure we all deal with assholes and brainless wonders every day (and remember, nice people don’t make the news!) but away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, where we are all caught up in our own worlds (and probably being a bit of an asshole to others in our own way as well) that’s where Glastonbury exists. A safe place, where the nicer and friendlier you are, the more rewarding it is. Where a smile is quickly shared and people are thoughtful and considerate.
Families pushing kids in buggies, the couple in their 70s who’ve been at every Glastonbury since 1983, the group all dressed in skintight neon lyrca disco gear, sit down next to any of them in a bar, or with a coffee on a bench, and strike up a conversation. The police officers smilingly rejecting the offer of a joint at 2am, the security guard dancing with Katy Perry, all the caterers and bar staff who are working 12 hour shifts but still smiling.
Jonny Greenwood captured it perfectly when he said “the thing about Glastonbury is that, when you leave on Monday, your faith in humanity is restored”. This is exactly why I was a bit sad I wasn’t there this year, dancing like an idiot in the silent disco on Thursday night, because it was always (even though I didn’t realise it) more of a re-grounding and re-connecting experience that I ever gave it credit for. It was big and new and scary and weird and wonderful and sometimes that’s just what you need to remind you that, actually, the world is pretty damn awesome if you keep your eyes and heart open.
Rain or shine, a few days outside in the fresh air is good for the soul. Be it amazing headliners on the Pyramid stage or a new discovery at the Pussy Parlour, music is good for the spirits. They all come together in a million and one memories that build a picture of happiness and love and acceptance.
THAT is Glastonbury.
That is the mental and emotional reset button that I now realised I was missing.
And then the Foo Fighters played Under Pressure…