The Glastonbury 2005 Experience, Pt 2

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A young woman in a crowd enjoying a party.

Upon waking I had a bit of a surprise. It would appear that I'd managed to sleep
through rain of biblical proportions, almost as if a greater power suddenly
remembered that Glastonbury was about to happen so organised a quick flood to
establish the right mood. It was very wet.

There are lots of small roads around the Glastonbury site (such as the road past
Gate 3, where I was camped) but on that Friday morning they became rivers. I'm
not exaggerating here. There was a remarkable amount of water rushing down those
roads (several inches deep in places) all of it heading one way - towards the
bottom of the valley. When you first arrive at the site and see that valley in
front of you the sheer scale of the festival becomes apparent. There are camping
fields stretching into the distance (and finding your tent in the aforementioned
fields is a mission in itself, best discussed at another time) and, alas, there
are camping fields at the bottom of the valley.

In 1997 and 1998 Glastonbury saw some serious mud. If people tell you that 2004
was muddy (as some do) they don't know what real Glasto mud is like. In '97 and
'98 the mud was so bad that the Jazz/World stage started to sink. It was so
muddy that the site crew decided to clean up the dance tent with the assistance
of one of the trucks more normally used to empty the longdrops (toilets, again
best not discussed at this juncture). Problem was, they had it set on 'blow'
rather than 'suck'.

You've probably heard that story before and thought it was apocryphal. Trust me
(and anyone else who had a functioning sense of smell that year), it genuinely
happened. Those two years were bad, but 2005 was the first time I've seen canoes
being used in the camping areas!

So, it was very, very wet. Many people took this opportunity to try out their
nice new wellies. Bad idea! Wellied foot goes into mud, foot comes out of
wellie, wellie stays in mud. Also, 3 - 6 days of walking in wellies leads to an
outstanding collection of blisters. I didn't fancy blisters, so cut my losses
and ploughed on into the mire shoed in my trusty Converse. The sensation of the
initial 'ooze' flowing through the canvas and between the toes is, perhaps
surprisingly, very pleasant. It don't half play havoc with your socks though!

A word of warning - if you ever decide to follow me down the path of unsuitable
footwear, make sure you clean your feet THOROUGHLY every night (praise be to the
wet wipe) and leave the aforementioned footwear close enough to the campfire to
dry out over night. If you don't, trenchfoot may ensue. And be aware that no
matter how much you clean and dry out the trainers it takes great determination
to put them on the following morning as they're never going to be pleasant. This
year fear of the crusty trainer caused intense procrastination which led me to
get a small patch of uncomfortable sunburn on my right foot. Just be strong and
get the blighters on.

And so to the very, very, very wet festival itself. I missed most of the things
I wanted to see (including the whole Babyshambles set - I was nominated to
accompany two ladies to the loo, through a lake by the other stage, which took
about 45 minutes. Humph), but as usual the highlights were unexpected: Chas 'n
Dave, The Proclaimers, Glenn Tilbrook and Hayseed Dixie were all in the 'I'll give
'em a go' category, and all were fantastic. Kaiser Chiefs lived up to their
reputation as a fantastic live band, The White Stripes were good but nothing
special, I forgot to see Coldplay, and was too drunk to see Basement Jaxx (I
think I was staggering around the Stone Circle at the time.)

The atmosphere was fantastic. There has been some concern that the changing
demographic (less hippies, more students, if you'll pardon the generalisation)
has had a negative impact on the festival. That's piffle - there may be a lot of
people turning up who don't know why Glastonbury's different, but by the time
they've had their first pint of 6% cider from the Cider Bus (£2.50, by the
Pyramid Stage, best drink on the site) the Glasto Spirit has infused and enthused
them. Hopefully they'll be back in 2007!


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