Friday, July 4, 2014

Say ‘No’ to Glastonbury and reclaim your life! We show you how. And feel a whinge and moan coming on? Don’t like modern life? Think the young are overrated? Well, fuck off.

I am really not one for blowing my own trumpet, which is why I am so pleased when on rare occasions someone else does it for me. But today I shall make an exception to my rule and, now that the weekend’s mud-sliding and diarrhoea-fest that is ‘Glastonbury’ is over for another year, I can proudly reveal that I have not attended the ‘must-go’ shindig for the 44th year in succession! Now beat that!

In certain circles going to ‘Glasto’ (yes, they even have a silly name for it) is pretty much de rigueur every year, despite the fact that it costs the earth, the weather is almost always foul and it’s about as ‘cool’ as having the full set of The Carpenters CDs.

It all kicks off almost 11 months earlier when an announcement is made of who will be appearing at ‘next year’s Glastonbury’. Then Britain settles into winter and the usual wholly expected bad weather which takes us all by surprise (‘Temperatures are expected to plummet to -2C over the next few days, so make sure you are well prepared should you be obliged to leave your home and venture down to the corner shop. The Home Office advises everyone that they should dress up warmly, preferably wearing to pairs of shoes, and, if possible, take a flask of hot tea or coffee, a shovel and a blanket with them. And, of course, make sure you inform your family or neighbours that you will be going out so that they can raise the alarm should you not return within 20 minutes.’)

After that it is full steam ahead for this year’s mudfest with the, by now, Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 4, The One Show and Spotlight’s traditional interviews with Michael Eavis [the Somerset farmer on whose land the festival takes place and who is wholly responsible for inflicting Glastonbury on an innocent world] about ‘why he does it’, ‘how long can he carry on’ and ‘any humorous incidents he can tell us about’. (‘Well, there was one time when some joker or other had managed to substitute flour for the official stash of gak, and there were several hours of panic before we managed to get our hands on enough to keep more or less everyone satisfied.’) Incidentally, Eavis has an Old Testament beard and a charming Somerset lilt in which he could tell the Queen to fuck off and not give offence.)

I again decided not to attend Glastonbury this year for the usual reasons (in no particular order): I loathe crowds and when I go to concert or something along those lines, I like to be among around 50 or fewer, preferably in a small basement club with a sticky floor; the sound quality is awful and you might as well listen to your records underwater in the bath and save yourself a packet on the extortionate ticket prices; I don’t like slumming it, I have never enjoyed wallowing in mud, and

when on those occasions I am obliged to defecate (Brit readers: ‘take a dump’), I far prefer to do so in private and in clean surroundings, not right next to a burger van; I am most certainly not the ‘coolest’ chap about, but ever since Glastonbury ‘got big’ about 30 years ago, it has started attracting some very odd headliners, Dolly Parton this year (78) and annually there’s the threat that the Rolling Stones ‘will eventually deigned to put in an appearance. I really don’t want to pay through the nose to see a gang of wrinkled pensioners who are older than my try to persuade folk a tenth their age that they are younger than me and have to wear pounds of slap to persuade the world they aren’t yet dead, honest. Mick Jagger is the best argument I have yet heard for euthanasia.

I can imagine — just — that the festival was halfway decent when it started in 1970 and was still just a gathering of young folk who wanted to get together and smoke dope and listen to music in the open air. But it went downhill pretty quickly. Just as you know clothes have long since stopped being fashionable once Primark stocks them, Glastonbury lost it comprehensibly when it became a ‘must-go’ event. That was compounded several years later when it took advice from the state of Israel and began to erect huge 14ft wall around the whole site to keep out the riff-raff who couldn’t afford the extortionate ticket prices.

It has been built ever since, and another feature of this ‘security measure’ is to employ an army of Securitas guards ensure anyone who looks even half sane it denied access. (G4S were approached and aske to tender for the work, but as they were decent enough to admit they would, in all probability, fuck it up completely, Securitas got the gig.) The dates for Glastonbury 2015 have already been announced — June 24 to 28 — and provisional headline acts include The Moody Blues, The Wurzels and Vera Lynn, so all you Glasto freaks get your skates on and register for your tickets (a snip at just £749 plus VAT for four days) now. Me, I’m looking forward to breaking my own record and not attending for the 45th year in a row.

. . .

If that sounds to you like a dyspeptic, sour rant, congratulations, you’re obviously now fully awake. Given that life goes in one direction, from birth to death, and like the rest of you I, too, am getting older, I get increasingly conscious of how many of my contemporaries have taken to complaining on an industrial scale. The above few words about Glastonbury not withstanding, please believe me that a run like a mile whenever someone begins a sentence with ‘What really annoys me is . . .’, ‘Why can’t they . . .’, or ‘I really can’t undestand why . . .’ or any of another 1,001 riffs on that theme.

I shan’t say I don’t find some aspects of life irritating, such as the plethora of options you are offered on some phone systems, of which none seems quite to be the one you want, which is simply to talk to someone, but (the irony of what I am about to write is not at all lost on me) I can’t stand the army of whingers and moaners who bang on about how the world has gone to the dogs and you knew where you were when you were able to die of tuberculosis or starvation without some government busybody interfering.

You get it when some great actor, comedian, musician or painter dies: ‘We’ll never see his like again.’ Oh, yes we bloody will, you idiot. As I write there are future great actors, comedians, musicians and painters still being suckled at their mother’s teet impatient to prove you wrong. But I am now at the age (107 in two weeks’ time) when sounding off about everything from the TV schedules to ‘how water doesn’t seem to be as wet as it used to be’ is more or less obligatory.

Well, dear reader, count me out. And if you sense, even slightly, that I am straying in that direction a quick email warning me would be much appreciated.

. . .

PS Re ‘Glasto’: Winston Churchill once observed that ‘dogs look up to us, cats look down on us, and pigs treat us as equals.’ As usual, spot on.

There really ain’t nothing like Glastonbury

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