Glastonbury starts today. I’m not far away, but I have neither a ticket… nor the inclination. I really enjoyed my three Glastonbury weekends, but they were a long time ago; I’m not sure I’d want to pay good money to be strip-searched by unsmiling security men. And I doubt if I could cope with the crowds.
My Glasto memories are all small-scale. I never much cared who was performing on the pyramid stage. I’d seek out, instead, more esoteric delights. I’d go into some little tent, where a shy poet would be reading his doggerel from a school exercise book to an audience of three people and a dog. I saw unpopular musical acts and baffling street theatre. I saw Jerry Sadowitz deal with a heckler in the comedy tent by going into the audience and punching him in the face. I remember being smitten by John Prine, then Jonathan Richman, in the acoustic tent; I’ve been a fan of both ever since.
The ‘act’ I enjoyed the most was Jonathan Kay - the Fool - who was marshalling a large audience in yet another tent. He got people to do things they didn’t know they wanted to do… until he gave them permission. I was mesmerised. I wanted to know some of what this man knew… and I’ve done workshops with him since (all fun… even though I show no aptitude for ‘fooling’).
One guy, hoping to make his fortune, had brought about a thousand Pot Noodles and a kettle. By Sunday afternoon about 975 of them remained unsold; no one wanted to buy a plastic container full of brick-dust and e-numbers, topped up with boiling water, when there was so much good food on offer. I recall the street-cries of Old Glastonbury: “Dope acid, speed”, “Get your psychedelic acid”. But most of my memories of the festival have gone to a fine white ash…