Digging up the Earth

Jenny's UK ramblings.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Les Miserables

Back from the battle of the Somme, I mean, the Glastonbury Festival. I have now apparently attended the “two worst Glastos on record” and would still go back again. Why? I really couldn’t tell you. The toilets are rank, the “site” is a mud pit that runs the length of a river valley, the food is “passable hippie” (read: vaguely ethical but also a bit yuck – think early-90’s-UVic-one-pot meals), the mud is unspeakably gross and 177,000 is a lot of dirty, incoherent, (and sometimes incontinent) people to share a campsite with.

But there’s something about this festival that is just so full-on, so over-the-top and so ridiculous (honestly – it feels like a battle for survival – the smallest task can take you hours of slogging, dodging, and gasping at the surreal-ness all around you) that it becomes an often-enjoyable parallel universe. As beloved was working for a lot of the festival, I spent many hours slogging along solo – more enjoyable than it sounds.

Musical highlights – Rufus Wainwright – Canada’s finest showman, in full Liza Minnelli-style drag, Arcade Fire, Canada’s finest apocalyptic rock band, (who isn’t a little bit in love with them all, especially the ginger one that plays drums on his own head?) Lily Allen is a potty mouthed rich kid from West London who sings the sweetest songs about f*cking over her ex-boyfriends in violent and painful ways. But perhaps the biggest surprise was my new (and slightly shameful) fandom of Pete Doherty and Babyshambles. I came expecting a punk-car-crash (that I planned to watch with crossed arms and bemused-yet judgemental expression on face) and instead found myself dancing around to some very entertaining guitary-britpoppy-good times, complete with g.f. Kate Moss on backup vocals.

Other highlights – the crazy lengths people will go to for self-expression. “Lost Vagueness” is this little treed glade/hideaway in the far corner of the festival site that is beyond description – imagine a circus, a house of mirrors, a rockabilly barn dance, the Las Vegas strip, a slam poetry convention, punk rock bingo, the Lord of the Rings set, a funfair, Chinatown, a Star Wars convention, and an acid trip and place it in a muddy wooded corner of a Somerset farm and there you have it. But we were only there at 11pm or so – apparently the real action starts around 3.

But the toilets
eventually broke my spirit. By Sunday they were heartbreaking cess pits a la Calcutta. People whispered about “splashback” in hushed tones. I hightailed it back to London on the bus with 50 or so other shellshocked revellers (in keeping with the war metaphors, our bus pulled out of a swamp with hundreds left behind, begging for passage back to London…”I’ll ride in the luggage hold!” “For the love of God, stop!” “Please take me with you!” etc.) Christian stayed on to enjoy the Chemical Brothers in a torrential downpour. We’re both traumatized but slightly giggly (hysterical?) about the whole experience.


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