“Glasto” – the diminutive makes me shiver with disgust; as ‘Peely’ – as his fans affectionately called the late DJ John Peel, schoolgirl admirer and all-around moron – it sums up everything I don’t like about rock music. It reminds me of my years as a teenage journalist in New musical expressreturning from a rancid punk club having pretended to appreciate the prowling Drones or the buzzing Lurkers, and dancing around my room with the Isley Brothers until the sweet soulful music chased away the ugly white racket.
When Lenny Henry pointed out how pale Glasto was, I wrote that it was because black people are less inclined to blow hundreds of pounds for the sake of using a fetid toilet between glazing episodes staring at a scene so remote that she could be Billie Eilish but could just as easily be Billy Bob Thornton. In short, the kind of eternal honeyed student who has more mom than common sense.
A single ticket costs £280. If you want to stay in a ‘Tipi’ tent (‘Tipi dwelling is an amazing and basic experience, but not a luxury experience, then even though Tipis include a waterproof groundsheet, inner liner and rain catcher , you will have to bring your own bedding, mats and all other necessary creature comforts’) which will relieve you of a thousand expenses. If that’s not enough to reassure you that some pigs are more equal than others, the Tenthouse Suite hotel offers guests use of the restaurant, bar, spa and pool and costs 24,000 £ for the five days of the festival. Even the monarchy hangers are now going to Glasto – Princess Beatrice wearing a £700 shirt dress and her usual loose-jawed expression of bewilderment.
Woke’s politics are easily absorbed by the ultra-privileged, who share the belief that proletarians are horrible and must be managed. Never seen so many white people in one place, as Jon Snow might have said – there were more black people on stage than in the audience, paid to be there rather than paid to be there. Watching the screaming crowds, I was reminded of the Glasto of 2016, when the reaction to Freedom Morn – Brexit – was sour to say the least. “The chavs have won, mate,” a cut-glass Glastonbury raver reportedly said. Sunday time. “Both of our kids voted, and their attitude is that they should have had two votes, and the old people should have had one,” said another Remnant. “I haven’t heard a single person happy with the result,” said a fashion student from Birmingham.
Michael and Emily Eavis – the father/daughter couple who own Glastonbury – urged the 180,000 ticket holders to register in advance for a postal or proxy vote as there would be no opportunity to vote on the festival website. Despite this, it’s hilarious to think that Glasto could have tipped the vote even slightly as the Remoaners woke up the morning of June 23 knowing they’d forgotten something, but then left a third of their brains into the ‘healing field’ after overdoing it on the mushrooms. Glasto feels like childbirth that way – you have to take a lot of medicine to withstand the horror and make you want to try again.
If I dislike festivals in general because of their underground hygiene standards, Glasto is more irritating than all the others because of its political pretensions. Its symbiotic relationship with the equally pro-Palestinian, Brexit-hating BBC is noteworthy, as it appears to be the first annual release of works; before Covid they sent 300 staff there, more than they did for the World Cup. I dare say it will have been much the same this year, after which these parasites will go back to piously detailing the poverty of those who have to choose between “eating and heating” while blithely ignoring the burden that the TV license weighs on the poorest – between ‘watching and cooking’ perhaps.
Even the sympathetic Barbara Ellen, covering the BBC coverage, wrote in the Observer: “The occasional wave of culturally smug gentrification everywhere is to be expected from Glastonbury”, but she might as well be talking about the BBC itself. Emily Eavis has spoken of Glastonbury as a “pilgrimage” and Woke is the new religion for these smelly followers, but with all the bad (preaching) and none of the good (joy). And just at the right time, here comes Greta Thunberg!
What about music? With such a vast list of acts, sure, some of them were awesome; Self-Esteem, Wet Leg, Roisin Murphy, Metronomy, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss as a duo. Billie Eilish has a wonderful voice and she really knows how to work a crowd – almost like a self-aware little Freddie Mercury at times – but the songs become the same after a bit; plink-plunk, dirge-dirge. At 20, she was the youngest performer; At 80, Sir Paul McCartney was the oldest and looked like a dude refusing to leave the karaoke stage at closing time until he had done his Beatles medley.
For me, two images of Glastonbury will last. The litter left behind which, although I have yet to see any this year, was, pre-Covid, shocking; it took 1,300 volunteers and around £780,000 three weeks to clean around 5,000 tents, 6,500 sleeping bags, 400 gazebos and 54 tonnes of cans and plastic bottles. What kind of half-witted hypocrites applaud Greta Thunberg but don’t bother picking up her trash?
The second was President Zelensky’s appeal to the crowd; looking like a roadie, this humble hero spoke poignantly: “We in Ukraine would also like to live life as before and enjoy the freedom and this wonderful summer, but we cannot do it because the most terrible happened – Russia has stolen our peace. But we will not let war break us. That’s why I turn to you for help. Glastonbury is the greatest concentration of freedom and I ask you to share this feeling with all those whose freedom is threatened.
Looking at the mess left in their vast park by this monstrous regiment of Peter Pans, ingesting laughing gas while Kyiv burns, it was hard not to compare the gentleness of our society to the strength of the Ukrainians and wonder if we would resist. to the invasion of a superpower in the same way. Anyway, you can always pop into the Garden of Peace where “your mind will calm down” as you approach the “Sacred Space” in the “spiritual center of the event”: there you will find “a tribute to Mother Earth with its beautiful flowers and seating areas… A perfect meeting place to relax and unwind with seating among the flowerbeds. The large contemplation seat with its camomile armrests allows you to do just that, as you sit back and contemplate the event. Take that, Putin!