Well, I'm back from Glastonbury in one piece! You may have heard that it was a bit wet this year, and it was. Wetter than 2005 I'd say, but the new drainage stopped the flooding. It didn't stop the mud though! Anyway, more on that in a bit.
Our bus was due to go at 8:45 on Wednesday morning, but I got a text on Tuesday evening saying that it had been changed to 2pm. Slightly irritating, but that would mean getting on-site by 3pm or so, which isn't bad. We got to Bath coach station around 1:20 and settled in to the short wait, only to discover that the buses were rather disorganised. Our bus got gradually later, as did everyone else's. There was one guy from See Tickets (who were running everything, supposedly) and he was being mobbed by the 200 or so people waiting, but didn't know what was going on. He did have all of the tickets in a carrier bag though, and the first few people who asked got their tickets and made their own way. This got the guy a telling-off from his bosses though, so he soon stopped that. Time ticked on and the police turned-up as they didn't like 200 increasingly-annoyed people hanging around the coach station. There wasn't much they could do though (apart from telling people off for drinking), so everyone sat around getting frustrated for a few hours. Some reporters from the local paper turned up, but the only real story was See Tickets being inept.
Anyway, our coach finally left at around 6pm, and we were on-site by 7. Despite my earlier lofty plans to head for Dragons Field, we set-up in Woodsies as usual - it's a good spot, especially when rain is expected as it doesn't get too muddy. Even better, it's right next to gate A where we came in. Having set-up the tents we headed into the markets to look about. Foolishly we thought that the solstice was on Thursday night, not Thursday morning, so we missed all of the celebrations at the stone circle. Bah! Still, we grabbed some food from the excellent Garlic Kitchen (this guy is also a fan), then after a bit of wandering around went up to the cinema tent to watch Serenity. After that it was back down into the markets for a bimble about, then back to the tent for a relatively early one. Little did we know that it was the last time we'd see much on the ground other than mud.
It rained on Thursday, quite a lot. However, when it finished the ground didn't seem too bad. We did some things, but also drank quite a lot so I don't remember much about it. We spent some time in Chai Wallahs drinking their rather excellent chai, doing some wheatgrass shots, and listening to some of the guys from One Taste, including the really, really good Jamie Woon. Not only is he a great singer/guitarist, but he does a very impressive local loop one man band thing. You really have to see it. I can't remember anything else we did, but we were in the Leftfield drinking quite a lot.
On Friday the ground had got pretty muddy, but it was still just about ok in the morning. The bands had started of course, and we all had timetables in mind. First on my list were Flipron on the Avalon stage. I'd convinced Nicole that they were worth seeing, and I think she was convinced. They're always great and it's just a shame that the set wasn't longer. It was getting muddier all the time though, and after Flipron it was getting to the point where moving between stages had to be carefully considered as it took so flippin' long. More beer seemed to help my balance though. I caught Rory Motion and '4 in a Field' in the cabaret tent, although I only really laughed at a couple of the comedians (Sean Hughes was good, and Ed Byrne was a good compere). We caught Rufus Wainwright and Arcade Fire on the Other stage. I didn't bother with the Arctic Monkeys, but I probably heard most of Bjork as I was stuck in the human traffic jam heading towards the Pyramid stage.
Saturday was even wetter. The rain not stopping had got less funny, but it wasn't going to stop us! The mud gave it a good go though. We poked around the Green Fields, then spent a very enjoyable (and dry) afternoon in the cabaret tent watching Nina Conti, Simon Munnery, Paul Nathan, Murray Lachlan-Young, Jeremy Hardy, Rhythm Wave, Marcus Brigstocke, Phil Kay and Mitch Benn. The highlights were Jeremy Hardy and Marcus Brigstocke, but it was pretty much all good. I'm not sure what it says about me that the main thing I wanted to see on the day was comedy though! Anyway, after that it was off to the John Peel stage to catch 'Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly', then back to the cinema tent to catch Hot Fuzz, although we gave up before the end (it was cold, and I've seen it before... it's good though!). Oh, and we got into the Guardian photo montage thing, around about the 1:20 remaining mark. That's us, in yellow ponchos!
My main objective for Sunday was the Leftfield. We saw George Monbiot talk about his environmental ideas which are always very insightful. Eric Faulkner (yes him, from the Bay City Rollers) then played two guitars at once, which was very impressive. Then there was a debate called 'Another World is Possible' with Tony Benn, George Monbiot, and some union people. George Monbiot got very angry about the Iraq war and made some very good points again. The next act was Marcus Brigstocke again, with a reduced (but slightly different) version of his set from the day before. Still funny. Then Ed Byrne did a really funny set, Tony Benn talked about nuclear weapons and Trident, Shazia Mirza did her 'angry feminist Muslim' thing, then Mark Thomas did his funny (yet alarming) mass lone protest thing, ending with the good news that Gordon Brown has suggested that he'll scrap the restrictions on protesting near parliament. After that we hoofed-it up to the Avalon stage to catch Billy Bragg, in great form as ever. Sadly, far too many other people wanted to see him too, so we were stood some way outside the tent. Still a good gig though - he's always great to watch. After that we went back to the Pyramid stage and caught a bit of the Manics, but then gave up and went to Chai Wallah's again instead to drink chai and catch more Jamie Woon.
And today.... dear God, the organisation! Or lack of it. Our bus was due to go at 8am, so we were up early putting our tents away in the rain (it had rained all night), and trudged over to the site bus station. Of course, none of the buses were working and nobody knew what was going on. The mud was the deepest at the festival, and it actually came over the top of my boots for the first time all weekend. We gave-up waiting where we were meant to as it clearly wasn't going anyway, and went and stood near where the buses were coming in. It was very wet and windy, and some people were clearly very cold, despite the foil heat blanket things that were handed out. A bus for Bath eventually turned up at around 10, and about five coach loads of people tried to get on. We were lucky and made it in, but a lot of people didn't. I dread to think how long they had to wait. Urgh. So I got home just before midday, cold and wet, but overall happy.
It has easily been the wettest and coldest Glasto so far - even the floods of last time went away by Sunday, and it was sunny then too. This time the rain was just relentless, and the mud. I won't forget that in hurry. As for my highlight... Jeremy Hardy? Not very rock'n'roll, but there you go. And Billy Bragg from a musical perspective I suppose, but then I know all of his songs and agree with his views, so I probably got more out of it than the other guys. Jaime Woon was good too, and I intend to check him out...