I came very late to Glastonbury.
I wasn’t there in the seventies, though that would have been ideal since I had freedom, a leaning towards pseudo-hippydom, and was a seasoned camper. Both the eighties and the nineties were marked for me by new family responsibilities and a traumatic event which took a long while to get over. So it wasn’t till the millennium that I got my tent out, threw my backpack on and boarded the coach bound for the wilds of Somerset and four days of the legendary life-changing experience.
My abiding memory of that long weekend is of being constantly on the move. This was 2005, a year now famous in the annals of Glastonbury, and that first night there was thunder, lightning and a cataclysmic rainstorm which literally washed away those tents pitched at the bottom of the rolling hillside slopes. Mine survived, but in the early dawn I climbed further up the hill and joined a disconsolate group who had gathered under someone’s awning to stare out at the grey sky, the biblical rain and the sodden ground. Suddenly a little hip flask was produced and handed round. This was how I experienced the first true Micawber moment of my life: wet, underslept and no morning cuppa, result, misery; wet, underslept, and a small slug of whisky, result, total happiness.
This was a glorious lesson in stoicism which I have benefited from ever since. From that moment on I revelled in the fact that I knew I was going to be able to cope, physically and mentally, with any kind of privation which Glastonbury could test me with. For the next two days I waded and sloshed through a foot of standing water, and missed most of the headline bands simply because it took so long to struggle from one stage to the next. I stood just behind an army of JCBs scooping up heaps of soaking, evil- smelling straw, mud and possibly sewage while promising Bob Geldof, who popped by briefly, to make poverty history. I got wellie-burn. I ate only occasionally. I never sat down because there was nowhere to sit, and I never once wished I was at home with my feet up. And towards the end of it all, when my slightly anxious daughter called me to make sure I hadn’t drowned, I was able to raise my pint of pear cider and tell her that I’d never felt better – and meant it.
By Felecity Ferguson