The economy of human hedonism; people pass in droves innumerable. They flatten in colour over the horizon as I look through the flaps in the catering tent where I’m working, with a longing isolation –
I was in the Avalon field at Glastonbury festival, feeding artists bacon and making coffee too quickly in thick heat from 7am to 11 at night. The music in the background was not respite, but indistinguishable and overbearing. In the morning life was treacle – thick and sweet and slow to progress. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it, the festival scene.
Yet I wasn’t there to watch overwrought singers sweat on distant stages, basking in pretension, I was there for the people (a little bit for the money; the pay wasn’t bad) – the ephemera of lives I met was the art, not the pre-designed sculptures and paintings by the dusty pathways littered with yellow of Thatcher’s cans and used blunts. People didn’t come here for the music, the music was in the glitter of conversation and discovery for me, as I suspected it was for many. It was an insomniac field of open delight. They said that here anything goes – climbing onto stages, smoking, lying on the base of tipis with arms outstretched, wading through the crowds half-dressed and speaking. It felt endless; endless but ending too fast to catch, and it stunned me.
When I wasn’t working, I’d skip out with a sketchbook and my 50p analogue camera to watch this small post-apocalyptic world pass, where nothing else seemed to matter. It was escapism. But this hedonism felt forced and feigned and commercialised. Perhaps I’m too picky a skeptic to take the festival at its glistering surface; my fingers were too blistered with the scent of crushed garlic from food prep and my eyes too tired to be much delighted. The people I’d seen dancing sometimes seemed the same, a sea of girls in torn denim shorts, hair braided with beads, and men in shades and second-hand shirts holding their waists, grinning. But there was something about this togetherness, cross legged around the stone circle, lounging in hammocks, singing, that was more beautiful than anything I’d encountered before. Then, this company, wild, had felt like everything.
I’d loved this presence of others, loved the din. Yes, Glastonbury is more than music.