Skint and Sober at Glastonbury

Glastonbury hit Somerset with an orgy of music, dancing and more wellies than you could shake a makeshift flag at. But as the crowded masses were getting plastered off warm beer and necking enough illegal substances to turn the stage lights into an otherworldly spectacular, I was left stone cold sober.

Being completely drug and drink free, not to mention having a budget that wouldn’t buy you more than a couple microwaved pies from one of the many questionable food vans on offer, really changes the face of a big music festivals.

In many ways it's rather nice: a pure musical experience, devoid of intoxicating distractions. But it can be one hell of culture shock for someone whose idea of discomfort is the move from the bed to the sofa.

My first realisation upon arriving at the grounds was how laughably unprepared I was. My camping experience was an education in leg cramp and caffeine withdrawal, not to mention the heart-wrenching cruelty that only comes from the sweet scent of bacon wafting from a better-equipped neighbouring camp.

Food is always an issue at festivals. Dodgy take-away vans are everywhere, trying to fob off a handful of half-cooked chips for £3. You're guaranteed to burn a hole in your wallet if you so much as look at a cup of tea. 

Man, these places can get expensive. A major lifeline came in the form of the Hare Krishna tent, where you rent your ears via incessant chanting in exchange for a hot, hearty vegetarian lunch each day. Obviously not every festival will have the equivalent of these spiritual soup kitchens, so it's wise to come with enough money to scoff your way to inevitable food poisoning.

But who needs food when you have drugs? Smackheads almost never eat and they always look amazing in films. Unfortunately being a weekend Keith Richards is costly, so I found myself wading through hordes of high, drunk and occasionally unconscious festival goers without so much as a cold beer in hand.

Watching these scenes reminded me of the time I took ecstasy and spent the night being handsome, witty, charming and generally acting like one sexy mutha' fucker. At least that's what I thought. Then someone showed me the pictures. Oh dear god, the pictures. I was now viewing thousands of post-midnight Kodak nightmares in stunning high definition.

Of course, that all comes later. Through the day everything is raindrops, roses, and you better believe there's whiskers on kittens.

As fields full of frazzled old hippies listen to Pink Floyd, we all buy into a post-modern hippy fantasy for a few days where peace, love and consumerism go hand in hand. It's at night when things get ugly. While most hold it together, for others things have escalated, having sniffed their way into their own personal Altamont.

This isn't any kind of comment on drug-taking, I saw many people having the time of their life absolutely off their trolley. But I won’t remember any of those people come next summer. All I'll remember is some poor bastard sat in the dirt during The Smashing Pumpkins, crying and asking his friends to check his heartbeat during a freak out. It's sad anybody would get in that state just to try and have a good time. What's sadder is that part of me still wanted to be a part of the tripped out masses.

Words by Ben Gibson and Tanya Harris

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