Festival mudlark keeps the faithful happy

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The Independent Online
At 12.19pm yesterday an ironic cheer rose above the fields of tacky mud of the Glastonbury Festival when the sun made its first appearance of the weekend.

Those who survived three days of wind, rain and mud in Somerset trudged off happy last night able to say: "I was there in 1997."

"It's a kind of heroic thing," said the owner of the festival site, Michael Eavis, yesterday. "The wimps stayed away and it was the lion-hearted who made a brave attempt to enjoy themselves. They stayed calm and came through with shining colours."

Some of the wimps who did not make it included the group Oasis who were due to make a guest appearance with Ocean Colour Scene on Saturday night.

Another consequence of the conditions was that the organisers were able to rubbish the Daily Telegraph's assertion that the festival has become part of the upper-class's "summer season". There had even been reports of merchant banks giving tickets free to their employees to encourage to get away for the weekend and relax. But the mud kept many corporate freeloaders away and reduced the event to an egalitarian, dun-coloured mass.

Despite commercial sponsorship all over the site, few festival goers thought Glastonbury had lost its alternative spirit. "Well, I'm yet to find the Pimm's tent," said William Mellish, 30, of Stroud in Gloucestershire, who has been going to Glastonbury for 15 years. "It's the same crowd of drug-crazed, fun-seekers it has always been."

Somerset and Avon Constabulary said yesterday that there had been 529 crimes reported to them, 120 down on the last festival in 95. Police made 136 arrests - 54 on drugs charges. There were also two deaths. It was confirmed yesterday that the 41-year-old man who died on the site on Friday had overdosed on heroin and a 25-year-old Scottish man was found dead in a tent outside the perimeter of the festival in a travellers' encampment on Sunday morning.

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