Rain interrupts play at Glastonbury

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The Independent Online
SUNSCREEN REPLACED wellies as the basic necessity of Glastonbury life yesterday as the sun shone on the biggest music festival in Europe.

Welfare staff distributed 600 litres of suntan lotion to save the pinkening festival-goers from burning in the sunshine, which was far from typical weather for the event.

On the main Pyramid Stage, the singer Beth Orton swigged from a bottle of water as she sang her distinctive folk songs to the wilting crowd, dressed for the heat in peasant head-scarf and cropped red T-shirt. But festival regulars who had packed their raincoats after years of muddy experience saw their wisdom pay off just before 6pm when the predicted thundery showers began.

A sell-out crowd of 100,000 people turned Worthy Farm, in Pilton, near Glastonbury, into a town the size of Dundee, complete with open-air cinema, circus and many shops, where you can buy hammocks or a new tattoo.

Texas and the Manic Street Preachers were among yesterday's bands, with the Hollywood actor Keanu Reeves due to make his Glastonbury debut today with his band, Dogstar. Backstage, one of the McGann acting clan greeted Debbie Harry like an old friend.

At the Christian tent, helpers dispensed sympathy to those finding the giant festival too much. On the prayer tree, one reveller had written a "leaf" with the plea: "I hope we all have a wicked time at Glastonbury and I get the job I want." Other prayers were touching tributes to Jean Eavis, the wife of the festival's organiser, Michael Eavis. She died last month from cancer.

"I've had a lot of people coming up to me," Mr Eavis said. "Maybe they feel a bit sorry, but there's an amazing feeling of friendship and support." He added: "It's not quite the same as having Jean around."

Chief Inspector Brian Schofield has policed Glastonbury since the early days. Then, the only trouble came from hippies drinking too much scrumpy. This year his officers had, by mid-afternoon, made 133 arrests and 65 drug seizures, including crack cocaine and LSD. There have also been four stabbings. He swears that the event is still the highlight of his year. "In the main, people are happy and it's a family atmosphere."

Tattooed Dave from Leicester - an off-duty officer in the National Crime Squad - blended into the crowd, with an inch-long metal spike jutting out of his chin. "I've been to Reading and other festivals, but Glastonbury is the best," he said.

"It's not just about music - there's so much more to do and see. Mind you, I don't approve of all these people bringing their kids. Some of them look so miserable. They should get babysitters."