Battle begins for the souls of Glastonbury's ravers

Click to follow
The Independent Online
ANY DAY now, Michael Eavis, a mild-mannered dairy farmer in the Somerset village of Pilton, will send an application to Mendip district authority for a licence to run a rock festival on his land next June.

As soon as he does, his neighbour, Anne Goode, a widow, will call together her prayer-warriors and embark on an annual battle to stop him getting it.

Since Mrs Goode moved to Pilton 11 years ago, June has been the time when the fences around her 16th-century home are torn down, people defecate in her garden and hypodermic syringes are thrown over her hedge. Her trees have been burned for firewood and the sound of music keeps her family awake for days.

On one occasion, two 'Satanists' spat in her face and predicted what they would do with her body when they had killed her.

But it is not the human intrusion and intimidation of 80,000 festival campers on her doorstep that fires her campaign to stop the annual Glastonbury Festival. Mrs Goode believes there are forces infinitely more sinister at work. She says the festival indulges evil forces and peddles New Age beliefs which threaten thousands of music- loving souls.

'I walked through the festival this year,' she said. 'But it was like walking through Hell itself. They had stone circles, channelling, spiritism and this year they even burned a wicca man.'

Mrs Goode invests her energy in a prayer group to enlist the support of the Almighty against her neighbour's 'fake religion'.

It was during one meeting that she saw - 'in my mind's eye' - a large cross. The next day she arranged for a 30ft (9m) tall white cross made out of telegraph poles to be erected on her land, overlooking the festival site. It is floodlit at night.

To date, Mr Eavis claims to be unaffected. In 'Show Down at Glastonbury', a Channel 4 documentary tomorrow night, he points out that he always compensates residents for damage and distress and gives hundreds of thousands of pounds to good causes each year.

But Mrs Goode's prayers appeared to be having some effect last year when Mr Eavis's festival application was turned down. The decision was overturned in the magistrates court.

The farmer, who still goes to a Methodist chapel, agrees that the festival is a 'spiritual free-for-all', but insists that he is not a New-Ager himself. 'We like to offer a market place of religious ideas, let them fight their corner.' He only bans fundamentalist Christians and Hare Krishna devotees because 'they hassle people'.

(Photograph omitted)