Mud tops the festival bill as rain rules centre court

Paul McCann
Thursday 26 June 1997 23:02

The Glastonbury Festival site has turned into a "bog of melted chocolate" awaiting the 90,000 music fans who will show up today looking for a good time.

But while mud and rain is viewed as an essential part of the Glastonbury experience, tennis fans at Wimbledon were faced with a second day of continuous rain. Play was finally abandoned without a ball being struck at 6pm and Alan Mills, the tournament referee, said he was considering another People's Sunday, when anyone could turn up and get into Wimbledon just by queueing.

By this stage in the tournament 226 matches should have been completed but by Wednesday evening only 94 matches had been played.

Meanwhile in Somerset, police advised everyone going to Glastonbury to take wellingtons and warm, waterproof clothing and to prepare for parking delays because of the mud. But outdoor clothing specialists in central London were reporting that they had sold out of wellingtons.

Tractor-loads of stones and wood chips were yesterday being brought in to cover the sludge, and gas heaters were being set up. At one point yesterday the police described conditions as "total chaos", with only one of the 14 access lanes to the site passable.

The majority of campers will arrive today, but the site had already become a quagmire yesterday, a festival spokesman said. "More and more mud just keeps oozing up out of the ground," one steward said. "You could say it looks like a bog of melted chocolate," he added.

The festival is facing its biggest wash-out since 1985 when most festival- goers gave up the battle to stay dry and learned to love the mud after it rained non-stop from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon.

Michael Eavis, owner of the farm where the festival is held, tried to put a cheery spin on the weather: "It's going to be gloomy in the skies," he said, "but very promising on the ground. It's like an outward bound course ... It's character-building for our youngsters and will make them better and stronger."

Police have closed off the eastbound carriageway of the A361 near Pilton and warned anyone not going to the festival to give the area a wide berth.

Forecasts for the weekend ahead predict more rain.

t Michael Eavis hit out yesterday at an article in this week's Big Issue magazine which describes how people without tickets managed to get through the festival's fence. "I am furious about this ... It is quite unbelievable and completely counterproductive for our cause," he said.

Adding to organisers' worries are reports that the campaign group Reclaim the Streets is planning an organised assault on the perimeter fence as a protest at the end of free festivals.

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