Spare me your ‘Glastonbury vibes’. At our age, the only reason to camp is a humanitarian disaster

Your kids would rather be on a Thomas Cook holiday, not observing you skanking

Grace Dent
Wednesday 26 June 2013 19:35
Festival goers arriving for Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset
Festival goers arriving for Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset

The gates opened at Glastonbury 24 hours ago, and the armies of festival-goers (and most of my friends) are en route, which means – hooray! – only a few hours now until everyone’s phone batteries die, taking their incessant droning about the “great Glastonbury vibe” with it. Glorious silence.

Like most human beings with dignity, I stopped attending festivals in my early 30s. No one needs to witness me gurning to Disclosure or dancing with my arms in the air at 4am to 808 State in Bez’s Acid House. I’m pretty certain this looked passable a decade ago, but these days I look frighteningly reminiscent of my mother letting loose to her Klaus Wunderlich cassettes.

Typically I am against age barriers. I will defend to the hilt Madonna’s right, aged 54, to show us her vacuum-packed camel toe in a boy scout uniform. But I firmly believe Glastonbury should be banned for the over-35s. When I went in the 1980s and 90s – younger, dafter, more willing to listen to any old tat if the bassist looked shaggable in denim – I would not have wanted to meet me now.

So let me say this loudly, and without shame, on behalf of Glastonbury refuseniks: from now on, I will sleep under canvas and queue to empty my bladder in a makeshift hole only after a humanitarian disaster. Neither have I the energy in my body to feign excitement about hearing the Arctic Monkeys crank indulgently through their difficult second album. And although I am fairly sure hearing Mumford & Sons after a pile of MDMA powder would be wholly exhilarating, so would spinning round and round on an office chair in a Staples showroom, and both of these activities would be followed by nine days of anxiety, depression and regret.

Also, after many decades of thought and experience, I can say this now: I don’t like hippies. I’m hippie-ist. There is not one person in the Green Field doling out positive vibes and head massages whom I don’t believe wouldn’t benefit from some solid employment and regular exposure to a bar of Cussons Imperial Leather. And while I’m here, people dragging your toddlers to Glastonbury: this is child cruelty. Your kids would rather be in a tiddlers club on a Thomas Cook holiday in Lanzarote, not observing you skanking to The 2 Bears, in scenes that they will vividly retell during therapy sessions in 2036.

I know this is difficult to hear, but I say this with love, and also the advantage that I don’t suffer from the great 21st century Western-world scourge of FOMO – “Fear of missing out”. FOMO on that legendary Glastonbury vibe – the one you’ll hear about all weekend from reporters and presenters – has led to a lot of otherwise sensible people living in a one-man tent, washing their claggy crevices with wet wipes.

In fact, whenever one hears about this great “Glastonbury vibe” during BBC broadcasts, it’s worth remembering that not one of these windbags is camping in the main punters’ sites, downwind of a latrine block beside a 20-person amateur beatbox crew on a stag night from Kirkby. They are sleeping in Winnebagos and self-catering luxury teepees. They are staying at Babington House or being helicoptered in for the afternoon from London. They are staying in local luxury B&Bs and watching the last bands in bed after a lovely bath. Their pants are lemon-fresh and their bowels have been evacuated into porcelain WCs.

My prediction for this year is that Kate Moss will show up at some point, keep mainly to her Winnebago and then be photographed by the side of the stage during The Rolling Stones, looking elegantly wasted in a AAA pass. Predictions for myself include going to B&Q to buy a hanging basket and then catching up on The Archers omnibus. You can keep Glastonbury. In Ambridge, there’s a very tense atmosphere in the village shop. I know who’s got the better deal.

Senator Davis issues the perfect response

I’m full of respect for the tenacity of Democratic Senator Wendy Davis, who took to the floor of the Texas Senate in pink tennis-shoes on Tuesday night to begin the 10-hour filibuster of an abortion Bill. Senate Bill 5 (SB 5) would ban abortions after the 20th week of a pregnancy. The Bill would give Texas some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. That’s a dirty trick to play on Western women by lawmakers, who display little empathy or respect for why they might need to make the choice to abort.

A filibuster – talking and talking as an obstruction to delay or prevent a vote – was an apt and delicious response, as if to say: “You can come with your laws trying to drag women into the past, but ultimately you can’t shut us up”. At the age of 19, Davis was a divorced single mother raising a daughter in a trailer park. She took two years of community college courses, went to Texas Christian University, became the first person in her family to graduate from college and then went on to Harvard Law School. If anyone is worth listening to for 10 hours about a woman’s right to choose, it’s Wendy Davis.

Brady shows the value of a real life-sentence

This week, the Moors murderer Ian Brady finally got what he wanted for many years – to speak about his misdiagnosis, lobbying to escape Ashworth Hospital and return to prison and kill himself. Brady is a very rare sort of murderer; a lifer actually serving for life. He is serving exactly the sort of sentence – locked up after his “recreational” (his words, this week) crimes, never to taste freedom or his own free will again – from which the public draws some comfort. From Brady’s behaviour in his tribunal this week, he clearly thinks he’s on a higher intellectual plane than everyone around him, and it’s making him completely miserable. Death would be an end to this ongoing, eternal misery. It’s much more fitting, due to his crimes and lack of remorse, to adamantly keep him breathing.

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