It was her idea, I think. Certainly, she had broken in with her friend, Kirsty, the year before. It may have been mine. Turin Brakes were playing and I wanted to see them because they’re pretty much my favourite band these days. So we probably just tacitly agreed it was the right thing to do.
We drove up to the village nearest the festival site and walked up the lane to meet Kirsty. After that, I was led by them through cornfields and woods, over barbed wire and past NO ENTRY signs until we reached the periphery, where the guards awaited. Commando-style, we slithered past them, up a bank to an unsigned path and, following the line of the metal fence, an opening allowed us to walk into the festival proper.
Whereupon, a couple of their friends met us and we headed for the stage area.
‘Beautiful Days’ was started by The Levellers – a Crusty band with all the right credentials concerning land freedom and the right to roam etc – and the festival at some point must have seemed to them wholly right on.
By the time I got there it felt rather like Stalag Luft 2017.
A prison camp.
I’m not joking.
I wish I was.
The whole site was ring-fenced and managed by security guards.
A music festival supposedly dedicated to freedom circumnavigated by wire and guards.
– Makes me think of the 1970 Isle of Wight debacle when the promoters came up with idea of putting up a fence and charging a generation of festival-goers money for something – music – they believed could be made available at no charge. As indeed it was, by my big favourite philosophically-speaking band Hawkwind, who set up outside the walls and played for free.
As a matter of fact, I was at the last free Glastonbury festival (where Hawkwind also played, god bless ‘em) and which now also has its own current-day ethos, and which I also didn’t much enjoy paying to attend whenever it was I last went. By now, it’s ridiculously large, of course. I’d loved to have seen the Rolling Stones – as an historical event – but can’t imagine even they cut through its vast undetermined vastness as a performing act. Better seeing them on video, since that’s probably how you viewed the gig anyhow. –
So where was I …?
Oh, yes, breaking into the Beautiful Days festival grounds.
Right, okay, to the point.
Each of the bands had an allotted hour-long space to perform. Including Turin Brakes.
Which is to say, totally managed and prohibiting freedom of musical invention, so that it reminded me of telly, where your performance is equally micro-managed. No soul able to reach out over the turf from a usually great live band. Sob!
Paid over the odds for some rubbish faux-West Indian rice dish (and got ripped off with the change!)
And then escaping the festival site back through the wire-fencing and security guards took more effort than actually getting in.
When I got back to my vehicle, the steering was unbelievably heavy and I realised that the Power Assisted Steering (PAS) had given up.
Somehow this seemed an appropriate metaphor for the entire escapade.
In short, don’t trust Crusties or anybody else that preaches peoplehood and freedom.
That doesn’t stop me recommending the band.