I head off down to Glastonbury on Tuesday next week. Luckily, I’ve just seen a list of handy festival gadgets for the festival that included (amongst many other marvellous things) an inflatable tent (a mere £368.98). Luckily, the same list also included a Swiss Army Knife…. Presumably in case you should happen upon one of those inflatable tents.
This is my twelfth Glastonbury. I think. I make a mess of this calculation every year. It’s 1993 plus every one since 2002. *checks*. Ah apparently it’s number 13.
Anyway, with the benefit of all those years of hard-earned experience, here are a few things I've learned. I make no claims that this list is exhaustive or even useful, but they're things that popped into my head as I contemplated that inflatable tent (which, to make matters worse, apparently weighs a ton too).
1) Wet wipes. This should be the second item on your list after ticket.
2) Take a goon bag of red wine, but don’t save it all up and then find you have seven of the damn things to drink on Sunday between you. A red wine hangover on Monday is not really something you should aspire to (although, to be fair, there was one year that was so wet on Sunday night that the red wine buzz was the only thing that made it bearable. I have only the vaguest memories of standing at a stage way out by the East Gates watching Bill Bailey as it lashed it down. I don’t remember a word of his set, but I do remember falling out with my wife on the way back to the tent. Good times).
3) Bring booze by all means, but don’t be ridiculous about it. You would not believe how many slabs of shit lager or cider people bring in. I understand, but all those cans are left lying about and frankly, who wants to drink warm strongbow when you can get a delicious Burrow Hill cider at the cider bus? I’ll probably bring in some spiced rum, the wine and a few cans of beer for the first day. Are you really going to sit around your tent drinking all day? Can’t you do that at home? For goodness sake, if you must do that, at least pick up a green bag and recycle your cans. I sound about 104, don't I?
4) Don’t worry about the weather forecast: there’s not a damn thing you can do to influence it and they’ll all probably be wrong anyway. TOP TIP: if it rains at any point in the next week, the site will be a quagmire even if the festival itself is pretty dry. Muddy festivals are different, but you’ll have just as much fun. Experience tells me that the typical weather for England at the end of June is the sort that requires you to wear a raincoat AND put sun cream on your nose. It’s all good. Hot festivals can be horrible too. 2010 was merciless as there’s just no shade anywhere on the site and you can’t hide in your tent
5) Take your boots. Whatever the forecast. The worst thing that can happen is you don’t need them, but you do not want to be one of those people who are caught out when it suddenly and unexpectedly gets muddy and you only have tiny little trainers or crocs or something. Ditto a decent raincoat and hat.
6) It gets cold at night. Take a properly warm layer. I take a down jacket. It packs small and is toasty. Makes a good pillow, if nothing else.
7) Glastonbury is vast and it can take ages to get anywhere. Bring sensible shoes. Related to this, wellies are actually really uncomfortable to wear all day and you will sweat so much you will get wet socks. I wear steel toe-capped rigger boots. They’re tax free, plenty waterproof enough and a LOT more comfortable and easy to kick on and off. I wear them on dry years too, to be honest.
8) Try not to bring too much. You’ll probably have to walk a long way from car to camp, and if you have too much stuff, that journey can be hellish. If you’re going to bring a trolley, make sure it’s a sturdy one and forget about bringing a wheelie bag. This is a farm, after all, and on a wet year, the path into the site is a graveyard of inadequate trollies and bags. I actually find I need fewer clothes in a wet year as I tend to wear the same dirty set. My basic fashion rule is that everything should be practical but that you should aim to not dress entirely in forest casual greens and browns. Also, don’t bring anything valuable and carry your money around with you. I’ve heard that people will even nick your trousers out of your tent for your wallet when you’re in there and asleep. Just be careful. If you haven’t got anything worth taking, then you haven’t really got anything to worry about.
9) Don’t plan to charge your phone or take cash out on the site. It’s just avoidable queuing. Switching off data and Bluetooth and switching off completely at night will see even an iPhone last a surprising amount of time. I bring a battery pack thing that’s good for 4 or 5 full charges too, but maybe just wean yourself off facebook for a few days. I know, right? Imagine!
10) It might sound ridiculously middle class, but we take a stove and a hob top espresso maker. Coffee is essential but expensive and you’ll have to queue. This is just easier, and it's at your tent. And you can take tea bags and stuff for a mid-afternoon brew up.
11) Don’t build a ridiculous schedule of bands and expect to be able to see them all. Make a couple of key strategic decisions and work the rest around that. Prepare to be flexible. In my experience, the best festival experiences happen away from the main stage
12) Don’t get angry about the lineup. If you don’t like Kanye, don’t watch him. There’s plenty of other stuff to do.
13) Don’t get really, really smashed. It’s horrible. Also, you don’t want to wake up in a blazing hot tent at 5am with the mother of all hangovers and only red wine to slake your thirst.
14) The earliest license on site is the organic fruit wine tent in the green fields. Good times.
15) Don’t bring food. The sheer breadth of choices onsite is astonishing. Even if you’re skint. I took a loaf of bread in 1993 as well as some tins of beans. Even as a skint student, I didn’t touch them.
16) Talk to people you don’t know. There are some brilliant people at this festival and most people are pretty chilled and happy. There are some dicks too, but they are quite easy to spot and avoid (don’t remind me of the time that Oasis headlined. Ugh)
17) Don’t be scared of the toilets. Talk of immodium is just silly. They’re really not that bad (and the long drops are actually the best option). Don’t be one of those people who pulls a face as they walk out of their cubicle…. Your shit doesn’t smell of roses, so get over yourselves. Although, you know, don’t look down.
18) Don’t stand at the taps trying to wash your hair. It’s selfish and water gets everywhere. If you must shower, go and queue at the greenpeace ones in the green fields. Failing that, just have a whore’s bath with wet wipes. Even you can manage a few days without a shower. We all stink. If you get really clean, that just makes you realise quite how much the rest of us smell.
19) Don’t be a dick. Be considerate to everyone else and to the farm itself. Love the farm, leave no trace…. That means don’t piss in the hedges and try and put your rubbish in the bins. They give you black and green rubbish bags as you go into the site. Use them around your campsite. It’s really not hard.
20) Enjoy yourself. The weather might be awful, but if you approach everything with a sense of humour and a smile, you’ll have a lot more fun.
Tip 19 is probably the most important one, to be honest. Don’t be a dick. That’s the prime directive.
We're in a tipi this year, although apparently I'm the only one out of the six of us that doesn't snore. Well, it's a 24 hour festival and I usually take ear plugs anyway, plus I went to a boarding school, and no one in the world can possibly snore like Patrick Lo. I'm old enough that I do like my beauty sleep whilst the youngsters party.
See you in a field.