Glastonbury kicks off today. If you managed to nab a ticket, you won’t be reading this because you’re trying to pitch a tent in Somerset. Good for you. I’m sitting on my sofa with Wimbledon on in the background. Good for me. For the next four days, I’ll get up, take a shower, wash my hair, put on clean clothes, my mask of make up, dry my hair, potter to my kitchen for some cereal and then carry out whichever plans I have for the day. If it rains, I’ll duck under a brolly, or inside. If I need the toilet, I’ll use my own, which will have plenty of loo roll. If I fancy listening to some music I’ll whip out my iPhone. Life will be peachy.
Before you think that I’m bitterly bashing Glasto because I didn’t get a ticket, hold your horses. Some day, I’d love to go; I really would, but just not in a tent. I’ve been to festivals before, more than I can count on two hands, and I’ve camped. And I’m over it now. It wasn’t the revolting portaloos at Leeds Festival that turned me off for good; or sharing a tent with a guy who it turned out I had nothing in common with and neither of us really liked the other; or even having various things stolen over the years. As it turns out, Leeds Fest is harmless.
One summer, I stupidly allowed myself to be talked into going to Benicassim in Spain after graduation. It was meant to be a treat – a glorious sunny summer festival on the coast with my closest friends and an awesome line-up. I’m not joking or exaggerating, it ended up being one of the worst experiences of my entire life.
There’s not much in the way of grass in Spain, not in 40C heat, so we pitched our tent as best we could on the rubble, actual rubble that looked like it had been salvaged from a quarry. There were two campsites to choose from, each hosting several thousand revellers, and each boasting five toilet blocks. That’s it. Five. So ten in total. For about 10,000 people. They weren’t so bad the first day, but by the second, the bottom of each shower was filled with inches of filthy water which you had to stand in, and contribute to, for however long you could bear. Toilet roll was gone by then too. Obviously. I hadn’t realised that Benicassim is renown for being a very ‘druggy’ festival, so by Day Three, and – I. Am. Not. Lying. – there was crap, literal human crap, smeared all over the walls. It was absolutely vile.
Throw into that mix trying to sleep in high 30C heat (impossible), a freak hurricane and forest fire that meant one night was cancelled (I don’t blame you, Kings of Leon) which led to an impromptu riot which saw coaches being rocked almost over, glass bottles being thrown, and sadly a few people dying, and it was hell.
Clearly there were some insane and uncontrollable circumstances going on, but I vowed never to go to a festival ever again. And I haven’t since then – five years ago.
The horror has faded a bit, and it’s become a mildly amusing story to tell, so I’m slowly beginning to consider festivals again, but I will never camp. Give me a camper van, complete with a shower, a toilet, a bed, a fridge, fresh clothes, space and a lock on the door and I think I might just about manage it.