“For me, music was a lifesaver, I’d experienced the childhood from hell with poverty, homelessness and violent abuse thrown at me from an early age, the ’60s had been a living hell. When I felt locked into depression as a teenager music was the way out for me, I swear I owe my life to it sometimes because it certainly helped to blank out suicidal thoughts from a very early age. I’ve suffered with depression a lot since childhood, I was diagnosed with PTSD from it and still feel the effects right up to this day.
My memories of Glastonbury 1979 are a bit vague now. I was 23 at the time and I went with a few friends. I remember being directed down those very narrow lanes to park my car. This was a very different experience to normal daily life and I just lapped it up. I had been to 6 festivals at Reading and to the big events at Knebworth with Pink Floyd and Genesis all prior to this so I was well prepared for this, or at least I thought I was. This was nothing like Reading, this was a total escape from reality for a few days, I just loved it. The crowd was smaller but the atmosphere was unbelievable, the feeling of pure bliss it gave me was just amazing.
1979 was the time of Punk, some of my friends were fully embracing the whole Punk experience which had started up a couple of years earlier. Save the Whale was the big issue of the time, the early days of Greenpeace I think. My music memories of that weekend were of quite a few punk bands, U.K. Subs I remember, the Leighton Buzzards. For me, though the highlights were John Martyn and the supergroup on the Saturday night which had in it Peter Gabriel, Steve Hillage, Alex Harvey, Tom Robinson, Nona Hendryx, Phil Collins, John Martyn and I’m sure there were others too but the memory is a bit vague. After that, I remember lying on the ground looking up at the lasers on the clouds while Tim Blake played for us. Sky I remember we’re on later. The whole weekend was almost surreal, a unique experience, I was hooked for life.
For many years after that, I continued to go, I honestly couldn’t put a number to how many times. And then at some point and I’m not sure of the year my mother and stepdad moved from the Midlands to Somerset, mostly to be close to me as I had settled here with my wife, I am my mothers only child. They moved to a local authority house in Pilton, I live in Yeovil about 15 miles away. The really unbelievable thing was that they actually moved to Pilton blissfully unaware that this was the home of the festival. Now I know that sounds hard to believe but it’s true. From then on my mother who couldn’t walk very well gave her free ticket to me and I started to go with my stepdad. My own kids were getting to the age where Glastonbury was a thing to do so I got tickets for them as well in the annual October sale and we all enjoyed it. I love seeing the pre-festival preparation, the fence going up, the activity around the site, all well before the actual festival arrives.
I last went to Reading in 2008, I would have been 53 (ish), I felt very conscious of my age by then, wish I didn’t but I did. At Glastonbury, I’ve never felt that it’s the one thing, the one place I’ve always enjoyed above anything else, an annual pilgrimage almost, an absolute must.
In recent years it’s got to be much bigger, far outstripping the early days in size and definitely in stature. I don’t really have a favourite bit, I just love all of it. I love the small stages, I love the Pyramid too, I love the acoustic stage, some of the comedians are brilliant, the shops are brilliant. I always loved the John Peel but now I find that a challenge with my knees and the chair rule.
Times have gone by I’m now 65 with two knee replacements so getting around isn’t that easy. Music has been very much at the forefront of my whole life, I listen to music daily, I play the guitar, for my own enjoyment, it’s what I’m about. The last few festivals have been difficult because I can’t walk very far without the need to sit down, so a carry chair is essential. The walk up the hills, to The Park, or up to the Villagers gate is a real challenge now, it’s like climbing Everest to me. As long as I can still move and I can still have my moms ticket I will continue to go. She’s in her 90’s now so I don’t expect the free annual ticket to last forever. I know that her moving to Pilton, me getting a ticket every year makes me very lucky and I try not to take it for granted.”
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