I was at Glastonbury this summer, playing shows and writing a blog for my favourite charity Wateraid. Wateraid are, along with Oxfam, one of the festival's charity partners, and this year their campaign involved free temporary tattoos with designs by me, Eliza Doolittle and Lauren Laverne.
Here's some excerpts from the blog...
WEDNESDAY - HOW TO PRETEND YOU'RE HAVING A GOOD TIME
It looks more and more like this Glastonbury will be a tough one. Animals will be walking two by two, iPhones and Blackberrys will finally come together as they slide down mud banks into communication oblivion, and, yes, your clothes will be ruined. But you can STILL HAVE the time of your life. You just have to try hard enough. And do any of the below...
1. Lie to yourself
You've paid the money. You're already there. People say it's the most amazing experience of your life, and even though it feels miserable, and confusing, and uncomfortable - what's to say that those things aren't what 'amazing' feels like? Could this many people really be wrong? Isn't it more likely that your feelings are wrong? Try again. Think about it. Think about it. Isn't that Coldplay in the distance? Isn't this GREAT?
2. Lie to other people
Memory is a funny thing. Though I spent Glastonbury 2007 in various stages of a nervous breakdown, going back to my tent at 10pm every night for my scheduled cry, I remember it fondly. Why? Because of lying. I couldn't quite trick myself, but I didn't need to. Every time I ran into someone who I hadn't recently sobbed or vomited on, I told them about the fabulous time I was having, and how pleased I was to be there. When I went home, I called everyone I knew who hadn't been at Glastonbury and cemented the truth restructure by running through my preferred versions of what happened. There's a bit of a time lag on this one, because you have to wait for the trenchfoot to go before you truly believe your story, but it is effective.
3. Don't move
Not even in perfect weather is it advisable to try and do everything that Glastonbury has to offer. You literally, physically, couldn't do that, and trying to will send you into potentially irreversible mania. The beauty of Glastonbury is that it can be enjoyed from the comfort of one little area that you've discovered and found agreeable. Especially if the mud is so bad that trying to walk from one stage to the next makes the Road look like a Disney cartoon. Keep it manageable, find tented entertainment, and don't put pressure on yourself to do anything other than have a good time.
4. Steal some anti-depressants
I'm joking! Nobody takes drugs at Glastonbury. Go to Holland and Barrett on your way to the festival and pick yourself up some St. John's Wort. That will do the trick.
5. Embrace it
Also known as 'let it be', 'zen' or 'the way'. When life gives you torrential rain and soft ground trampled by a hundred thousand pairs of feet, make mud slides. YOU could be the guy on the front page of some newspaper on Monday; YOU could be the conversational common ground between some bewildered parent and their festival-crazy teen ("I hope his mother doesn't have to wash that" etc)...You could be one of the immortal party dudes that make Glastonbury what it is. There's probably a club for you guys. Go on. Get really, really filthy. It'll be...memorable!
6. Leave early
Of course, you could always go home on Saturday and watch the rest on TV.
7. Be prepared
OK, so this is the most important point, and I know this because I've just been to four camping shops, and in every one I've seen someone enter in sheer panic and leave with a smug look on their face. I did too. You're going to need waterproofs - we know that now - and warm clothes. You should probably just buy a whole bag of pants and a half a gallon of socks. Bring wetwipes, nurofen, water bottles, hand sanitiser...Bring enough snacks and alcohol so if there's a storm you can spend the entire duration in your tent. And get something that you would enjoy wearing on your feet and on your body. If a poncho is your thing, find a poncho. I just accosted Don Letts on Kensington High Street and asked him his advice for rain-proofing. He gave me a tip and now I'm the proud owner of massive foldaway Muji mac that makes me look like the person who did it last summer. It delighted me, or I wouldn't have bought it. Find something that delights you, even if it's just for decoration.
And bring sunglasses. There's always hope.
WEDNESDAY CONT'D - I JUST GOT STYLED
There's no way I'm going to another Glastonbury looking like a gremlin in a sack (2008), or a teabag (2009), so I sought the advice of the most stylish person I know, Jazz Domino Holly.
Jazz, an author and craft columnist for Company magazine, has been going to Glastonbury since she was a baby, first with her parents Gaby Salter and Joe Strummer, and recently as a trustee of new music charity Strummerville. She's taking a year out this time to work on the final stages of her book, Queen of Crafts, which is out in September, but she was on hand to lend me a quick rifle through her wardrobe. Jazz has built up a reputation of reclaiming old or odd materials, and as an advocate of make do and mend. What I love about her style is when you ask her where something is from, she'll tell you that she made it, or she found it in a pound shop. We both lamented that she'd forgotten to bring the glowstick necklace that she'd picked up at Poundland in Hastings...
Here's some 'before' pictures from a trip to Top Shop I took with Elizabeth from Summer Camp.
THURSDAY - FESTIVAL CHARITIES OPENING PARTY/ ADAM & JOE SHOW
...Music has started, but it has to be sought out. My band haven't arrived yet, but I went and met up with Adam and Joe for a radio session for 6 Music. I told them about the Wateraid tattoo campaign, and that my rocket tattoo was apparently proving more popular with men. Joe said, "Ah, phallic symbols and rocket fantasies." Adam misheard him and said, "Is that our new name?" Joe said, "Yes, you're 'phallic symbols'."
THURSDAY CONT'D - LOOK WHO'S ONLINE
I just tried to hook up to wifi in the backstage area and look what at the name of some of the networks...
FRIDAY - THE VACCINES ARE BUSY / A DAY IN PROTEST
RT @emmy_the_great: Vaccines are onsite. They're playing on Fri & Sun, Madrid on Sat. . http://twitpic.com/5g2bll
...Protest was in the air at Glastonbury today in different guises. There was a planned UK Uncut demonstration at the Pyramid Stage during U2 but as soon as the banner was hoisted it disappeared in a flicker of security jackets. Ironically, U2 paid tribute to people power during Where the Streets Have No Name, with a video montage of recent Arab Spring demonstrations. They also talked to an astronaut in an international space station during Beautiful Day, which was Admittedly Cool.
Morrissey slagged David Cameron off on the Other Stage, and Billy Bragg did the same to George Osborne on the Leftfield, concluding to the audience, "We are in this together. If you want change, you have to get organised."
FRIDAY - I INTERVIEW SAM DUCKWORTH (GET CAPE, WEAR CAPE, FLY)
What are you doing at Glastonbury this year?
I'm down for Billy's big round up in the leftfield on the Friday which is very exciting, popping up on stage with Kraak and Smaak in the dance village, making my annual visit to the climate camp tripod stage and hanging out, watching some great music.
How many times have you been? Does it have any special significance to you?
This is my 6th Glastonbury. I've had some fantastic times in worthy over the years. My first Glastonbury was special, after walking around the site I stumbled across the leftfield and had Tony Benn and Billy Bragg blow my mind. I met the folks from Love Music Hate Racism and Ethical Threads and really understood how much power music can have, but also how 'mixing pop and politics' could be done with a smile and a warm heart. It came full circle last year for our Get Cape... Leftfield set, which is one of my all time favourite shows and I'm glad to be back this year.
What's your best Glastonbury story?
I once saw my friend Ed and a pre reunion Mark Owen singing Take That songs, that was bizarre.
What's a favourite gig you saw at Glastonbury?
Stevie Wonder last year was phenomenal, its going to be hard to ever top that.
What are you looking forward to seeing/ doing this year, event-wise?
I'm looking forward to seeing Paul Simon, Jimmy Eat World and Billy Bragg in one weekend. Where else could that happen?! I'm also excited/scared to see whatever madness the festival throws up.
Any tips for a first timer?
Don't make a huge list of bands to see and stick to it religiously, the site is too big/muddy and you don't want to miss the best bits of Glastonbury - the element of surprise and the creativity on offer outside of the main music stages.
What's in your festivals essentials kit?
Outside the obvious weather prevention methods, I like the fact that you don't have to be a slave to a £4 carling and that you can walk around with a bottle of rum and coke, cheaper and certainly cheerful.
Which area would you recommend, and why?
Come and see the Leftfield, the politcial heartbeat of the worlds best festival.
SATURDAY - BRAGG CENTRAL
...My Saturday started at the Leftfield Stage, which is Billy Bragg's stage and the home of political Glastonbury. Thanks to some classic car pass malarky, I arrived halfway through the panel on green jobs that I was taking part in, just in time to hear the last point from Hanna Thomas of the East London Green Jobs Alliance. I spoke about Wateraid's work at Glastonbury, and the other speakers were Donna Hume from Friends of the Earth and Graham Peterson from the Green Jobs Alliance.
It wasn't a long journey to my next gig, which was on the Leftfield Stage. Viv Albertine was scheduled to perform in Billy Bragg's Big Round Up - a sort of round table of singer songwriters - but had to cancel at the last minute. I was more than happy to step in, if only just so I could say 'I'm filling in for Viv Albertine' one time in my l. Also playing was Paddy Nash from Belfast and Leon Walker - a graduate of Billy's prison music charity Jail Guitar Doors. I love Leon. He sounds like a cheeky, early Jamie T, and he's one of the most cheerful people you'll ever meet - tirelessly optimistic and infectiously so.
The round up turned into a Billy Bragg lovefest, because we do all bloody love him. I played one of the first songs I'd ever written, when I'd been inspired to write by BIlly's song The Saturday Boy. It has the line 'Since you've gone my only friends are Billy Bragg and the Jam...' Paddy played a number called 'Billy Bragg Jeans' with the chorus 'I've got my Billy Bragg jeans on'. The performers then decided that next year there would be a line of Bragg designer merchandise, and Paddy joked, "The condoms would be called Tender Comrade." Billy finished with a song about the moon landing, and Leon closed the set with 'I wanna go to Glastonbury'. Wish granted.
SATURDAY NIGHT - COLDPLAY ON STAGE
I took this from behind
ejaculation joke opportunity
SUNDAY - HIGHLIGHTS
Arista from Guillemots as a Mario World Turtle
My 2011 Glastonbury Moments
- Elbow on the Pyramid Stage
- Someone stopped me in a crowd and tried to give me a tenner because he downloaded my album for free. I told him to get drunk on me.
- Singing along to Tightrope in the Janelle Monae crowd
- Billy Braggat the Leftfield
- Standing in for Viv Albertine in Billy's Big Round Up. Coining the phrase 'The Bragg Cave'.
- My bandmate Euan's party shirt
Best film analogies for leaving Glastonbury...
1. We're like the animals in Homeward Bound
2. We're like the humans at the end of 28 Days Later
3. We're like Tom Hanks at the end of Apollo 13
4. We're like Tom Hanks at the end of Big
5. We're like Tom Hanks making it home at the end of Forrest Gump
6. We're like Macauley Culkin getting away from the bees in My Girl, just before my mum turned off the TV and said, "Everything is fine."
7. We're Tim Robbins in Shawshank Redemption
8. We're the toys in all the Toy Story movies
9. You get where I'm going with this
10. We are free
my brother actually managed to watch some of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days at Glastonbury
The Name Drop Game
The premise of this is simple: find a way to drop a name in as many conversations as possible. NB You do not need to have actually met the celebrity whose name you drop
ie: 'Can you pass me the bread? I know Emma Bunton. Thanks.'
'That's a great hat, you remind me of my friend Jay-Z.'
'I had a great time as Glastonbury, as I just told Lily Allen by text.'
This game gave us a good couple hours of entertainment, and by us I mean me, my brother, my boyfriend, Elton John and Emily Eavis.
SUNDAY CONT'D - WE WENT HOME
my tattoo in action
Sunday Wateraid stall closed for business..
Me and my brother at TV On The Radio. His nose is a health warning. Wear sunblock kids.