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Old 02-28-09, 12:36 AM   #2
martin ewen
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Lurk My Glastonbury, part two

Day 4
It was cold last night, chilly, English summer but still it hasnt rained yet, Peppe crows at the new dawn, WEEEE ARE THE BANANA KIIINGS OF THE WESTERN WOOOOOOORLLLD.

The fire, as always, is a primitive constant, providing coffee, beans (9p a can) eggs (a-la-peppe) and those sudden swings of breeze that engulf you in an acrid eyewatering Neanderthal kind of chemical warfare.

The coffee kicks in and my world transitions from a gothic 19th century horror to a mid 70s pastel blinkered optimism.

I put on my sleepingbag (sleepwalkersleepingbags.com) and go for a walk, its early and an interesting mix of the early risers and the late nighters are all mixed up and bumping into each other, no performers are scheduled till at least 11 so its all sound systems .
Go to the Post office with Celia and send a few postcards home, check out the invisibles but no-ones about, find this place where someone's imported heaps of sand from a beach and made their own little oasis with fake palm trees and speakers shaped like shells that play sounds of waves crashing, it smells salty, its brilliant.

Passing by the pyramid stage Jools Holland is playing ragtime and honky-tonk, hes a piano genius and its infectious cheerful stuff.

So bounce back to the dude ranch and think about getting ready for work. Nicks on at the same time as me and we plan on me doing a bit of stiltcam of his show in the circus tent and afterwards hell follow me about and show me where the water dragon is.

Im up and wander backstage and nicks pacing about before hes on and i grab the camera and go out front and find a good spot and get his whole show (one of 2 hes doing)
Its the cups and balls which Ive seen before (easy over 1000 times) its the audiences that differ every time and the subtle differences in how theyre played that still keep me interested.

Theres one kid who comes up and trys to sabotage the show by grabbing something and just standing there not giving it back, in front of hundreds of people, he thinks he powerful but nick just finds him interesting in a condescending sort of way and lets him play himself out till he realizes that nicks a comedian and hes a kid and theres another 40 minutes of material where the last 10 came from, the show continues, lovely full house, good finish, good footage.
Then I go wandering up to the stone circle where off to the side hidden in the brush is a huge stone dragon with crystals embedded all down its coiled scaleyback as it sits in a creek bed peeking out through bushes into the field. It was made many festivals ago and must be a bit of a freakout to discover in some altered state while stumbling about the festival site. Id say the majority of folk never even know its there let alone find it.

Off up to a swing off a huge oak tree with my stilts on and then down to the jazz stage then home via a quick pop in to Pee wees bar.
Big cook up at the campfire as night fell then off for a spin to see what was on.

Checked out the angel trapeze woman who was suspended on some huge balloon that floated about tethered to roving strongmen who held her in check and let her descend to touch people before floating skyward again, I heard it was really expensive to produce but Im all for no expense spared metaphor's.

Saw another woman doing suspension work inside a huge inflatable clear tube in the middle of a field and then onto the circus stage where a duo called Tumble Circus did a double trapeze act full of risk, strength and beauty and towards the end of their piece, which was flawless, the woman acrobats face was radiating with the joy of what they were both pulling off and the crowd just fed on it and she fed off the crowd all the while fully concentrating on the highly risky moves they were pulling until the crowd simply couldnt take any more and erupted about 30 seconds before they had actually finished.

Then The Happy Sideshow, the slickest funniest most whimsical and friendly freakshow you are ever likely to see,Shep is a polished grinning ringmaster whose patter just leads the show effortlessly and the space cowboys a grinning hardcore freak you could still bring home to charm your mum.
Each piece builds on itself rather than being an isolated grossout and while most freak shows Ive seen are about the performers and what they can do this shows more about giving the audience the best show the guys can come up with, right down to their catchphrase It just keeps getting better.

And so it did as the shows ended and we spun off to pee wees where we stayed submerged in debautury till about 8 in the morning before moving off to a caravan and topping off the untoppable with red wine and more unmentionables till around 10.

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Day 5
Sunday, last official day, staggered up late,missed Rolf Harris and his digerridoo nursery rhymes (tears stained my pillow).

It was overcast and threatening to drizzle but after the brain chemistry enema of the night before I was in the psychological Bahamas, immune to ennui, free from funk, relieved of rancor , diverted from depression, vanquished of vitriol, devoid of disgruntlement,becalmed from all bitterness.
(In short I was cheerful but my newfound addiction to alliteration was slowly starting to piss me off)

In the distance I could hear Roger Waters reliving Pink Floyd moments, the main stage today was going to be home for many dinosaurs with Rod Stewart due to wiggle his wrinkly pelvis later in the evening.

It was late in the afternoon and so straight to work. I wandered about, keeping a keen eye out for a specific group of guys who had been apparently spending the day hunting down stiltwalkers and pushing them over, I pretty much know what to look for, sudden changes of direction, a deliberate ( and usually pretty obvious) lack of eye contact and finally, sudden acceleration.
I went out into the bigger fields to act as bait and spun every couple of steps so that I couldnt be snuck up on.
I did have a friend shadowing me as well and it was as I diverted down a small lane between two fields (a lane with a large, steep bank down one side) that a guy who had split off from his peer group moments before started to make his move.
It was interesting to note that hed broken off from his mates who could no longer even see him so my guess is that he was playing catchup with some sort of running tally.

His angle would have had me fall quite a distance if hed contacted but just yards from me a piecing whistle rent the air and he turned to see himself being glared at by my minder,(or as I like to call her, my benevolent tail); he angled off and disappeared.

There were heaps of good roving characters at this festival, Big Rory with his Kilt wearing stilt dad and giant pram, The stilt soccerplayer and ref who played with a giant soccer ball. The pigmy woman, Petra and partner with their pedal-cars, the sailor with the captured mermaid, Little costumed gaggles of eccentrics here and there. (Id heard stories of a previous fest with a guy dragging a fish round on a leash.)

It started drizzling on and off which was the first rain of the festival and as it was the last day of work at Glastonbury I stretched it out a little, at the fields of vagueness there was a ska band playing, ska dancing is a kind of stylised skipping on the spot, I did it on stilts for nearly an hour until the tank was well and truly empty.

Wandered back through the light rain passing stage after stage and finally took my heavier than usual stilts off for the last time.

Back at the ranch the campers were girding their loins for one last ferocious attack on the rural party syndrome, protein and social accelerants in equal measure, the fire roared, the eyes watered.
I didnt dawdle as there was one act I still hadnt seen, an act that Id been recommended many times over the years by people whose opinions I valued.

So off I went to see Abner the eccentric.
Hes a mime/ clown and while us mime/ clowns are used from time to time to disparagingly represent everything that is twee and pathetic and self indulgent and irrelevant, I have one thing to say in our defense.

Suck pus asshole.

Its only because its so hard to do well and looks so simple when done well (and also because its the refuge of a lot of twee, pathetic, self indulgent, irrelevant, govt subsidised pseudo intellectuals who mistake unpopularity with genius)

But anyway all a good mime has to do in my opinion is to stop you thinking about what you were thinking and instead follow his thought processes for as long as he can keep you and if also a clown then laughter every couple of minutes doesnt hurt.

Abners show lasts an hour and a half, he plays with props, ideas and the audience collectively and sometimes individually, hes in his 50s and has a confident playfulness thats reinforced by his many years of experience.
Its a gentle show with its own understated power as he takes a couple of hundred people on a journey into his world where nothing works like it should but he triumphs anyway, absurd, charming, skillful and beautiful, he fails, succeeds, gets angry, sad, frustrated, celebrates and shares it all with an audience of all ages who are spellbound.

It was a fitting end of a brilliant festival for me.

I wandered round afterwards and caught the tailend of one or two acts, saw Dirty Fred once more, this time he had his scrotum out and was explaining that it wasnt offensive because you couldnt be aroused by a scrotum, he then pierced it with a metal rod and hacked into it with a trick knife then just let it hang out ignoring it while he continued his show till it got cold and he tucked it back in.

I passed by Pee Wees but it was to busy to hear anyone speak , flitted also past the big green room tent which was half full and fairly sedate by our standards, so I ended back at the campfire where the atmosphere was almost post coital, people talking utter shit or staring into the fire.
Some packing for an early exodus when the gates opened at 3am but most of us were going to hang round for a couple more days till boredom hit or the food ran out whichever happened first.
Stayed up till 4 bid farewell to a couple of the more organised friends then snuck off to bed.
So that was Glastonbury.
Good One!
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