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Festivals are a thing of my past
Anyone who has ever roughed it at a music festival will know that there’s camping, and then there’s camping.
There’s nice, clean, safe camping on family-friendly sites, with spacious tents, soft air beds, state-of-the-art barbecues and gleaming shower blocks.
Then there’s festival camping which, unless you’re supping fizz with Jay-Z in a Winnebago in the VIP enclosure, is pretty grotty. I’ve been to my share of festivals and there are none grottier than Glastonbury.
I last went about ten years ago. By the time my friends and I arrived it was dark and we’d started to fall out over where to pitch our tent. Because the whole place is the size of a town, covered in tents as far as the eye can see, we ended up with a tiny patch on a slope, right next to a stinking cowshed.
Fanciful notions of hygiene and dignity quickly disappeared. With one cold tap serving about 200 people, I endured a film of grime covering my skin for four days.
The toilets were grim, and even grimmer was the discovery that our sleeping-bags were wet one night, despite the fact it hadn’t rained. “Someone has used our tent as a toilet. Is there no humanity here?” wailed my friend, as if she was stuck in a trench in the Somme.
Last week I returned to the festival scene, only it wasn’t quite the same.
I went to Grassington Festival, held in a marquee on a field near the village. Previous rainfalls had created a muddy bog but, as I trudged past the Champagne tent, where silver-haired men in smart blazers were popping corks, I realised the mud was the only similarity with Glastonbury.
Instead of the usual festival fare of falafel, chips and tomato sauce, the food stall was filled with top-quality beef and sausages, no doubt locally-farmed, in floury bread rolls.
Festival-goers were spilling out of 4x4s and convertible sports cars, clutching wine glasses and bottles of decent plonk, and making their way through the mud in posh wellies.
In place of the usual muck-splattered festival grunge look were white linen trouser suits, swirling pashminas, sturdy Barbour jackets and rugby shirts with collars upturned. I spotted a man in a pristine boating blazer glugging champers from a bottle.
This was festival chic, North Yorkshire style. It was a fun concert, and lovely to be out in the Dales on a rare sunny evening, but I didn’t really feel I fitted in.
I don’t belong in the 4x4 set, just as I no longer belong in the hip young Glastonbury set. Maybe festivals are better enjoyed from my sofa.