My association with Glastonbury Festival goes back to the early ‘80’s, every year a whole crowd of us would up sticks from the Rifleman’s Pub and move 5 miles up the road to “camp” at the base of the Pyramid stage.
Everyone who loves Glastonbury will know in those days you could drive your car on site, park up and party. We watched some fantastic bands, but it was the up and coming “performers” who were a revelation that I, living in sleepy Somerset, certainly hadn’t encountered before, Alexi Sayle - OMG he was frightening! – Rik Mayall as Kevin Turvey = weird, and the fantastic John Cooper Clarke; his performance of Beasley Street is still one of my all-time favourites.
In the early 80’s Michael was a very strong supporter of CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament for the young ‘uns!) - This was certainly not a view supported by “The Establishment” and it brings to mind an unusual anecdote that is very much a reflection of those times:-
A group of us from Owen Barry had decided to go to the ’81 festival. So Ken collected the cash from everybody, wrote the cheque & sent away for the tickets (cheque made payable to Glastonbury C.N.D Festival).
Off we went, I seem to recall it had been raining (nothing new there then) and the car having to be pushed thru a mud gully between the hedge at the bottom of Muddy Lane!!
But as always with Glasto the sun came out and the party started with Aswad headlining – bliss for a Reggae/Ska lover like me.
Anyway, weekend over, hangover managed, back to work on Monday morning, ho hum. Several days into the week Ken came into the workshop brandishing a letter that he had received from the Bank Manager of Midlands Bank – Street Branch.
In those days, 19 year olds did not get personal letters from their Bank Managers – so this was worrying.
In essence the letter said that he had seen the cheque that Ken had made payable to the CND and on this occasion, he had allowed the cheque to be honoured. He assumed that Ken had bought tickets to the festival and that he was not actually making a sizable contribution to the CND movement. However, was Ken aware that a percentage of these funds would be used to support the militants at Greenham Common and that Ken should THINK VERY SERIOUSLY in future about which groups he supported?
Yes really – in those days, “bank managers” and “old people” used to try to bully us into the old school values and not questioning the Government or the status quo.
So for me, it was because of vanguards like Michael Eavis and going to the festival that we “rural folk” were taught about CND, Greenpeace, we encountered different religions like Hare Krishna, heard about environmental issues and gained an awareness of things that were hugely important outside of Somerset. Every speaker, every area, every installation tried to make us aware and show us there were other ways especially with a bit of lateral thinking.
I go to Glastonbury every year, as do my kids, it has been a huge part of our lives, and I like to think it has contributed to our education, our tolerance, certainly to our eco values, our sense of humour and of course our appreciation of live music.
Thank you Michael, I sincerely appreciate what you have taught me -
Pay by cash – don’t let Big Brother get you!!