The Duke - June 24, 2015

Mud, glorious mud, at the Glastonbury Festival

Mud, glorious mud, at the Glastonbury Festival

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The Manager and I have just returned from Glastonbury.

No it wasn’t some diary equivalent of a bad hair day. We were visiting the town and the Tor – which are there all the time, rather than the festival which, as the more aware among you will realise, starts today and runs until Sunday.

Not that I haven’t made diary errors before. I did once turn up at the Dukes in Lancaster expecting to see a stage version of Hamlet only to find I was a week early and what was actually on was the film Hammett, a 1982 homage to noir movies and pulp fiction produced by Francis Ford Coppola and directed by Wim Wenders. Far from the Shakespearian tragedy I’d expected, it was a fictionalized story about writer Dashiell Hammett, based on the novel of the same name by Joe Gores. I probably enjoyed it more for all that.

As for Glastonbury we had deliberately avoided the festival dates.

The roads down there are congested enough without psychedelic painted VW camper vans and tent toting rock fans clogging them up.

I’m not a great lover of rock festivals at the best of times. Why sit in a field full of people who haven’t bathed for days and are too stoned to converse sensibly with when you can watch all the good bits from the comfort of your own front room?

I tried a free one in Leeds when I was a teenager and didn’t much like it – even when I could get home at night. I also went camping once about the same time. It poured down the whole time and the four of us (school friends) ended up sleeping in a small car pretending we were having fun.

This trip was more of a box ticker – starting with a biennial reunion in the quaint resort of Burnham-on-Sea with friends from the Midlands and Australia.

Amongst its aspic charms Burnham boasts the shortest pier in the UK – and not the “shortest beer” as my incredulous butcher thought I’d said.

After that came Glastonbury. It has some great architecture, one of the best abbeys I’ve ever been round, more legends and myths than you can shake a wizard’s wand at and more shops selling quasi-spiritual jiggery pokery than you’d find at a Harry Potter theme park.

A lot of its population seem frozen in a 60s time warp – like they caught the last bus out of San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury when the hippy bubble burst.

It almost felt like home though when we were asked for loose change by a comfortable beggar, overheard a couple of church laypeople discussing their young holidays spent in Blackpool and had to laugh at an otherwise laid back busker let out a loud expletive when he hit the wrong note on his guitar.

We took in the Tor too. All very spiritual, wonderful views and the sort of climb you’d have to say you enjoyed even if you’d lost the ability to breathe.

And so onto Wells for its stunning cathedral and its less than stunning one way system. Our Google directions seemed oblivious to the lack of road names and abundance of no entry signs. In the end we decided to possibly file for divorce and definitely invest in a Satnav.

We abandoned the car at one of end of the town (sorry, city), walked to the Crown Hotel and threw ourselves on the mercy of an extremely helpful receptionist who drew us a map and – presumably sensing tension in the air - even upgraded our room free of charge.

A smashing place though and one which we’d go back to tomorrow – if we could remember the way.

But all things come to an end – except the traffic jam home which stretched from Somerset to Lancashire.

Now nights are lengthening, Christmas is in my sights

When is it just too early to think about buying Christmas presents?

I only ask because I’ve normally started ferreting things away for The Manager by at least the end of March.

She likes antiques and books (and meals out and hotels!) so it’s a case of strike whilst the iron’s hot and the weather’s not.

Grab something whilst it’s there before either everyone else has grabbed it or I’ve forgotten what it was she strongly hinted I should be grabbing.

Once purchased I then find a suitable hidey hole to stash things.

The Only One’s temporarily vacated bedroom was a good place – until he moved back in and started grumbling about the bags of Gazette stuff I’ve still to sort out two and half years since I left the place.

Anyway this year I’ve found what could be the solution. It’s almost the end of June and I haven’t started thinking about gifts yet.

I can see myself joining the hordes of other panic stricken partners leaving it too late to find first choices (“well, it’s a bit like what you wanted”) and too chicken to suggest waiting until the New Year sales (“it means we can shop together and have lunch at Nando’s”).

On second thoughts I’d better start looking.

The nights are already drawing in.