REELING from the first Glastonbury Festival of my 26 years, I’ve been scouring my brain for a simple phrase to capture this all-consuming experience.
On Monday the gates shut on Pilton’s world-famous, 44-year-old and sprawling contemporary arts colossus, after five days of creative jamming.
Bombarded by a cacophony of colour, a fantastical soundtrack of thousands talking, moving and mingling, and music, music everywhere, day and night, it’s given me material to dream on for months.
A population well over double the city of Bath descended on Michael Eavis’ Worthy Farm – around 200,000 – to be part of this supernova. A surreal beast it was too.
Beyond the sheer candy machine of coups – lassoing country queen Dolly Parton, US rock live kings Metallica, and Leicester lads Kasabian, for hotly-discussed Pyramid Stage slots, for example – was the unique carnival of each ticket-holder’s individual festival experience.
Try as you might, you just can’t cover the full programme, certainly not without a Tardis.
So much of the action is held at the same time across dozens and dozens of stages, and then there’s the sheer scale of the 1,200 acre Glasto plot to traverse.
As your Glastonbury Lone Ranger, I gave it my best shot. Here’s a flavour.
I stalked out each morning from my two-man crumpled tent with a similarly crumpled map in hand, and a vague sense of where I wanted to be, not knowing what I’d find, or who I’d meet. The hours dissolved.
What if I met a major music industry name, such as Ed Sheeran?
I did! And the acoustic artist, who played the Pyramid Stage after Dolly, indulged in a selfie with yours truly:
I joined a Parisian sailor on stilts in the hunt for her lobster love; shared a beer and chewed the fat in the Acoustic Stage with a Kent blues DJ; ate an ostrich burger, drank tea as part of a global press machine in the interstage area; caught band-of-sisters, Haim, in raptures on the Other Stage.
I saw American Willy Wonka of blues, Jack White, open a moody, steely set at the Pyramid stage, and witnessed the sea of faces cram before it for Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant.
I felt the spirit of John Peel living on at that DJ’s stage; the fizz of excitement flowing through me at discovering new, beloved music in the charismatic charge of melodic Australian rockers, The Preachers.
Another favourite, 21 year-old Bristol soul man George Ezra, drew a clamouring crowd that I got crushed in.
Let's face it, at this rate I could keep writing on it all until next year’s Glastonbury.
I couldn’t tell you how many miles my leg muscles I clocked up between the iconic Pyramid Stage and the Other Stage; Green Fields and Silverhayes, round, and round and round.
Glastonbury Festival is a mind-bogglingly complex operation, loyally served by its wealthy bank of volunteers and campaigners, who are its cogs and oil.
Then there was the weather. Watching the coverage from the plump comfort of your sofa? I’m sure you’d admit to the schadenfreude or delicious feeling of pleasure at seeing festivalites soaked to the skin.
But so British a convention is the Glastonbury rain, that when the first torrents fell on Thursday a universal cheer rose up from camp.
Worthy Farm experienced a full-cycle metamorphosis. Cracked dry as a bone to welcome visitors, it quickly turned to bog, then liquid sludge after two days of Niagara Falls.
Onto a sticky clay – you could have turned pots with it – before returning to springy dry ground.
What a privilege, and upheaval to my brain, these five days of boggy creative fire have been.
So I’ve finally got it, that phrase I was looking for. Glastonbury Festival: it does things to the mind …