Glastonbury 2003: The Best of the Rest

Scenes at Glastonbury Festival 2003 by Becky Metcalfe
Scenes at Glastonbury Festival 2003 by Becky Metcalfe

For those who dance to the beat of a different drummer (than Phil from Radiohead, presumably), Glastonbury has something for everyone. Forget life on Mars, the Green Fields of Glastonbury are stranger than any science fiction!

Julian Cope – Acoustic Stage – Friday 10 pm

[l-zone1]Running an hour late, the arch-drude finally appears on stage unrecognisable in sunglasses and massive curly beard. Pulling his hood up as he claims he can’t play without one, he begins with an interminably long rendition of ‘That’s the way love is’ complete with an impressive array of weird noises. “Thanks & Good night” he quips as he leaves the stage. He reappears and tells us “I’m going to do something quiet now”. After a few seconds, “Have you done it yet?” enquires a heckler. Next his guitar is in the wrong key, it’s in E not fluorescent green!

After another couple of equally lengthly songs, we realise we’re in for a long night when he suddenly launches an astonishing tirade against a security guard. Discovering he’s Scottish, he demands to know “highlands or lowlands?”, eventually eliciting the repsonse of “Glasgow”. “Catholic or Protestant”, “Catholic” comes the reply, “So you’re virtually pagan then”. “In Liverpool we have a phrase to describe you, you’re as yes as you are no.” At this point the hapless guard decides to ignore him, ensuring Julian’s baiting becomes even more vocerifous, calling him “an Insecurity guard dwelling in a ditch” and finally leading to, “Paid Filth”.

After playing “Double Vegetation”, he informs us that “before he was an old dude, 21 years ago, he had a bad incident involving alcohol and the texas chainsaw massacre. Now he’s grown a beard and beer tastes good.” We decide to leg it to the relative sanity of the green fields!

The Egg – Lost Stage – 5 pm and Lost Vagueness Ballroom – Sat 5 am

[r-zone2]Recently reformed after falling out with their guitarist, festival favourites The Egg can often be found in the strangest of places at Glastonbury. Their first set containing mostly tracks such as ‘Venice Beach’ from their new EP ‘ Mellowmania’ certainly woke up the crowd in the sleepy Lost field. Combining infectious bleeps and wah-wah guitar, The Egg are insanely groovy especially on classics like ‘Numbercruncher’ and ‘Getting away with it’. So much so, I dressed up in all my finery to experience them again along with all of the delights that are Lost Vagueness.

[l-zone3]The place is astounding, access to the 50’s diner and ballroom is open to all, but the delights of the casino can only be experienced by the well dressed. Under the watchful eye of the transvestite bouncer, no-one is allowed in without a suit or ballgown (free to hire if you haven’t brought one) but don’t feel you have to stick to gender stereotypes. I saw some lovely lads flaunting their legs in their floral frocks. Cabaret varies from the musical to circus performances and the whole place is magical. Back in the ballroom to see The Egg again, starting over 2 hours later than billed (at 5am), my spirits were flagging somewhat, but they still managed to whip the tent into a frenzy. The multiple projections looked superb and the band definitely enjoyed themselves as much as we did.

Snippets of Weirdness – “Leave your Preconceptions here”

2003 – The year of:

[r-zone4]

  • Things on a stick – spotted so far – Pingu, a pigeon, a gnome, a doll holding a Stella, an owl, a wig with a spliff, an M&M or two, a duck and a snake
  • Extremely pointy brown ‘Mushroom’ hats
  • Pointy pixie ears to match
  • Texting everyone you know when anything happens

,[r-zone1]Sightings

John Peel & Arthur Smith in the markets
Sissy (from Big Brother) in the Green Fields
Billy Bragg & Phil Jupitus in hospitality.
Will Mellor (Casualty) in market area.
Laurence LLewellyn-Bowen in the fairy shop with his wife & kids, protesting because they don’t accept “Plaaastic”.

Theatre

[l-zone2]The theatre and circus fields are often forgotten in favour of the music but they offer a huge range of amusing antics, vivid costumes and general wierdness. As well as the open air stages and tents the area is always full of performance artists from jugglers to trapeze artists and stilt walkers to dancers. Many artists perform improvisations or just wander the site in character. Some general oddities and quirky acts seen are:

The Greenfields

[r-zone3]Every conceivable form of alternative healing and relaxation can be found up in the Green fields, from Reiki massage to herbal medicine and Buddhist meditation to yoga classes. There is even a salsa dance class held daily. It is the perfect place to go and chill out, unwind from the general intensity of the festival or just recover from that killer hangover.

[l-zone4]The multitude of sculptures add to the general ambience of the place, whilst numerous gardens provide a place to relax (or sleep)! The craft fields provide a glimpse of many traditional crafts including fletchers and woodturners, as well as more unusual skills like chainsaw wood sculptures. The number of Yurts is staggering and you can even book yourself on a Yurt building course. For those that want it the spiritual side is also well catered for here, with all the major religions represented along with a plethora of more obscure ones.

[r-zone5]

  • Businessman with thick specs and a bowler carrying his briefcase of bizarre sounds
  • 3 spivs with a puppy in a suitcase trying to sell wellingtons for dogs – they kept shouting “Chuffty” and running off.
  • Lobster Medical Emergency – A team of nurses and doctors with a hospital trolley bearing a plastic lobster
  • 2 stilt walking Elvis‘s
  • Mary Poppins complete with umbrella
  • Mr Spin on the outside circus stage, who balanced on a very precarious looking stand whilst juggling 3 baseball bats & balancing a glass of water on his head.
  • In ‘Lost Vagueness‘ the ‘Tea Ladies‘ were holding a tea dance. They spent the time serving tea to punters, ironing and sweeping the dance floor while humming along to incredibly cheesy ‘easy listening’ music. There was a sofa and a basket of cheap romance novels for customers to peruse.
  • Next door the American Diner sports authentic red velvet banquette seats with a chrome counter, while the Chapel of Love and Loathing provides a space for unorthodox services and weddings.
  • Certainly one of the most out of place sights at the festival has to be the Bristol Art Library, billed as “the smallest library in the world”, the collection is housed in a wooden cabinet the size of a suitcase. Apparently they have over 4,000 members!