Idle Eye 158 : The Magnetic Fields

‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more’

Early doors post this week ‘cos I’ll be heading back to the undulating hills of Glastonbury tomorrow. Long-term readers of this stuff and nonsense may remember I reluctantly did something similar last year, hauled kicking and screaming into the furore by those who would not take no for an answer, and yet I came out relatively unscathed. Perhaps this time around the relentless assault of life will have conclusively exacted its toll, leaving me unable to manage much more than a couple of juniper-based sharpeners at dusk and a premature nosedown in whatever wigwam they have in mind for me. Or not. We shall see.

It hasn’t always been thus. There was a brief spell when I could gambol across the site, unfettered and nimble as a ballerina, drinking in the madness and whatever my tipple of choice was back then in equal measures. I would stay up all night, every night, insane with joy and totally beyond caring what was happening elsewhere. Music and adrenalin were my co-pilots, and when they were on board I owned the very core of those vast magnetic fields. You should have seen me, I was superb: I burned like magnesium, radiating like gamma and blistering in the sun like the Violent Femmes. Really, I did.

It didn’t last long though. When being grown-up became a thing instead of a distant concept, I gave in and learned the rules of the everyday. I did jobs I didn’t want to do. I went out with sensible people I didn’t really want to go out with. I feigned interest in all of the trappings of being an adult, when all I wanted to do was the polar opposite. I trod on a few toes along the way, which I’m not proud of but it happened. And then, a good decade after most regular folk are preparing for the final chapter, I decided to piss away whatever minuscule security I had mustered to date in favour of a much riskier, but ultimately more satisfying goal: to write. In an era when writers have less chance of staying afloat than ever. Because there are more writers than cockroaches these days.

This is what draws me back. Glastonbury, despite its inevitable nod to commerce, still represents the troubadour spirit. Anything seems possible here if you have a dream and the balls to see it through. And if it’s just an illusion, it is a magnificent one. Who cares who’s playing on the big stage? It matters not one jot. Someone in a tiny tent way out on the fringes has the potential to make an incalculable difference, and that’s what makes it special. That’s why I’m going in one last time. To suck at the marrow of a sprawling collective unconscious which can turn your life around on a sixpence. Even at its most desperate, outermost ebb.

IE Audio 5 : The Kanye Conspiracy

It’s Glastonbury week again. Huzzah! So just to kick things off, here’s a timely reminder why people like me should stay indoors and do something more appropriate instead. Like reading the pink paper or fixing a lawnmower. Kim who?

https://theidleeye.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/idle-eye-144-the-kanye-conspiracy/

Idle Eye 144 : The Kanye Conspiracy

Remember last year? Me neither, which is the predominant reason I churn out this self-indulgent effluent every week. So that, in a quiet moment of the day when the wine fog has lifted, I can claw back clues as to my activities over the last three and a half years, and make out I have near-perfect recall. Yes, like that bloke out of Neighbours (what was his name?) in Memento. So, imagine my surprise when I discovered I had attended the Glastonbury festival. Quite willingly, apparently. Can that be right? And why on earth would I have agreed to such a thing, being as I am rather ancient and unsuitably constructed for the al fresco activities of youth?

I dug a little deeper, only to find out that, to my horror, I am going again in June. And that I have already shelled out perfectly good moolah for the privilege. What fresh hell is this? If ever there was a deterrent to the perils of Pinot… Anyway, my fate being sealed thus, I thought it prudent to at least find out exactly who I shall be forced to watch, and in narratively convenient fashion, the organisers announced yesterday that someone called Kanye West will be headlining on the big stage. Kanye West? Who the shoo is she? I thought it was a holiday destination for wealthy folk, somewhere near the Keys in Florida. And whilst I realise I no longer fit the festival demographic, you’d think they could at least meet me half way: The Bay City Rollers still have a bit of spunk left, and young people can mock them on the Twitter if they get bored.

Seeing as I already had my detective hat on, I discreetly asked my niece to get me up to speed, ignorance being no excuse in these matters:

Poppy:  Are you for real?

Me:  Yes, I think so.

Poppy:  No, I mean you’ve never heard of Kanye West???

Me:  I haven’t. Does that make me a bad person?

Poppy:  He’s only the biggest rapper in the world!

Me:  Rapper, you say?

Poppy:  Yes, rapper! And he’s married to Kim Kardashian. Keep up!

Me:  Kim who?

Poppy:  Oh for God’s sake! Kardashian! With the massive arse.

(long pause)

Poppy:  You really don’t know, do you?

Me:  I’m afraid not.

Poppy:  Have you been living under a rock for the last ten years?

Me:  Of course not. But wasn’t she at Glastonbury last year with her band?

Poppy:  That was Kasabian!

Me:  Is there a difference?

Poppy:  I’ve got to go now…

So, none the wiser then. But at least I’ve gleaned that this Kanye chap has a wife with a big bottom, which will surely hold me in good stead when I’m standing in a Somerset field, knee-deep in mud and surrounded by children who know who he is. What was it again? Kim something? I wonder if she’s from North Korea.

Idle Eye 113 : The Refusenik (A Slight Return)

The Persians deliberately weave a flaw into the corner of the astonishingly beautiful rugs they create because they believe that only Allah is truly perfect, and it would be a bit of a slap in the face if they try to emulate him/her through their Earthly offerings. Readers, I am that rug: I got it wrong about Glastonbury (as I did with the Olympics and the once Scotch, then Brit, now re-Scotched Andy Murray). As a weathervane for the zeitgeist I can get seriously off-kilter sometimes and hands up, I’ve done it again. Not that I’m admitting it to those who dragged me there, kicking and screaming blue bloody murder to the permanent detriment of their weekend – Good Lord, no! Some things must remain between you and I, and I beg you to keep schtum on this one.

Despite the mud and the mucus, the filth and the fury, the long-drops and the long marches home, I reluctantly acquiesce that it was all reasonably acceptable. Being little more than a soldier ant in a ruthlessly efficient outdoor entertainment machine was, to be fair, somewhat daunting initially. And last time I frequented the place it was a squalid haunt of low-lives, drug dealers and hippies trying to locate my chakras. Particularly after bedtime, which it then seemed churlish to adhere to. However Glastonbury, like all things, has evolved.

Yes, it is vast and yes, it is seemingly commercial. But there are no Audi stalls here, attempting to flog you a luxury vehicle in the most inappropriate of places. No Costa, no McDonalds or Coke, miserably shoehorning their bullshit product in with anything popular they can access in order to maximise reach. For the most part (and I grant you, there are a few exceptions), the on-site businesses are small and endearingly homespun. You do not resent spending a couple of extra quid to keep these guys going. And this in itself would be enough. Perhaps a thumbs-up from this rusting ancient, best suited to keeping an eye on his portfolio in the pink paper, is not the best festival accolade out there. But it doesn’t matter, really it doesn’t.

If you fancy seeing out your ticket price in a hessian shack listening to ’70’s prog rock powered by punters on bicycles, then good luck to you: It’s there for the taking. Failing that, head off to Shangri-La when the main stages shut down and gurn the night away on substances for that authentic Hieronymus Bosch experience. Again, it’s your choice. The trick is knowing which buttons to push and which ones to let go of, and no-one really minds if you screw it up. It’s all part of the deal. Despite myself, being in a field with thousands of people yelling “ED…IS…DEAD!” at the Pixies felt curiously liberating. But if you think for a minute I’m going to let on now that I’m home, dream on…

Idle Eye 112 : The Shock of the New (Glastnost)

Having enjoyed over a month of writing bugger all for you lot, I was beginning to slip into a self-induced torpor that required little else to assuage the crippling guilt of non-delivery than doing the dishes occasionally and hoovering up the encrusted remains of tobacco strands beneath the bedroom window. And consuming my own body weight in pink and/or white wine (legit now that it’s getting hot). But this could not last, of course it couldn’t. Something more appalling than there are words to express is about to happen and I need an outlet: Glastonbury.

In a moment of weakness, I agreed to this monstrosity many moons ago at a time I thought it unlikely I would be unlucky enough to have to attend it. But, due to the tenacity of a fine friend, I now find myself in the horrendous position of having a ticket with my photograph and assorted personal details attached to it. It cannot be sold on, and unless I can find someone with the enormous good fortune to resemble myself, I am duty bound to turn up and mingle with people half my age, with half my acceptance of failure. In a field without a flushing lavatory. And for this I am supposed to be grateful.

What the young people don’t understand (and why should they?) is that the ceiling of maximum thrill is drastically reduced beyond one’s fortieth year. We no longer need to experience popular DJs pumping out their thing from the artificial thorax of a gigantic spider, whilst acrobats in their prime dangle themselves provocatively from its leg joints. In order to feel better about ourselves. Really, we don’t. This weekend I managed to source a toilet seat/lid combo from B&Q in Sydenham that I’ve been hunting since November and the joy that this has brought knows no bounds. And it is these tiny, visceral pleasures that constitute the fabric of our everyday, sad though this may sound. So, to put myself back into the lion’s mouth after 22 years is nothing if not somewhat alarming to someone who has learned, through bitter experience, to lower the threshold.

Nearly everyone I have spoken to about this (analyst/partner/check-out lady at B&Q Sydenham) makes out that I need to get a grip. But my fear is far more deep-rooted than you might otherwise believe. I am projecting waking up in the Healing Field after a sedative evening of west country cider, with local stones placed around me in a circle and violent, semi-clad children worshiping the oncoming dawn as I dribble my discontent through a crumpled tin. And as I make my way to the missing persons tent, I am accosted by a dayglo mono-cyclist with pamphlets. The horror, the horror…

I shall report back next week, unless you find me leaping about in my second flush of youth. Which, to be honest, is unlikely.