As I type this, I'm considering whether to shun society, and just camp in a field listening to music for the foreseeable future. I'm wondering whether my weird, wellie tan will ever fade and hoping I eventually stop finding glitter EVERYWHERE. It all, obviously, can only mean one thing - I just got back from Glastonbury.
I've been a festival-goer since I convinced my parents to let me go to Reading at the ripe old age of 16, and once there, I fell in love with fields full of dirty people and loud music, starting a summer romance that will last forever.
Since then, I've sampled almost every UK festival on offer, but everything changed in 2013, when I made it to the hallowed fields of Worthy Farm for the first time. When you talk about music festivals, it's never long before chat turns to Glastonbury, and I was given all the warnings about how huge it is, and that I would miss most acts I hoped to see. I nodded a lot, thinking that I was listening, only to arrive at Castle Cary station in late June, with a broken elbow (long story) and the sudden realisation that I had absolutely no bloody idea what I was doing.
There's something about Glastonbury that's hard to understand and explain. It's a surreal place, that leaves you questioning everything, and wanting more from every aspect of life. It forces you to reflect and think, while seeing some of the world's greatest musicians and performers. There are other fantastic festivals up and down the country, but none of them come close to beating the Eavis family's spectacular. What makes Worthy Farm so special? And how can the organisers of Reading, Isle Of Wight, V et al replicate Glastonbury's success? Fresh from another brilliant weekend, I've got a few ideas...
1. Realise that headliners don't need to be 'rock legends'
This point was showcased fantastically on both Friday and Saturday night. There was plenty of talk over whether Foo Fighters' replacement Florence And The Machine was worthy, and ready for, the Pyramid Stage headline slot. Flo, I'd like to apologise for doubting you. As the London-born star leapt around the stage, there was no doubt that she was certainly ready, and in actual fact, it was probably the crowd who weren't prepared for her. It seems that the only headliners we'll welcome these days are rock giants, with tens of albums to their name, and quite frankly, we're missing out. The endless merry-go-round of acts such as Metallica and Kasabian is predictable and boring. Let somebody else step up and give it a go, you never know - you could get a huge surprise. Which brings us to a certain Mr West.
Kanye West, or as I will now be referring to him, Lord Yeezus, was quite something. Yes, he's controversial, different and in possessions of one of the world's biggest egos - but can you name anyone in music who is currently more exciting? He was easily the most-talked about act all weekend, and everything from the staging to his decision to shun huge A-list guests in favour of Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, had been carefully considered and planned. He's not a stupid man, and the sense of occasion wasn't lost on him. I'd take that over some recently reunited rockers going through the motions and chatting about the good ol' days (*cough* The Who) anyday.
2. Cut back on the branding
Thanks to the way it's grown organically, Glastonbury is basically brand-free, and all the better for it. Festivals are about losing yourself - and then finding yourself again - in giant open spaces, and areas sponsored by big companies always feel a little false and soulless. It's 'sponsored fun' and the carefully crafted hashtags and slogans are just a cruel reminder that the real world isn't actually that far away. Bestival has struck a great balance with this, and I will FOREVER be grateful to the trays of Berocca that are handed out each morning, but other events struggle to get it right.
3. Put more thought into the late night areas
Shangri-La is yet another area of Glastonbury that's hard to describe. This year, things took a political turn, and the mazes of heaven and hell were decked out with faux campaign materials, satirical art and a giant, terrifying, poster of David Cameron. Shangri-La is a festival in itself, and at midnight as the Pyramid shuts up shop, thousands make their way to the Southeast corner. Compare this to Isle Of Wight, where last week I struggled to get into any of the tents that were open past midnight, and Reading, where the silent disco is the only option, and it's easy to see why people keep coming back to Glastonbury.
4. Wake up to the fact it's not all about the music
Ok - most festivals have some sort of comedy area, poetry tent or theatre space, but the acts who fill them rarely get to showcase their sets elsewhere on site. At Glastonbury, these areas blur with the music, and this year, Pussy Riot opened The Park stage on Friday, while spoken word artist-turned-rapper Kate Tempest performed there in the early afternoon. Bestival and Latitude both do this well, with areas that are separate, but so large that they're impossible to just bypass. You're constantly reminded of politics and social responsibility, which helps Glastonbury to...
5. Foster a sense of community
This definitely sounds like one of the most pretentious comments ever, but please bear with me. On Thursday night, I lost my friends, somewhere near a tunnel, underneath a giant disco ball. Once you're lost within a crowd of over 150,000, your chances of a reunion are slim to say the least. It was around 3am - obviously too early for bed - so I took myself to Pennard Hill's communal area, where there's a giant fire and other waifs and strays, who are lost but not ready to give up the night. Everyone talks to you. I saw Slaves on my own (twice) and made friends for life, whose names I didn't actually find out. The whole weekend is a shared experience, that goes far beyond the group of mates you came with. This sense of spirit will only develop over time, but it's probably the most important aspect of the weekend - it's what makes Glastonbury Glastonbury.
The dirt may still be lodged under my nails, and I can't work out which bits of my tan are skin, and which are grime. The photos have begun to make their way onto Facebook, and each is more fabulously awful than the last. I haven't touched my bag, which was packed as I
fought over shared the last can of beer with a friend at 4am Monday morning. I'm not emotionally ready to watch the highlights again, but Glastonbury, thank you for yet another unforgettable weekend. And don't worry everyone, there's just 359 days until we can go back...