THERE aren’t many things I can honestly say have changed my life.
From learning to drive (I grew up in a rural community), to meeting my wife, to becoming a parent, there are probably a handful of things I can put my finger on instantly.
And Glastonbury Festival is one of them.
Growing up where I did, and being who I was, was not easy.
I liked music and held liberal views, had long hair and had plans to travel – none of which were common among my peers, or anyone else for that matter, in my corner of small-town England.
Then, at the age of 16, I went to my first festival, and everything changed.
I didn’t feel alone.
Everywhere I looked were people who looked and dressed like me, liked much of the same music, and shared many of my views.
This was paradise.
It changed my life.
I have spent the next 20-plus years in fields up and down the country, getting that same feeling each time I unpack my tent, or sit down for that first cold pint, contemplating the days ahead.
This is paradise.
Nowhere have I felt that more than at Worthy Farm.
I have discovered so much in those fields, from political causes to pop music, from different foods to arthouse films.
It was there I found out the result of the EU Referendum, there I heard news of Michael Jackson’s death, and so much more.
I have spent birthdays there (I am lucky enough to be a Summer Solstice baby) and now – something that teenager in muddy wellies all those years ago would never have deemed possible – my wife and I take our own children there.
And I know they too love it more each time they visit.
Because when you’ve had that special feeling, you recognise it in others too.
This is paradise.
Little did I know, when my festival life began, that I would end up living in Somerset and cover the Glastonbury Festival for 20-odd years.
I now even edit a newspaper which played its own small part in getting the festival started – running an ad for the very first event, in 1970.
ANORAK: Paul Jones at Glastonbury
So, as a confirmed Glasto anorak, it has been an absolute pleasure to put this supplement together and, in my own small way, help the festival celebrate this special year.
It feels like I am at home in these pages – much as I do in those famous Somerset fields – and among friends.
This is paradise.
I’ve raided all of my Glastonbury keepsakes, scoured thousands of photographs and raided the memory boxes at the back of the shed (you know the ones just out of reach and which bring everything down with them when you finally get hold of them? Yeah, those) to find little bits and bobs accrued over the years.
I hope you enjoy taking a trip to the farm with me – and I would love to hear your thoughts when you’ve finished reading as, we all know, our Glastonbury journey never ends.
I’ve also spoken to some people who, though you may not immediately recognise the names, play a special part in making Glastonbury the event we all love so much.
It’s been a pleasure speaking to them and finding out so much about what goes into creating such a magical event.
This year, of course, will be different because the big 50th birthday party isn’t happening.
But I decided to still send this – my own newsprint birthday card – and give all fellow festival lovers the chance to read it and sign it with me through our appreciation of all of those who help make it what it is – the greatest festival in the world.
I certainly didn’t do it alone, and I have to say a huge, huge thank you to a few people.
If you enjoy looking at these pages more than reading them (I know I do), then that is down to the amazing Kate Chidley.
I am so grateful that after agreeing to create what is an amazing front cover for this supplement, she in fact became a defacto art director, putting up with me asking if she happened to have a sketch of this or that, or wouldn’t mind creating this little picture for me…
Check out her work, it is unbelievable.
Thank you Kate.
Thank you too to everyone who agreed to speak to me for this supplement, I think you’ll agree they helped give us a look at Glastonbury from so many unique angles.
I must also thank everyone at Worthy Farm for tolerating me writing about their festival, John Shearlaw in particular for not simply pouring scorn on the idea and instead giving some extremely valuable advice. I am indebted more than you know.
MEETING YOUR HEROES: Paul Jones with Michael Eavis
And I thank you, too, even if you are not a Glastonbury goer, for reading this far into my ramblings.
It’s well known – and irritating I’m sure – that if you engage me in conversation about Glastonbury, I will not stop.
So thank you.
Some time ago, I asked Michael Eavis what he thought the legacy of his festival would be, and he was typically understated on assessing what the event means to us festival goers.
“I’ve got no idea why it grew like it did really,” he said.
“We did some different things along the way. I mean, 50,000 people without tickets; the whole traveller thing, welcoming them.
“No one else would have done that would they?
“And we had 2 million people trying to get tickets this year, so people still want to come.”
As is so often the case, Mr Eavis doesn’t really do the scale of what he and his team have achieved justice.
They have indeed done things differently – and they have done them right.
There is something special about Worthy Farm and the Avalon Vale – it could be the Leylines – and those of us in Somerset are very lucky to have something like this on our doorstep.
So if you are among the lucky ones to make it there next year, the 50th anniversary of the first Glastonbury Festival, savour it, for this is where memories are made.
And if you’ve never made it – make sure you do.
This is paradise.
Love The Farm, Leave No Trace.
Editor and Glastonbury Festival anorak
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