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All together now

Tom Hodgkinson relishes the prospect of carefree days in a field

Festivals are pure pleasure. For three days, or longer if we’re lucky, all we have to worry about is which field or stage or bar to wander to next. For three days, we can drink, take drugs, lie around, stare at the sky, talk, listen to music, sing, dance, eat or do whatever we like without worrying about the consequences or what people will think. Everyone knows that festivals are not really about the bands. What they are about is a suspension of everyday realities: no work, no worries, no rushing. For three days, we are no longer bourgeois wage-slaves, we are freewheeling bohemian dreamers. All the rules that govern our normal world evaporate. Festivals mean freedom.

At the festival, something strange happens to time. We no longer respect the difference between day and night; they blend into one. The great thing about Glastonbury in particular is that it’s at midnight, when the bands have all stopped, that the real fun begins. That’s when you wander round in the darkness, looking for campfires, looking for kicks; that’s when things become other-worldly, when strange and wonderful figures appear out of the shadows. It’s the time of the chance encounter, of watching the sun rise, of sitting on a standing stone.

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