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I’m going nowhere

Forget llama-kayaking on the Limpopo, stuff carving pogo-sticks in Patagonia – and as for Greek ferries, don’t even start. Lucy Mangan doesn’t do holidays abroad. Why travel at all when home is all you need?

I think I was, as those much neglected philosophers The Ponytails once put it, born too late. A generation ago, I understand, people were happy if they got to load themselves and the kids on to a train bound for Brighton and spend a week washing away their cares and rickets by the freezing sea. Two generations back and the masses were content to sniff the bustle of one of their betters who had just taken a bracing walk around the entailed estate.

Nowadays, however, to spend your summer holiday in Britain is to make people suspect that you are either secretly destitute or still on limited licence after a recent parole. And you can’t even dispel their fears any more with a quick trip across the Channel. Mainland Europe has been drained of its exoticism. Where we were once content to explore, according to age and taste, the sophistications of France, the charms of Italy or the numberless attractions of Spanish islands willing to host scenes of Caligulan debauchery every summer, this will no longer do. Now if you don’t go llama-kayaking on the Limpopo, carve pogo-sticks with a lost Patagonian tribe or teach the River Cafe cookbook to the ape creatures of the Indus, you can consider it an annual leave wasted.

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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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