Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

Greening Glastonbury

Squall 5, Oct/Nov 1993, pg. 22.

“The one place in Somerset you won’t find any New Age travellers this weekend - well, in theory - is inside the Glastonbury Festival. The organisers have responded to local pressure by cunningly banning dogs (on strings or otherwise) and camping in the car park.”

So ran the story by Ben Thompson for the Independent on Sunday (27/6/93). Unfortunately, what Mr Thompson fails to realise is that if it wasn’t for New Travellers there would be no ‘alternative’ festival at all - perhaps just another Reading or Castle Donnington. Apart from the musical acts appearing on the main stages, a large proportion of the circus entertainers and craftspeople hail from the ranks of the New Travellers.

In the Alternative Technologies field, the Green and Avalon fields, the Theatre and Circus arenas and the Green Futures field were large numbers of suspiciously painted vans and buses, converted to be lived in. Inhabiting these vehicles were eccentric people, engaged in a wide variety of tasks; fire and juggling shows, stilt walkers and clowns, veggie and vegan cafes, tat stalls, alternative energy enthusiasts, sculptors, eco-activists such as Earth first, the Donga Tribe and a whole entourage of dreadlocked pagans. Several, smaller stages, including Wango Riley’s (that well-known Traveller’s venue) were also up and running, providing a much-needed escape from the claustrophobia of Burger Babylon, tent-city and the main Pyramid and NME stages.

If Ben Thompson had journeyed to the other side of the valley he would have experienced the traveller presence. But, being solely concerned with mainstream antiquities such as the Velvet Underground and Teenage Fanclub, he sadly missed the most inspiring aspects of the festival. And, as the old saying goes; if you don’t seek, you don’t find.

Staying on the theme of Glastonbury, SQUALL had a rather illuminating chat with some members of the Green Litter crew, responsible for tidying up during the festival. One particular person was fairly disgruntled with his lot in life. Rising at 5.30am, his shift began at 6.00 and didn’t finish until 12.30, clearing the glass, broken Bottles, cans and fag butts from the festival fields.

This litter blitzer was assigned to tent city (the area of the festival traditionally camped by non-travellers and people who parked their cars in the outside car parks and walked in).

“It’s really hard work,” he opined to Squall, "The crews who clear up the Avalon and Green fields are finished by 11.00. We’re still going at 12.30 and the place never gets clean…. It’s a real mess, cans, broken glass. I stabbed myself yesterday ‘cause some idiot had put a load of broken glass into an ordinary rubbish bag. One thing I’ve learnt is that I’m never going to throw a fag butt on the floor again.”

After this encounter, Squall sought out a litter crew member who was assigned to the Avalon field: “It’s a brilliant festival isn’t it?” she said. “Clearing up (the Green fields) is easy, there’s not much litter about. Most of the people camped up there even sort out their recyclables from their other rubbish. In the Tipi field we don’t have to bother at all. Although I do hear that it’s a bit different over the other side.”