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Story last updated: 02 Jul 2004 0842 BST Printable version of this page
No female-only toilets in the good ol'days
Glastonbury
by Leanne Bridges
BBC Bristol website contributor

Did you know Winston Churchill's daughter helped push through the second Glastonbury festival in 1971?

If you had read Crispin Aubrey and John Shearlaw's Glastonbury Festival Tales, you would.

The festival has changed over the years: and not everyone likes it

I'd expected a hippie to have written this book; a hippie or someone with dreadlocks and a garish waistcoat, or maybe a lady in a kaftan with a far away look.

This image couldn't have been further from the truth when I met Crispin Aubrey, who led a recent talk in Bristol on the festival's 34-year history.

He looked very respectable, wearing chinos and a blue shirt, AND with a normal haircut.

When I saw him he looked like the sort of person I'd imagine him to be if I looked beyond the misconception that everybody who enjoys Glastonbury is some kind of weirdo.

John, incidentally, was similarly normal looking.

Crispin's background is true 'Glastonbury': he has attended the festival in many guises, initially as an awed punter and then as a stall holder, running a jewellery stall with his wife.

Toilets at Glastonbury  
What would Churchill have said?  

He's even worked the gates for CND and is now in the Festival's press office.

The first extract he read from the book was, appropriately, from the beginning.

And in the beginning, 1970, was Michael Eavis, a not so willing farmer on Worthy Farm.

Crispin filled in the gaps between extracts, explaining that the second festival in 1971 was pushed along by a gang of hippies from Notting Hill.

Attracted by the mysticism of Glastonbury with its connections to Jesus Christ and King Arthur, this 'gang' included Andrew Kerr and Arabella Churchill (Winston Churchill's granddaughter), who were key to the 1971 success.

"The festival really took off in a big way when people who'd heard about Michael Eavis' event, and were what you might call genuine hippies - a lot of from Notting Hill - decided they wanted to do a similar thing in 1971," he said.

The book manages to capture the thoughts and feelings of every kind of festival goer: it captures its essence, the life-changing moments and the hassle and headaches for those that work behind the scenes.

Fascinating read

The questions at the end of the session focussed more on the festival's politics than the book: one member of the audience was interested in the money and how it was spent, for example.

It goes to good causes, mainly Oxfam, Greenpeace and Wateraid with a lot of money also going to local charities.

Others questioned the security arrangements and the way in which the fence has changed the festival; the way in which the festival isn't what it used to be and the way in which the festival will never be the same again.

It seems that everyone who has experienced Glastonbury refuses to allow it to evolve, for it to change and develop.

For me, reading the book evoked a sense of nostalgia for the years I'd missed at Glastonbury, whilst the reading offered a taste of the author's favourite snap shots.

It's a great insight into the ethos of the festival. Even for someone unaware of its roots, this is an excellent introduction and a fascinating read.

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Glastonbury Festival

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Glastonbury on bbc.co.uk Somerset


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