When Abbie abdicated…Glastonbury 2013

Red Carpet’s privileges – VIP access, free-flowing hospitality and the like – can lead to a general separation from ‘real people/life’. Abigail Parkin abdicates all in favour of the gritty consumer experience. Where better to do so than Glastonbury festival with two close friends? Welcome to my Real World Glastonbury. (22 Jul’13)


Arriving two days before the big acts of the festival even start in the hope of finding ‘somewhere good to pitch a tent’ I’m still unsure if I am going to actually survive the whole five days that is Glastonbury. Despite arriving on Wednesday afternoon I am immediately informed that my first choices of field are taken so we set about making ourselves at home in bushy grounds. Slightly deflated, I soon realised a big metal man to help us find our way back at night along with two lots of toilets and coffee within not-having-to-get-dressed walking distance could make this field a winner.

Then came the hard bit, never actually having pitched a tent before, I first put the rods in the wrong way and then pitched it the wrong way around but eventually… ta dah! I’m quite pleased with my home-to-be home for the next few days. It’s no yurt or teepee but there’s a certain self-sufficiency in erecting your own tent and then relaxing outside with an obligatory Cosmopolitan (can’t leave all glamour behind at the entrance). 



My first morning in a field! The thought of not showering is making my skin crawl, the coffee isn’t the hottest and the toilets smell already, however, after managing to get dressed without standing up (who made tents with no dressing area anyway??) I felt a little more optimistic and some sightseeing was in order.

After perusing the brochure I decided the Cider bus was to be first on my hit list. It’s 10am but I figured ‘it’s 5 o’ clock somewhere’ and thus emerged the motto for my Glastonbury stay.

The ribbon tower was definitely a highlight at sunset as was a lively wine bar as the rain began to pour. The lively rockers manning the bar kept everyone dancing despite the need for uncool rain macs.

The rain continued to pour showing no sympathy for all of us tent-dwellers and the infamous mud of Glastonbury began to bubble…



A muddy start and wellies on. Still no shower (apart from the rain) and the site’s getting increasingly muddy but I’ve started to not care anymore. After all, I’m only just starting to let go of social convention.

Sliding about on the clay-like mud, half the field clodded on my feet I’m feeling deflated once more. I was reminded that Glastonbury would be full of ups and downs and this was definitely a down! Luckily the rising sun was an ‘up’ and the ground dried out by the afternoon - just in time to start the real point of Glastonbury: the music.


Haim - A band I had never heard of (uncool, I know) who actually turned out to be a pretty cool all-girl band.

Highlight: The girls raised everyone’s spirits up at the Pyramid stage with much drum banging...a reverberating theme throughout my trip.


Jake Bugg - I love this guy. His retro sounds are just up my street and great to listen to when I’m chilling out, not so great to listen to on the biggest stage at Glastonbury!

Highlight: A man wearing an Indian head dress fronting an ever growing conga line to the beat of ‘Lightning Bolt’.


Rita Ora - Amid the cool indie/rock line-up there is always room for a bit of cheesy pop. Expected Rita Ora to be a little out of her depth but I was pleasantly surprised when everyone (including me) raised their hands to Hot right now.

Highlight: The drum theme (see above) is back as Rita brandishes a drumstick and thumps the hell out of a drum wheeled in on a shopping trolley!


The Lumineers - Like most people in the crowd at the Other stage I had come along for Ho hey a hit they played early on in their set. When the last ‘hey’ left their mouths so did a lot of the crowd.

Highlight: Singer, Wesley Schultz asking the crowd to make way as he made his way through the masses and performed some of the band’s new material among fans.


Seasick Steve - My dad is a big fan of this man. A good reason to make the trek over to the West Holts stage just to see what the fuss was about. I wasn’t disappointed.

Highlight: Steve picking out a woman from the crowd to sing to - woman taking selfies of on stage!


Arctic Monkeys - In the midst of the massive crowds at the Pyramid stage for the headliners. First up was Arctic Monkeys. I am a big fan of their old-skool classics but will admit I’m not aware of their newer material. However, the band put on a good show and I fully enjoyed jumping around to ‘I bet that you look good on the dance floor’.

Highlights: Yes, this time there are two highlights (Arctic Monkeys was a headliner!). Highlight 1 – a friendly reveller who had brought along a sturdy wooden stool to give punters the chance to step up and take a picture of the band above the mass of heads bopping around. Highlight 2- a mass sing-along of Happy Birthday to Alex Turner’s mum Penny.


Lowlight: Losing my friends in the packed crowd, a lesson to be learned for tomorrow.



Alabama Shakes - I love the country feel of this band and I remembered that Brittany had a great voice live after their performance at Secret Garden Party last year so I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed, and I definitely wasn’t.

Highlight: My friends open-mouthed at the power of Brittany’s voice as she belted out Hold on to the crowd.


Noah and the Whale - Not my choice but because I didn’t know their music but was glad to be dragged along to Noah and was pleasantly surprised. Particularly liked that the boys came out looking rather dapper - a reminder that j there’s still hot water in the outside world even if I haven’t showered since Wednesday. The perils of keeping it real.

Highlight: ‘Five years time’ a song I have since iTune’d and is fast become my song of the summer.


Azealia Banks - Blimey what can I say about this girl?? Anyone who can pull of neon rubber spikes is a legend in my book! The crowd was eagerly awaiting a rendition of ‘212’ but happily shook its collective ass along to anything Azealia threw out. Azealia kick-started the party spirit for the night ahead.

Highlight: The crowd raucously singing Azealia’s cruder lyrics. Imagine 1000s of people singing 'I guess that cunt getting eaten'!


Rudimental - Red Carpet had a weekend full of Rudimental with the boys been interviewed by our editor just days before I was ready to take another snap and make a Rudimental scrapbook. Unfortunately, being two metres from the stage meant I could see nothing as the screen was behind me and the crowd had built up in front of me. I would have settled for a blast of Waiting all night but sound issues meant I also heard nothing> Gave up and left. Sorry boys I’m sure you were great!


Primal Scream - Back in the day (am I too young for that phrase?) I was a big fan of Primal Scream and looked forward to catching the final songs in their set...until I got there. Leader Bobby Gillespie appeared to be completely wasted (predictably?) and this wasn’t the show I had hoped for.

Highlight: Haim appearing as backing singers, goodness knows he needed some help!

The Rolling Stones - The eagerly anticipated!! For days now the crowds have been fixating on a huge bird-like statue atop of the Pyramid stage wondering what The Rolling Stones have in store for us. As the Somerset sun waned the phoenix rose from the flames during Sympathy for the devil, perhaps a euphemism for their comeback? Mick didn’t disappoint and showed he still has the moves as he strutted the length of the stage.

Highlight: Watching both young and old singing along to Stones classics.




Even Glastonbury rests on Sunday. We took it easy on the stage-hopping and went on another sightseeing mission Or should that be site-seeing? The place is enormous and five days of walking around would only scratch its surface.

The day started with breakfast from a converted red London double-decker bus. Ahh…the best, strongest coffee I’ve tasted so far and just what I needed!. The bus happened to have a small stage in front of it so breakfast came with a show in the form of a hilarious Charlie Chaplin impersonator followed by an escape artist and a comic magician. I waited for a good break in the acts to make an exit for fear of been pulled up on the stage - something others in the crowd had got wrong and been duly humiliated for.

A trip to the top of the hill led to a photo session of the vast site and the kitsch Glastonbury letters set out along the hilltop a la Hollywood.

An obligatory trip around the healing camp revealed the real hippies of the festival were. Enquiring about massages after 4pm is apparently a big no-no since everyone is closing up for the day. So after another trip to the cider bus it was off to...


Kenny Rogers - What can I say? The man is a legend! Yes he had a few problems geeing up the crowd initially but ol’ Kenny knows how to please.

Highlights: Kenny encores The Gambler and Islands in the stream because we enjoyed them so much first time around.


Mumford and Sons - I wasn’t exactly excited about the last of the headliners but they turned out to be my Glastonbury highlight. The boys know how to entertain and it gives everyone the chance to jig around in public in a way they would normally only do in the privacy of their homes -and still be cool!

Highlights: The emotional finale, special guests Vampire Weekend, The Vaccines and The Staves joining the boys to sing The Beatles classic ‘Help from my friends’. Perfect song to end an emotional week. A real feeling of camaraderie sweeps the crowd like a collective ‘we did it!’



Anticipation of gleaming bathrooms is tempered with a little sadness that it’s all over -no Glastonbury grass under my feet next Monday morning.

Two tribes of reveller emerges; those stumbling back to their tents in the cruel dawn after partying all night and those that are organised and trudging towards the exits, luggage in tow.

And that concludes one journalist’s mission to keep it consumer-friendly and wade through the mud, lack of showers and sleep deprivation. We did it - we survived Glastonbury 2013!

Click to share thisClick to share this