THE STORY

GLASTONBURY '89

It was the first big self-motivated project during the second year of my degree in photography at art college. Being pretty much local to Glastonbury I wrote to Michael to ask if I could come and photograph the festival.

He said come down and say hi. So one weekend shortly after that me and my friend Lucy jumped in her old green Beetle and drove over to do just that. He said yes and gave me a job on the site crew for 20 quid a day plus food. What a touch. Michael always remembers Lucy, who is now picture editor at Glamour magazine, and he always teases me about not getting her to be my girlfriend.

I first went to the festival in 1987 when I jumped the fence with some friends. Over 25 years ago now, 1989 was the first time I documented the event that I have followed pretty much every year since. It was an introduction to a culture and a community living a mobile lifestyle that I've loved ever since.
One the hot topics of conversation that year was the arrival of the Police on site for the very first time. Until that year the event had existed successfully without any Police on site since 1971. That’s 18 years as a self-policing social experiment in alternative living, being and entertainment, clearly a precedent they couldn’t allow to continue.
I went back to college only just long enough to develop and contact the film. Then I made a sketchbook of cut out contacts for the crit, there was way too much material to consider making prints. As soon as I could I hitched back down to Treworgey Tree Fayre in Cornwall, as that was where everyone I’d met at Glasto was heading next. That was a whole different story.

I took a car door back with me on the train that we’d painted when it was part of a site vehicle. Somehow it had got ripped off at some point during the proceedings. The car it came from had a site-customized gearbox with three gear levers. One rod direct into the box for first and second. One rod direct into the box for third and fourth. One for reverse.

Perhaps the door came off during the stock car races we had afterwards in the empty fields. Some grinning hippie in a battered cap containing a greasy afro of curls called Fat Freddie had driven up behind me in a 4x4 and pushed me at speed into a hedge. The colourful abstract painting looked like Matisse’s dancing figures so it seemed to be an appropriate momento.

Coincidentally that year rave also arrived at Glastonbury in a big way with several large sound systems setting up on site. I danced to deep house at one of them through the night, the dawn and way into the next day making all kinds of friends. It was outside a big double decker that was meant to be a café up in the Green Fields. The speakers were hidden under trestle serving tables covered red gingham tablecloths so it looked just like a normal café from the outside. That year was also the year that my Dad lost our family home in the Thatcher inspired recession.