Wednesday, 3 July 2013

My First Glastonbury - 2013

Last Tuesday I went to bed at 11pm having frantically packed all night, I fell asleep (somehow) at 12:15am. I was buzzing about what was coming.

At  3am my alarm went!...and I hit the snooze 3 times - despite it being a 'christmas' kinda day a boys still gotta sleep. At 3:20am I was finally awake enough for conscious thought to take place and it hit me - GLASTONBURY IS HERE! I was wide awoke in nano-seconds.

I had a massive shower, ensuring maximum cleanliness was achieved (for obvious festival related reasons) and then ate a healthy and vast breakfast (again for obvious reasons). At 4:15am my friends picked me up and off we went to Glastonbury Festival, which - for those of you not in the know - is not actually in Glastonbury, but in Worthy Farm, Pilton a couple of miles away. Rumour has it 'Glastonbury', not Pilton, was chosen as the festival name as it sounds better... who knows.

We arrived at the festival site at approximately 6:15am and got in a queue. Doors opened and we more or less strolled in right away.  As we arrived so early, we managed to get an unbelievably good tent spot just off Pennards Hill, a stones throw away from the Other Stage and The Park area.

Now I won't bore you with the ins and outs of the following 5 days. I did way too much to fit into a single concise post, so I will summarize high level areas below. This will hopefully help those of you wondering whether you should or shouldn't do Glastonbury in the future, make a decision.

1) Hygiene - Don't worry about the stigma regarding lack of decent toilets and showers. Bring wet wipes, deodorant, toothbrush/paste and dry shampoo - this is your survival kit! To be honest, you will probably have so much fun that you will semi-forget about hygiene anyway. I didn't shower for 4.5 days, I used my survival kit and had a load of clothes to change into daily / twice daily - not a problem. As for the toilets... honestly, they are not that bad. They are cleaned once a day and come with vast amounts of anti-bac for all to use. I was worried about the toilets, but needn't have.

2) Camping - If you're scared of 'camping' as it's too uncomfortable, then follow this advice. Camp on highish ground - so if the rain does come you're not sat in a bog. Bring a decent sized tent, blow up beds, sleeping bag and a pillow. Perfect. I did this and slept well all week, which was a surprise as I was in a busy/noisy part of the site, however as I did dance and sing solidly 24/7 my body probably grabbed any sleep it could get with glee!

3) Food - Bring £50+ to spend on food. The food  stalls at Glastonbury are from all over the world - Paella from Spain, Boulangerie from France, North African Tagine from Egypt etc - and they all sell truly stunning food. Don't be scared by slightly higher asking prices on what appear to be 'burger vans'. These are not your average British burger vans, they are selling shit hot food that really add to the experience. A good game is to see how many different types of food you can fit in in the 3-5 days you are there, I got to double figures!

4) Festival site - The site itself is mammoth - miles wide X miles up/down - and is full of surprises. Music, food, street artists, readings, craftsmanship, games, drinking, pubs, clubs, skate parks, a stream, celebrities, lecture theater's - it has it all. Even if you are not interested in a single musical act at Glastonbury, you would get your moneys worth from walking around the site, there is no doubt about that. For instance, on Sunday morning me and my two friends were entertained by a magician / comedian who was juggling a chainsaw, machete and two balls whilst fire eating - dreamy. That is how to spend a Sunday morning, hungover after watching the Stones and partying all night! Yes please.

5) Music - Although Glastonbury is a festival of 'Contemporary Performing Arts' - meaning that the festival is much more than music - the main reason that I, and most people go, is inevitably the music. This year I saw a  range of musicians. From large acts such as The Rolling Stones, Arctic Monkeys and Dizzee Rascal (who was surprisingly good for those of you now turning your noses up) to up and comers such as Peace and Palma Violets. Masses of DJ's also played throughout the night and a load of bands are watched in passing at a bandstand here or acoustic tent there, I didn't even discover the names for the majority of these. Ultimately, if you like music you should go, there will be loads there for you regardless of taste. So go you fool! The music for me was absolutely unreal, I'm a stereotypical not very emotional British male, therefore I rarely dance. The music was such that I rarely stopped dancing for 5 days.

6) Underlying messages - Festival organisers, Michael and Emily Eavis, are huge promoters of changing the planet to be fairer and greener. Greenpeace, Oxfam and Wateraid all have a strong presence and it is interesting to listen to the reps from these org's and here their messages. It is important to stress that the reps are not pushy, sales types but just there to spread the word and put across a point of view. I personally think that our capitalist society should be greener and fairer and so was particularly interested in this.

So there you go, hope the above whistle stop tour of my first Glastonbury experience is enough to persuade any of you festival virgins to go and do it. It truly was/is amazing and as many of your fears were probably my own a few weeks ago, all I have to say is 'go and try it'.

If you do go, please remember - love the farm, leave no trace.  


Sunday, 23 June 2013

Restlessness at 24

It is the 23rd June 2013, I have recently turned 24. I'm the owner of an okay-ish 2:1 BSc in Marketing Management, am currently studying a postgraduate qualification and working in a job that provides a wealth of CV enhancing experience. I also have my health, good family/friends and quite a few hobbies.

Based on the above attributes, I should be content with life, possibly even 'happy'. Your average Joe would say that things are on track for me, some of the media here in England would call me - 'one of the fortunate, from an unfortunate generation' and the government would use my story to tell the masses how - ‘this young man has proven that our policies regarding education and graduate employment are working perfectly blah blah blah’.

But nope, I don’t feel happy or content, I feel distinctly average and utterly restless. 

I do remain relaxed - there’s no need to get overly stressed regarding the above revelation after all - so I got thinking...

1) Why don’t I feel content when in the eyes of many I should do?
2) How do I ensure that I am to be content/satisfied with life moving forward?
3) How many other 20 something’s (my age) in the UK are also feeling like this?

It made sense to start with question 1) Why?, and in my hungover state - today's a Sunday, so this is allowed - the below four points became more or less immediately apparent. It was evident that these four items held a significant and negative weight on the AM-I-HAPPY-OR-NOT-OMETER.
       a) Coming back to Mum 'n' Dad – Following 3 years of living away at University, I moved back with my parents for a few months, aged 21. The aim was to save some cash working anywhere and then move to a big city when an adequate job presented itself. Whilst saving, I met the CEO of a locally based, national organization. He told me that his Marketing Assistant had just resigned and there may be an opportunity to fill the vacant post. Was this coincidence? fate? destiny? Whatever it was, following an interview and trial period the job was mine. I now had a graduate job. At the time this was fantastic news, but it has been the catalyst of me remaining with my parents for a further two and a half years, as they live around the corner from the office I now work at. 

      My family are the best, but regardless, this has not been good for my development and independence. I have found myself thinking lately - ‘did I make the right decision taking the job...' and the answer isn’t necessarily a yes. I need to flee from the nest..... now.

        b) My job – The job itself (that I so fortunately obtained) is for an organisation that are against what I believe in morally and politically. This of course does not help things. Profit over people is an adequate sum-up of the company. A lot of the senior figures behave in a typically 1950’s Mad Ave. manner, the amount of sexist and racist remarks are on a surprisingly large scale and hearing declarations such as – ‘I’m sure she can be persuaded after a sit on my lap, hey Frank?!’ are not uncommon…. At times the only things missing from the office are Don Draper, Roger Sterling, a whole lot of cigarette smoke and some gin (Mad Men fans can thank me later for that one).

Spending vast amounts of time in a workplace that is so conflicting with my ethos has made it hard for me to motivate myself at work and to want to succeed there. The experience the job provides is useful for the old curriculum vitae so it could be worse, but as I have that experience now, you could argue there is no need to remain there. 

c) My ‘home town’ friends – The main attraction of living back at home following University was my friends here, who are quality. However, one by one they have been exiting. Exiting to travel, or work, or, enter a relationship, never to be seen again. This poses a problem for me, as my social life is becoming less and less as more and more friends become tied up with other commitments (as stated above, mainly work, traveling and shagging). Every evening or weekend spent bored at home only adds to my discontentment levels, I need change in this portion of my life also it seems.

      d) Girlfriend, or their lack of –  Now, I'm single, and as it's commonplace to be 'seeing someone' at the age of 24, I thought that this should be included also. However, it should be noted that I don’t want to have an intense, full on girlfriend in particular, I have hobbies, socialise with friends, work full time and study part time -so I don’t have a lot of spare time on my hands. Maybe a female counterpart that I could meet, date or hook up with on a casual-and-not-too-intense basis may help matters. 

      Although, saying that, a girl may only paper over the cracks of the more integral underlying issues here. I think being a singleton holds the least weight regarding finding a solution to my discontent and I should not focus on it too much.

So its agreed, the above four points are the main causes of my discontent. Good. Now, onto Question 2, how do I fix these little shits? A couple more hungover thinking minutes later and hey presto! I have four solutions....

      1) Answering a) - 'Move away from home' – So, I'm going to apply for jobs... in London!

        2) Answering b) - 'Get a better job' – See point 1, above.

        3) Answering c) - 'Make new friends' With my friends working, traveling or shagging, I need new friends. I need to get this job in London, as I  think that's where I have the best change of meeting those who I would have most in common with. The BNP are quite popular in my hometown, which gives a reflection of the local folk here....

4) Answering d) - 'Get a girlfriend' – Yeah / no / maybe.... Fuck this. This point may get its own post in the future and is far too complex an issue to tackle now.  However, and for the record, and to clarify my immense macho, heterosexuality (ahem...) if someone dreamy does pop up in the meantime, then we can see what happens. As has already been said, I should prioritise my focus on solutions a-c, getting a gal should be secondary gov.

Well that was quick, to fix my discontent it seems that I need a new life - new friends, a new job, a new location and possibly a new girl (although, as before, fuck getting a gal specifically) - it's as easy as that.

So, Question 3 - how many 20-30 year olds do I reckon are feeling like this?

I’m guessing many. I think it’s easy to lose track of what you really want to do in life and this can result in coasting and choosing the easiest options - I guess this is the underlying issue here. The easier options have been great short term, but now, they have resulted in discontent and restlessness for me.  I will change from now on and urge anyone in a similar position to do so as well. I could keep my current job, move to a house 100m down the road in my hometown and spend the next 30 years going to the same restaurants , with the same friends, eating the same food. But what's the point, I have one life and I intend to get the most out of it, even if that means I have to make some slightly harder decisions  and changes now, for instance a move to a big scary city away from social circles etc. Yeah.
Well that's that anyway, post number one done. The passage 'Choose Life' taken from Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting is the best way to sign off I think. It's my time to shine......

Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself.
Choose your future.

Choose life.