Life

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Mid-life Crisis: Bringing the kids
 to Glastonbury

Brendan O'Connor

Published 06/07/2014 | 00:00

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Almost Worth Being There: Arcade Fire light up proceedings at Glasto

So far - and I'm writing this mid festival - Arcade Fire have been my favourite act at Glastonbury. From the fireworks at the beginning to the unashamedly arthouse nature of it all, they showed how you can bring a spiky enough experience to the biggest arena. U2 should take note. It helped that my six-year-old gradually started looking up from her iPad and getting into it. By the end, she was shaking her booty around the place. And then it was time for her to go to bed.

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There are a lot of festivals these days claiming to be family-friendly, but Glasto has to be the most family-friendly of all. If you ask me, kids and festivals don't really mix. I think you are either "revelling" (people who go to festivals are now always referred to as revellers; it's compulsory) or you are minding the kids. Never both. You don't want kids wrecking your buzz at a festival. Which is why Glastonbury is perfect. Because you just sit on your arse in front of the TV and you get it all across three BBC channels for the weekend. You can even pause it when you need to make a cup of tea. In fact, you can watch it whenever you damn like thanks to the magic of the Sky box. But personally, I like to try and watch it as close to live as possible to get that feeling of being there.

There are times when you will almost wish you were actually there. I did a bit during Arcade Fire. And then I reminded myself that if I was there, I'd be surrounded by smelly crusties, and worse, middle-Englanders slumming it for the weekend in festival costume of Hunter wellies and cut-off denim shorts. You wouldn't be able to see a thing and you'd be queuing for hours for drinks, toilets etc. When you do Glasto at home, you don't have to dress down and you have all your facilities on tap. The best of food available and accommodation facilities par excellence.

I suppose I have always harboured the dream that I would one day go to Glastonbury for real, but increasingly, I am realising that it wouldn't be for me. And there is a strong chance that I would be coming home in a body bag. My brother, who is even older than I am, still harbours a dream that he and I and our families will go to Coachella, in the California desert one year. The families would stay in a nice house in Palm Springs while the brother and I would make little sorties in and out of the festival. I feel this is becoming less likely each year.

After all, Arcade Fire were on in Marlay Park last weekend and I went on holidays instead of going. The Thursday before that, Jack White, whose new album I love, despite never having been a White Stripes fan, was down in Kilmainham, and I didn't bother going there because I had a heavy day at work the next day. Basically, at this stage I am so unRock'n'Roll that I want them to come and play at my house. And that's what Jack did during Glastonbury.

In a way, Glastonbury is my World Cup. For the duration, I will watch all the music. I will watch bands I'm not interested in, just to see what the fuss is about, and I will watch as much for atmosphere as for anything else. I will watch it because it is music and because it is at Glastonbury, just as people watch the World Cup because it is football, and because it is at the World Cup. I will sit in on a sunny afternoon to watch other people out living, even though I can never understand why people sit in on a sunny afternoon watching sport on TV. And I will sit through hours of it just to get the odd good bit.

I even strangely enjoy the bad bits. I can sit through an hour of Elbow for example, just to rant on to anyone who will listen about their awful, drab, warm-beer, 
nice-guy sentiment. I even get worked up about the pundits. Mark Radcliffe, I can just about handle, but that simpering Jo Wiley really gets my goat. And as for some of the new ones they are trying to bring on? Rubbish, all of them. What they are probably missing to really spice things up is a Dunphy, who will call it as he sees it about the crappier acts, the ones not fit to headline the greatest festival in the world.

I still worry though. I worry that I should be out there living life instead of watching other people living it on television. And all the time, life is busily passing me by. Ah well, I have another six hours of it taped from last night. Better go.

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