Carnage, chaos, Coldplay: Glastonbury at home is a sad, brilliant reminder of real life

·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty</span>
Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty

Wondering distantly how many more times I will watch Kylie Minogue’s Glastonbury set before I die. I must be on the, what, fourth or fifth viewing now? There is no occasion when putting the Kylie Glastonbury set on isn’t a good idea. It is a party in a box. Back-to-back bangers. Costume changes. The iconic “Oh, you” smile-and-nod at the crowd. A drone shot of a billion people in a field, losing their minds. That quite strange slow-down bit where the lad dressed as a sort of haunting triangle starts to mutely dance around. The Nick Cave section … come on. There is no party that putting the Kylie Glastonbury set on in the background doesn’t improve. I’m watching it again, now. Six. Still good.

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So Glastonbury weekend (From Friday 25 June, BBC TV, radio and iPlayer), then. As a never-attender, I’ve always had quite a strange relationship with the BBC’s Glastonbury footage. In my early years, it always inspired in me a sort of seething Fomo, something that crashed through the simple fear of missing out and became something else: a tumultuous, poisonous sort of jealousy. The backstage footage was always shot by shakingly, vibrantly hungover people and featured shakingly, vibrantly hungover people and it showed: Edith Bowman would shout slightly too loudly into a microphone and someone who woke up at 8pm would be very slow to adjust the levels. Carnage, chaos, and then the blockbuster production of Coldplay on the main stage. Why am I watching these people simultaneously get sunstroke and have the time of their life in a field? I used to think, primly. Why is Fearne Cotton interviewing a visibly high Fun Lovin’ Criminal?

But then, slowly, I started to get it: Glastonbury weekend is arguably the hedonism high point of the entire British calendar, the sheer vibes emanating from Worthy Farm pitching the mood up for the rest of the country. Without it, we are shorn of something. BBC coverage allows clean and snug non-attenders to participate in about 10% of the Glastonbury experience, and it also allows actual attendees who – for whatever reason! – clearly forgot entire chunks of the week to catch up and see what their eyes watched but their brains abandoned. For the second year in a row, we do not have this service. How can the national mood possibly adjust?

Well, with highlights, I guess. Last year, during history’s most miserable summer, putting the old Glastonbury performances on TV and iPlayer was a no-brainer: at home we put three all-time classic sets on the TV, then got drunk and danced shoeless on the carpet, which was fun in a very pathetic way. This year, with the sun peeking out and the threat of real life approaching, Glastonbury on TV/iPlayer feels different, somehow: a kind of aching “Why can’t we have this, Boris?” feeling; a more aggressive Fomo attack; an all-too-tangible reminder of what real life was like before hand sanitiser, and how we’re so close but so far away from having it again.

Will I ever have a psychically normal reaction to Glastonbury highlights on iPlayer? Doesn’t really look like it, no. Will I still be putting Kylie highlights on when I get in steaming from the pub this weekend? Absolutely, undoubtedly yes.

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