Joy the size of the planet, enormous shit-eating grin, delight flowing from every pore! No, not me, well, OK, me too, but that's not important here, what's important are that Garbage are playing and they're really, really happy to be here and they don't give a flying fuck who knows it. I got into the field about one song in, by the looks of it. By the time I've found the corridoor of sound (careful self placement crucial on the Other stage) Shirley's laughing with delight, shouts of Hello Glastonbury! getting big cheers. Usual bunch of plonkers with flags and stuff blocking my view of the stage. I bob around them, trying to see her! she's all pale and shiny-blonde, cyber-clean with no hint of Glastonbury scruffiness. One of the plonkers has a plastic pigeon on a stick. Shirley's practically cooing. "What a fantastic way to get my attention!" she says, "Usually it's girls with gorgeous breasts or men with enormous todgers!" she kidnaps the pigeon and leans it against the drum kit, though either he had a spare, started a trend, or got it back, because I saw the pigeon on a stick later on that weekend, and it wasn't in Shirley Manson's hand. One last question? Dare she sing Only happy when it rains? Oh yes, just as the fireworks go up.
One quick mobile miracle later, I found Mike and Alex. Bands over for the night, we went looking for circus, and eventually found a crowd of people doing lethal things with fire, one of those ensemble groups, where it's anything you want so long as it's dripping petrol and endangering your eyebrows. Hypnotic drums and shadow dancing offset the sense of danger nicely, and Alex slumped to the kindly-provided mats, semi-conscious. He woke up suddenly as they lit the first of the fire-sculptures, huge cabbalistic wireframes covered in firecrackers. The heat instantly evaporated the dew in the grass and the moisture in my eyeballs. After that it was bang, bang, bang flash until everything flammable that was being flammed that night was gone.
I'd lost my friends, but wasn't tired, so went a-wandering. And that was when things really got weird.
When I was fourteen, I saw an obscure post-punk film called Breaking Glass and oh it was the coolest thing in the world! I have photos of my sister done up in make-up and scarfs, I have the soundtrack album (pirated, of course) on cassette, and (probably most telling of all) every time I see Chianna on Farscape I think of Hazel O'Conner. The hair. The white face. The gravelly voice. The crazed attitude.
I'm pleased to say that age hasn't mellowed her. When I drifted into the theatre tent after the fireworks were over, the last thing I was expecting to find was Hazel O'Conner, doing a heartfelt stand-up survivor rock raconteur one-woman show, but, there she was. The Hair was pink, and the pallor just regular goth, but the gravelly voice was there, and so was the attitude. Outrage, megalomania, a powerful and enduring belief in herself, her Talent, and her Importance. The tent was hushed and reverent. Perhaps she had found a cult following, or perhaps everyone was just too stoned to move, no way to tell.
She moved into a song. I started to laugh (quietly) with disbelief. It was! It was Hazel O'Conner!
The other giggling fuzz-haired ex-punk in the audience spotted me in the field of beards and sidled over. He was camped next to me, so he had an excuse, but our shared amusement and delight garnered us a few filthy looks. Cult following, definitely. We reminisced and boggled our way through the rest of the show. She ended with a plea to come and buy her current album, and a firm committment to sign anything brought her, even if it took the rest of the night.
Glastonbury, where the old gods loom out of the darkness and demand your worship ...
[to be continued]
This week's strip, The joy of labels, is a living the dream strip. Done at my desk, using only materials to hand; a biro, Judy's highlighter, the tippex marked "Jeremy's room S24" drawn on the back of a print-out of (one page of) School Councils Alert 2000. Haven't done one of them since ... weird. Last July.
Tivo caught me something odd this weekend; George Michael's video for
Bought a book of 1000 nudes for £3.99 in Blackwell's clearance shop (ex-Blackwells Too). Usual Blackwells mad mix; technical manuals about drug delivery next to sure-fire ways to improve your love life next to educational CDRoms next to David Gemmell books. Good prices, too, especially on the obscure stuff (there's a massive concordance to the bible for £20) and damaged stock. Not a bad buy for me, either; just over 2 1/2 nudes a penny.
The word salad at the top comes courtesy of a word generator here.