An invitation too good to refuse in the Block9 field at Glastonbury
As soon as I got in the portable loo I slammed the door behind me and began to rummage through my bag looking for my lipstick. As my pulse raced, I forced myself to take a deep breath, thankfully my heart was so firmly in my mouth the stench of the unmentionable sludge didn’t even register.
One of the best things about Maceo’s, the crew bar in the Block9 field at Glastonbury, was that many of its patrons were the glamorous and gaudy Grindr loitering drag queens who had set up shop in the NYC Downlow just a stone’s throw away – it meant that the portable loo had mirrors and lights, a God send for 3am emergencies like this.
As I tried to concentrate on making myself look effortlessly beautiful and not like I had just rubbed my face against a piece of jam on toast, my mind drifted to the life that had seemingly just been offered to me.
An hour earlier, as the poetic swooshing of hippy crack being discharged into pound shop balloons filled the air, I was approached by a man who I immediately knew could potentially change my life.
Twinkling green eyes stared out at me from his leathery brown face. Between them, a bindi, equally magical and a shade of startling azure blue. His name, he told me, was Splash. I estimated him to be at least 60 years old.
Splash and I got talking. He told me he believed that we were connected on a spiritual level, and as he pulled me and my friend into him for a hug, we both felt the power of his aura. We later agreed that he probably survived on ‘air and good vibes’; he seemed other worldly, like he transcended all the usual basic needs for human survival.
“Who are you here with?” my friend asked him as he held both my hands and bored those emerald eyes deep in to my own eyes and what felt like all the way through the back of my skull in to beyond. His gaze made light work of my spectacles, brain, scalp and hair.
He paused for what seemed like five minutes before blinking. “Everyone,” he said with a smile.
Transvestites shimmied past us, cackling as they staggered to the bar in their six inch heels and false eyelashes. Topless men with washboard stomachs followed them, packets of Mayfair shoved haphazardly in the waistband of their tight jeans. All around, people danced, clapped, cheered, sucked on balloons, shrieked with joy.
But for us, time stood still. Once again we embraced as a trio, and with our eager ears on each side of his weathered, open face, Splash began whispering to us. He spoke vividly of dolphins playing in coves that glittered like diamonds, of healing crystals and gemstones, of ley lines and connections, how the mud beneath our feet had seen everything – but nothing at all.
Splash turned to me and told me that he wanted me to return to the Himalayas with him where he taught yoga. He blessed me in Sanskrit. He stroked my face in a way that probably appeared creepy to onlookers but felt like a never ending velvet caress to me. I breathed in his scent, it was a heady stench of sandalwood. Like he had thick sticks of incense beneath his skin instead of bones.
My whole heart ached as his words, as sweet as birdsong, seeped in to my mind. Of course I would go and live in the Himalayas with him. I was adamant that he wasn’t the kind of man who would pass the proverbial Kool-Aid, but the man who had just given me a pass to a new world of love and kindness, and one in the exotic climes of Nepal, no less.
I blame the romantic in me for what happened next. I made my excuses, told Splash to wait with my friend for five minutes. I needed to make sure I looked my absolute best for when I agreed to the straight swap of an unknown future for my life in London, a menial existence of commuting, smog, litter and anger.
Lipstick applied and the acceptance speech practiced in my mind (I opted for a simple, “Yes”), I made my way back to the dancefloor. Things were wilder than ever with performers gyrating and prancing, and Bez from the Happy Mondays eyeballing the going-ons from within the cavernous sanctuary of a grubby Nike hoody.
“Where’s Splash?” I asked my friend, savouring the final moments of my life as I knew it. “Gone, he disappeared!” my friend yelled over the furor of two of Block9’s ‘trans army’ having a dance off. My heart broke, and ironically I felt the urge to put myself into Utthita Trikonasana pose to help rid this wave of anxiety that losing sight of my knight in shining yoga pants had brought on.
We decided that he hadn’t gone off to have tentric sex with someone else, but perhaps had headed towards the Stone Circle to charge up his aura. We made our way there, passing a man crouched in the shadows wearing a tie shaped like a fish. “Like your kipper tie,” I said. “F**k off, it’s a rainbow trout,” he drawled, drunkenly. More abuse came when my friend asked for one of his balloons, which he guarded like a goose sitting on a cluster of golden eggs.
At the Stone Circle, mist raised from the damp earth up past the artificial ancient stones. We searched all over for Splash, our senses dulled by the racket of crusties talking about squat raves, the chatter of what seemed like a thousand Bristolians and crescendos of furious haggling as people argued over how many balloons they could buy for a tenner. I never saw Splash again. But I did meet a man from Liverpool who had a sandwich bag full of ecstasy tablets. Did I want one? Only if they had magical powers that could turn back time to that moment I decided to put on lipstick instead of say “Yes.” They didn’t, so we returned to our campsite, sad.
Thankfully, there was plenty going on to keep my mind off the cruel trick fate had played on me, most of which was centred around Block9’s newest stage, Genosys. The outdoor stage joined NYC Downlow (the place to see the trans army’s Jerry Hall walk-off rather than the Stones on the Saturday night) and London Underground (a huge 50ft building that looked like it had been knifed in the heart by a Tube train) in this hedonistic part of Glastonbury’s South East Corner.
Thanks to the beats of Chicago pioneer Gene Hunt, the resident DJs from cult Brixton night World Unknown, Julio Bashmore, Greg Wilson and Bicep, I was able to dance away some of my woes. And as the sun rose on Monday morning, signalling the end of my first ever Glastonbury, I hoped that maybe next year Splash will be back in Maceo’s… and that his invitation will still stand. Or failing that, that I meet someone young and rich who lives on a yacht in the South of France – and wants me to join him. I already have my answer planned, it is simply, “Oui.”
For more information about Block9 visit www.block9.com
Photo credits: James Gillham (Genosys) and Peter Podworski (NYC Downlow and London Underground).Tagged in: Block 9, chance encounters, Genosys, Glastonbury 2013, love, relationships, review, romance
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