It’s Sunday, day three at Glastonbury, the world’s greatest rap music festival, and the seagulls are now circling the farm in their thousands. Maybe, it is some Sheldrakean morphic resonance animal text-message vibe that sends them here. Or, it could be just the emerging smell engulfing the 900 acre site – redolent of municipal tip.
There comes a time in every festival goer’s experience when they have to contemplate the inevitable and confront the end-point needs of their digestive system. A diet of falafel, Goan fish curry and rough cider is bound to have consequences. My moment of truth came yesterday during a rather good set by Elbow. Luckily, I was quite near the back and so could make a quick exit. In fact, we were so far away from the front that Mrs Canard Noir thought we were watching Will Young. But then she never could tell her… never mind.
There is a stark choice – chemical or long drop. Year’s of experience have taught me that the chemical loos, often preferred by newbies, tend to fail under the daunting load. The long drops, in contrast, are a simple working technology, consisting of a big deep pit with rows of green tin boxes lined up above with simple wooden seats with holes in them. This is a good, traditional, Glastonbury technology, stemming from the days when the Glastonbury Beard Index was running at 63% (including women; the GBI is now so low that the beards have lost their deposit – something closely correlated, I believe, with the rise of on-site saunas and Japanese restaurants.)
Freediving apnoea techniques might be useful on approach to the green tin boxes, including rapid hyperventilation. Yesterday, we watched Shakin’ Stevens wonder what secrets were lurking behind the Green Door. I am not so keen to find out. But now, there is now no turning back. The smell hits you like a Winehouse punch. And so, whilst trying to concentrate on anything rather than my current surroundings, I spot an advert on the back of the long drop door. Surely, this is not what Shakey, the Welsh Elvis, was on about?
On inspection, it looks like just about every bog door on site (some 3,225 or so) had one of these adverts from the Travelling Homoeopaths Collective – a group of homeopaths who pitch up tent at festivals in search of new customers. Their advert reads (pictured above),
Need some Help?
(They know their audience.)
Come and find out how safe and effective homoeopathic medicine is.
The on-site homoeopaths are even given a plug in the official guide to the festival offering to treat ‘sunstroke and upset stomachs’ and they make a tempting offer of massages to get you in (cunning). It looks like the homeopaths are advertising hard. The homeopaths want to be taken seriously. This is rather in stark contrast to the other denizens of the Healing Fields who are much more low key.
I spent a pleasant half hour with some witches from Hertfordshire, who made me a lovely cup of raspberry and nettle tea and dropped a potion on my tongue of cinnamon, ginger and compress of daisy. They asked me, “Have you ever noticed how daisies spring back after you step on them?”. Apparently, by boiling the daisies you can extract their energies and make potions that will give you resilience – just what you need at a festival. And it worked for me. Although, not quite enough resilience to avoid the green tin box.
The Witches of Herfordshire were quite clear they were casting a spell and offering magic. I (jokingly) asked a homeopath, that although being in the best of health at the moment, did they have any equivalent to Imodium – the ‘festival goer’s friend’ – for preventative purposes? A rather stern and shocked face told me that homeopathy was gentle and natural and had no side effects. No shit?
The homeopaths are offering me magic too, although they will not admit it. All that shaking and diluting their concoctions and the use of their weird and wonderful ingredients. Homeopaths use daisy too – Bellis – it too can be good for injury recovery, allegedly. They also use much more magical things from Hyena saliva and chips of rock from stone circles, to ‘the light from venus’, camel’s milk and ‘condom’. The big difference is that we still have five NHS paid for homeopathic hospitals to spend our tax money on indulging in magical thinking. We have the University of Westminster and others with their Departments of Magic, teaching students how to precisely shake their potions. As far as I am aware, my Witches Coven from Hertfordshire do not teach at the University of Luton or hold day clinics in St Albans City Hospital. The witches do not get 200 MP’s signing an Early Day Motion calling on the government to support witchcraft in the NHS in the name of patient choice. At least not yet.
And despite homeopaths trying to wear the mantle of science, their practice is as magical in its thinking as my herbalist witches. In fact more so: homeopathic pills contain no active ingredients – all the ‘ingredients’ have been diluted away to nothing. At least I got some nice tea and some festival breath freshening spice drops from the coven. Visitors to the Festival Homeopaths will get plain sugar pills for their hangovers, paranoia and trench foot.
It struck me that these toilet door adverts might make the basis of the funniest ever complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority. My sense of civic duty tells me that I ought to see this through. Old timers at Glastonbury are now resigned to the presence of Babylon within the festival walls. Can we expect a contingent of Somerset Trading Standards Officers on site next year to ensure that claims being made can be substantiated and are truthful? Now that would be unorthodox. I would particularly like to see Trading Standards get into the festival spirit by wearing pink faerie tutus and zapping rogue traders with wands, before fining them, naturally.
But the festival is coming to a close now for another year. Peace and love abound. We have seen Mr Jay Zed kick off with a smashing rendition of ‘Wonderwall’. It’s just the Verve left to see now. I can’t wait – ‘The drugs don’t work’.