This story always gets me excited for glasto! haha what a hero.
"wednesday 4pm: i'm sitting at home, in glastonbury, at the computer as per usual, and a friend phones me from inside the festival site.. 'alright mate, you in yet? we're all here chilling at our site, just cracked open some beers and on the cider'.. he knew i didn't have a ticket but i'd told him i'd be coming anyway. f**k knows how but i hadn't missed a glastonbury for 13 years, and i wasn't about to for lack of a ticket. it was tradition. i was resolute i was going to make the jump. my original plan was to dress like a ninja head to toe and attempt the feat with a grappling hook, leaving my bags and tent for friends to ferry in for me. at least that way if i did get caught, the gorillas...erm...security guards, may see the humour in the situation and laugh 'with' me as opposed 'at' me while they took turns using me as a human punchbag. i'd tried to acquire tickets but to no avail, (i'd spent the season snowboarding in france and money was abroad with no money when the first wave of tickets were released...by the time i returned to england, the 'locals tickets' reserved for residents of certain postcodes around the festival site had sold out), then tried to get work as i had done in the past but again, nothing came of it. this was my last option. however, after seeing the weather reports of torrential rain throughout the weekend i was having second thoughts. i'd attended enough muddy festivals to last a life time i saw no need to subject myself to another one if it was going to take so much effort. i echoed these thoughts the mate on the end of the phone and it dodn't take much encouragement from his end to make it painfully aware i was fooling myself in thinking no longer really gave a shit. of course i f**king did, summer for me never starts properly without the festival (as was apparant from last years festival break and shitty non summer like weather for the subsequent months!). 'ok man, i'm coming, i'll see you tomorrow'..
7pm: i'm eating my dinner getting restless. it was still sunny and there were tens of thousands of people already getting f**ked in fields and here i was in my living room with a tv for company. i finish eating and pack what i can. i had envisioned an operation involving rope ladders, grappling hooks and a vast array of ninja equiptment, but alas, i suffer apathy like a disease, preperations wern't made and the closest i came to finding a grappling hook was a shoelace. my saving grace was the full goretex camo i'd bought years earlier at a discount rate from an army surplus store in an extreme sports festival. the intention then was to have a pimp ass outfit for the eveing which was coupled with a new pair of bright white 'dunlop greenflash' hi tops and some of aviator glasses. most people probably thought i looked like a prick but i enjoyed myself nonetheless. tonight however, the military gear would finally see its intended use. i allowed myself one small rucksack for the entire festival, anything more cumbersome would impede my stealth. i managed two t shirts, one extra pair of jeans, a jumper, socks, boxers and 4 plastic bags i would wear over my socks once the festival got muddy (ninjas don't do wellies). i packed a bottle of water and four twixes for nourishment. now to choose my footwear...anything i took would inevitabley become sacrifice to the pilton mud...i settled on a pair of old nike air max's, surely a worthy choice for any modern day ninja. they would die a noble death.
11pm: i've decided my best route of attack is at the north of the site around about worthy farm. there are access roads leading in and out of the site, alot of traffic so i figure they wouldn't expect people to make the jump there and leave it slightly less fortified. a GPS system wouldn't go amiss at this point but the best i could do was use google and print out a map of pilton which i'd use to navigate the mile or two down from the village to the festival site. obviously i wouldn't be taking the roads so needed something to point me in the right direction as i crossed through fields and gardens in the middle of the night. i start hitching from the corner of a road 7 miles away from the site. a taxi wouldn't be too expensive but if i was going to do this properly, it had to be a pikey effort from the start.
11:45pm: i arrive in pilton and get dropped off at the village shop. i've worked as a steward in the past so know a few things about security and the layout of the site. i know for one that you need a villagers pass to enter the residential area that leads towards the site. i also know what it feels like to be on the wrong side of a 12 hour shift (security work 8 till 8 ) so an early morning entrance when security were more concerned with staying warm and awake than watching the bushes for stalking sas lookalikes, was ideal. this gave me plenty of time. i chanced my luck at one of the guarded roads under the pretence i was going to my girlfriends house on 'bakery road' and was picking up my ticket from there. predictably they were having none of it so i retreated back down the road, melted into the shadows and scaled the first of many fences to come.
12:15am: after making my way to the bottom of the road and finding a hidden dark spot i could use to gain my bearing and asess the direction i should head, i emrged and set forth along the road toward the site. this took me straight past the temporary police station where a policeman was standing outside and was alerted by my approach. i nodded to him and asked how his night was, as if my being there was as normal as his, and was glad for that moment i wasn't wearing full ninja costume. waterproof camouflage is one of the more common sites at a muddy festival, ninja warriors are not...that could quite possibly have set alarm bells ringing. after exchanging brief courtesies, i continued down the road and as i got round the bend decided to break into a hastey jog in case the policeman decided i actually did look a little suspect walking through the village in the dead of night towards the festival site with a rucksack and full camo outfit. i ended up running round a corner straight toward a female steward sitting in a deck chair. i gave her a quick wave and she returned only a baffled look. i ran straight past without looking back and didn't give her so much as a chance to question my destination. as i ran up the road and round the next bend i saw another two security guards walking in front on patrol. taking this as a sign the roads were not the best place to be, i darted into the undergrowth and made my way up an unused, overgrown trail through thick trees and head height nettles and brambles.
12:45am: the climb up the path had made me start to sweat, so reluctantly i shed some clothing which only added to the bulk of my rucksack. out came the map and i made a quick estimation of where i was and where i needed to be. there was a large house with an incredibly bright light shining from a source just out of site and i cautiously took this to be another guarded area. as i crept round the bushes i spotted two figures huddled inside luminous jackets sitting on deck chairs. they were in the forecourt to the building. a road toward the site ran paralell and there were open fields opposite. the entrance to this field was a good 100ft down the road and unfortunately, immediately opposite the entrance to the yard, in full view of the posted security. the only cover offered on aproach was a scrubby two foot high bank of grass and foliage. the entire area was bathed in that dirty white light, highlighting any movement i made above the height of the dividing scrub, like a shadow puppet against the high stone wall guarding my escape into the welcoming darkness of the field. i took off my bag, got down on the floor and started to edge my way forward along the road, staying flush to the cover paying heed to stay low as not to be seen. i reached the entrance to the yard with the gate to the field on the other side of the lane. i waited and watched the security as they muttered with each other between the odd radio crackle, faces buried in hi vis jackets, looking dispiritingly at the floor in front of them. for a good two minutes i watched then, staying as low as possible, sprang up, darted across the road and vaulted the gate, making as little sound as possible.
1:15am: i ran through the long grass behind a hedgerow silhouetted against an illuminated sky. at the end of the hedge only a small wire fence seperated two fields, and as i reached it, the 'big' fence came in to view. hundreds of metres away, a hugely defiant wall of silver stood strong before a vast open field with no cover to speak of. behind it i could see the lights of the festival site sprawled out like a city, and hear the murmer of a hundred thousand happily f**ked up people. mounted on one of the many turrets jutting upward from behind the fence, a light that could only be likened to a second sun, turned night in to day, and made stepping out from my comfortable darkness a disconcerting yet necesary decision. about a kilometre away however, across open grass, the cover of trees almost reached the fence. i crept through the fence and started running down the field against another hedgerow, hoping my distance from the fence and camouflage against the bushes would keep me undetected. the shadow i cast on the hedge was like an unwelcome companion i couldn't rid myself of, until once again i was in shadow. infront of me, through the darkness, i could make out a feint sillhouette of a car parked up in the field. my approach grew more cautious and as i came closer i was suddenly blinded by a flashlight. caught off guard i covered my eyes with my sleeve, looked around and noticed i'd reached a garden just over a low stone wall. instictively, i changed direction, leaped over the wall, back into darkness and ran to the hedge which proved too solid to get through at this moment. instead i opted for some overgrown grass and thistles to skulk in (thank f**k people around here don't seem to worry about letting their gardens grow wild). after about 20 seconds, radio's were crackling and beams of light were flickering through the garden. i lay motionless as they scanned overhead, confident i was now invisible to anybody more than two feet from me. after a while they left and i could hear engines out on nearby roads, no doubt looking for a shadowy figure in the bushes. i stayed there for a good while weighing up my next move. the lights in the house were on, i didn't dare venture through the front, and back on to the roads, neither could i continue through the now apparantly guarded field. i went back to the hedge and found i could climb in. it was about 8 feet thick and dense as f**k but i noisily pushed my way through into another garden secluded from the field beyond, and with a bit of hedge hopping, i found my way into well kept garden with an exit that led back in to the field about 30 metres behind the car the security were now obviously posted in. the far end of the field, closer to the big fence, was my destination. the grass was a couple of feet long and and packed with thistles, and as not to be seen, i adopted the same position as earlier, and crawled slowly through the cover until i was at a great enough distance from the car, where i exchanged my crawl for a crouched jog.
2:00am: i hopped over a barbed wire fence on the far side of the field and crouched behind an open gate, in a hedge, and observed the situaton whilst eating two twixes and hydrating myself. the fence was once again illuminated but not as much so, and less than 100 metres from me. still not close enough but i could sit and watch the patrols and observe how frequently they passed, and the direction they came in. just to my left was another lane i'd need to cross to get to the next field and closer to the dense copse i was aiming for. i sat and waited for a good half hour. two security guards idly shuffled past my spot once while i waited, but aside from the landrovers every eight to ten minutes or so, it was relatively quiet. i knew the fence was too high to jump without aid. at this point the only chance i could see of scaling the thing would be to run out in front of one of the patroling landrovers jump on the bonnet, on to the roof and leap across grabbing the fence, hoping the seconds it took them to think 'what the f**k is this guy doing' would be enough for me to be on the roof and making my way over. i figured the fence to be a little over twice the height of the landrover and about a 4 foot horizontal gap from the roof, so the jump would be the easy part, getting on top of the thing before security caught me would be problematic. however, i knew this was a f**king stupid idea, so made a mental note to leave it to chance and see what fate presented.
2:30am: i clambered out of my hiding place and toward the entrance to the field. i looked down the lane from out of the hedge and there was another security guard posted by a building some 40 metres down. i waited for the right moment, then darted across the road to the closed gateway of the next field. i could hear voices coming from beneath a row of trees that ran down the middle of the field. i crawled under the gate and in to the shadows of the hedge row and lay down and watched once again. the voices got up and wandered off further down, so i took my chance and ran to the cover of the trees slipping from one to another, passing a couple of camping stools on my way, until i reached another stone wall which i quickly passed over back in to the safety of a welcome concealed garden.
2:45am: climbing over the next wall, i gingerly stepped down and found my footing slightly unstable. upon closer inspection i couldn't believe my luck. the festival site must be a good 10miles round, and out of all the places and gardens i could choose to make my entry from, i step over a wall, on to not one, but three ladders just lying on the floor waiting for me. the ninja gods were smiling on me that night, i'm certain of it. a renewed sense of confidence instilled, i stalked to the bottom of the overgrown garden to measure my situation. i could hear voices not far off so i moved with caution. just as i got to the bottom of the garden to look over the fence, back into another part of the tree lined field i just moved through, my good friend, darkness, turned round and bit me hard in the ass. in the dim light i didn't make out the piece of sheet metal sat hidden by the fence, that when stepped on, made so much noise, i might as well have shouted 'over here' at the top of my lungs. i ran back to the undergrowth and dived into a deep patch of leaves, grass and brambles, then lay still as alerted voices came close and shone torches in to the garden. radio's crackled, torches continued to shine then a few minutes later a landrover with a mounted floodlight sidled up to the fence and illuminated the whole place. i lay still in my cover and it drove off, voices got quieter...i waited a further 20 minutes until i moved out of my spot. i obviously couldn't make my entry here so i'd have to move the ladder to another spot, closer to the big fence and further from the security. attempting to move the ladder now would no doubt attract more attention, as the night was so calm it was impossible to move through such undergrowth, cracking branches underfoot without being heard, let alone untangle a metal ladder from brambles and move it around unseen whilst suspicions were high. leaving the ladder in place, i waded through waist high brambles toward the other end of the garden and once again asessed the situation. my movement must have been heard once again as more landrovers drove up to the fence and shone lights in to a part of the scrub i wasn't. a vast and well kept garden lay over a fence at this end, that ran down to a point that was only a good 50 metres or so from the big fence. that's where i had to get my newly acquired ladder. i moved back through the brambles with all the caution i could but it wasn't enough as the sound of movement brought radios and flashlights back to life. the security must now be posted just on the other side of the fence listening for me. i quickly re positioned myself in my previous hiding place and covered myself back over with brambles. i could hear on the radio, talk of 'somebody in the bushes' and security answered that they were just in and around the bushes looking for me now. beams of light scanned across my spot, more landrovers made passes and i lay in my spot decideding to eat another twix.
4:20am: i think i'd been lying still for over a full hour now. i could still hear the odd buzz of radio chatter but it had eased off. after a good half hour of footsteps rustling around my area and worried a guy with a torch was going to step right on top of me, they must have assumed after no more noise i'd moved on, but they were still close. then the winds started to pick up and i felt a drop of rain. a smile crept across my face as the rain became heavy and the wind grew restless. this was the exact cover i needed, and would mask the noise it'd make as i moved the ladder through the foliage. the security would also go and seek shelter under the trees, giving me some time and breathing space. i picked up the ladder, and retraced my path through the brambles over to the next garden. once i was over the fence on to the mown grass, movement was easy. i made my way to the far corner which would be the last cover i'd see until i went for the big one.
5:20am: i balanced, perched atop a wooden fence, watching the security guards, concealed by overhanging trees and creeping hedgerow. the ladder was positioned so, that a small portion rested, reaching just over the fence, in a way that when i jumped down, i'd be able to pull the ladder forth, and run, with a minimum amount of f**king about. it'd have to be one swift movement from the moment i jumped out of the hedge, to the moment i was in the festival site. there was no sound coming from the other side of the fence, so i figured i'd succesfully navigated my way to the worthy farm area which is off access to the general public. after more waiting and timing patrol passes, the right time came when security had strolled off up the field and the last landrover passed only a couple of minutes before. i jumped out, grabbed the ladder and ran towards the fence holding it above my head. security were approaching on their radios to call for back up. these guys were only there to keep a look out, it was the ones inside i had to steer clear of... the ladder went up and was almost a perfect height to the top of the fence. i climbed to the top, pulled the ladder up and dropped it down the other side just as the two security guards i had been watching and two i hadn't seen, got to the bottom. i gave them a cheeky wink and dropped down into the site. adrenaline high, i knew i didn't have long until i had to make myself hidden as i was in a part of the site i wasn't meant to be. i ran through what seemed to be a kind of orchard and down toward some buildings, through some gardens then jumped into a bush in a front garden by the side of a small road. only moments later the early morning peace was shattered as the site burst to life with the roar of engines and noise of two way radio's blaring. i covered myself with leaves and got comfortable. for a good half hour it seemed they were going nuts trying to find me. i could hear radio's only feet away asking if they had me yet, and hear the scuffle of people searching the area. i ate another twix and finished my water then waited for the heat to cool.
6:30am the area became peaceful once again and was a good a time as any to make a move. obviously everybody in the area would have been alerted of a bloke in a full camo suit, who'd made the jump, and as i still had to get past another security check point, i couldn't do so like this. i changed my clothes in the bush, swapping my camo garb for the loudest colours i had, then emerged adopting a drunken stagger, as if questioned for a wristband, i would reply with pissed nonsence and continue my stagger as if i was another festival f**k up who didn't know where or who he was. i 'stumbled' down the road toward the last checkpoint and could see tents at last...shuffling passed the security they were obviously too tired to give a shit who i was, and as i walked in to the site amongst the throng of people still doing there thing, i gave myself a big 'f**k yeah' for mission accomplished.
highlights of the festival, aside from playing real life 'metal gear solid' all wednesday night, were '!!!', 'fat freddies drop', 'mr scruff' and 'square pusher' who was so good i actually followed through (although that could be attributed to the dodgy diet and copious amounts of pear cider i'd consumed) and missed a good part of his set sorting it out.
it was f**king muddy though...