Some friends were going camping just outside Glastonbury and persuaded me to come along. The last time I went camping was in 1991, with two ancient tents borrowed from my Dad's scout troup. The tents took ages to put up and were uncomfortable and stuffy. I have avoided tents ever since - my idea of a good holiday is never leaving an enormous air conditioned room on the 53rd floor of a glitzy art deco hotel, overlooking a cultural capital, watching foreign tv and phoning down for people to bring me cups or tea and sandwiches with the crusts cut off every couple of hours. So spending the night in a field was a novelty. "It'll be a lark," my fella said. It was.
Fortunately, tent technology has come a long way since then. The whole tent fit into a tiny package, it was so easy to put up that there were no instructions, and it was made of some sort of clever material (no doubt initially created for astronauts or something) which kept the inside at just the right temperature, despite the fact that it rained pretty much all night.
It was still uncomfortable though - and Heath Ledger didn't come knocking in the night either. Though I did think I spied Barbara Windsor and Kenneth Williams.
We had the smallest tent on the campsite - quite an achievement. We'd arrived the night after everyone else and I found that our group had already been "told off" by the site owners for making too much noise the night before - apparently they all got drunk and were singing and dancing until 1.30 in the morning (this is what happens when you arrange to go camping with 10 gay men, of whom you only know 3 in advance). Luckily, everyone was more sedate last night and we were all tucked up in our tents by 11pm. Within our cluster of tents, two separate "camps" had formed - the "fabulous" group whose sole topics of discussion were vintage French and Saunders, Madonna, sex and clubbing. Then there were the boring academic gays, who sat around talking about constellations and film technique. I was in the latter group.
We also went into Glastonbury - what a weird place. It's great if you woke up and said "Hmm, you know what, today I really must stock up on crystals, incense, hemp, a model of a fairy, some druid clothing and a book on how to cast Magick spells". But if you, say, wanted to buy something as mundane as a washing machine or a DVD (unless it was a DVD on how to read auras) then forget it. Many of the people walking around had that frazzled look that you get from spending 3 decades smoking hash, not keeping proper sleeping hours and thinking you are descended from Merlin. It was a very easy place to be the most fashionable person in - because, let's face it, purple hair and a willowy kaftan with a few moons and stars drawn on it are never really going to make it down the catwalks of Milan. With that said, they weren't doing anyone, any harm - and they all looked so
One night was enough though. We got home and went back to bed for 3 hours. If we do it again, I think it might be worth investing in an air mattress or something. Sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag isn't recommended...