Gordon Smart on the utterly bizarre magic of Glastonbury

28 June 2020, 08:00 | Updated: 28 June 2020, 08:01

Gordon Smart discovers the healing power of the rhino horn
Gordon Smart discovers the healing power of the rhino horn. Picture: Gordon Smart

This weekend, Gordon should have been down at Worthy Farm to help Glastonbury celebrate its 50th anniversary.. Instead he's left with his memories: Shakira, David Beckham and an offensive t-shirt.

Week 16, month four, day 113. So far today there has been a thunderstorm, torrential rain, baking sunshine and a wee flood.

So let’s talk about Glastonbury.

A Lockdown week we will remember for the spectacle of social media sinking in a bog (and occasionally shining in the sunlight) of pictures posted by friends, colleagues, strangers, bands and sworn enemies at Worthy Farm through the years.

If you’ve never been you’ve probably still seen it on the telly, so I won’t waste your time with the obvious.

It’s the utterly bizarre stuff you find yourself involved in that never ceases to amaze me.

Three years ago I thought I’d discovered something new. An underground bunker where you could try on other people’s shoes. It was weeks later when I explained the experience to someone that I discovered I was actually in the cloakroom of a pillow-fighting venue and was randomly trying on other folk’s shoes. I upgraded though, so thanks to the owner of the Air Max I came home with.

You might recognise comedian and actor, Big Tom Davis. He’s an imposing figure - all 6ft 7in of him. A man you would definitely remember, even before he found fame. These days he’s the star of Bafta winning Murder In Successville and King Gary.

But I remember him when he was a scaffolder, part-time doorman and drag act from Carshalton in Surrey selling Glastonbury punters offensive t-shirts. One word printed on the front - the c-word. And I’m not talking Chris of Chris Martin fame.

Tom Davis: Offensive t-shirt not pictured
Tom Davis: Offensive t-shirt not pictured. Picture: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Sky

Maz from Communion Records will mind me telling you this story, so I thought I better share it. He asked one of the most impressive questions in the 50 year history of the festival backstage when he bumped into Radiohead drummer Phil Selway: “So, what are you doing here, Phil?” It was the day after he headlined the Pyramid Stage. A set Maz had watched in its entirety.

The author John Niven tells a great story about Glastonbury ‘94 when a pal of his picked up a walking stick, and for the following five days, the holder would shout “FOLLOW THE STICK!” and off they would go entirely at his or her whim. They eventually presented the stick to John Prine, who kept it to his dying day.

The only thing I could do today is swing a filthy leg onto the bandwagon and trudge through the mud in my hard drive to sift out something acceptable to share with you.

Mr John Niven with his trademark Scottish hospitality
Mr John Niven with his trademark Scottish hospitality. Picture: Gordon Smart

Inexplicably drinking with Shakira in borrowed clothes because we misjudged the weather. We discussed the origin of macaroons (they are Scotttish, she loves them)

Gordon Smart compares shirts with Shakira
Gordon Smart compares shirts with Shakira. Picture: Gordon Smart

David Beckham measuring me up at 5.30am.

Gordon Smart and David Beckham very, very late at night
Gordon Smart and David Beckham very, very late at night. Picture: Gordon Smart

The rest are not safe for publication.

was meant to celebrate my 40th at Glastonbury’s 50th this year. But the pillow fights, rhino horn and offensive t-shirts will have to wait.

Until next time, FOLLOW THE STICK!