Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Saturday, 22 June 2013
Two things are happening this weekend - Glastonbury Festival and the Bath Boules competition. I will be going to pretend to watch the boules, which involves wandering around Queen Square getting mildly squiffy and chatting to people, but it has never been the same since Miles Kington died. Miles organised the celebrity team, which included super-heroes like Joanna Lumley and Terry Jones of the Pythons.
As the pub begins to buzz with excited people planning how they are going to get to and get into the biggest party in the U.K., I sometimes get a brief pang of regret about missing out on it all, but then I remember that I actually went to the very first one at Pilton, and how I felt about it then.
I borrowed a friend's 500cc Triumph motorcycle, and made my way from Surrey to Somerset on it. I even persuaded the police at 'Checkpoint Charlie' (as they called it) to allow me to ride right onto site, and I parked up next to the main stage.
I looked around me at the organised mayhem, and all I could think of was how to get away again as quickly as possible. I was 21 and everything was free - free entrance and free food - but I suppose I was on the wrong drugs in those days (actually, no drugs at all) and I didn't even enjoy small parties, let alone ones of this size.
So I crawled into a brown paper bag in a small marquee and went to sleep just as a voice from the main stage shouted, "Keep away from those chickens - they are going to explode", which was the last thing to enter my consciousness before I awoke next morning, got back on the bike and burnt out the clutch going home.
That was over 40 years ago, and just think how the whole event has developed and grown - all that mud and sunshine, all that money, all that fun. Several generations of party-goers who have turned the whole thing into a British institution, like Henley Regatta or Royal Ascot. Last year, Prince Harry went into a beer tent run by some mates of mine, so it really does have some sort of unofficial Royal seal of approval.
This year as always, the pub will be virtually empty, with a few old farts like me hanging around waiting for the casualties to return, and some strange or old faces behind the bar, serving us beer as usual.
I will be in Queen Square listening to Jo shouting at teams to 'hurry up' and J.P. screaming obscenities over the Tannoy as usual I expect, even though The Beaujolais Restaurant has finally packed up. See you there?