On Monday morning I woke up bright, early and, for once, not feeling too hot. I don’t know if there was a change in the weather or I had just woken up earlier than usual, but it was a refreshing change. It’s always strange when you unzip the front of your tent on the Monday morning to find that the field, previously packed tightly with hundreds of tents, is now half empty.
After going to get some fresh milk to help wake myself up, it was time to pack everything away. I hadn’t once used the wellies I’d bought and, remembering how difficult it was to fit them into my bag, decided to wear them that day. I managed to pack quickly with the only difficulty coming with the tent. It was easy enough to take down, but rolling it up and squeezing it into its bag seemed impossible. It looked as if I was trying to put it into a bag designed for a tent half the size, but it was the one it had come in and eventually I managed to get it all in.
I said my goodbyes and, with the large rucksack on my back, trudged off down towards the coach pick-up point. Without any mud, the scene didn’t look anything like as hellish as most years. There was still, though, the incredibly long queue for the shuttle bus to the train station. I counted my blessings that I decided to go by coach this year and wouldn’t have to endure that misery. Instead, the queue for my coach was short and relaxed. Without the mud which would normally keep me standing, I was able to put my bags down and use them as a pillow while I lay on the grass and read a book. I also bought a copy of the Q Review, for the now-traditional “find your tent” aerial shot poster. Even though it would be over an hour before the time my coach was due to leave, I was happy and relaxed, a deliciously fresh breeze tempered the now very hot sunshine.
The call to board my coach came almost half an hour late, though I was enjoying my book enough not to notice. I got on board, thinking “double seat, double seat, gotta get a double seat” and found one. I soon realised that the reason it was still available was that it the person sitting in front was the only one to have his seat reclined. Of course, rather than politely ask him to move his seat forward, I squeezed myself in, my knees seeming to be perilously close to my chest. A series of gruff looking men climbed on board and I expected each one to sit next to me, but in the end it was an elfin, not-my-type-but-still-attractive girl who sat beside me (presumably there were no other seats available). The driver eventually set off and then almost immediately stopped again and got out. Quite some time seemed to pass before he got on board, moved us a little bit along and then got out again. While I had previously been glad to get in the coach while others were still waiting, I was now starting to get envious of those people I could see sitting in their queues on the grass, enjoying the breeze while we were sweltering in the airtight coach with air conditioning that was as powerful as a mouse’s dying breath. The driver eventually got back on board and set off, though the roads which previously looked comparatively clear were now full of slow-moving traffic. I tried to get some sleep.
When I started to wake, I realised that the girl next to me was inadvertently resting her head on my shoulder as she slept. It might not sound like much, but it was probably the closest I’ve come to having a girlfriend in about two years. For a few moments I took in this unexpected tiny thrill before fully waking and realising that it was a little bit wrong and moved away (as much as I could while being jammed into my seat by the person in front). She woke too and, to underline the fact it was unintentional, moved her blanket between us to make sure it didn’t happen again. I read my book.
After several hours, the coach driver announced that he wouldn’t be able to get to London within the time he’s allowed to drive, so we would have to stop at Flint services. By this point, my legs were really starting to ache so I was glad to get away from my seat for a while. When the coach stopped and I started to walk down the aisle, I felt like one of those cartoon characters who had been squashed and their legs had turned to accordions. It genuinely took a few minutes before I could walk properly.
I always have a big fear about being left behind in these situations, particularly as I was travelling alone, but I was suddenly very hungry. I hadn’t eaten anything but an ice cream and a few Pringles since Thursday and didn’t feel it until now. I ordered some fried chicken and sat down and ravaged it, like a starving wild animal stripping the meat from the bone. I got back to the coach on time and squeezed myself back into my seat again, legs pressed painfully against the seat in front. As we left the services, I think we passed a sign that read ‘See you again next week!’. That was very presumptuous, I thought. I find myself in a motorway service station probably once or twice a year.
The second leg of the journey was thankfully much shorter and before long we were arriving at Victoria. No problems with my bag this time, and I was quickly away. I arrived at a zebra crossing and turned my head to find that I was standing next to the girl I was sitting next to on the coach. I tried to arrange my face into an expression that said “No, I’m not stalking you, honest” and quickly got away to the tube station.
It was at this point that I remembered about my Oyster card and realised I had to queue up for a new one. I got an oh-so-hillarious man in the ticket office who would give comedy answers to everything I asked – which worked well with my anxious, tetchy mood. Thankfully I got a temporary card and details on how to get my money back. It wasn’t quite yet rush hour, so my journey was quite pleasant, even with the backpack. I always enjoy this part of the journey home, seeing the occasional smiles of recognition from people along the way.
I got home, had the biggest cup of tea ever, had the most relaxing bath I think I’ve ever had and then rested before going to Euston for As It Occurs to Me, still feeling the revitalising effects of Glastonbury but also feeling a little relieved to be back in the city.
Thanks so much to everyone I camped with, whether we walked around together or had a chat around the campfire, you all helped to make it the best festival I have ever been to. And, also, thanks to all the strangers who said hello or I had a quick chat with, you were all awesome and always managed to appear just when I needed a lift. See you all next year!