Not far from the town of Glastonbury is Paradise. At least, that’s how I think of the bit of land that is occupied by a beautiful couple of friends, Mark and Caroline (Caro sadly passed on recently). The land is stunning and kept organically without the use of mechanical machinery. There is a view that looks east to Glastonbury Tor, behind which the Sun rises. It’s an uninterrupted view. The land about appears to create a corridor from their land to the tor. They often hold very small cozy parties there. We had a wonderful ‘free festival’ there one weekend in celebration of giving. People arrived with food and drink, etc., equipment, sound systems and everything needed for the enjoyment of all. My mad mate, Si ‘insecurity’ Jonezy, provided the (in)security. All the musicians and DJs performed free of charge. It was a wonderful weekend.
Spence, the main organiser of Sunset Festival one day said that Mark and Caro had agreed to allow him the use of their land. I was very surprised. It’s not normally something that they would agree to. I was really concerned that it would all end in tears. However, as the date of the festival was getting nearer, I started to pick up on a certain vibe. There was a feeling starting to emerge that suggested that something potentially wonderful would happen that weekend.
Oh my! What an amazing weekend it turned out to be. The weather was incredible. The whole scene was magical. So many of my friends from all over the country turned up. It was like I knew practically everyone there. I lost count of the number of times that I introduced friends of mine to each other. My friends even commented on the fact that so many people knew me. The party itself was brilliant. We had an awesome vibe in Robbie’s art gallery. On the Sunday, the gods greeted us with the most beautiful Sunrise over Glastonbury Tor. My mate, Solar Tony (www.mobilesolarstage.co.uk) told me that the sun was so powerful that it was not only providing enough power to charge the batteries for the solar stage, but he was also running the stage without drawing from the batteries.
However, the zenith reached, things would eventually come crashing down around me.
The problems with the Land Rover were becoming constant. I seemed to be forever arriving on the back of a recovery truck.
The end came after the breakdown on Exmoor and the disastrous gig that followed.* Besides Ali’s kindness and some support from Nikki, one other positive came from that awful gig - Cheddar Nick. That’s where I met him. He had offered to help me with changing the engine in the Land Rover after hearing my story of woe. I took him up on his offer, explaining that I had no money left to pay him, but he would be fed and watered.
There was a slight problem. I had to first get to the next gig, Whirl-y-Fayre. I managed to get a recovery truck to get me to the gig, but wouldn’t be able to use the recovery service from the gig onwards due to the recovery rules. No worries, I would worry about that part later. One thing at a time.
Everything went fine with the gig. Dom and his family turned up after accepting my offer to come as my guests by way of thanks for his help, kindness, generosity and all round hospitality. They had a fabulous time.
After we had tacked down I had the mission of getting my whole world to Glastonbury where there is a bit of wasteland on the outskirts suitable enough to carry out the operation of replacing the engine in the Land Rover. A really wonderful friend, Paul, who is an organic cyder apple farmer of some of the rarest species of apple in the country, came to my rescue. He towed my caravan. Mary, whose festival it is, gave me some money to pay for a local tow truck to move the Land Rover. Nick turned up and we settled down near a place called the zigzag building where I was kindly offered use of the services there.
It was another mission to get the donor vehicle to site. Nick did some ferrying, I got messed about by the person selling the donor vehicle and we couldn’t test the engine to see if it was any good as the injector pump had been butchered. I had to take a chance and handed over a sum of money, less than the original agreed amount as there was no guarantee that the engine was any good. As there was no way of starting the donor vehicle and therefore driving it back, Paul came to the rescue again. We trailered it back.
Nick and I got to work. Just around the corner, there was one other important aspect - a local character known as ‘Stoker’. He has a unit with metal lathes, pillar drills, welding equipment and all kinds of industrial machinery. Really handy for any breakages, stubborn bolts and pretty much any other potential problem. He also had an antique tractor that we used as an engine hoist. It took longer than it should have as there were difficulties (surprise, surprise). We also had to reset the timing with the injector pump from the knackered engine. Once the replacement engine was in place, an electrical problem appeared. We got that sorted and fired up the engine. We discovered a water leak. It took some doing to find a replacement part. Once that was resolved, we could move on. Stoker was happy to take the remains of the donor vehicle and the old engine. We made sure that we tidied up, then it was time to hit the road in time to get to Goa Cream. Another water problem occurred within a few miles. We bled the system again. After that, no problems. She ran sweetly all the way up to the Malverns for the gig.
The gig was good. Nick gained entry as my guest. There was a Lunar eclipse. I made up a little with a beautiful Parsi-Pakistani woman that I love very much over an issue when we had last been together. I was glad it was the end of the season and thinking about wintering!
Half way back down the motorway heading for the Southwest the temperature gauge in the Land Rover suddenly shot up! I slowed right down and managed to coast into a service station that was fortunately half a mile away! As I slowed to a standstill the engine gave way; the head gasket had blown!
So, here I was, £800 in debt, no money, to all intents and purposes, no vehicle, no possible way of finding funds for repairs, stranded on a motorway service station, so no way of moving forward. Nick grabbed me as I collapsed with exhaustion. I’d had enough!
*see entry Arian and Rowan, part 7....