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Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 17,698
[UK] The over-65s blowing their pensions at Glastonbury
    #28833736 - 07/01/24 09:27 AM (23 days, 9 hours ago)

Pass the magic mushrooms! The over-65s blowing their pensions at Glastonbury
June 30, 2024 - Inews

The festival is famously attended by all ages, from newborns to nonagenarians. Eleanor Peake speaks to the retirees who are still raving till 6am

Chris Church is 71 and he can still party hard. He has been coming to Glastonbury since the first festival in 1970. He was 18 and snuck out of his nearby boarding school to attend, still in his school uniform. These days, he has ditched the uniform, but not the party spirit. “I don’t go as long as I used to but I can still get as inebriated as the best of them,” he says. “I can hold my own.”

He’s not alone. “There are so many people of my age here and they are still passing around the magic mushrooms,” he says. “If you have spent 30 years doing it, you’re not going to stop.”

I catch Church as he is rolling a cigarette, perched on a wooden bench in Green Fields, a section of the festival run by Greenpeace. Last night, he stayed up until 2 am and danced in Shangri La, the infamous rave section of the festival. “I come most years, and I ask myself why,” he laughs. “I may be too old for a lot of the bands. I have no idea who half of them are now. I know who Dua Lipa is and Coldplay but that’s about it.”

Church has been to almost every Glastonbury for the past 50 years. “It’s a lot less wild than it used to be,” he says. “There used to be bikers doing races through the campsite, and thieves everywhere. It’s become almost a bit too safe now. You want a bit of edge still.”

And yet, Church keeps coming back. “I saw some 18-year-olds on the coach on the way over here see the site for the first time as we came over the hill, it was great. It’s like they have seen Wonderland.” Last year, Church came with his daughter. “It was an even better experience coming with an excited 23-year-old pulling you around.”

Walk down the road and into the Healing Fields, and you’ll see Dave, 70, and Sally, 69, having a quiet cup of coffee as they watch the world go by. They have been retired for four years, although Dave still does some part-time electrician work to pay for their festival habit. They have been to Glastonbury for the past six years in a row.

Sally has been trying to for much longer, but because of her former job at a primary school, she was unable to take leave in term time. “For my sixtieth birthday, they let me go, and we have got tickets ever since.”

The couple know they are unusual. “Our friends would never come here,” she says. “They think we are crazy. They want a five-star resort now.”

But not Dave and Sally. Last year, Sally was in Shangri La with her son until 6.30am. “What I enjoyed was the 45-minute walk back to our camp, just chatting in the sun. It’s peaceful,” says Sally. The couple have spirits back at their tent, choosing to avoid the cans of warm beer.

“We can definitely do it,” she says. “But it’s probably less easy than it used to be.”

The hardest part of the festival is transporting all their luggage to the campsite. “It used to be fine for us but now it’s much harder carrying everything. It’s a very far walk. Especially when it’s hot,” says Sally. Regardless, the pair come for the music and the vibes. Sally in particular loves female solo singers. She will be attending Dua Lipa’s headline act this evening. “I don’t really know Sza’s music that well though,” she adds.

The other problem is the sleeping. “We are much lighter sleepers than we used to be,” says Sally. “Especially Dave. He is such a light sleeper now, so we don’t get much sleep with all the noise.”

Reclining on a rug under a smaller performance tent, Eileen O’Donnell, 68, and Jacky Morgan, 68, are soaking up the slow atmosphere. They have been friends for 30 years, and have been coming to Glastonbury together for the last 20. They always volunteer, to make things a bit more affordable since retiring nine years ago.

“I really like interacting with the public and feeling part of the community,” says O’Donnell. “Glastonbury can be quite a lonely place I think if you get lost and separated from your group so I like having a base here with the volunteering.”

O’Donnell likes acoustic music, but Morgan doesn’t share her love. They often see different things but come back together later. “I have seen Coldplay several times so I will definitely be seeing them tonight. Elton John last year was fantastic. Years ago we used to go to the southeast corner, by Shangri La, but less so now.” Morgan nods in agreement.

The vibe has changed drastically over the years, says Morgan. “It’s much less folky now and much more of the electronic music. I don’t like the people who like those acts because we get really pushed about by them.” O’Donnell laughs: “Oh my god you’re sounding so old!” “Sorry, I am old,” Morgan shoots back.

Still, neither has any plans to give the festival up. Chris Church will likely be back next year, as will Dave and Sally. “Glastonbury is just completely different to any other festival,” says Church. “It’s all ages. It’s been fascinating to watch it evolve.”

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