You may have heard of Glastonbury Festival? It’s an iconic, annual event which takes place every June in a village called Pilton, and not very far from where I live here in Somerset.
It’s been going for over 40 years now. The founder, Michael Eavis and his daughter Emily, host this gigantic music festival for some 150,000 revellers, on their farm. There’s a chance you may not have heard of it, but here in UK and indeed Europe, it’s a Very Big Deal.
Anyway, I work at the festival each year. I have a team of 18 stewards who work shifts to raise money for a good cause. It’s fun, knackering, exhilarating, tiresome, fabulous. I’ve been doing a bit of work today on the coordination for this year’s team and thinking about my experiences there over the years….I was reminded of this……
My Embarassing Moment took place at Glastonbury Festival when I was a mere teenager. It was the 80’s. I was 16. What makes this My Most Embarrassing Moment is largely due to who I was at that point in my life – I was in the company of people who were a bit older, more edgy and worldly than I and also who I found myself being really awkward and shy around. I guess I wanted to impress them but also didn’t quite know how to relate to them.
The festival site was a fraction of what it is today. The field where the iconic Pyramid Stage is, was also where you could camp (no chance of that these days).
I’ll set the scene;
I had arrived with some friends, and my boyfriend. It was a hot, sunny day and we had set up our tents by two trees up-field from the stage and were sitting on the grass drinking cider. There might have been a spliff being passed round. I’ve never been very good with smoking dope and so probably avoided it but sometimes even breathing the smoke would be enough to make me feel wasted.
Anyway. It was hot, I was a bit drunken, I had probably inhaled some dope smoke. I was sitting next to my friend Claudia. I was aware that a hippy woman was approaching our group – she was probably in her 30’s, I remember she was wearing a long orange and brown skirt and she had long wavy mousy hair.
‘Excuse me’ she said, looking at me and Claudia, ‘I’m really sorry to trouble you, but I don’t suppose that you might happen to have any spare Tampax?’
The group fell silent. There was an uncomfortable pause as I looked around the group. Claudia was being quiet. I had seconds to process that this poor lady had turned up to a music festival, in a field with the most horrendous toilet facilities and also had her period. My emerging adult found its voice.
‘Erm….well yes, as it happens, I do’ I looked up at her ‘How many would you like?’
I had packed a box of Tampax ‘Just In Case’ although strictly speaking I wasn’t expecting to need them. I was just incredibly organised.
I briefly noticed that my boyfriend was looking at me strangely. I ignored him.
‘Oh brilliant!’ the Menstruating Hippy Lady said ‘well if you’ve got enough, I could do with about eight’
‘OK!’ I replied.
What I was actually thinking was , Blimey that’s quite a lot; what if I do end up needing them? But chivalry and a new-found sense of adult helpfulness had overcome me. I crawled into my tent.
I found the box of Tampax in my rucksack. I bundled eight of them up and found an elastic hair band which I used to keep them all neatly together. I took a few deep breaths – the cider and dope had definitely kicked in, and it was so HOT in the tent. I paused, then turned around and crawled back out of the tent towards the awaiting Menstruating Hippy Lady.
Smiling triumphantly, I thrust the bundle of Tampax up towards her like the Olympic Torch.
‘Here’ I said from all fours ‘here you go!’
There was silence.
Her face dropped.
My friends started sniggering….the sniggering became full on bellows of laughter. I could feel myself starting to feel sick with embarrassment, was there something on my face? I was still holding the Tampax aloft.
The Menstruating Hippy Lady took a step back, then smiled, kindly at me.
‘I’m really sorry’ she said gently ‘I didn’t say Tampax’.
‘I said ‘tent pegs’.