Sunday 8 September 2013

Glastonbury 2013, Day One, Part the First: Coaches and Mayhem

There is an old saying that stress is what happens when your instincts shout "NO" and your mouth says "YES I'D BE GLAD TO". I should have remembered that when I agreed to count people onto the coach to the Glastonbury festival from Leeds.

Yet again, a troupe of trusty Newcastle volunteers were travelling south to volunteer for our union with the Workers Beer Company at the Glastonbury Festival. We'd got six places, I was one of them, and despite a minor hiccup over a railcard on the train, all was well. The sun was shining, and we were waiting on the grass near Mecca Bingo, over the road from Leeds Bus Station, listening to the alcoholics fighting.

I can only assume there's a wet hostel nearby, because they were there three years ago (possibly not the same people, but who knows), the last time I was waiting for a coach to Glastonbury from Leeds - next time we'll sit in the bus station. I'd already had to go in there and get first aid assistance for someone who'd collapsed. I get the feeling this may be a regular occurance, as the security guards took their time getting the first aid kit and wandering on out. By the time they'd got out there, the ambulance had arrived, unlike our coach, and half the people I was expecting to be on it.

At 1.30pm, we had a false positive as a coach drove past us without stopping. As it got round to 1.50pm, I started muttering words in my head that I wouldn't use in front of my mother*, told everyone I was off over the road to check if it was waiting for us in the coach station part of the bus station. It wasn't, but I did find all the other volunteers. Still not quite as many as I had listed on the magic piece of paper with the list of people I was supposed to count on, but it was a start.

Even better, as I started to lead the way over to the grass, the coach we'd seen 20 minutes earlier pulled in haphazardly at a bus stop outside the station. I waved frantically and ran over to ask the driver if this was the WBC coach to Glastonbury. It was. I signalled my volunteers and began counting people on.

I'd been assured that the magic piece of paper was up to date. I should have remembered that where festivals are involved, this can actually mean "four people decided at the last minute to drive down, and there are two people who aren't on the magic piece of paper". There was no way I was telling people they weren't going to Glastonbury, so I let the two people on, reassured them it would be fine, and prayed very hard that I hadn't just booked them a one-way ticket to the outside of the Glastonbury festival wall.

As the coach headed out of Leeds, I got a phone call back from the WBC to confirm that the two people were indeed registered volunteers, and would be allowed in. I leaned back in my seat, mentally thanked God that my team were all reliable, calm people who had loaded my gear on the coach for me, and exhaled for the first time in about two hours. We were running a bit late, so I texted the people we were due to meet in a Tesco's car park in Clowne (coach pick-up points are always such glamourous locations), and told them we'd be a bit late but not to worry.

It really shouldn't have surprised me when, 10 minutes later, the driver turned round and, in tones of deepest gloom, informed us: "Sorry, the coach is broken - we're going to have to stop at the next service station and wait for a replacement".

* mostly from the family of the word "Fuck".

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