Written by Emily Scialom

Voices

Letter to my hometown: Glastonbury

Our writers are penning a letter to their hometown. This week, Emily Scialom talks of the town of the hour – Glastonbury.

Glastonbury TorDear Glastonbury,

Your name is echoing through the air of the social media’s atmosphere. You are at your peak, your apex. Nothing is ever going to be able to contradict your power, beauty and majesty, musically speaking – even Kanye West’s ego.

Remember me? I lived in your streets! I played guitar because of you and wore bandanas to inappropriate conventions. (This was in the 90s.) It was long before the invention of the iPhone and Facebook, pre-Simon Cowell and the advent of X-Factor: when those Take That number ones were the actual bee’s bloody knees.

People around me in those days were running to you from someplace. Some from places of authority, some were searching for the source of life. And who knows if they found the truth?

Your history is evidenced in your streets. When Henry VIII wanted another wife (to later behead) the dissolution of the monastery was ordered in 1539. Glastonbury Abbey illustrates that decision to totally ruin one of the great religious epicentres of Europe. The feeling of destruction of something pure and powerful is there in your metaphorical heart.

But before the idea of a religion crossed the minds of man, you were there. The key figures that formed the origins of human beliefs stood tall on your hillside and travelled to you with boats and horses as they now they travel using their buses and cars.

“The thing I miss most about being a Glastofarian is the feeling of freedom. If a ‘Rupert Hicks’ wants to change himself he can become ‘Windy Dragon Breath’, the astrological guru with many lovers, without any frowns or cruelty.”

Every generation England – and often the world – has produced has tried to find the secret of you: the mysterious ways you have, which no other place can compete with.

We were told as children that King Arthur and Queen Guinevere lay buried in your Abbey. Yet no one knows the truth of any of your numerous and majestic mysteries.

The march of capitalism is distorting humanity’s ability to connect. The most important aspect of life, I believe, is to feel the union with the natural world and one another. In your streets and fields we could change that: we permitted anything and refused capitalist propaganda. At no point was this more obvious than the burning down of a McDonalds restaurant (loose term for a McDonalds, I always thought) THREE TIMES in that mystical and spectacularly hallowed landscape.

When I come back to see you, which is only every year or so (no link to the festival, although I’ve been about 10 times), I have the same realisation of my love for your streets. I miss that feeling that is unique to my first and truest hometown.

Things about you rearrange as they do and the world alters in many unforeseen advances of time and technology, and yet that core of love that I have always felt for you remains as strong as ever.

The Who are set to headline the Sunday at your local party and Father John Misty and Patti Smith will also be main events. All these children of the universal forces of art and beauty are planning to be there to appreciate your wonder. (My friend Dawn, who remains in Glastonbury, says the only missing piece to the proverbial puzzle is the love of her life: Noel Gallagher.)

view of Glastonbury from a hillThis is what you’re famous for these days, and rightly so: you obviously should be celebrated for nurturing the kinds of people (Michael Eavis and the one and only Michael Scialom – my dad), who change the world in these sublime ways!

I miss you more than I can explain.

I remember Dad drinking tea, muttering and stroking his wafro, saying, “let’s go to Pilton Festival, kids” on the Wednesday or Thursday. We would sometimes dogsit the local hippies’ pets, but when we arrived at the festival we would soon be in a drum circle dancing with delight!

My Mum was alive then and had a council flat in the town called Street, which I read to my astonishment is actually your bigger neighbour these days. I would eat toast and soldiers there with her and my sister while we watched my baby brother learn to clap.

The thing I actually miss most about being a Glastofarian is the feeling of freedom. If a ‘Rupert Hicks’ wants to change himself he can become ‘Windy Dragon Breath’, the astrological guru with many lovers, without any frowns or cruelty.

I miss the friends we had who would eat tofu with soya sauce without mockery and who praised the spirit world’s power in genuine ways. The philosophy of free love and good karma prevailed and emphasis wasn’t put upon the financial aspect of people’s lives.

I’m extremely proud of growing up in Glastonbury and of the memories you gave me.

Emily

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Written by Emily Scialom

Author of novel The Religion of Self-Enlightenment. A teenage poet and an adult songsmith. I like Marmite, Buddhism and Liverpool FC.