My Glastonbury envy is reaching peak levels. Why didn't I get a ticket?
"I've been to Glastonbury four times. That's enough for anyone."
That's what I told myself in the run up to the first wave of ticket sales for Glastonbury. I had been the previous two years, then had a two year break, then went the two years before that, starting with the infamous heatwave of 2010's festival: 30° heat every day and not a single drop of rain. Beautiful torture.
By the fourth time - a total mudbath, the worst for some years - I felt like I knew Glastonbury. It wasn't the sensory overload that it was before. I could stagger back from Shangri La to m y tent without getting lost. I'd stayed up until the morning light at the Stone Circle more times than I could count. I felt like the adventure was over.
Last year's mud didn't help. You can't go to Glastonbury and not expect a bit of it, but 2016 was unbelievable. Of course, as any Glasto goer knows, you get used to trudging through inch-thick gloop, because the choice is either stay in your tent or deal with it. Everyone deals with it. I dealt with it. I would happily deal with it again.
Alas, the only thing more fickle than the weather is myself, and seeing the forecast for this week has cast a golden haze over my memories of Glastonbury. The dust of the paths, kicked up into the air, staining my clothes an earthy shade of umber. Warm cider and the smell of suncream. Watching Faithless play Insomnia as the sun went down on the Pyramid stage.
I thought I was done, but I was wrong. I want all of that, all over again.
And I miss the build-up to Glastonbury. Around this time I would be packing up my supplies: a camp bed (£10 from Go Outdoors, infinitely better than a roll mat), a pillow, a sleeping bag, clean pants and socks, 50 cans of cider (budgeting 10 a day, including any acts of generosity), a bottle of whiskey (decanted - no glass at Glasto) and most importantly, wet wipes.
A tent is always handy, too, though there are many fine hedges that could accommodate you.
Working with people going to Glastonbury is not especially good for the old jealousy-o-meter, which is currently clanging around DEFCON 2 at the moment. Excited conversations about who they're going to see, where they're going to camp, who they're going with and what they're going to do - basically drink, dance and have fun - put my guts through the mangle.
"Yes," I concur. "Radiohead will be amazing. As will Stormzy. And Biffy Clyro. And Major Lazer. And Run The Jewels. Introduced by Jeremy Corbyn, you say? Well that sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence that will never happen again in a million years. How jolly! I need to go away now."
What a mug. I thought I'd had enough of Glastonbury. The truth is, you can never have enough of Glastonbury, because there's more Glastonbury than you can ever have. There are nearly 100 stages and places to see music. Even if you never see a single band, there are a million different areas, exhibitions, oddities, curios and things that couldn't exist anywhere outside of Glastonbury to experience.
Then, of course, there are the people, the most important part of the festival. Glastonbury is by and large a dickhead-free zone. Everyone is happy, friendly and there to have a good time. You never feel unsafe; the biggest threat you'll face is the stench of the long drops. You can be yourself at Glastonbury, whether you're a 6am raver or a camping chair dad. Everyone is welcome, and everyone is made to feel welcome.
I miss it. I love it. For every one thing there is to complain about Glastonbury - the rain, the mud, the ticket price, the lengthy journeys to, from and around the festival - there is an infinite galaxy of brilliance that cannot even be contested. It is, sincerely, the best place on earth. I'm gutted I won't be there this year, but I won't make the same mistake again.