Don’t get me wrong, I’m fond of Colin and Martin, my cousins-in-law. Colin married Sue in the 1980s not long before Martin and Karen’s wedding, though it might have been the other way around. Over thirty years on, both couples still make for strong, loving families, punctuated by children, dogs and grandchildren.
There is much mutual respect and affection between Colin, Martin and I, but it’s fair to say that we are very different people with not that much naturally in common, apart from their wives being my cousins. Martin is a brilliant and fastidious DIY-er in a way I could never be, Colin has his deep passion for photography, and neither of them share my absorption in gardening and writing. This can make prolonged conversations tricky as I don’t know how to hammer a nail in straight, or check the F-stop on a Hasselblad in the same way as they wouldn’t get as over-excited as me over a half-price seed packet sale. Over the years of meeting at weddings, christenings and landmark birthdays, we have developed two lines of enquiry for when all else has been exhausted:
– We must sit at a bar one day overloading on Jagerbombs.
– When are the three of us going to go to the Glastonbury Festival?
All three of us know that neither of these things will ever happen. We might as well be speculating over when we are going for a spacewalk or taking Vanessa Feltz for a picnic. We live awkwardly far enough apart to make a rocket-fuelled pub night unwieldy, and at the kind of family events we meet, normally two of us will be driving, and there is probably a reason that alcohol-free Jagerbombs are not a thing.
The Glastonbury Festival is a wonderful celebration of musical culture when watched at home on TV– the sound levels can be reduced; there are no pink-bra’d bimbos swaying on their boyfriend’s shoulders to block your view; queuing times are shorter for the comparatively clean toilet and there should be almost no chance of contracting diphtheria or trench foot. Going to Glastonbury ‘live’ to scrape a ghetto existence for three days, failing to find your tent, then your wallet and afterwards your car seems, frankly, perfectly dreadful and yet easily avoided. Then there’s our stamina to consider – or certainly mine. A friend and I did three gigs on consecutive nights a few years back. The Black Keys at the Greenwich O2 were rabble-raising, before we drove up to Liverpool next day where China Crisis at the Cabin were a loveable joy, but I’m sorry Ian McNabb, while you rocked and shook the Kazimier Club on the Saturday, I had to sit it out on the floor at the back, musicked-out. Three gigs a challenge? Glastonbury is a solid three days.
So, at our last family meeting a couple of weeks ago, Martin and I were taken aback when Colin produced a camera and said, ‘Guys, my son says we’ve got to pre-register on-line to have a chance for next years Glastonbury tickets and the deadline is coming up. Let’s all register now!’
Martin and I held our smiles, though our eyes probably said, ‘oh, shit’. Next thing we knew, Colin had each of us against a plain surface, then snapped and uploaded our mugshots before you could say, ‘what do you mean £15 for a burger?’
The next day we each received an email from Glastonbury. Martin’s said his registration had been approved despite his picture giving him the appearance of having a hideously deformed marshmallow for a right ear. Colin’s and my picture had been rejected and deleted – I was secretly relieved that there was still hope of not qualifying! We convened on
Facebook. Colin and I both wear specs so though there was no apparent restriction against this shown on the website, we deduced this was the only feasible transgression and so, in respect for Colin’s enthusiasm, I removed my glasses and took a selfie. In fact, I took several until I finally got one which got my head straight and eyes open. My mood was starting to fray. I struggled to transfer my portrait by Bluetooth to the laptop. More fraying. I eventually managed this and downloaded my details and the pic on the registration page. It told me off in glaring red, insisting that my picture exceeded the file limit of 100-500kb. I checked it. My picture came in at an intense
4,354kb. More fraying. I fumbled with the camera settings. Really getting quite frayed now. It gave me 4 ‘size’ options for future photos– the nearest I could convert the damn photo to was 33kb or an equally out-of-bounds 514kb. By now I was more frayed than a can-full of Fray Bentos pie. If you are younger or more able than me, I’m sure you would find it a cinch to add or deduct a few kbs from any picture, but I’m more capable of being able to name a song in this weeks Top-10 singles – if they still have it – than do that. Fray fray fray fray fray. I was about to throw laptop, camera et al in the bin when Colin messaged to suggest I email him the pic as he had the technology and gumption to make it fit. I did. Here is that follow-up pic:
One of the rules Glastonbury have set in their photo guidelines is ‘no open mouths’. Colin suggested this new pic could still breech the guidelines as my mouth could be considered open. Ridiculous! – I insisted that I barely had a tooth showing and point-blank refused to take another. I challenge anyone to expose less teeth when every sinew of their face wants to growl. He duly sent the kb-tastic picture back and I submitted it, banging the submit button far harder than I ought.
The email they sent me next day again did not specify the reason they rejected it, and Colin did rather well not to ‘I told you so’ me as he confirmed that his registration had been accepted. I took (yet) another picture, this time with my lips firmly shut, re-fraying my nerves as I struggled to remember how I’d finally got Bluetooth working the day before. Eventually I managed to send him another picture to be shrunk.
When next day that had been rejected as well, it was clear to me that God was on my side and simply wanted me to stay at home on next June’s Glastonbury weekend – and who was I, despite being the atheist that I am, to question his infinite wisdom. Colin thought otherwise and suggested I email Glastonbury and ask them exactly why they had rejected me. I really couldn’t be bothered to do this, but did it anyway. Next day they emailed me a copy of what they had received:
Maybe they had a point. I went through the registration process again and saw that while my downloaded, aged, angry but gob-shut face was there staring back at me, I hadn’t seen the tool that they insist you use to expand your haggard features to their optimum. I righted this wrong.
That was 2 days ago. I have received no further rejection emails. I can only assume I will be accepted, or have been reported to the authorities for submitting multiple applications. Time will tell.
Registration is only the first step. Apparently, millions more people go through this arduous on-line process than they have tickets to sell. Presumably this is geared to weed out the old, infirm and computer illiterate like me so only the beautiful people are able to attend. I think I may have beaten it by default. The next step will be the announcement of the date and time when all those who have actually managed to register can join the online bun-fight from which only a proportion of the fittest will emerge clutching expensive golden tickets. There is still a good chance we will fail and Martin and I will be able to feign our disappointment to Colin and look forward to perusing the TV schedules.
What will be will be.
I shall let you know – then after we’ve doubtless been to the Festival next year, tell you all why I am never going again.