Monday 25 June 2007

The air of exodus is palpable as we walk through the thinning tents, people trudging uphill, the only ones not heading for the exits being—us!! We and our kin, the recycling teams, have these people’s crap to pick up. And it is a duty we do until it’s too late to get home, so, we’d decided, it was best to stay another night.

Evening comes. We feast for the last time on the bizarre veggie food our free meal tokens can procure. We decide to go for a walk.

We’ve got magic workers’ wristbands, so we take a short-cut down a service road, nodding genially and showing our forearms to the security man in robotic synchrony. There’s a tall temporary fence to our left. We keep walking. Then, we find a gap. It’s tempting. The Sun is setting attractively behind the Tor over a landscape of abandoned tents. We step cautiously over the threshold onto the open hilltop. It looks a bit like this panel of fence has blown over. Tentative, we look around, and are finally captivated by the view.

From our left, a snivelling, orange-jacketed creature ambles awkwardly. Over his slightly hunched back falls a lank, dark ponytail. He communicates with us slightly incomprehensibly, but we get the impression that we’ve accidentally stepped into somewhere we shouldn’t have. We apologise and turn to leave, only to find that the fence has magically repaired itself behind us. With the help of slightly agitated instruction from our hunchbacked, Gollum-esque security guard we take the only other route the Hell out of there and walk down the hill, away from the small knot of marquees and vehicles he was presumably defending.

Stepping through the waste left in the wake of the festival-goers, we forget entirely about the odd but apparently harmless encounter.

It’s not until we’re sheltered from view in a small, slightly wooded area that we hear the Land Rover. We step automatically off the road to avoid being run over. It skids to a halt behind us. We turn around. In the front are a driver, and one of the fattest, baldest men I have ever seen. “What were you doing in our fucking compound?!” bawls Baldy, eloquently.

Gollum leaps from the back of the Land Rover, shuffling uneasily towards us, pointing and hissing: “It’s them, master, it’s them!” He is accompanied by about four ’ard-looking mates. I am not sure exactly how many there were. By this stage I was too busy shitting myself to count them.

One of them starts squaring up at me. He tries staring me out. I look nervously away, and glance back, to find him still staring. We do our well-practised spiel of apology, explaining that we’d stepped through to look at the sunset and hadn’t meant any harm. We explain that we’re recyclers, and thus allowed to be here.

“Well, recycle somewhere fucking else!!” bawls Baldy, eloquently.

There is a little more mutual staring. Uncomfortable shuffling on both sides.

Then, with a twitch of his goatee, Baldy orders his henchmen back into the Land Rover. They jump back in, Gollum scurrying behind.

We walk off, briskly, slightly rattled. The Land Rover speeds past, splashing mud at us in a vindictive fashion, though I consider, between surges of adrenaline, that it’s unlikely that Baldy, Gollum or any of the henchmen know what “vindictive” means.

It would appear that the contextual beard says “fight me!” to any hired thugs giving you the once-over. Bunch of wankers.

I can only imagine the beating the rest of the henchmen gave to Gollum when it turned out that two of the “dangerous intruders” to the “precious compound” turned out to be girls, and the other an odd-looking beardy chap in a fluorescent yellow “I am not a thief because you can see me up to three miles away” jacket. I hope he got it good.

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