More Glorious Mud

The festival site turned into a quagmire despite the £100,000 Michael Eavis spent on a new drainage system, but the national media unanimously proclaimed Glastonbury 2007 a muddy, marvelous success.

Judgment on the new system may be a little premature, as the U.K. was hit by a monsoon season that brought floods that forced people from all over the country to evacuate their homes.

In Cheltenham and Gloucester, both a little north of the festival site at Pilton, rivers of water flowed through the town centres and fire and rescue crews worked round the clock to cope with the damage.

"The drainage system did work and the ground would have been a lot worse without it," Eavis told Pollstar as thousands of fans were still leaving the site and some cars were being towed from the muck by tractors.

"It was torrential rain for hours and with 177,000 pairs of feet tramping around, it’s bound to get muddy. I heard it’s the wettest June for 150 years, but there was no flooding like two years ago because the system worked."

Reacting to newspaper reports of being applauded by soaking wet fans as he toured the site in his land rover, he said, "I feel a bit bad about it really. I ought to walk but I can’t walk without being stopped every 20 yards or so because people want to chat or have me sign their programs.

"It’s a bit embarrassing for me really and particularly moving for someone of my age," Eavis said. "These people aren’t all here pretending to enjoy themselves – they are enjoying themselves despite the rain and the mud. Isn’t that extraordinary?

"I think Glastonbury is an antidote to the terrible weather we’re having. Some people called me from Spain and said they’d swap all the sunshine they’re having if they could just be part of the Glastonbury culture."

Fans even tried stopping Eavis’ land rover tour, trying to shake his hand through the window, breaking into applause and shouting "Thank you" as he drove past, the Guardian reported

"Hello, hello, sorry about the rain," he reportedly replied, before turning to reporters and saying, "They all love it so much. What I don’t understand is, why does no one ever complain?"

On Monday afternoon, as the site was beginning to clear, a spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said, "We’re at the festival and working with the organizers and Mendip District Council to help ensure the welfare of festival-goers leaving the site.

"Provisions and contingencies between all agencies involved in the festival are being used to ensure festival-goers have as quick and safe a journey home as possible.

"Should their wait become longer, further contingencies are in place to ensure their welfare."

Police handed out 3,000 space blankets to those trying to get home, and the Red Cross was treating queues at the railway station at Castle Cary.

There were 237 reported crimes throughout the event, down on the last staging in 2005, while the only fatality was Saturday night, when a 26-year-old died of a suspected drug overdose.

Dame Shirley Bassey, who appeared June 24th, was lucky to escape when the helicopter taking her back to London had to make a forced landing because of the extreme weather conditions.

It touched down at 8 p.m. amid howling winds and rain in the grounds of Collingwood College in Camberley, Surrey.

The 70-year-old diva reportedly clambered from the chopper in Wellingtons, saying, "We are so sorry to have bothered you. May I please use someone’s toilet? And a cup of tea would go down a treat."

Among the other acts who turned up to play for Eavis, who was made an MBE in the recent Queen’s Birthday Honours List, June 22-24 were The Who, Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, The Killers, Arcade Fire, Amy Winehouse, Paolo Nutini, Kasabian, Björk, and Iggy & The Stooges.