David Taplin wrote a wonderful guest piece back in May for Normal For Glastonbury about Glastonbury Town in the Seventies. Since then he and his partner Fran have moved to Street, just down the road. We’ve met up a couple of times – I’m really enjoying making new friends through the blog. I asked David if he’d share some of his thoughts about how Glastonbury has changed over the last forty odd years (eek) and he kindly obliged…..
Fran and I are fast becoming Street-wise. For a brief while, we wondered whether Hot Fuzz was actually a documentary, with the charming, laid-back and friendly locals finally morphing into casually homicidal maniacs obsessed by the “Greater Good” (I’m not sure the Green Party has actually done itself any favours by adopting that as a slogan – didn’t any of them see the film?) or of even being led out into the fields to see a huge Wicker Man waiting for us, but after six or so weeks here we’ve finally realised that the charm is real, and that what we’d assumed to be normal in the London area is itself pretty maniacal.
Every neighbour, every shopkeeper, every publican – you name it – has been almost embarrassingly sweet and generous to us. We have admittedly been given to understand that the holiday-home people are a tad less welcome than permanent dwellers, but that’s understandable, and it of course gives us a chance to be slightly snooty and smug about them too.
Before moving to Somerset, admittedly, we wanted to be right in the middle of Glastonbury, with all the jollity happening on our doorstep, but now it seems a prudent move to be able to dive in, have fun and then quietly retreat down the road, which we did the other day, being amazed by the Fairy Fair, amused by the Zombie Walk and then settling down again in our peaceful little stone living-room and getting our breath back.
After the recent spate of rather dark news, (see Anti Social Behaviour in Glastonbury Town) It was with a small degree of trepidity that we initially went mooching around Glastonbury High Street, half-expecting scrumpified naked psychos to be running up and down the road, but after lingering in the churchyard, loitering in the Co-Op, haunting the Gauntlet and almost wearing out the smile of the Big Issue lady (which takes some doing) all we experienced was the customary relaxed friendliness we’ve come to expect over years of visiting here.
It’s wonderful to see Glastonbury still moving on and opening new prospects; seeing the old smelly Morlands factory
To us, Street and Glastonbury seem really well balanced (“Same place, really, just different” as our taxi-driver – yup, also charming – told us on the way home the other night), and Street has clearly cheerfully absorbed at least some of the Glastonbury ethos (a Crusty Juggler was even spotted here the other week, though he’s not been seen since, “…the Greater Good…” ) whilst remaining the place to buy everyday stuff like wellies, nails, and socks and leaving the crystals and wizards’ staffs to Glastonbury.
We’ve had to have a few minor repairs done to the house, and it’s amusing to note that the only VAT we’ve encountered is the one full of delicious local cider in the farm just down the road; we were travelling last week (after a visit to wondrous Wells cathedral) behind a large white company van which declared “NO VAT” on its back door, and this was clearly not some kind of protest but actually a proud working commitment.
Just as the people we have been in our past are still alive within us, the Glastonbury I first knew and loved 45 or more years ago seems to me very much still alive within the current town; it’s like having a foot in two worlds simultaneously (rather appropriate for this place, perhaps). Since we’ve been here – and mostly under cloudless blue skies – we’ve wandered the vast (and potentially dangerous!) beach of Burnham, envisaged Alfred gazing out from Burrowbridge Mump, followed the Sweet Track on the Avalon Marshes, sat again on the dreaming Tor (every visit still making identification of distant landmarks more easy), renewed our love for the Chalice Well Gardens and the Abbey Grounds and also discovered St Margaret’s Chapel and Alms Houses; and still the famous Frost Fair and the starling murmurations beckon. Is this all a lovely dream, and will we wake up sometime soon back in dreary High Wycombe? I do hope not.
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