I recently received an email from Normal For Glastonbury reader David Taplin, he’s been visiting the town since he was a young hippy in the seventies. He’ll shortly be moving back this way – to Street this time. He sent me a fascinating and funny account of his time here and agreed to me sharing it with you, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.
“I was in and out of Glastonbury between 1971 and 1973 for varying lengths of time, initially attracted by the usual tales of extraordinary myths set in extraordinary landscapes. I spent not a few nights in the tower on the Tor – once in an apocalyptic-style thunderstorm chanting the Hare Krishna mantra all night with half a dozen others and expecting imminent and dramatic death by lightning-strike every minute.
Mostly I was a guest of friends in a caravan parked on the Godney Road. In those days, caravans were parked semi-permanently in lay-bys all round Glastonbury’s outskirts, much to the disgust of certain locals, who would regularly hurl stones and other missiles at the vans on their way home after closing time. On one occasion, a stone shattered the window of a caravan and showered the baby sleeping inside with broken glass, luckily causing no physical harm. Once, we thought we were ready for them and surrounded a car which stopped outside at 11.30 one Saturday night (not that being menaced by half-terrified hippies armed with little more than righteous anger would have been much of a threat to burly drunken farmers’ sons) only to find a desperately apologetic innocent who’d stopped to tell us she’d just run over our cat.
Memories of that time are a tad disconnected and vague (well, we might have been a little stoned just occasionally). A poor girl hanged herself from a tree branch in a hippie camp in Wick Hollow. A band called Welfare State played live in Wirral Park. We visited a squat in the Assembly Rooms and went to evening lectures in the then Abbey Cafe by mystic luminaries such as John Michell and David Phillips. It was in a kind of terrapin hut in the, then, Lamb car park and run by a lovely couple called Chris and, I think, Aileen. The jukebox in there seemed permanently stuck on a single by Duncan Browne called “Journey”, at least during ‘72.
If we ever strayed into any pub other than the Lamb (now the Who’d a Thought It) or the Rifleman’s (which I believe was long ago called St. Michael’s Inn) we were firmly and immediately told to leave. We
And then there was Rollo the Druid, cycling around in clanking armour – once while I was at a birthday party in Street, he appeared dramatically in the kitchen in full shiny kit and brought a huge sword crashing down on the birthday cake on the table. It failed
Fond memories too of cycling over to West Pennard to sample and buy half-gallons of semi-psychedelic scrumpy from a farm; then wobbling our way back to the Godney Road with demijohns swinging from the handlebars and the road appearing to swim ahead of us. Invincible? Us?
Some of my friends in the caravans had in fact
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All photographs copyright Mike Lidgley.