He’s back, he’s ruder and more brilliant than ever – and he wrote this headline. Yes: it’s DELINGPOLE ON FRIDAY!!!


Never Trust A Hippy


On top of the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury this year you may have noticed a phoenix. And a very handsome phoenix it was too. In the middle of the Rolling Stones’ set it rose from the pyramid’s apex, stretched its metallic wings, turned its head to the audience and sprayed the night air with plumes of fire – thus ensuring that an already perfect Glastonbury moment went up a notch from ten to a perhaps unsurpassable eleven…

Well I thought so, anyway. So did my Boy standing next to me. And so did the people standing around us, all of them giving every appearance of having at least as good a time as we were.

“Yay! Fire-breathing phoenix!” everyone cheered. Not literally, perhaps. But definitely in their heads I’d say.

What nobody thought, we can be fairly sure, was: “Stupid phoenix! What an obscene waste of money and scarce resources. Why, for the cost of that ridiculous piece of mythical avian frippery you could have funded a permaculture workshop in every inner city primary school. Or an extra recycling bag for every home in Britain. Or a short film on YouTube about the tragedy of species loss. Or….”

No. No one thought this crap. Not even the hippies. And the reason they weren’t thinking this crap was because they were too busy enjoying themselves. They did not begrudge the phoenix its moment in the flames because it afforded them the kind of diverting but otherwise pointless visual spectacle which has delighted man since the dawn of time.

Whether it’s the sight of epic sea battles staged in flooded arenas and fought to the death by gladiators or 17th century masques by Inigo Jones or Billy Smart’s circus we do – and always have done – this stuff not because it’s strictly necessary to our survival but because it’s fun.

Fun. It’s one of the things that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. (Though they do say that dolphins shag for pleasure, not just procreation, don’t they? But apart from dolphins, and maybe monkeys, the point surely stands…) To question the need for fun – and art – and all the various other strange things we do to edify ourselves and distract ourselves from our mortality would be akin to questioning the very point of existence. Which is why, as a rule, we don’t question it. We happily accept it as part of what makes us who we are….

But enough philosophy. You’ll perhaps be wondering why I need to tell you stuff about the human condition which ought to be glaringly obvious to anyone with half a brain cell.

So let me explain, especially for the benefit of those of you who have never experienced Glastonbury, the cognitive dissonance that lies at the festival’s very core.

On the one hand it is a Dionysian riot of hedonism: the mind-bogglingly vast array of bands you really, really want to see, playing simultaneously on a multitude of stages, leaving you in a perpetual state of pleasurable option paralysis; the cider, the beer, the joints, the hash brownies, the chemicals to keep you going through the night; the splendiferous variety of surprisingly edible food from tartiflette to organic bread to falafels; the weird and wonderful performance acts in the theatre fields (people on stilts dressed as lion fish; trolls that come to give you a hug; pretend old ladies sitting on motorised shopping baskets, etc); the massages and chanting and stillness in the healing fields.

(Yes, the healing fields. There’s a version of events which would have it that the healing fields are somehow the antithesis of the Babylon of the more commercial areas below. Bollocks to that. They’re a much more pleasant place to hang out, that’s for sure. But, au fond, they’re just a different variety of self-indulgence, is all.)

On the other is what you might call the hippy bollocks element: the ostentatious sponsorship of Greenpeace and Oxfam; the permaculture section where you see a Hobbity house which cost just £300 to build and in which, it is implied, we’d all be so much happier than we do in our ghastly more expensive houses with their unnecessary TVs and flushing loos and central heating; the zone known as Left Field where you can go and hear activists like Ricky Tomlinson from the Royle Family and Billy Bragg banging on about the usual stuff; the stalls run by people who campaign against the badger cull; the oppressively right-on aura of suffocating left-wing rectitude.

And it really can be oppressive. (It’s one of the main reasons for taking drugs: to get so monged you shut it all out). For example, I was sitting with my boy, waiting to see Public Image Ltd play – and there was so much lefty agitprop broadcast on the screens either side of the stage I only narrowly avoided turning into Richard Littlejohn. Propaganda for Greenpeace; knocking ads designed to persuade you to hate G4S (personally I wanted to rush out there and then and invest in G4S shares); economically subliterate stuff about why, like, dropping the debt is the only way to go, man. The cultural assumption here was clear: “This is what we, the good people of the world, all think. Anyone who doesn’t agree with us is bad and wrong.”

But then one advert came on the screen that gave me heart. The advert told us that out of all the tents brought to Glastonbury last year 1 in 4 was left behind by people who just couldn’t be arsed to pack it up and take it home.

“Yes!” I thought. “YES!”

Why was I so glad? Not, to be honest, because I’m one of those comical, stereotypical villains of the left-wing imagination who genuinely glorifies in waste for waste’s sake. But simply because it illustrated that a heartening proportion of Glastonbury’s festivalgoers remains splendidly immune to all that grisly propaganda.

Here’s the truth about Glastonbury. (I know I’m not the first person to say this but still it can’t be said often enough). At its heart it’s a celebration not of Gaia or worthy causes or alternative lifestyles or any of that weekend hippy drivel but of raw, naked capitalism triumphant.

All those wonderful potential treats that leave you spending every moment of your time there so deliciously spoiled for choice (ooh, should I roll another spliff? Or check out Tom Odell? Or go for a chill-out at that nice place in the healing fields that does the Monmouth Street coffee?), that’s free market capitalism in action that is.

And that phoenix on top of the Pyramid stage. Yeah sure it was built out of recycled stuff by Joe Rush from the Mutoid Waste Company. But you think, what, that Joe wasn’t paid handsomely for his efforts? And you think Joe could have dedicated his whole life making cool animatronic stuff out of bits and bobs to dazzle pilled-up ravers at crusty techno extravaganzas if he hadn’t been born into a culture so sophisticated, so rich, so profligate with its division of labour that there was never any need for him to get proper job doing old-fashioned survival stuff like toiling in the fields or drawing water or building shelters?  And you think that the money that paid for Joe’s phoenix came from the proceeds of commune dwellers’ organic allotments and basket-woven handicrafts and vegan bakery collectives?

Did it hell.

I’ll always love Glastonbury. I have a huge soft spot for Michael Eavis. And the healing fields are by far my favourite bit of the festival site.

But to all those greenies and agitators and anti-capitalists who’ve stumbled upon this piece, got through to the end, and yet somehow failed to understand that everything they believe in, especially where Glastonbury is concerned, is a total sham I have a simple message of peace and love which goes like this:



10 comments on “He’s back, he’s ruder and more brilliant than ever – and he wrote this headline. Yes: it’s DELINGPOLE ON FRIDAY!!!

  1. superbowlpatriot
    July 12, 2013 at 12:45 am #

    Sounds like a great deal of fun, and welcome back!

  2. Eric Worrall
    July 12, 2013 at 3:18 am #

    The first time I met snoopy I was in the middle of an industrial estate. The factories – they were so beautiful! I could see we had to clear the forests to make way for more factories… 🙂

    Glastonbury might be an obvious sham to anyone who peaks even slightly beneath the surface, but its also like a religious event – a place where people who believe in cr@p can have their beliefs reaffirmed through ritual. And its a powerful ritual – it sucks in a lot of people.

    Some wise words from the book Atlas Shrugged:-

    “Nothing . . . Except that you shouldn’t have called Stadler.”

    “I kept feeling that I shouldn’t have,” she said, “but I didn’t know why.”

    “I’ll tell you why.” He leaned forward. “What he wanted from you was a recognition that he was still the Dr, Robert Stadler he should have been, but wasn’t and knew he wasn’t. He wanted you to grant him your respect, in spite of and in contradiction to his actions. He wanted you to juggle reality for him, so that his greatness would remain, but the State Science Institute would be wiped out, as if it had never existed–and you’re the only one who could do it for him.”

    “Why I?”

    “Because you’re the victim.”

  3. Hilton Gray
    July 12, 2013 at 9:02 am #

    Nice one James – spot on as usual. Have a good weekend!

    • Saul S
      July 12, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

      I second that James. Don’t leave it so long next time please.

      You don’t exactly mince your words normally, but your Bogpaper work is purest, least filtered of all your stuff.

  4. M.G
    July 12, 2013 at 2:36 pm #


  5. Fabian the Fabulous
    July 13, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    Always thought Glasto sounded like and effing nightmare, now you’ve confirmed it

  6. xmaseveevil (@xmaseveevil1)
    July 14, 2013 at 3:57 am #

    I’m disappointed that you used the word ‘monged’.

  7. john lord
    July 14, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

    There’s a lot to be said for old style religion and now that it’s more or less faded away and been replaced by a whole range of hippy dippy alternatives (socialism got only a brief stand in) mostly to do with the environment.
    And it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
    Punishment for the protesters who climbed the shard, is that they be made reclimb it using organic ropes, made from recycled Greenpeace leaflets.

  8. therealguyfaux
    July 16, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    “The advert told us that out of all the tents brought to Glastonbury last year 1 in 4 was left behind by people who just couldn’t be arsed to pack it up and take it home…”

    And of course, every blessed one of those tents was retrieved and given to some poor unfortunate victim of Fatcha and Toryism and the 1%, so that our rough sleeper might have protection from the elements. Recycling, you might want to call it…I believe it, so it must be so.

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