I wasn’t at Glastonbury, can you tell? I have no crown of flowers, no newfound lifelong friendship with a man called Cosmo who I met in a tree, and I have only been sleeping on the floor for the benefit of my back.
I’ll probably never go to Glastonbury, I’ve now been forced to realise, or at least not until I have three children and a camper van (“so nobody can stop you going to bed at 11pm! Well, except the children,” as my boyfriend put it) plus the means to casually spend £200+ on a holiday that leaves you more knackered than you were when you went*.
But if ever I were to go to Glastonbury, it should have been this year. For Dolly. If the queen of country can pull on her whitest rhinestoned pantsuit and get down and dirty in the mud (ok, near the mud) then in hindsight I probably could have sucked it up, bought an industrial-sized bottle of antibac gel and joined her.
I certainly would have looked more at home weeping along to Here You Come Again in the middle of the swaying crowd at Worthy Farm than I did just now, alone with iPlayer in my bedroom, cry-singing it to Mabel, my disembodied mannequin hat stand. But the truth is Dolly transcends location. The “dirt poor” farmer’s daughter with 11 siblings from the Smoky Tennessee Mountains whose talent can inspire, let’s say, a simple girl from Sussex to follow her dreams all the way to the big city. By which I mean finding a hairdresser who understands the exact shade of blonde highlights I’ve always wanted.
It’s funny that in recent years, the acts attracting the most love at Glastonbury have been so gleefully un-rock and roll. Beyoncé in gold sequins, Stevie Wonder singing Happy Birthday, The English National Ballet’s tribute to the first world war…. and Dolly, a tiny lady with a voice as big as her heart.
And I’ll have none of this miming nonsense, thank you. When I saw her at the O2 in 2011, her astoundingly pure 65-year-old voice filled the arena with ease for two hours. We danced, we swayed, we laughed, we cried. The souvenir tea towel I bought that night is still among the top three tea towels in my (extensive) collection.
Plus, even rarer among modern artists, Dolly gives between-song chat as great as the music itself - from her famous anecdote about the real ‘Jolene’ to quips about modelling her appearance after “the town tramp”, she never misses an opportunity to display the wit and warmth beneath the wig and rhinestones. While she’s always joyfully upfront about her penchant for surgical enhancement, Dolly knows how to keep it real.
*It’s the ultimate modern luxury, in a way, splurging on weekend breaks that are going to leave you tireder, grumpier, dirtier and probably more in need of another holiday. Give me a festival with a breakfast buffet, several rooftop tours of cathedrals and the chance to sit down and have an ice cream every 20 minutes and we might have a deal.