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 Windsor Fest account by a commune member.
   Some of the reasons we went to Windsor in 74 was that we were living in a commune nearby and since the festival was being organised by commune members in London , we had a mutual interest in new ways of creating communities. Plus it was just a short excursion on the train. We also wanted to show support for the concept of the festival . It seemed churlish of the commissioners not to give permission for the event to go ahead, as it was land that belonged to the people. Most of us thought that permisssion was refused because the site was near Windsor palace, and being anti royalists we could not give up a chance to thumb our noses at the Quoon and her hangers on. In addition, we believed in the concept of the gathering of tribes, the counterculture and alternative ways of doing things and it seemed that Windsor was one of the few places where this sort of thing was still going on. 
     Knowing full well the vile reputation of the Thames Valley Police, we all made damn sure that we were not carrying, as we were sure we could manage to find any necessities at the site itself . So bringing our brand new rainproof tent, ( note this fact, it will be important later )we set off to hopefully have fun . 

Ged and' the fist ', now in their 40's and not changed a bit !

   It was a major achievement for us to have actually succeeded in persuading my misses to go, as she hated any roughing it, and we knew there would be no toilets or anything else much in the way of facilities. Still ,she came willingly , along with her sister and her husband. They also brought their two young kids in tow. We also cannot forget the inclusion of our madcap friend the Time Tortoise , who came fully equipped in his skin tight drainpipe jeans and waist length hair.  It was very much a family event for us. The music really was quite incidental. I don't remember going to see any particular bands , although I was a minor Gong fan and I hoped I might see them play .
   As soon as we moved away from the road and walked into the site we met up with friends. It seemed as if half of my hometown was there , every few minutes of so we would bump into someone else we knew. It was like a homecoming ! The necessities of life were rapidly procured and we began to groove and have fun . There was very little music that I remember apart from Magma , who were damn good . Their performance happened sometime in the late afternoon. However, I have no accurate idea of what day we actually got there. It was probably the Saturday as we were both working , so we only had the two days in which we could attend.

The Loughborough contingent , your's truly seated , far left .

   From the moment we stepped off the train freaks were very evident . They were all over the place, the station the streets and the shops. But we felt good feelings in general from the locals, no nasty looks or comments. However, when we began to walk down to the festival site itself the number of police lining the road side was just HUGE. There seemed to be a policeman every 50 feet or so, it was somewhat  intimidating. I did not see anyone being frisked at the time, but it certainly gave the impression that they were there in incredible force and certainly, they could have easily stopped people from arriving at the site if they had wished to do so. 

The VAN,with Andy in pith helmet and Terry Smiff riding shotgun .

The site itself had little in the way of facilities, but was a beautiful park, a fabulous place for concerts, with a natural gently sloping area before the main stage. By this time there was a crowd of perhaps around five thousand which was comprised mostly of freaks , but with a fair sprinkling of people who probably would not fall into the Hippie category either. Older folks who were into alternative scenes possibly , beatnik remnants, rubberneckers who had come to see what the freaks were up to and of course , undercover police who could be spotted from a mile off as they had such short hair and crappy clothes. Still, very much a relaxed and freewheeling scene, but not many  structures as such ,although there may have been a teepee or two and I have a vague recollection of there being a Krishna tent of some sort. There were the stages , one of which by then was quite organised . There were lots of large trees to shelter under, some big bonfires which many people squatted round and rows of vans and trucks. .  

  We were looking to buy a van, as we wanted to be mobile and perhaps use it for light haulage or living in , so our eye was caught by an old BMC bread van that had a for sale notice propped up on the windshield, it looked in good condition, no rust, but still just painted white, no flower power paintings on the sides, so we had a chat with the owner, -who was a head - and he proposed that we went to take it for a test drive. 
  Lots of us piled in and off we went for a drive up the road. We passed many police, who ignored us completely , but when we arrived at the roundabout at the end of the festival site and turned back towards the festival, we were almost instantly flagged down by a police car and told to follow them off the road into a clearing near a police operations van . We all piled out and were then approached by a number of police , (some of whom were dressed as freaks) and asked if we were carrying drugs. 

    Now we were all well aware of this possibility happening before we left the site and we had all made sure that we completely clean ,so none of us were at all worried about this happening .We treated being frisked as a huge joke ( which must have endeared us with the police no end ) .We were told we would be frisked, so I foolishly start to jest , " oooh, this will be fun, I've never been frisked before " , which I suppose was as much an invitation for the fuzz to get on my case as me hanging a sign around my neck with "please hassle me unduly and give me a full body search " scrawled on it  ,but the guy who searched me was quite nice about it actually.

Not so the police woman who searched the ladies.

She spat 
"ok bitches, wheres the stuff " ,

to which the girls innocently replied (with wide eyes and voices pure as the driven snow)

" what do you mean by 'stuff '

"you know what I mean , where's the drugs "
Then to my wife, who had on a Rob Crumb badge we'd made bearing the slogan 
 " the aardvark kilt the john " emblazoned across its two inch face. 
what is this , some sort of secret drug code ? "
 which caused us all to fall around with mirth........ 

   Meanwhile , the drug squad heavies were pulling the van apart. Everything -clothes, books, cooking stuff, was chucked out the back onto the dirt and rummaged through. The food was checked to see if there were drugs in the containers , they tapped the panelling on the walls and appeared to want to rip it all out. One nasty guy in particular seemed to think there was good reason to do this and was all for impounding the van and getting tools to do the panelling in , but he was over ruled by someone else higher up the heirarchy. So we were told to clear off .We helped the driver put his stuff back into the van and we putt putted our way back towards the festival. . 

We were congratulating ourselves on how we managed to handle this and commisserating with the driver on how they trashed his van when he spoke. -" yeah "- he said flatly-" I was a bit worried, there's a big stash of acid under the stove . But that's the only thing they didn't move "
  We made the rest of the drive back in total silence. If they had found the stash we could all have spent the entire weekend ( or a lot longer ) in jail, even though we were all innocent. A really close shave. 

  We eventually negotiated with the driver to buy the van and arranged to pick it up from Norfolk when he got back home. Then back to the site to tell everyone how close we had come to being busted , more partying around the bonfires and then time to hit the hay in the tent. 

   I awoke to find a fine film of water on my face. 

Whaaa?  How come , we have a tent ?

  Well yes , we did have a tent , but one incapable of keeping out a steady downpour of rain. Sometime in the night it had started to rain and the new tent just let the water in . Not in drips, but enough to get everything thoroughly wet. So guess who had to go out in the wet and throw a narrow groundsheet over the top to create a strip of tent that didn't let in the water ?. No prizes for guessing !
So there were six of us huddled into a strip two feet wide and six foot long, which precluded sleeping , so as a consequnce we were all pretty tired . As the dawn came the rain did not let up and we were left with the problem of wanting to take a dump , but if we did this outside,  we all would have got soaked , so we improvised with a peanut butter container and we all took turns visiting friends tents whilst the other person used the toilet. Of course this did nothing for the air quality inside the tent , but it was probably less hassle than the bushes.
The whole site was pretty wet,and all our clothes were soaked , so we decided to split , as the kids were tired and wet and we needed to get back to work the next day anyway. The police were still lining the roadway, but did not search us on the way out . It had been fun, but I would have liked to stay longer ,as there seemed to be a lot of action going down that was interesting. 

   However, when I heard what went down later on in the week, I was glad we left when we did, especially since we had kids in tow. 

   We bought the van , The Time Tortoise went to Norfolk to pick it up. A month later, we were driving around London and I noticed the registration disc was missing. It had been a full years registration too and one of the reasons why we had bought the van in the first place. 

The bastard had removed it and got a refund !.

     So much for the brotherhood of love. I tell you folks it was for reasons like this that the counterculture failed - well, that AND the combined power of the CIA , Ronald McDonald and the Great Old Ones- but thats another story. ..... 
      Still , the van served the Time Tortoise for many years and as you can see above , it eventually received a full hippie paint job and carried many, many people to a lot more festivals .Curiously, Windsor was the first and only time it was ever stopped by the police and searched , which says a lot about the Thames Valley police and their hostile approach to long hairs .........


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