Fest account by a commune member.
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
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
and' the fist ', now in their 40's and not changed a bit !
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 .
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
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
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. .
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.
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.
"ok bitches, wheres the stuff "
to which the girls innocently
replied (with wide eyes and voices pure as the driven snow)
do you mean by 'stuff '"
know what I mean , where's the drugs "
Then to my wife, who had on a Rob Crumb badge we'd made bearing the
" 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........
, 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.
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 . "
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.
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 !.
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
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 .........