It’s Glastonbury weekend, the festival that the kids – and quite a few of their parents – have been looking forward to since the last one was held pre-Covid in 2019. Midlifers have been getting in on the festival season for years, but this does feel like a good opportunity to take a look at some rules that apply if you were there the night Hendrix played the Isle of Wight, or even when Oasis played Knebworth.
Glasto midlifers, this is for you. You will thank us for it.
You may have seen that the Killers were forced to halt their Manchester concert when a crowd-surfing 67-year-old got into difficulties. Their frontman, Brandon Flowers, rushed to his assistance and asked the snowy-haired Doug James what he was doing, to which he replied: “I’m enjoying meself.” Yes, well, he also hurt his head and freaked out the band.
As a general rule, it’s best to keep your feet on the ground and if you do get the urge to surge, imagine yourself red-faced and flailing like a flipped turtle on the giant screen monitors (this happened to us in our early 30s and it was bad enough then).
What you can do: Watch all the 20-somethings and marvel.
No Disinhibited Dancing
This may seem unnecessarily mean, judgey and ageist, until you see the person who is old enough to remember the Bump going through their moves in the crowd. Not to point any fingers, but Emma Thompson’s free-styling at that celebrity Adele concert should be a lesson to us all. It just doesn’t look the way it feels once you get to Emma’s time of life.
Lots of things don’t appear as cool as they feel with advancing years. Keith Richards’s bandana would be one. Vinyl trousers would be another. Wearing short-shorts and cowboy boots or big hats with sunglasses (drugged-up widow). Face paint, obviously. Arms in the air is fine, so long as you don’t get too trippy à la the Manson Girls – and never shut your eyes.
What you can do: Stationary medium-to-vigorous dancing.
No Faking Being A Super Fan
Yes, we are all Harry Styles fans now, but do we know more than a couple of lines of any of his songs? It’s not obligatory to be up to speed with all the bands’ lyrics, but don’t get caught out singing the wrong ones and/or trying to make them up (see Oprah failing to sing along to Hello at Adele’s One Night Only concert). “Never sing along unless you know the song or you will look like a twit” is a rule for all ages, but you’ll look roughly 90 per cent more of a twit if you’re a Boomer.
What you can do: Join in during the “nah nah nahs”.
No Pushing To The Front
Yes we know. It’s all part of the fun. The “follow me guys” long, slow snake closer to the stage. But in the heat of the moment midlifers forget that once they get to where they want to be, they will find themselves with arms pinned to their sides, cheek-to-shoulder with a sweat-saturated stranger. And then they will need water. And they’ll need to go to the loo.
Pushers of a certain age will be indulged by the young crowd and allowed to keep thrusting onwards simply out of kindness. (“Ah, it’s the plucky old people: let them through, bless them.”) It is their pity that has allowed you to get as far as you have and pretty soon you will want out and you won’t be able to get out.
What you can do: Stay within safe range of St John Ambulance facilities. Just kidding! (But you will want to be near the loos.)
No Getting Emotional
Just saying, if Glastonbury headliner Paul McCartney happens to sing Hey Jude (about John Lennon’s son Julian and apparently Lennon’s favourite McCartney song) with an image of Lennon on the screen behind him, we might blub – and we’re not even going to be there. Midlifers are inclined to get nostalgic at concerts. McCartney is a couple of decades-plus older than us, but he has become the bloke who has lived our lives: we were there just behind him (we weren’t; it just feels like it). But weeping is very bad and it will just look you’ve overdone the rosé.
What you can do: Sing along and hug your mates.
No Getting Down With The Kids
You are with the kids. Surrounded by kids on all sides. But any attempt to pass as an actual young person will do you no favours. We’re talking about peace signing in photographs, joining in the “F--- the Tories” chants (Jon Snow got carried away at one Glastonbury, as you will recall), or going on your husband’s shoulders.
Even if this feels like a hilarious idea in the moment, it will catapult you into Bad Look territory, not least because the shoulder rider must be prepared to jiggle and scream and hold a flag in the air – and your arms won’t be able to take it. Also, what about the poor old bloke carrying you? Obviously he has back problems and he’s probably on statins. He will last about four minutes, but the damage could last until Christmas. Longer.
What you can do: Wave and whistle.