Access All Areas June 2019 - Page 30

JUNE | COVER FEATURE M oments into Access’ meeting with Michael Eavis at Worthy Farm, and already he’s focusing on the minutiae of his working life – weighing the pros-and-cons of the various engines suitable for his waste powered generator. A “good, reliable British Rolls- Royce model” wins particular praise. Still identifying as a farmer first, event organiser second, Eavis – toned legs jutting from his trademark shorts – looks proudly up at his farmland as he steps into his muddied Land Rover Defender. As we enter his house – a stone’s throw from a skeletal iteration of the Pyramid Stage – Eavis is discussing the early start he had today, during which he learnt that First Great Western had named a new train after him: The second train bearing his name, no less. (The first ‘HST No. 43026 Michael Eavis’ was Christened in 2015). Eavis’ nominal designation, and a Glastonbury logo, will appear on the side of the new locomotive when it speeds between Paddington and nearby Castle Cary station to drop off more than 15,000 festival goers. The honour was bestowed after Eavis beat 99 ‘Great Westerners’ in a public vote. Referencing the famous equine competition that occurred the day before, he quips: “I feel like the Grand National horse that just won twice. I’m very pleased.” We sit down for tea under the projector in Worthy Farm’s own cinema in the Alice Rooms, renovated in 2016 in what was once the milking parlour. 30 of the red velvet seats we’re perched on once graced the Little Theatre in Wells, whilst the back row of VIP seats come from Glastonbury’s own ‘Cineramageddon’. The room is warmed, Eavis proudly notes, by electricity produced from cow slurry. This passion for sustainability and re-using found objects no doubt led Eavis to greenlight one of the Festival’s regular highlights, the Arcadia Spectacular – an ingeniously devised light and sound show featuring a giant spider made from ex-military machinery and industrial components, which began in 2014. Eavis reflects on the inception of this Arachnidan attraction, which now tours the world as a standalone act: “We get 100 ideas pitched to us, and we look at each of them and see who’s for real. Arcadia’s founders came to us as total strangers and wanted me to lend them £20,000. I said: ‘What have you done before?’ And they said: ‘Nothing. But we’re going to build a big thing from cranes, and we’ll do a show for you for nothing, and if Michael Eavis now has two trains named in his honour 30 the show’s a disaster, you get to keep the scrap metal, which is valued at £10,000 – so you’re only losing £10,000 maximum’. Not a bad pitch that was it?! So I said: ‘Give me the name of the auctioneer, and then I’ll cut you a cheque’.” This nurturing but pragmatic approach seems typical of Eavis. And talking to individuals around the Glastonbury site, we get a feel for his uncompromising but stoic inclinations. One employee regales us with an anecdote recounting a time when a hot-headed tradesman fell afoul of Glastonbury’s structure guidelines, forcing Eavis and his team to physically dismantle his marquee on site. The tent owner’s rage then escalated into action when he smashed a large nearby rock through the window of Eavis’ 4x4. Undeterred, Michael continued pulling pegs from the ground as if nothing had happened. This Zen-like attitude no doubt helped Glastonbury become the behemoth it is today, covering 1,100 acres (500 football pitches) and generating an economic impact in excess of £73m. It’s a legacy that – on the day he had a second train named after him – Eavis is keen to reflect on: “The impact of the Festival is huge. The guys behind Boomtown all started here, so did companies like Serious Stages and much of the festival industry. I was talking