How Areas at Glastonbury Would Rank Based on Standard of Living
All images by Chris Bethell

How Areas at Glastonbury Would Rank Based on Standard of Living

Everyone always goes on about the festival being like a city so we put that to the test.
June 23, 2017, 12:30pm

It's June. The pagans are flooding to the south-west of England, summer solstice is stretching out across the northern hemisphere and that time is upon us again. Glastonbury. The time of year when those who shop in Whole Foods and listen to Banco De Gaia find their floaty dreams becoming reality on a field in Somerset farmland. Yes, it's utopia – a lost city in the midst of a loads of fields, built on ancient lay lines. A place where ideas are exchanged; people are more open with one another. It sounds like the perfect place to live.


However, like the real world, there are a lot of different areas of Glastonbury. You can't house 200,000 people under one roof, ffs. For example, you're going to find a totally different person screaming into the night sky at 2AM, lit by the flames shooting out from Arcadia's 20-metre tall mechanical "spider" DJ stage than you would having a lovely cup of hibiscus tea near Williams Green in the late morning. But how do the festival's many areas rank against one another? If you were to imagine each one as a city, what would be its strengths? So, within Britain's progressive paradise, I decided to head around with something called the Social Progress Index, used to rank cities around the world, and see how the different areas of Glastonbury stack up against one another.


Average Age
Your dad, essentially, tapping his Gore-Tex boots and wholesomely nodding to the Foo Fighters.

We took this to the people, using mathematical problem-solving.

"If there are 200 cows on Worthy Farm. One-fifth of them feel like we need to prioritise getting rid of free movement in the Brexit deal. How many cows dislike David Davis?"

Lady in Hat: "Wait… What? Is that four out of five? Oh god. I should really know this, I'm an accountant. Christ… Just tell me."


Slapdash, unprecise – "too many ciders" cited as problem.

Sort of like being on Brixton Market, held down in an abyss of artisanal sourdough pizza bases. People actually eat here, at least, which is a problem for the famished twilight-living areas of Glastonbury. So that seems like progress.

An all-boys' hostel toilet; a neglected plughole - it's a smell that everybody knows, the Pyramid miasma. You see, as it's an area through so many different lines of people funnel, trying to access different parts the festival, you have to stand 'round and live within that bubble.

Personal Safety
Yeah, this is don't-need-to-lock-your-door, have-bust-of-Zac-Goldsmith, Barnes-level safety. Nothing bad has ever happened at the Pyramid Stage. Apart from James Bay.


There are no toilets! The spiritual realm is post-poo. There are no shits in the afterlife; eternal salvation is cleaner, albeit infinitely frustrating. This is nirvana.

I saw a wizard standing over a stall that sells pictures of Ed Sheeran's face – these are plastered over the whole festival. So, you could probably quite easily get a sense of how many non-white people you'll find round these parts.



"I have 81 hairs on my face. What is the square root of them?"

Smiley man: "Well… nine. I think? I also think you're being generous about that."


Access to Advanced Education
Where else can you hear CND arguments in one ear and tantric fucking in the other?


Health and Wellness
I saw a man from Dundee staring into space, jaw with a mind of its own, saying how he should have brought wellies. There is plenty of "leg day!" lower body exercise to be taken trying to get from one side of Shangri-La to the area after it's rained, but at the sunny start of the festival this year that's not a reality yet.

If you get in early enough, there are a smattering of places in which to find a roof over your head. But it's probably gonna be plastered with street art delicately painted in a Hackney Wick office from a Banksy mood board, so do with that what you will. Each year this part of the festival runs under a specific theme related to a story – this year: "ENVIRON-MENTAL" – and literally everything in the area will be shouting that theme at you with art and performance.

A world away from craft ale farts; welcome to the armageddon of cocaine shits.


I go in with the big guns here, approaching this couple who've quite clearly nicely protected their heads from the heat all day. "It's reported that 175,000 people attend Glastonbury," I say. "This figure has been rounded to the nearest thousand. What is the minimum and maximum number of people who could've attended Glastonbury?" I ask, smiling glibly.

"Well" – they start hurriedly doing sums. "That'll be 174,500 minimum…" she says.
He continues. "And… I wanna say 175,499?"


Gobsmacked. Shangri-La is the Mensa meeting point of Glastonbury. The dream factory.

Personal Freedom and Choice
It's an open place… particularly If you're on drugs. If you're not on drugs, it's like standing in a playhouse, sipping imaginary tea while babysitting your niece and nephew. You've got to just get into whatever "environ-mental" stuff is happening, or leave.


Health and Wellness
The Other Stage is impossibly reminiscent of Birmingham. The second city; the second stage. The people, downtrodden, constantly reminding you of why the Other Stage has its own values, while they sip Strongbow and think about mortality. There's no yoga or healing here. Just open up that lukewarm cider and have another sip, go on.

Personal Safety
A slightly rougher version of the Pyramid stage. A punk, complete with leather jacket and mohican yells, "Brexit!" punching the air.

A triumph. Easy to find and, as they're in the open air, smell not so jarring.


"So, my friend. What is the next number in this sequence: 1, 4, 9, 16…"

"Oh fuck. I have absolutely no idea. 24?"

"One away, my friend. 25."



Environmental Quality
Clandestine, bizarre, tepid; kind of like the Prisoner if it had starred Daniel Craig. To be fair, a high proportion of visible bins and a general state of tidyness.

Tolerance and Inclusion
Somewhat of a gated community. It only functions if it's non-inclusive. There's always a door that you can't get access to. People sit around tuning into the wifi, charging their phones and drinking complimentary coffee, waiting for a hot take on the appropriation of the festival to come alight. Or tweet pics of Ian Beale.


Transport links
Imagine a parallel universe where you have a flat in Soho. This is that. Positioned between the Pyramid Tent and the Other Stage, it's at the heart of the festival, containing a shortcut we're not allowed to really tell you about which makes life so much easier when the farm's soil turns into a swamp.

Well, it's stunning. It's obviously spotless. But you feel dirty for doing it; like accepting free furniture of your Tory sister-in-law. The portable toilets here are sort of like the ones you get when you go to someone's wedding out in the countryside and the inside of the cubicle's got a bit of faux-gold lining going around it. The toilets flush that neon blue liquid.


"If one journalist uses the same tired reference to 90 people at Glastonbury," I ask, "and one in five of them laugh, how many people have heard it before?"

"Presuming that those who laugh haven't heard it before?"


"72. I'm not daft."

Consider me schooled.


A very scientific reading of this data shows the areas would rank as below, from highest standard of social progress to lowest:

Healing Fields
Other Stage

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