In the town of Glastonbury, paranoia about the travellers’ camp at Greenlands Farm – see Greenlands Farm – Part 1 – was reaching fever pitch, for the “Children of the Rainbow Gathering” was now gathering pace.
As far as stout Glastonburgers were concerned, Woodstock II was imminent. As far as the police were concerned, the Monmouth Rebellion had returned to haunt them and nervous reconnaissance patrols fanned out across the Somerset Levels, seeking anything suspicious … such as crowds of peasants waving pitchforks.
The next day, in a muddy Sedgemoor rhyne, a police scout found a book by John Michell called Stonehenge, its Druids, Custodians, Festivals and Future. It listed an exotic medley of mysterious groupings that claimed a behind-the-scenes “involvement” with the annual Stonehenge Festival. With this discovery, a frisson of fear tingled through the higher echelons of the local constabulary. Their colleagues in Wiltshire had only recently suppressed the Stonehenge Festival, and the suspicion now was that these hitherto unknown groups might also be coming to Greenlands, bent on revenge. Their anxiety was heightened when forensic examination of the book revealed minute traces of Bronze Age burial-mound.
The orders were hurriedly changed. Smock-wearing peasants were now to be almost ignored. The new search was for any and all of the following: the Magical Earth Dragon Society, Polytantric Circle, the Ancient Order of Pagans, Pendragon Circle, the Union of Ancestor Worshippers, Devotees of the Sun Temple, Mother Earth Circle, the Family, the Tibetan-Ukrainian Mountain Troupe, the Church of Immediate Conception, the Tipi Circle, the Wallies, the Free High Church and the Rainbow Warriors.
Most of the constables griped and grumbled at this. How were they supposed to spot such people? A peasant is easy to recognise, but what might an Ancestor Worshipper look like, or a priest of Immediate Conception? Some muttered darkly that the only “Wallies” to be found were those in the rank of Chief Inspector and upwards.
Trawling books on everything from the Arabian Nights to The Fabulous Legends of Chimera, police artists issued streams of fanciful drawings based on what were called “mytho-type profiles”. Jungian psychologists and professors of anthropology were flown in by helicopter to give advice; and two junior constables went missing, lost on the moors, never to be seen again until much later (in fact several years later, but that’s another story). However, and as history records, it was all to no avail.
The police effort was not helped by the strict need for secrecy – the general public (at least those outside the borders of Avalonia) were not, at this stage, to be panicked.
This approach was soon rendered academic when an article – Stonehenge: Summer Solstice & Autumn Equinox – appeared in the Glastonbury Ex-Communicator. Written by “Dominic the Drunk”, it stated:
“The police have denied us our summer celebration, our release valve, and the meeting place of all our tribes. Let it be known that our frustration will increase and we will vent it through your regimes. GO TO HELL, PIG !!!! …. Ali Bom, A.C.A.B.”
It was like toothpaste. Once out, it couldn’t be squeezed back in, especially the red stripy bits like “vent”, “regimes” and “HELL”.
The National Dailies had a field day, the TV stations went overboard and the Radio Networks exploded. As for Satellite TV …… well, it hadn’t been invented then. But if it had been invented then – and in retrospect it might easily have been – I’m absolutely sure it would have rocketed completely out of orbit. Anyhow, Cable TV went totally haywire and I think this proves the point very much more than adequately.
Now faced with a media interest of truly volcanic proportions, a Mr Charley Barley took the opportunity to issue a press release, saying: “The Free State of Avalonia is upon us, sponsored by the divine state of Discordia. Hail Eris. Arise Avalonians, let us strive to manifest our excellence. Blessed are the Green, for they shall inherit the earth. Fly Avalonian Dream Time. Gets you to the right place in the right mind.”
The Fourth Estate scarcely knew what to make of this. Or rather they knew what to make of it – BIG NEWS – but they didn’t know what the underlying “it” was, far less what the hell Mr. Barley was babbling on about.
However, whilst they hadn’t a clue as to what Mr. Barley meant, the media did feel vaguely honour bound to inquire as to whom he was speaking for. They were also confused by the long list of groupings that had already started to leak, in dribs and drabs (but mostly dribs), from disgruntled police officers. Their curiosity was rewarded by a further press release, which stated that, “WE have been here since before the beginning, and there are more of us where we come from.”
Unfortunately, not everyone at Greenlands Farm was content with the dulcet tones of Mr. Barley’s representations. Burning Spear D’Albion, for example. As a Stonehenge Freedom Fighter extraordinaire, he staged a press conference “in the mud”, as he put it. Standing before the assembled journalists on a makeshift platform of apple crates, he began politely enough, proclaiming, “Greetings to the Good People of Glastonbury”.
But then, perhaps feeling that he’d gone too far with this statement, or maybe irritated by the popping flash-bulbs, his humour changed. He glared at the media throng and said, “Why are they frightened I ask?”
By “they” he apparently meant the general public, but in any case the question was clearly rhetorical and his answer followed directly.
“It is because we cannot be controlled by the politics of oppression. We haven’t got any nice cosy niches that can be destroyed by implication of our abnormality or criminality. We don’t subscribe to the notion that there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or that the top of the pile smells sweeter than the rest.”
He shifted his glare down to the mud, then looked up again.
“We don’t live on the pile and we are the rainbow and are untouchable by them because they can’t kill our spirit. They have good cause to be frightened of us as we despise all that they represent, and represent all they despise.”
With that, he spat sideways, jumped abruptly off the crates and stomped squelchily away into the orchard. There was a shocked silence, broken only by the beat of a tom-tom drum somewhere off in the trees.
This frozen moment didn’t last long, for another mud-caked denizen of Greenlands clomped unsteadily onto the platform and launched into a doom-laden harangue.
“We are the Diggers up here,” he shouted, “trying to reclaim the common land. We are sitting here, angry, amongst the lost tribes of Albion. The truth is sitting up here, dirty but happy amongst the confusion of Greenlands, while the cities burn again and again. The whole searing, screaming, frightening, powerful anger which found a voice in punk-rock.”
Here the speaker broke into something like song, crying, “I am the anti-Christ. I am an anarchist!”
The journalists were fascinated by this swaying figure, who now began to wave his arms wildly, thrashing the air and obviously warming to his theme.
“There is darkness wherein we are drunken fools, not noticing the damage we cause. Mopping up the blood and vomit, trying to heal the wounds etched in our flesh by a sick society. Our flesh is scarred by cigarette burns and razor slashes, by the tracks of needles and broken bottles.”
At this, one or two members of the press began to glance uneasily around them, possibly checking for exit points from the orchard, just in case. The speaker seemed to notice this, for his tone became more plaintive.
“We need this place, this space to become whole. We need freedom to scream and scream into the blind light. To let our children grow. The world that dies isn’t just all the things like fast food and tower blocks and cruise missiles. It is also the world of ‘spirituality’, the old forms of magic and religion. Whatever purpose they had in the past is over!”
With this, the orator chopped the air decisively with his right hand. His voice grew harsher.
“Digging a shit-pit is a meditation. Like digging your own grave. Flushing a toilet doesn’t change the shit, it just moves it elsewhere. Moving us on will not help, not now. We are your Brixton, your Handsworth, your Soweto, your nightmare, and your task is to understand us, to confront the fears we embody. For we are your projections, as you are ours. Will you come and trash us again up here? Or play nice, polite, New Age games to remove us? We are mad, bad and dangerous, and if you don’t watch out we will get you!”
Satisfied with this, he pulled a can of Special Brew from a tattered pocket and ripped off the tab. Throwing back his head, he took a long glug, jumped off the boxes and staggered away.
This was clearly not a message designed to reassure the Good People of Glastonbury. The assembled media could hardly believe their luck, for, as they say in the trade, “there’s no news like bad news”. And though they might not get a headline to compete with “Sex-Change Bishop in Mercy Dash to Palace”, it would be a close run thing.
In the scramble to break the bad news first, it was also a close run thing as to which media hack got to their vehicle quickest, but the woman from The Daily Mail might just have shaded it. With a roar of engines and a screech of tyres, the pack of news-hounds raced down the narrow lane, trailing clouds of dust …
 A type of drainage ditch.