Was I gone for five days, an entire week or maybe two? The daylight seemed endless, the sun rising no sooner had it set; there was no routine, no schedule, no deadlines. Always something else on the horizon, another dark corner being filled with light and life. It was never ending.
The scale of this thing is so large and so incomprehensible, it is impossible to grasp from the ground. It's a city, like no other anywhere in the world. It breathes life into you rather than take it away. The land may well produce dairy for most of the year but this week it breeds euphoria. You are hit by it the moment you arrive, as if the excitement wasn't enough.
As one MC kept telling us in the dark bowels of Block 9, "This is Glastonbury, yeah. "
You can't argue with that. It is. It's a one off. And most pertinently for me, it is my first.
There is a difficulty returning to normality after spending your days whimsically flitting between the stages full of bright lights and rich sounds, the colourful array of cuisine and the impromptu performances ranging from comedy, cabaret, magicians and circus acts.
Adjusting back to the daily grind is something harder than it should be. Returning to traffic jams where cars grunt and battle it out for every scrap of tarmac, where commuters on trains barge and sneer, fighting over a seat on the train, a beeping sign, flashing incandescently like a lighthouse to warn travellers of the overcrowded tube station platform below the surface. Gone is the incredible sense of community where starting conversations with strangers isn't a sign of madness but par for the course, and offering to help your neighbour isn't greeted as though you're about to take them down an alley to beat and rob them, but welcomed - and where possible the generosity returned.
You get back to your desk and there is a long list of things awaiting, "Hey Kris, I know you're probably recovering from Glastonbury but there is this show this week and we'd really like to see you down there, we really think you'll dig them." Will I though? Is that near derelict venue in East London high in both beer price and pretentiousness really going to compare to where I have just returned from? How could I ever possibly feel a connection with music again, when at my lowest ebb of the weekend, feeling like I'd given everything I had to this festival, my spirit was awoken and revitalised by a vegetarian curry and a reggae group called The Congo's. Two things that I wouldn't have tried normally if you'd sent me two dozen emails inviting me.
These were the best moments of Glastonbury, the ones you don't expect to be good. Like leaving twenty minutes into the Arctic Monkeys set to head into Shangri La to see a band I'd never heard before but which became the highlight of my entire festival. Swedish group Goat are not your average band: identities obscured and influences eclectic to say the least. Psyche rock, afro-beat, funky riffs and screeching vocals make for one hell of a compelling noise, and with the band's two front-women captivating the small, intimate audience there was no way you couldn't be entranced. Like a tribe of Neanderthal cavemen, the crowd salutes every roar from the giant flame-throwers that line the walls of the Hell Stage. This was one of the greatest live things I've seen, perhaps even the pinnacle of my music watching life.
While some highlights don't involve regressing to a state of consciousness where any of the four basic elements can mesmerise a crowd. There are instead, some more intelligent and thought provoking. Talks in the Leftfield tent included the truly brave story of Matthew Collins, the former National Front member who traded in beating up immigrants to help the left beat fascism and the sacrifices that switch in allegiance forced him to make. (This writer has just ordered Collins' book; Hate: My Life in the British Far Right).
Festival death rumours have long since been a thing of the past given the arrival of mobile phones, so instead of Chinese whispers about which high profile celebrity had passed away we are instead left to guess who TBA might be. Now it is mobile devices that fuel the mill as it churns out various locations where (in reality) Daft Punk wouldn't show up and ultimately the TBA's disappointed. From Beady Eye essentially opening the festival, to Chase and Status playing a second set in one night, not even The xx could do anything but underwhelm with a so called "secret set" in the BBC Introducing stage that consisted of just two songs.
The rumour on Sunday that New Build's set in William's Green would in fact see Al Doyle and co joined by his Hot Chip colleagues may go some way to explain the impressive turn out which clearly surprised Doyle whose only reference to Hot Chip was to point out fellow band member Felix Martin from within the New Build ranks. This wasn't disappointing for those watching on however, instead we bemoan the lack of volume from the bands female vocalist more than anything.
The entire festival was powered by a giant electro magnet. Seriously. There was one thing that everyone talked about, one thing that seemed to dominate the entire weekend from the moment we arrived and it's the one thing I've been asked most about since my return by everyone from my grandparents to colleagues. At the time, it didn't matter how much you wanted to be anywhere else, my inner indie boy wanted to see Fuck Buttons, the life long hip-hop fan was airing towards Nas and Public Enemy while the pop fan wanted to see Hurts, (not one part of me wanted to see Chase and Status) but I, along with a reported 90,000 others, gravitated towards the pyramid and The Rolling Stones. Sure there were tentative plans to watch the first half hour then head to one of the other headliners but once they started playing there was no release.
Being in a field with that many people all there for the same thing was an incredible experience in itself. I don't know what a million people would look like congregated in one place but Saturday night in Pilton felt as close as I'll ever get. It seemed infinite. Arriving late we were lucky to even get a view of the stage let alone a high vantage point to absorb not just the enormous crowd, but a band that have been pulling crowds for fifty years.
Tabloid newspapers and those watching at home can bemoan the lack of classics shown during the television coverage or how old the band looked on stage. If you were actually there chances are you couldn't see or care what they looked like, we heard the classics, we watched the giant phoenix that had dwelt the top of Glastonbury's premier stage all weekend come to life and we danced like our dads, played air guitar like we were in Wayne's World and we loved every minute of the two hour set. No one walked away disappointed, of course their voices aren't as good as they were 20-30 years ago but age doesn't affect how well they play, and with help from some incredible backing vocalists and choir, the show left you asking, who else out there could put on a show as big as this? What other acts could draw that kind of crowd?
Not entirely sure there is an answer to that and likewise, I'm not convinced it's important. Sure the critics will try and judge the 2014 festival six months in advance by analysing the line-up, but if anything who was playing this weekend was secondary to the overall experience. While not deliberately only four out of the dozens of bands I watched over the three days had I seen before. The rest were all acts I'd never heard (New Build, Goat), not overly familiar with (Toro Y Moi, Mount Kimbie) or just stumbled upon in passing and left utterly rewarded for my curiosity (Fatoumata Diawara, The Congo's).
It's hard to put a finger on exactly what makes Glastonbury so special, and different from other festivals. Happiness for sure, perhaps it was the warming after effects of the glorious sunshine, or maybe there really is something magical in that there Glastonbury, but nothing summed it up better for me than that Drum and Bass MC from Block 9, "It doesn't matter if you're black, white, asian, boy or girl, gay, straight or whatever, we're all here to have fun yeah…
…THIS IS GLASTONBURY, YEAH"