Features

A Manifesto for a New United Kingdom

15 June 2005 | Features
Originally published at TMCQ

“Revolution is the festival of the oppressed” – Germaine Greer

Glastonbury Festival 2005. Music lovers from all walks of life are gathered at midnight to watch Coldplay perform and I am amongst their number. You don’t have to be a fan of the headlining band to be in awe of the collegiality in the atmosphere: a hundred thousand people united by new found common ground. There had been a massive downpour the previous night (which the front page of The Daily Mail had described as ‘The Monsoon of Glastonbury’ – a fact which subsequently sheds some light on why my Mum had been texting fretful checkups almost every hour) and the waterlogged ground had been churned into a twelve-inch-deep shit pie by a million Wellington boots.

Silver linings all round though, for the meteorological ill fortune had managed to bring everyone a little bit closer: because of the mud there was no aggressive pushing to the front, any shoving or stage-diving. After Chris Martin’s encore charade (they did a Kylie cover as a salute to absent friends, but it’s questionable whether I can’t get you out of my head is an appropriate dedication to a cancer patient) the crowd parted and we began the wade to our next gigs. Upon pulling my leg free from a particularly syrupy well of sludge, I lost my balance and went to fall spectacularly arse over tit. Miraculously, at the last possible second and with a startling speed, a stranger seized my wrist and I was able to steady myself. Heart pumping, and still not a hundred percent sure why I wasn’t face down in the slurry, I exchanged glances with my saviour. It was a chav. A menacing male chav in a baseball cap who, on the outside world, I would have crossed the street to avoid out of the prejudiced fear that he might chavishly deride my long hair, moisturised skin and love of jazz. But here at Glastonbury, united by muck and melody, we had a spiritual connection.

And so based upon a midnight experience in the mud with a pikey, a manifesto for a new Great Britain was born. The unique combination of music and filth had brought together two of natures polar opposites. Only at a festival like this could Holmes and Moriarty share a doobie. Perhaps if such a situation could be replicated in the real world, people from other opposing social groups and creeds would unite: perhaps if the vibes and the squalor were distributed evenly throughout the country, sectarianism could be avoided, fear of otherness could be thrown out of the window and who knew what else would be achieved by the cooperative efforts of the new system?

The first step toward reaching this utopia is the destruction of all major cities. I know it sounds radical but it’s the only way that the human race is ever going to be saved from boredom and segregation. Reduce the skyscrapers to rubble. London and Glasgow and Manchester may be our homes, but lets face it: they stink. The ecological footprint of London alone challenges that of the whole of Kenya. Our cities are the haemorrhoids on the planet’s backside and the time has come to apply the Preparation H – albeit in the forms of dynamite and the demolition ball. Reintroduction of grass and trees will blur the boundary between town and country: yesterday’s Walthamstow is tomorrow’s countryside. In place of the old office blocks, we will have massive tents and stages. Yes. In the place of each old city there will be a giant, constantly active, self-supporting festival.

You might think it impractical or wasteful to replace sturdy, secure buildings with temporary tents but that’s because of your competitive, capitalist mindset, you fool. Buddhists, for example, rejoice in the temporary, momentary nature of things. If our new structures need to be constantly replaced, we can make them more and more aesthetically exciting or conceptually challenging each time. In Festival Britain, seldom will there be an architect out of a job.

Given that there will be ten to twenty festivals constantly going on, we will need a far greater influx of musicians, comedians and acrobats. The focus of schools and businesses will be on the arts. In Festival Utopia, accountants and lawyers will hang up their bowlers and calculators and pick up their drumsticks and semaphones. No longer will school teach algebra or business studies. No longer will we produce scientists or mathematicians: only clowns and cellists interest your new government. Apollo moves over for Dionysus. Where information management once reigned, opera and the magic show now reside.

The travel industry will be changed dramatically. Since acts will travel from festival to festival, there will be little need for individuals to move around so much. As less fuel is being consumed by cars and heavy industry (there is no heavy industry now – obviously), the high value of oil will plummet and war will be a thing of the past.

By replacing our cities with festivals, work would be abolished and a ludic emphasis would be put upon play. Humanity would, for the first time in history, be united, experimental and free. I bet girls would be more likely to get their tits out for the lads as well.