Paul Jones, a life-long fan of popular music act 'The Wombles', was horrified to find himself amongst hundreds of 'old people' at their Glastonbury reunion gig. At 43, Paul is at least 8 months younger than the average age of the audience and 'young at heart', according to his own assessment. But Paul described a sense of dread that overwhelmed him, as he gazed across the crowd of gently nodding, balding heads.
"The Wombles played their entire set faultlessly, and they looked great, just as I remembered them" said Paul, still wearing his vintage 'Wombling Christmas Tour '75' t-shirt. "They've hardly aged at all. But that somehow made it worse: they've always been grey-haired, but now they weren't the only ones wearing hats to hide their age".
Despite Paul's creeping realisation of his own mortality, The Wombles ripped through all the hits from their smash 'Wombling Free' concept album. Their 27-minute rendition of 'Minuetto Allegretto' held the audience captivated, and included a 6-minute drum solo by Bungo. They blew their fans away with the now-infamous Madame Cholet/Venus in Furs medley, and finished with a feedback-strewn cover of the theme to Fraggle Rock.
The much-heralded return of the group led to many of the stalls selling out of Werther's Originals and scotch eggs before the show, and glasses of sherry were changing hands for up to £5. "There was a real buzz before they went on, and I don't think it was all down to a blood-sugar spike from that Sherbet Fountain", said Paul. Security didn't report any problems during the show, other than an outbreak of tutting when Tomsk knocked an amp over. But as the group left the stage after their final encore, the mood took a gloomy turn.
The St John's Ambulance tent was overwhelmed by middle-aged rockers, seeking emergency reassurance that they were still 'too young to die'. "Some of them snapped out of it following a playful punch on the arm", observed Nora Smith, a nurse with the organisation. "We reassured them they were still keeping it real, and most made an immediate recovery. But there were a few 'Sulky Susans' and 'Mr Sad Sacks' that needed more radical treatment: we sent them off to watch U2."
It wasn't just older audience members that were affected by the gig. "I'd gone with my brother and my 4 year-old neice, Samantha", explained Paul. "I was pretty sure she'd love the catchy pop hits of my youth, but she just screamed hysterically when they came on stage. She thought The Tweenies had melted."
Hat-tip to RickWestwell, for prompting this