I WAS somewhere on the A361, at the edge of a village named Pilton, when the heebie-jeebies began to take hold. The Glastonbury Festival excited and scared me in equal measure. I’d got to 46 without going to a festival despite being a fan of just about everything I was told took place behind those fences. I’m not the man I was: I’m 46, full of fear and loathing. Would this be too much for someone not keen on company, talking to strangers, big crowds and going days on end covered in mud?

And, yet, I’d dreamed of being a gonzo journalist, ideally for the NME. My heroes were Steven Wells, Nick Kent and Stuart Maconie. They met, drank, got high and, I’m guessing, went to bed with pop stars. It sounded magic.

That didn’t happen for me. How would a humble football hack, I fluked a media pass, get their less than fully functioning head around 200,000 people, over 100 stages, 24 hour of dangerous nonsense and a bill which boasted both Basil Brush and Stormzy?

No wonder my mum texted me every hour.

The first and obvious thing to say is Glastonbury is big. Really big. Worthy Farm, owned by the God-like Michael Eavis, dominates a huge natural valley, an area vastly increased by acres of neighbouring farms used for camping. A large town appears for five days every June in Somerset.

I wasn’t prepared for the scale. No first timer is. While being directed towards my gate in the car, a gap appeared in the trees to my left. The fence on the opposite of the valley was miles away, just below the horizon. There were already tens of thousands of tents.

“That way reality, this way Glastonbury,” shouts one volunteer as security is successfully negotiated. Never a truer word has been said.

It’s early afternoon on day one, Wednesday, and once I sort of get my tent to stand up, I decide to stretch my legs. I walked 11 miles in total. I didn’t come close to seeing everything.

The place is a dream. From the two main stages, Pyramid and the Other, to Sin City and Shangri La, a temporary shanty town with a promise of extreme naughtiness once the sun goes to sleep.

Greenpeace’s area, next to LeftField where I saw Billy Bragg speak and sing, is arguably the Festival’s heart. Up the hill a bit lies the hippy area where your soul can be healed while learning how to carve a spoon. All very mellow, perhaps cliched, but none the worse for it.

I enjoyed the hippy feel. Wandering around stalls and tents which promise answers to life itself is an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. Becoming a druid was never on the cards; ach, but they were nice folk. The first night, very late on, I’m sitting around a campfire debating Marxism and economics with strangers. I did so with passion and self-belief. I have no knowledge of either subject.

First thing on Thursday, despite the heat, by now the main talking point, I sweated my way up the steep hill on the south east side of the valley towards a stone circle, the sacred place. A man is in the middle with a crowd of posh girls around him. He is giving a lecture. At least that’s what I thought.

In fact, he was openly and, it must be said, successfully selling drugs.

This brings me to the south east ‘naughty’ corner where late at night, DJs produce beats, bass and visuals which make it impossible for the clubber to sit one out. There are of course other reasons for such impressive fitness and energy as the sun comes up after a long day in the sun.

At night, until 5am when the sun is coming up, this naughty corner is literally hardcore. I attended a few illegal raves back in the day. I’ve seen some things. I have never before witnessed pills and potions being sold and taken so openly.

People of all ages and backgrounds were on something. A couple, early thirties, stood at the back of an area where DJ John Hopkins played what the youngsters call a banging set. They shared a joint as their kids, both under five, slept in their buggies. I stared. They gave me the thumbs up.

The police were nowhere to be seen. They had better things to do. Their job is to keep people safe, not arrest otherwise law-abiding adults rolling back the years by rolling out the Rizla. It makes a mockery of our drug laws which I suppose it part of the point.

Anything went. Including clothes, the top half, of two girls beside me. Both were soon joined by two boys, I presume close friends, and one couple seemed to be, as we say in this business, simulating a sex act.

And then I realised they weren’t simulating it.

Shocked and appalled, obviously, I turned away but continued dancing as the music took me somewhere at that moment I really wanted to get to. The black girl beside me with an impressive bust decided that was the moment to show everyone that she was a he. Nobody batted an eyelid.

I can’t remember getting back to my tent.

To the bands. Choose a few and stick with them. That’s my advice. But wander. If I been rigid to my plan, I would have missed Beans on Toast, great name, good songs, the folksy stuff close to Strummerville, named after the great Joe, and a Brummie rapper whose name I forget.

ABBA tribute Bjorn Again were surprisingly funny, the first act on the Pyramid Stage on Friday morning. Late additions The Charlatans pleased lots for the middle-aged for whom the 1990s are everything.

My highlights? Tame Impala, The Proclaimers, Glasgow’s own Lewis Capaldi, Johnny Marr reminding everyone why The Smiths were brilliant, a strangely emotional set by Kylie Minogue – she deserved the huge crowd – Years and Years, the Good, Bad and the Queen, and final headliners The Cure.

Best of all, The Chemical Brothers. I watched on my own, mouth open, eyes damp, hands in the air. I lost my shape and, predictability, my glasses. They were handed in to the Lost and Found. Faith in humanity restored.

Sir David Attenborough’s surprise appearance on Sunday brought on the hay fever, especially when a loud voice from the back shouted; “'mon the f****** whales.” He was, of course, Scottish.

The sight of a burly, straight 60-something bouncer wearing a Pink Floyd T-shirt singing every word to I Should Be So Lucky put a smile on my face. I was happier at that moment than I’ve been for years.

Regrets? I didn’t catch Stormzy. I probably listened to too much techno. As this was my debut, hours went past when I was only able to mutter the occasional ‘wow.’ I’ll be better next time.

I was lucky. As part of the media, I got a hospitality ticket which gave me access to the best camping area complete with real showers and flush toilets. Next time, I’ll be with the rest, fighting for space, peeing and pooing in conditions paying tribute to the toilet scene in Trainspotting.

The horror stories are true. However, everyone puts up with it. For five days most wash with wet wipes in their tent, brush teeth using bottled water, spray themselves down with deodorant, then go for it. Everyone is the same. Nobody judges.

My God but it’s friendly place. Folk come up for a chat all the time. The world’s problems are sorted more than once.

On Sunday afternoon, before an acoustic set by the Bootleg Beatles, I attempt to translate my notes into some sort of sense in the kids' field complete with circus, trampolines, fairground rides and the chance to attempt tightrope walking. I gave it a go to predictably rubbish results. It’s seriously family friendly.

When jotting down a few sentences, a marching band playing the Rocky theme tune on the kazoo glide past. Watching them was a girl in a bride’s dree and her groom, utterly splendid in top hat, tails, no trousers, and tight Y-fronts. By this stage, it’s completely normal.

Glastonbury is mainstream, left wing, druggy, too busy at times, commercial (£3 for a can of coke!), foodie – which did surprise me – friendly, dirty, smelly, a challenge even when the weather is kind, loud, over the top, peaceful, hedonistic and full of humanity.

Ask 100 different people why they go, and you could get 100 different answers. All good ones. I had friends there but spent much the time on my own. There was something to see around every corner, always someone to talk to.

Driving away on Monday was difficult. Especially because I seem to have left an important part of my brain somewhere in a field in Worthy Farm, all right. I’ll really need to go back and see if someone has handed it in.

Top tips

Go early

There are better campsites than others, quieter and more age appropriate. Also, the first two days, before things begin for real, afford the chance to get to know the huge site, work out where things are and experience aspects that from Friday on you might be too busy to inspect.

Do research. Ask people who have been. Up the hills seems to be best. You get a view and if it does rain, it doesn’t flood. It’s always away from the toilets.

There is no VIP accommodation. You can try to get a tipi (It’s just over a grand and sits six adults), and there are fields for campervans and pre-erected tents which you pay extra for and go quickly.

For those who have thousands to spend, there is luxury accommodation just outside the festival gates in neighbouring fields. But check and double check these things exist, and you need to buy ticket separately. Or be a football writer who chances their arm….

Go with people who will get it

Look, it’s bogging. Even when there’s no mud. The toilets are awful. The showers worse. Be ready to be filthy. In such circumstances, you don’t need someone complaining about being unable to wash their hair or about the size of the place. Get some wet wipes and give yourself a sort of bed bath inside the tent, put on the walking shoes and go for it.

Do your homework

Ask friends, go on websites about Glasto essentials. Small backpacks, reusable water bottles, hats are recommended.

Take your own booze

Unlike other festivals, carry outs are allowed. There were plenty of plastic bottles of water filled with G and a bit of T.

Don’t worry about age

Wear a silly shirt, some hippy shorts, silly hat and glitter on the face. Smile, laugh, dance and, as one poster put it, try not to be a dick. It’s really all we have.