Glastonbury's State Of The Ground Guy: Meet this year's viral star (who's nothing to do with the music)

James Golding was once one half of a unicycling camel at Glastonbury. He also appeared on the Pyramid Stage with The Levellers in 1992, and has a story about how he and his former partner one year convinced everyone, press included, that she was Debbie Harry.

Having been to every festival for the last 40 years, this is the go-to man for a Glastonbury anecdote.

As a New Age traveller who hitchhiked from North Wales to Somerset and first jumped the fence in 1985, he is now very much part of the furniture - a chainsaw sculptor by day, he even makes the incredible wooden seating and sculptures you see around the site.

This time round, however, the 60-year-old has found a new calling.

While working on site in the run-up to each festival, he has been providing updates on the state of the ground for the last 11 years - because as well as the music, people of course want to know about the famous Glastonbury mud.

It started as written announcements on the eFestivals website, then he moved to YouTube. Ahead of this year's festival, one of his daughters encouraged him to make a TikTok video.

"For a moment I thought my daughter had done something to my phone because it was making such noise within quarter of an hour, 20 minutes of uploading the first video - all these notifications," he says. Within 24 hours he had received 100,000 views. "Absolutely mind-boggling."

Since then, James has been posting updates every day.

State Of The Ground Guy, as he is now known, is a bona fide famous face on site, with festival-goers regularly stopping him for selfies. Because whether you're at Glastonbury or watching from home, you want to know about the mud.

Glastonbury's famous mud baths

There have been several famous wash-out years. Glastonbury 1997 became known as "the year of the mud". In 2005, there were lightning strikes, tents were flooded and some were even washed away. In 2016, some caravan campers were left queuing throughout the night and needed towing just to get on site, due to the churn.

Despite the fact the weather has been pretty good for the last few years, photos of festival-goers embracing the mud baths of previous events have become synonymous with the image of Glastonbury.

Nowadays, before we get here, we all want to know whether our wellies will receive an outing. If waterproof trousers are required, you know things are serious.

James's videos this year must have reassured thousands into leaving the heavy-duty waterproofs at home. The short clips showing his feet stomping in the mud (or lack of it) have been a vital source of information.

'Just a few weeks ago, I thought it was going to be another one...'

As he always reminds his followers, it's not necessarily the weather over the weekend that makes the difference, it's what happens in the run-up. Following a dismal few months of rain, just a few weeks ago things weren't looking good - but thanks to a last-minute appearance of sunshine in recent days, he was confidently telling people there was nothing to worry about.

"It feels like it rained for five months [before the festival]," he says. "It was horrific. Just three or four weeks ago I thought it was going to be another mud bath…

"People who haven't been to Glastonbury, when you mention Glastonbury, they immediately have that image of tents in two feet of water, don't they."

But festival founder Michael Eavis consistently works to improve drainage on the farm, he says, and conditions this year - so far, touch wood - are perfect.

"This is probably some of the best-drained farmland in the South West. Even if it does get wet, it does drain away quite quickly."

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After weeks of hard work - on chainsaw sculptures, as well as his state of the ground public service announcements - he now gets to enjoy the festival.

"I'm not here for the line-up, I'm not here for the stages, I'm here for the people and the friends and the extended family," he says. "It's like five festivals, and you'll never see it all."

Whichever acts, whatever weird and wonderful little venues Glastonbury-goers find themselves in this weekend, they can rest assured they won't be squelching in mud. State Of The Ground Guy is confident of that.