Tonight we're going
out. Our favourite band announced a London date so we bought a pair of tickets.
Karen played the new album in the car on the way to college and back. For the
week leading up to it, those songs were all I could listen to. The date was
circled repeatedly in my planner, as if I could forget it.
The bell rings for the
end of the day but I am already halfway out of my seat then through the door. I
sprint down the empty corridor and meet Karen by the Language classrooms. Other
students stream around us. They are eager to get the bus home. They do not have
an awesome gig with their best friend to look forward to.
Anna, she says tu veux ton billet? She holds out a ticket to
me and I seize it, giddy with joy. We're going to see them tonight! I can
scarcely believe it. On the bus across town we discuss our favourite songs and
the ones we'd like to hear played. Karen has kept aside money to get a 7 inch
release of the new single, which she's hoping to get signed after the
show. My hands clutch the gig ticket as though it could just fly away.
Part of me worries that it will.
We change out of
uniform in the girl's toilet at the station. I swap my clothes in a cubicle and
get wee on my tights. I tell Karen and she laughs at me while checking herself
in the smeared mirror. Someone has written some graffiti with a sharpie which I
can't read. Afterwards we pay a quid to stash our school stuff in the lockers
and catch the next train by ducking through the barriers.
In the carriage some
loud lads sip lager and chant about football. Or rugby. Who cares? We laugh at
them, but from the safety of behind our seats. The guy sat in front of me is
balding. He only looks about twenty three. The train pulls sluggishly out of
the station. Our excitement accelerates and reaches our destination hours
before we do. I wriggle on the seat, its all I can do to hold on to my
Too much later we
arrive and take a beeline for Nando's. My watch says we can expend an hour and
a half for this meal before we run the risk of missing part of the show. Over
the spicy food we talk about S.W.I.N.E. (someone who is now an ex.) and how I
don't need them. Neither of us do, but I can't say we because Karen is going
out with Frank. I fill up on the free refills of coke and am too stuffed to
finish my chicken. Before we leave I am busting for a pee. I don't want to
break the seal but all of that coke is pressing on my food baby.
By now it's dark and
the lights have come on. The street lights, the bus shelter lights and the
lights of the different pubs, clubs and shops. An empty laughing gas canister
skitters away from my boot and lodges itself in the pavement. The logo of a
gentlemans club ripples in a puddle which Karen steps into. She makes a
point of stamping hard and splashing the curb.
At the door to the
venue we rummage for our tickets. The queue was only fifteen minutes long. Some
girl with a ponytail handed us a leaflet advertising other bands playing at the
O2 Academy on the other side of the city. No thanks. Neither of us are
interested. I take it anyway and fold it up in my coat pocket. It will turn up
later as we're getting the train back home, but I still won't be swayed into
seeing any of those bands. It already costs fifteen quid to get this far in the
The doorman wants to
see our ID, which of course neither of us has yet.
But we've come
all the way from Swanford. Karen protests. It's not true but it works
I'll let you
through, just this once.
He shakes his head and
gestures to the door with a thumb. We laugh and walk up through the stairs. A
poster for tonight's show catches my eye. When everything's over and done I'll
return to try and take it for a souvenir, but some more enterprising soul will
have gotten there first. Karen will give me the setlist as consolation. She's
good at getting the setlist, is Karen. It's a proper souvenir. A signed Bloc
Party one from last year is the jewel of the collection. We keep a scrapbook of
them together. I fold my bag inside of Karen's to give to the guy at the
cloakroom for the lofty fee of two pounds. Daylight robbery.
At the bar, Karen
orders and I try to keep out of sight. She looks older than me, especially with
her heels which put her at two inches taller than I am in my flats. We track
back across the sticky floor to the place in front of the stage. The bearded
roadies soundcheck a couple of mics. She passes me blue WKD in a plastic cup.
We clink glasses then manoeuvre our way closer to the front. There is the stale
smell of body odour lingering over the crowd, replacing the foul smoke haze
since they banned smoking indoors. I almost miss it.
Suddenly the background
music is replaced by a fast paced walk-on track. My heart is in my throat as
the house lights go down. Everyone stamps their feet and claps in time. The
front lights come up and two smoke machines wheeze into life. Karen and I
scream at each other and the crowd joins us with a cheer. An army of hands
raises to the ceiling. The band take the stage and wave.