“Why is everyone in that queue about eighty, Dad?”
I glanced out of the window. “Eighty’s a slight exaggeration, Ben. Older than your Dad, obviously. But not dead yet. Although it looks close in a few cases.”
I was driving him to work in July. Past Scarborough’s Open Air Theatre. Where the queue was enormous and – as my son had noticed – grey.
“Who’s on tonight?”
“There’s your answer, son. Status Quo.”
Precisely. How do you explain a band who had their first hit in the late sixties to someone born in 1998? “They’re a rock band,” I said lamely. “And to mis-quote Churchill, never in the field of musical history will one band have performed to so many replacement hips.”
“Aren’t you and Mum going to see someone there?”
“Yep, in August. But obviously we’ll be part of a much younger audience…”
…And tonight was the tonight.
Simply Red. And ‘Stars.’ The album I played as I blasted down to Portsmouth to see the girl I loved. I’d give it all up for you. I certainly would have done…
It was a long time since I’d been to a concert. The audience seemed to have aged. Not to Status Quo standards, but enough to have trouble finding their seats. “What row are we in, love?”
“Hang on, let me look at the tickets.”
“Well, what’s it say?”
“I don’t know, I’ve got the wrong glasses on.”
If the population of Earth gets too high then not being able to find your seat at a concert seems a reasonable way of weeding out the weak. Not as entertaining as Hunger Games I grant you, but a decent test of adult competence.
“Colour, row, seat,” my wife sighed for the umpteenth time as another couple were led away by the stewards to be taught the difference between yellow and purple.
“They could be colour blind,” I said charitably.
“There were four people in the last group. What are the chances of them all being colour blind? Higher than your chances of sitting next to Elvis.”
I wasn’t sitting next to Elvis. I was sitting next to a woman from Doncaster – who had a picture of a slightly overweight grandson on her phone. Peering round, everyone had a picture of a grandchild on their phone. What did couples who’ve been together thirty years do before phones were invented? Talk to each other? Surely not.
“Come on, Mick, get a move on.” A veteran of Simply Red concerts behind us was getting restive.
“Won’t be long now,” his wife reassured him. “Mick’s 56 now. He won’t want to be on stage too long. ’Specially not now the nights are drawing in.”
It comes to all of us, you see. You might have sold a gazillion records but sooner or later you’re going to need your cardi half way through the gig. Speaking of which I was getting a little cold myself. More than a little cold. A sweat shirt and relying on the heat of the youthful bodies around me seemed wildly optimistic. My wife looked warm – and smug – in her coat.
Master Hucknall duly wandered on stage at 8:50 – from what I remember, unfashionably early for a rock star. But clearly he wanted to keep his credibility and perform in a t-shirt. And he was just excellent.
So excellent that my wife dragged me to my feet and forced me to dance.
At least that was her intention. But I’d been sitting down for two hours. I seemed to have seized up.
“Never mind, sweetheart,” she said consolingly. “You’ll have your new hip in time for Status Quo next year…”
I’m now working on a 20,000 word e-book about the 5 day, father/son walk Ben and I did on the Pennine Way: if you’d like to read a few sample chapters before publication, just use the contact form to let me know. In the meantime if you’d like a copy of the ‘laugh out loud’ Best Dad featuring 27 of my favourite columns from all the years I’ve been writing, it’s available here for 99p on your Kindle.