Wednesday, November 16, 2005

20051115 - 06 Just a facadeDoing things I've never done before, part II.

So after drinks and dried fish, I left with one of the guys I'd been talking to. He comes out, turns his phone on, which beeps with a backlog of messages. Something big's on in Camden. He seems to think it'll be worthwhile. He'll see me up there maybe. He goes to get his bike, I head for the tube.

Emerging at Mornington Crescent, I swing round the corner to see pink lights reaching high over the dark mass of the crowd. I wander round slightly confused. Turns out it's a Madonna concert. Er, and why did he think I'd be interested in that? One of the guys I work with (spend half my life battling against) is the one that inflicts Madonna's latest upon everybody each and every day (he even has a Madonna pen).

Anyway, figuring I've never been to any events where the sole point is to see famous people, I hang round and merge into the surprisingly meagre crowd.

Pumping the girl beside me for information, although she got most of it from the police she was flirting with, it turns out that it's Madonna's UK homecoming gig or something like that. KOKO's used to be something different which is where she first played in the UK. Major wowage, huh?

Apparently I could have got a ticket if I'd queued up all night. I also could have got one if I hadn't queued up all night and just turned up earlier in the day. The last 200 tickets had been released to the waiting fans, of which there were 60 (not that this stopped the media talking about people queueing overnight for the last 200 tickets).

But apparently there were no more tickets. Oh well. So what are all these people standing outside for? They're waiting for famous people and/or celebrities.

Seen any yet?
Oh. Who's supposed to be coming?
Real A-listers.
Don't know.

So I stood chatting to a thoroughly nice anthropology student who was also claiming that this was her first stargazing experience. I think we were both fairly unlikely candidates for being there, but judging by the cynicism rising from the crowd, maybe most people were.

Anyway, so first real actual famous person of the evening: Will Young. Blurry picture of him here. Wearing hat. But looking less Cosmo/Dibbs-y than expected. But shorter. So woo, yay, and, er, oh, hang on, he's just a guy. A guy who got a 2ii from Exeter. So rather less impressive if one looks at it like that.

So back to the cynical chat. Gradually realise that amongst the newly formed queue in front of us is Sara Cox. Less woo, yay-age. Small, excessively blonde, looks a bit ill. Being completely ignored by everyone except the guys she was with. Have no idea who they were but we had fun trying to guess which was the husband and which the friend; she displayed very similar behaviour towards both.

About this point excitable girl with microphone runs up to our part of the crowd and is saying something ending in "the excitement of the fans here" as lunges the microphone towards us. Resounding silence. I was too distracted by realising I know her to attempt a sarcastic "Woo!"

If it was who I think it is, and she did look exactly like this person, then it's the girl who used to live up the road from me when I was growing up. Year above, remember having to go to their house to get lifts to school one term (can't remember why), remember playing with her baby sister, elder sister was in my brother's year, all sorts of stuff happened involving her mother and husbands/boyfriends. And I all can remember if her first name and that last I heard she was working for a radio station. So she probably is her.

But the radio girl has run off to the other side to find more vocal pastures.

So back to the cynical chatting. The flurry of flashes down the other end tells us something's going on, but it's only Chris Evans being interviewed. As I said to the anthropology student (probably about the same time I tried figure out how many top-ups make a glass of wine) "I've seen his arse". In lycra. Not sure that made it better. He was cycling, annoyingly slowly, I couldn't overtake. But as he used to easily found either in the wine section of Waitrose, or at the pub on the corner I drive past everytime I go to see a friend, he doesn't really count as a true rarity. My brother points out that he also used to sell stuff in Camden Market.

So after this yet another small blonde woman in a Geldof hat gets out of a car (isn't it strange how they all seem to be getting out of the same 3 cars? And that the same cars circle the block until all attention will be focussed on the arriving celebrity?). Other than the two lone paparazzi flashing away in a brief abortive spurt, she's either ignored or accompanied by quizzical looks. Someone behind me is explaining to the loudly enthusiastic New Zealand girl that's it's Donna Air, who used to be in Byker Grove (did she? Really?). Cue the NZ girl plaintively declaring, in full interisland communication voice, which also has that strange ability to penetrate common to all Kiwis: "But I don't even know who she is"

Cue resulting silence. Cue Donna Air, who couldn't have not heard, carrying on her jaunty walk with the same fixed expression.

Mass hilarity ensued. Maybe we were all cold and tired, and therefore finding things funnier than it should be, but still it was the most entertaining thing all night.

Oh, and the two paparazzi also had no idea who she was, but they just go back over the digital photos and try to guess.

Another thunderstorm from the other end tells us someone has arrived. I can't work out what the media scrum are chanting by it sounds like something-LY. Considering how far away she was, and that I was looking through the crowd, I found myself with quite a good, if fleeting view. Which told me two things. One that whoever it was had [currently] dark hair and very arched eyebrows. The other was that the crowd was surprisingly thin. Judging by Google News, I think the LY was a LA and that it was Stella MacCartney. Not that I have the foggiest idea what she looks like.

Oh, I just remembered. At some point Dermot O'Leary turned up as did Frankie Dettori soon afterwards (well, I am informed it was the jockey, but all I saw was a small bit of dark hair). Both about the same size. One I expected, but I had no idea the other was so small. I know it's a cliché that people look bigger on television, but it's true.

Soon after this my friendly up-the-road girl returned to ask us who we'd seen so far. People either side of me chant "Will Young, Sara Cox, Chris Evans. Oh, and Dermot".
Radio girl: "Anyone people in America would have heard of?"
Us, in unison "Er... No."

At some point scraggly hair and an hat bounded up the steps, which we took to be Bob Geldof. And I think that was about it for supposedly famous people. Oh, I think there was a girl from Hollioaks, who may have been with more members of the cast, but I haven't seen it in years.

At some point we must have looked straight through one of the guys from the Pet Shop Boys, but then I can't visualise him, so that's not surprising.

So we stood round chatting, wondering if that's it (they could at least work like fireworks, so they have a cluster of really well-known people then nothing, so we know that's it). And then the leftover tickets started getting handed out. Clipboard girls came out, all with the same uniform posture, regardless of the presence of a clipboard. One starts doing eeny-meeny-miny-mo with the crowd, or pointing to people, inspecting them and then dismissing them. She occasionally gave out tickets but spent more time toying with people, teasing them with the prospect. The anthropologist used the truly technical terms of "power trip" and "bitch".

But the PR girls got bored with playing with their food and soon it was the bouncers handing them out. I nearly got handed one, but some slightly too fanatical fan lunged in from behind me and scared the bouncer off. Not that I cared all that much, because I was wondering what I'd do for food and it was quite late by this point.

It was quite funny seeing the venue's usual workers come out to pick up rubbish. They'd been Madonna'd up, and so had big panda eyes full of glitter. Yeah, they were real impressed.

And to the person who rang me, and who I cut off with "I'm in Camden, but I'm in the middle of something right now", then I can only apologise but you can see why I didn't really want to get into explaining the fact that I was waiting to see famous people outside a Madonna concert. It is just a bit embarrassing.

And that's about it, except to say that fans are just a wee bit daft, with dubious concepts of hygiene. The paving slabs had been covered with stickers carrying emblems and lettering which when recombined would spell Madonna (or ADAMNON as it apparently spelt out). Soon after it became obvious that it had started, people began ripping the stickers off the pavement. Some held them disdainfully, having discovered that they were a cunning ploy by Camden to make the streets cleaner, while trying to get the full set. Others grabbed what they could, and hugged and kissed whatever they scavenged, which even in the low level light we could see was not a good idea.

So while discussing the evenings proceedings, we were wondering why there was such a low turn out. It was at this point I found out that I'd missed seeing the Oxford Street Lights turned on (well, turned on all at once, as they've been up for ages and obviously on solely for testing purposes). And that's when it struck me just how tragic my life can be. I had a choice of waiting outside a Madonna concert in case I saw famous people or waiting for someone to turn the electricity on. I think I ought to pretend that I went straight home after the EEA lecture.

Not that I could have gone to the lights, because, well, it'd be nowhere near as good as home. There we usually either had Brian Blessed and whoever was in pantomime nearby, or just whoever was in pantomime nearby. Although recent years haven't been as good as they replaced the lights a few years ago, so instead of trying to guess if the rabbit was meant to be a camel we now have to work out if the rabbit is a reindeer (no, wait, it's a snowman, or possibly a wiseman). That and the lights are more reliable, as it was always fun waiting for people in shops and flats all the way down the high street to realise the first set has gone on and that they ought to turn their on too.

I remember one year particularly well. There was power cut. Not a comic 3-2-1-Now-bang-fizz-er... but just a normal get home and find there's no electricity and it's staying off for several hours power cut. Record turn out that year, just to see what the organisers would do. Borrow candles I think, and have a slightly daft countdown just in case the power came back on in time. It didn't, but it was fun hoping.

And that's about it for Tuesday. More Madonnage can be found on Flickr.


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