I am on the pitch of two times Premier League champions Manchester City. Alas, I am not playing in England’s elite football league – I am at a Bruce Springsteen concert (and the pitch is well covered by what I assume is a top class events team).
I am stood near two men.I immediately dislike them. Like many working class friendship couples one is a skinny cunt with shit hair who refuses to age. He looks like Mark E Smith. It’s only OK to look like Mark E Smith if you are Mark E Smith. Otherwise looking like Mark E Smith means you look like a fucking ugly prick who thinks he is superior to everything despite being blatantly inferior to everything. And the other is small and fat (“the phil”).
Now being a righteous ex-smoker isn’t something I ever wanted to become, and still occasionally smoking certainly means I have become one. But I can’t be doing with these people smoking in a non-smoking environment as though they’re striking a blow in some kind of moral war. Mate, smoking some Berkleys near some children is not a blow against the man.
The Security at these events normally don’t want anything to do with policing smokers. It’s a no-win, all-ballache element of an otherwise glory-laden night spent earning minimum wage in a bright yellow coat. But one of the stewards basically walks straight into them – probably returning from asking someone not to do something they can’t really stop them from doing. One of them (the phil as it goes) puts up the mandatory resistance one must to such a request before eventually putting the cigarette out. The other one, though, as had his cigarette proudly tucked in the back of his hand and when the steward chap walks on celebrates like he has just got six numbers on the lottery, the high fives are out.
It’s time to move. A few feet. We have a similar view but no cheap smoke being blown in our faces and there is a small amount of space immediately in front of us.
Three people in the space immediately in front of us. It’s textbook gig-space-occupancy: there is enough space for them to occupy but they’re ruining my space a bit. Like your neighbour having a thing that annoys you but doesn’t break any laws (probably come back to this and think of something even remotely witty to use instead of this vague simile).
But I’m at a concert, I have to live with it or move. It’s a free country. Ironically, I imagine these are the kind of people who will be removing a significant amount of the freedom from the country, in the supposed service of some kind of human rights declaration, “hey, part of freedom is saying no to mythical armies of foreign benefit thieves” etc.
So, there’s three of them. They’re about 50. Maybe a plus ten year error bar. But not a minus one. And one of them, a male has a big stain on the back of his upper leg. It’s a large stain. It looks like food. Like someone has thrown a ball of curry and it’s glanced off his thigh leaving a significant stain.
I am trying not to be annoyed by these space-migrants but they are taking my lovely space up. But I am being very brave about it. And I definitely won’t insist we move in a minute or two. But after a song one of the other three in his group mentions this stain.
Now he has this stain on the back of his leg, specifically on his jeans. And two clean hands, one of which is holding a pint in a plastic pint pot – as is the style at outdoor events. The stain is not so far up that he can’t see it. If you stop reading and look at the back of your leg , you know twisting the leg slightly and easily seeing the back of your knee? Well it’s just above that. The guy can easily see the stain, that is the point.
What he does next is he wipes the smear with his clean hand. Fair enough this does get rid of some detritus content, that I’m not denying. But now it’s on his hand. He doesn’t like rub his hands together or something to dissipate this <whatever -it-fucking-is> he just carries on, using the now smeared hand to hold his pint and…well carries on.
The thing that really bugs me about this is that if I got some curry/brown sauce/chutney/horse shit/whatever-it-fucking-is on my hand and had nothing to wipe it with the first place I would use about my person would be the back of my leg. He’s doing the opposite of good sense. He’s making an effort to go from the current scenario to a worse one. And he doesn’t seem to mind one fucking bit.
Fortunately the beers (£5 for plastic bottles of Heineken) need refreshing so it’s time to move anyway. Further back and to the side a bit – I will find the small amount of space I desire.
I do find happiness of sorts. We will spend the remainder of the gig standing near a couple for whom my initial animosity slowly warps into a mild dislike bordering on just being a bit miffed. They are aged somewhere between 45 and 57. One or both may have paid the other to be there. They will will both at times dance with NO concern for the beat or tempo of the song Mr Springsteen and The E-Street Band are knocking out. The man in particular will dance as though he is dancing on inflatable shoes while showing his ensuring his wrists are the foremost part of his body – and at face height. They will repeatedly tease kissing each other despite (a) being too old for that shit and (b) having kissed repeatedly which surely removes most of the tension from waiting just before the point of kiss and doing that kind of daft ‘sexy laugh’ only the truly unsexy can laugh.
Footnote: Bruce Springsteen played for over three hours, performing 32 songs. It is an amazing backdrop to the main show of being irritated by people.