The girl’s pretty nervous, but she’s trying not to show it. Despite the jeans, leather jacket and band t-shirt, she’s feeling totally out of place waiting in London Bridge station. She’s not the sort of person who goes to gigs. Why is she doing this?
Her ticket. Is it still in her bag? The girl checks – yes, the ticket’s still there, like it was the last four times she checked. But she’s nervous. She’s a worrier, like her mum.
Then she sees her sister approaching. Bella looks far more confident than her. She’s all dressed up like she used to, back in her rock and roll days – black denim skirt, black ‘I am the real Frank Turner’ t-shirt, black leather jacket… a far cry from the pink flowery dresses she wears too often these days. It’s like looking at a 2005 version of her.
After Bella’s eaten a baguette hastily purchased from one of the little cafés in the station, they head down to the tube to work out where they’re going. It’s pretty clear to the girl that her older sister doesn’t know what she’s doing, at all, but eventually they’re on a tube to Baker Street; from there, they’ll change to another that’ll take them to Wembley.
At Baker Street, the girl takes photos of the sign for her Sherlock-obsessed friend. She’s taking them for herself too, though.
From there, they’re on another tube, and they run into a couple of girls who look at their t-shirts and say, “Oh, are you going to Frank Turner too?”
“Yeah, we are. But we’re not sure where to get off. Do you know?” Bella takes the lead again – she knows how to talk to people. Not like the girl, who’s only left the house once this week and that was four days ago.
“Wembley Central.” They sit down opposite each other on the train. An old woman asks one of their new acquaintances if Frank Turner’s someone she should have heard of it; they laugh. No, he’s not all that mainstream. They’re not surprised she hasn’t.
The train terminates at Queen’s Park, so they’re waiting for another one. This one takes them all the way to Wembley, but they face another challenge: where is the arena? Bella’s GPS thinks they’re in the North Pole, which is evidently not true, so they’re forced to resort to low-tech methods. Unfortunately the sign with directions that they’re following leads to Wembley Stadium, not the Arena. Oops.
“I thought you’d been here before?” Bella asks the girl.
“For a feis, yeah. But that was a year and a half ago.” She finds the street it was on – Cecil Avenue – and points it out. Her sister’s surprised that it’s so central, but points out that it’s not that useful unless they can actually find the arena.
After much searching and following the crowd, they do. “People!” exclaims the girl, seeing the queue of fans with standing tickets. A woman on the corner of the street laughs, looks at their t-shirts, and says, “Yeah, it’s down there.”
There’s a poster near the end of the queue. They don’t need to join the line, they’ve got seats, but Bella insists on taking a photo in front of the poster anyway. They balance the camera on a bollard and hope that no one runs off with it while they’re waiting for the timer to click through and take the picture.
Soon they’re in the foyer, having lost the lids of their water bottles to the security men, and are standing by the merch stall. Bella promised her friend a hoodie, and the girl’s got money she borrowed from her mum. She buys a hoodie; Bella buys two t-shirts for herself and the jumper for her friend. Then they’re sitting down, waiting to be allowed in.
The girl’s still nervous. She’s never been to a gig before. She doesn’t know what to expect.
Eventually they’re inside and in their seats, and the first of the three support acts has begun. He swears too much, she thinks, but he’s pretty good. The next one’s far too loud – she can’t make out the words. When is Frank Turner going to come on? Why’s it taking so long? The third support act is good – he’s pretty famous in his own right. She’s never heard of him.
And then, after a long-ish break in which the people of Wembley sing along to ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ when it’s piped over the speakers, the lights go down. The introduction to ‘Eulogy’ starts playing.
And the audience goes wild.
to be continued…