Three weeks ago, I was a guest of a luxury watch company in their box at the Albert Hall to watch Eric Clapton. Never have the hands of time passed more slowly.
All started well; there was a party atmosphere, good company, lots to drink, canapés and a charming butler to look after guests. But then the music started.
I looked down from my seat… 5,000 bald heads belonging to 5,000 pensioners shined back. This definitely wasn’t Glastonbury. “Are you sure we’re not at a Saga convention?” I shouted to my pal Simon as the support band launched into their first song – making it hard for him to hear. When they finally finished, a woman in her mid 60s suddenly appeared.
“Oi! You!” she said. “We’re in the next box. Are you the geezer who’s talking the whole time? You’re ruining our evening. We’ve paid a lot for those tickets!”
“It’s a ROCK concert,” I replied. “They’re the support act! That’s what you do during support acts. Anyway, you couldn’t possibly have heard me talking – I can’t even hear what I’m saying! Pray desist, madam.”
She strutted out of the box and Clapton came on.
After 15 minutes, I was woken by Simon. I had forgotten just how incredibly boring a performer Clapton is live. He was going to be on stage for at least two more hours, even without an encore. “I think I’ll just get some air, stretch my legs,” I announced.
I was passing the Gents when a bald head popped out. Its owner made a rude gesture, then popped back in. I looked behind me. There was nobody there. I walked back and opened the door. On reflection this probably wasn’t the smartest move.
“Hello, is there a problem?” I asked. Suddenly, from the direction of the urinals, a thuggish-looking man appeared. He must have been about 70, but he was six foot two and heavily built. He started poking me in the chest. Something told me he was the husband of the lady in the next box. “You have no f*****g idea who you’re f*****g messing with!” he said threateningly.”
“Actually, you’re quite right, I don’t,” I said.
Then he called me a particularly unpleasant word.
“How did you know my middle name?” I asked. “Were we at school together?”
I used this line 20 years ago to an angry lorry driver whom I had cut up. There’s a big difference, though, between a driver safely locked in his lorry at traffic lights, and a huge apoplectic East Ender whose foaming mouth is inches from my face.
Working on the principle that if they don’t hit you immediately they never will, I ventured: “Isn’t it amazing how most people get by on two billion brain cells, but you seem to be existing on just three.” Then a small man entered. I turned to the newcomer: “You’ve got to excuse this chap” I said.” I saw him sipping water in the Gents earlier and the lid came down and caught him on the back of the neck.” Whereupon I swiftly dodged past them both.
“Did you enjoy the show, Sir?” asked our doorman at the end of the show. “Apart from the large elderly man who threatened to kill me in the Gents toilet,” I replied, “it was a wonderful evening.”