Several years ago I travelled by coach to see Rosie sing with her school (and hundreds of other schools) at the Royal Festival Hall in London. We were dropped off a couple of hours before the concert started so I went for a walk round Covent Garden. Bizarrely, I bumped into someone who I’d gone on a random truck trip with across Africa ten years before (long story, inspired by watching Tracy Chapman, on the TV, singing at the Nelson Mandela birthday concert).
Anyway, it was great to catch up with Sparkle and his parents for ten minutes, before heading back to the South Bank. Walking back across Waterloo Bridge there was an extreme rainstorm which was spectacular, but I got absolutely drenched. Once in the Festival Hall, I went upstairs to where my seat was and handed my ticket to the ticket person. She gave me a programme and pointed (I thought) at a row at the back. I went and sat down, bedraggled and windblown but cheerful.
A woman was sitting next to me. She had a young toddler with her who was doing that ‘clambering all over her’ thing. She asked me where I got my programme, so I pointed out the ticket woman. I then leapt up from my seat (probably a bit dramatically in retrospect, but I was invigorated by the wind/rain experience) and said, “Oh, don’t worry. I’ll go and get you one. Save you moving!!!” I went back to ticket woman and got another programme.
On the way back along the aisle, I accidently tripped over someone’s (empty) violin case which caused a little bit of a commotion. I picked myself up, got to my seat and gave the woman the (now bent) programme. She looked at me a bit oddly. I was still dripping, with my hair standing up on end, but looking forward to the gig.
“Erhem. Excuse me, but you are sitting in my seat”, a man said, from the aisle. I vaguely looked around, as you do when someone says something loudly, and realised he was talking to me. “Oh”, I said, instantly flustered. “No, it’s my seat…isn’t it?” I started scrabbling around in my bag for my ticket, but he stuck his ticket under my nose before I could find it. I was in his seat and he made me feel like a seat-stealer. I got up and noticed that the woman next to me was pointedly looking in the opposite direction, semi-shielding her toddler. The lights went down ready for the concert to start. I stood in the aisle, trying to find my ticket.
Shitesters, where was my ticket??? Trying to find it in the dim light wasn’t easy (especially as I hoard tickets anyway). In addition to a seat-stealer, I began to feel like an interloper. A very unwelcome, seat-stealing, interloper. I eventually found the ticket, peered at the seat number and made/felt my way to my legitimate seat. Phew. I looked around at my new neighbours but they all had the same ‘looking away’ manner. I realised I’d become the nutter on the bus. Or Chicken bone man. Or the crazy old cat lady. It’s a very thin line.