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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Once Bitton, Twice ShyIt's me and Lisa in London!

And you're right, I am wearing my David Bitton jeans. If I was a foot taller, that attempt to make me look like I have blue rabbit ears would have worked too.

Anyhoo, two months ago Chris Difford of Squeeze played a free gig in Brighton, and as lifelong fans, Lisa and I were of course there... in time to catch the last three minutes of it. So having discovered that he knows at least one song, we were naturally keen to see how far his repertoire stretches, and therefore felt it worth forking out forty quid a ticket to see the Squeeze reunion tour in London. The photo on the left was taken outside St Paul's Church in Hammersmith, where I was praying for money.

The trip got off to a good start when we arrived on platform 4 of Brighton station at 2:51pm to see the 14:52 train pulling out, but the good thing about having to wait half an hour for the next train is that it gave me plenty of time to look at my debit card receipt and work out just how much this day was costing me. After which I decided to pay 20p to use the toilets, on the grounds that it wouldn't make much difference.

Hanging AroundEn route to London, I came remarkably close to defeating Lisa in a game of Hangman by using the word 'Squeeze', which I felt would have been quite an achievement, but that aside, the journey passed without incident and we made it to Victoria. From there we chugged along the District line, narrowly avoided ending up in Wimbledon, and arrived safely in Hammersmith.

We had three hours to kill before the concert, most of which Lisa spent in The Body Shop assuring me that she'd almost finished. But we did also find time to stand in a branch of 'Books etc' reading a lot of self-help manuals we had no intention of buying. I felt they were over-selling themselves with the word 'etc', but other than that it was a good shop.

From there we went to Subway, where I saved myself a fortune by illegally refilling my Diet Coke cup three times, before heading to McDonalds for a McFlurry, where we sat next to a pensioner who actually fell asleep at the table. If McDonalds sold Red Bull, things like that wouldn't happen.

My SqueezeFortunately time flies, and before we knew it, we were on the verge of being late for the concert, so we made our way around the corner to the Hammersmith Apollo, and past the most optimistic man in the world who was standing outside with a sign which read "Can anyone spare a free ticket?".

Once inside, we heard the support band striking up, so I quickly popped to the toilets. Well, I say quickly. Here's a blog post by the Daily Mirror's Science and Environment Editor, Mike Swain, who went to the Apollo in June. He mentions that "the queue for the men's toilets stretched halfway across the bar because nobody had installed urinals". Well it's interesting he should say that, because funnily enough... um... the queue for the men's toilets stretched halfway across the bar because nobody had installed urinals. I thought someone had put the wrong sign on the door and we were all queuing for the Ladies. Frankly I've had shorter waits at Alton Towers.

But having stood there for half the evening contemplating why one of the largest venues in London only has about five toilets, we made it into the auditorium in time for the support band's last two songs (though sadly not in time to find out who they were), and were shown to our seats in Row L by a nice young usherette, who let us sit there for a good fifteen minutes before we realised we were in Row K.

I'm glad we didn't stay in those seats, however, because if we had, we'd have missed out on the two blokes directly behind us in Row M, who spilt beer down Lisa's back, and spent the entire concert yakking to each other in loud voices. It was worth paying forty quid a ticket just for the quality of the conversation.

But all that aside, Squeeze were very good, and played for almost two hours (giving the blokes behind us time to cover a wide variety of topics). I was particularly impressed with their new keyboard player, Stephen Large. He's apparently played a lot with The Ordinary Boys, so it's surprising Preston didn't mention him in The British Heart Foundation last Thursday. As for Glenn Tilbrook, I'd give my right arm to be able to play the guitar like him. Although that would make it hard to hold a plectrum.

Anyhoo, it was a good day out, and having parted with another 20p to use the toilets at Victoria station, we made it back to Brighton at 12:45am to find that (a) it was pouring with rain, and (b) the buses stopped running at midnight. So with the laid back attitude of two people who are past caring, we chucked our return bus tickets in the bin and paid £5.50 for a taxi. After all, it's only money.