Clive and I had been to many concerts and always enjoyed them , e.g. The Eagles, Lionel Richie and Seal. So I knew I was capable of seeing a show without tears - but that was before he died.
A few months ago I had an email to announce that Bruno Mars was touring. He has been a favourite ever since Matt Cardle sang 'Just the way you are' on X-factor and Clive was watching in the pub and rang me to insist I listen. He said it was the song he'd write for me. When I heard Bruno sing it Dom treated me to the CD. Every time I hear this song the tears well up...
So I booked four tickets to see Bruno in Manchester. I invited Clive's niece Sue N, Dinah (my friend and fellow trustee of Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation) and Sue P (my friend from Southampton). None of them had met before so I trusted they would get on.
I picked up Sue N in Tadcaster and we drove to Leeds/Bradford Airport to collect Sue P from her flight. The journey to rendezvous with Dinah near Huddersfield should have taken 35 minutes - due to traffic it was almost an hour and a half!
Once we got Dinah the M62 and M60 were also snarled up - what should have been a total of 1 hour 45 minutes took just under 4 hours! Sue P had flown from the south coast in a quarter of that time.
What a hoot we had though - it shows how time literally does fly when you are having fun! Sue P has teased me before for being a northern - see her guest blog from July. Well with 3 of us with our northern expressions, banter ensued that needed a translation app on a phone! It is amazing how we speak the same language but so many different words and accents!
It was only as they were picked up did I happen to mention that 'food' might be difficult around the Apollo in Manchester. I explained it was either a Tesco Extra or a McDonalds. They didn't believe me.
I told them that many years ago Mum and I had been there to see UB40 and had stuck to the floor. They didn't believe me. It has since been renovated.
I explained that I wanted to park as soon as possible as there weren't many car parking spaces and I didn't want to leave my car in the street. They couldn't understand why.
As the time ticked away I decided to leave the traffic jam on the motorway and take a back route into Manchester. We counted the take-aways en route including one called 'Fuk Wai'! That became the phrase of the evening!!!
I drove through various parts of Manchester to Sue P's cries of where are we. 'Fuk wai' the others replied.
One conversation was around Gary Barlow and other celebs. I said I wasn't fussed on him. 'I'm not keen on men', I said. They didn't believe me!
Finally the Apollo theatre was in front of us. A man was standing on the roundabout waving a placard for parking '£6 secure'. However, if you hadn't been before you could have taken any direction as he waved it ferociously whilst shouting - why? People had windows up and couldn't hear. The Chinese takeaway was mentioned again.
I parked and the girls could not believe how the cars were shoe horned in - like on a cross channel ferry. As you parked you were given a piece of paper telling you that you had to return to the car park within 15 minutes of the end of the concert as it would not be supervised after then. Sue P asked the car park attendant where the good eating places were. All we could work out was around 6 versions of what sounded like the Chinese takeaway name ... we translated for her - 'A McDonalds and a Tesco Express 'if you are lucky'!
The penny began to drop that I had been telling the truth (mostly!).
As we walked to McDs I told them that when Mum and I had been last time we weren't allowed in as the place was surrounded by police tape and police cars - there had just been an armed robbery. As we crossed the road a firework exploded - my guests shot 6 foot in the air! Gun fire?!
By now we were all very hungry and hadn't stopped giggling. In McDs Sue P wanted to hide. You see she is a hypnotherapist who specialises in weight loss - very effectively. She once was a size 18 but now is a size 10 and has remained that way for years now because her techniques are so good - see here. To see her tucking into a McDs was so funny.
Sue N was the first to go to the ladies - she returned giggling. 'It's got police warning tape in there on the floor - in the shape of a body' she told us. She was right - except it was just around a manhole cover. The hilarity continued as Dinah began to auction off a limited edition coca cola glass, we had been given as a freebie, to the other diners but would not be allowed to take in the theatre. That girl will do anything to raise funds for Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation!
Finally we went back into the Apollo. My tiny bag was inspected at the door for any unsavoury items - no chance in a bag that small. Dinah willingly emptied her pockets - a Happy Meal toy and a tube of fruit pastilles! We got teased that we were obviously ladies who knew how to party.
|Dinah, me, Sue N, Sue P|
At last we were in and stood at the side. Some people had been there for 2 hours and the St Johns Ambulance team and security guards carried out several audience members who had fainted. Meanwhile Sue P attempted to make sense of Dinah's Yorkshire accent ...
|Can you translate?|
As I glanced at my 'niece' and my friends I felt a rush of gratitude for the female affection and fun. As we danced Dinah caught my eye as I smiled at her. I know she remembered me saying how Clive had watched us dance at the launch night of Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation, and said he wished I would have more girlie nights to dance.
|2 weeks before Clive died|
Then came the BIG test. As Bruno began to sing ' You're amazing' my instinct was to phone my Mum. I wanted her to share the moment too. We all sang with gusto. At the lyric about 'your smile' I genuinely did. And once again Dinah and I locked eyes. Dinah 'found' my website on the internet after her friend Joe had taken her own life. Out of that death our friendship was created. Through Clive's death I spoke at the hypnotherapy conference in May where I met Sue P and another friendship began. The expression 'when one door closes a window opens somewhere' is very true. Just towards the end of the song I admit my lip did tremble for a moment BUT it was of tears of happiness and gratitude. In the many, many dark days and nights since Clive died it seemed I would never feel happy again.
Yet here I was in a very crowded place with no fear of panic surrounded by gorgeous friends soaking up the music and atmosphere. It would have been easy to ignore that email for the tickets. I am so glad I didn't. It was a joy to see strangers become friends because I had introduced them. My life has taken a completely different direction without Clive but I like to think he would be pleased with how I am dealing with it.
As the concert ended we made a dash for the car and I managed to manoeuvre the queues and we were back onto the M62 within minutes! The banter continued .. this time with Sue N declaring she would like a flannel (facecloth Sue P) with Bruno on to sponge herself down with and a pillowcase to sleep on! Anyone got a supplier?! My passengers were not happy with the return route - not a 'Fuk Wai' in sight!
Before we dropped Dinah off they all asked me to introduce them on Facebook and suggestions made for the 'next' one. When I was a teacher I became unofficial social secretary for several years and organised staff trips to shows and for meals out. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this. The next idea is for Singalonga Abba on 15th February in Manchester. Let me know if you want to come!
If you make an effort after being knocked and have support around you that you are willing to accept, it is possible to create smiles again.
Thank you girls for an incredible night out - You're amazing!
Please remember my next talk is on Monday 7th November at The Midland Hotel in Bradford. It would be great to see you there!
- So what can you organise to get some friends together?
- How many times have you said 'we must get together'?
- What excuses have you been making?