Rolling back the years
By Graham Shelton n 1964, 15-year-old Kathy Parsons bunked off school. This alone would have caused her parents to be somewhat displeased. Had they known that she had done so to buy tickets to see the Rolling Stones at the Colston Hall in Bristol, she would probably have been sent to a convent for cavorting with longhaired heathens who would never amount to much.
Little did Kathy know that 53 years later she was again to be in possession of a ticket to see the same group that had in the intervening years achieved worldwide iconic status.
The train ride to Barcelona was as usual a wonderful trip. The Spanish rail system is second to none, what a pity that the organisation at the Olympic stadium was not managed by the same people.
By fluke, we bumped into a young French couple in the hotel reception who were heading to the same gig, so we decided to skip the planned meal and shared a taxi with them, arriving 3 hours early- good job as it turned out
The queues were enormous and we quickly grew sick and tired of hearing an announcement that all bags had to be handed in to a secure area before entry. Naturally in neither of the three languages did it say where the secure area was, so we all stayed in line to eventually hand over the bags at the head of the queue only to be marshalled out to join another line to get into the stadium. Our tickets were scanned, oops there is a problem, please go the “incident control”. None of the staff knew where this was of course, but we eventually found it and were greeted by about 2000 others in the same position.
A letter in English was given
Ito us advising that we had bought our tickets from a nonauthorised source (Viagogo) so were invalid and we would not get into see the Stones. The letter from “Doctor Music” stated that they wanted to take the sellers to court for a refund of ticket costs and if we signed a letter of authority, they would help all involved. Well as the tickets cost over €300 each, why not? Surprisingly the atmosphere in the queue was fatalistic; everyone shared with their neighbours’ stories of the ticket sales. Many did not bother to wait and one escapee from the rough end of Benidorm was yelling in English to give up as we had all been scammed
The authorisations were signed and handed to a young lady who explained that she had updated the ticket information and that whilst we may get into the stadium, we may not get into the seating area. So, from initially not being allowed to attend the concert according to the letter, entering the Stadium meant that we would at least be able to hear the famous warblers, if not see them
By now we had been in one queue or another for three hours, walked for miles outside the vast stadium and the gig was about to start. We joined yet another queue, approaching yet another marshal with a bar code scanner and our tickets passed scrutiny! Hopes were rising, people were being allowed in, by now with their bags, guess the storage area was full. LOL. At the second scanning point, relief as again no problems, but what about the seats? We found them empty so parked our butts. The couple next to us had shared the same experience, so what exactly was the problem?
Mick Jagger bounced on stage, the packed stadium went wild, the beginning of a great show. By now, beers were in order so I skipped to the floor below. The bar was busy but the staff weren’t, they must have been used to working in a laid-back beach ‘chiringuito’. Frustrated I spotted a quieter bar and shot across there. A pretty girl stared to pour the first drink, the barrel went, she tried changing it but did not know how. Back to the first bar where I asked for two half-litre beers. “We don’t have that size,” responded laid-back. “According to the notice here you do,” I rejoined. “Oh yeah, hang on”. “How much?”, “€24”. “Bloody hell, I don’t want to buy the brewery,” I thought. Out came a 20 note and a fist full of change, which I asked the barman to count, as I didn’t have my specs with me. “You are 10 cents short,” he said. “You want 10 cents?” “Yes, that is the price”.
Jagger was singing “Paint it Black” which perfectly matched my mood. The moronic barman was given a €5 note and a few choice words learned on the streets of my Spanish village, which drew approbation from another customer. The idiot even hung back with the euro change, clearly hoping for a tip. He got one that invited him to go and enjoy sex and travel.
The Rolling Stones concert was worth every cent, but after all the grief, queueing, walking, then looking for a cab to the hotel, we also felt like the “Strolling Bones”.
Kathy Parsons and Graham Shelton