London Firsts

Over the past day I’ve stayed in my first Airbnb, ridden in my first (and second!) Uber and visited Alexandra Palace for the first time. It was also my first time in Highgate and, I realised, the first time I’d ridden the Tube alone (all the other times I’ve been to London I’ve travelled there and on the Tube with at least one friend). Amazingly I managed to get the right branch of the Northern line, unlike two friends of friends who actually live in London. Not bad for a bumpkin.

The HAIM gig was really good. Ally Pally was an impressive venue, with amazing views across London whilst we were queuing to get in. It rapidly became apparent, though, that the queuing habit the British are famed for was not one shared by the attendees. In London, it seems like it’s cool to just walk past other people in a queue who were there before you. I didn’t want to get into Queue Rage so contented myself with some glares at the offenders’ backs.

Once inside, my friend and I admired the architecture and the quirky atmosphere of the building. The first hall was full of hipster food stands and the main hall was big enough to have a bit of room around you towards the back. This was the case until about halfway through the gig. Then, doors to the side of us opened and security staff flooded out. They kept coming and coming, which was somewhat alarming. They formed a chain and moved us slightly forward. Then another chain moved the people behind us slightly back. They didn’t let anyone through, which was rather inconvenient as they blocked the way to the bar and the toilets on our side of the hall. If anyone asked them what was going on, they stared into space and didn’t answer. It was very unnerving.

As people kept coming (understandably) to try to get to the bar and/or toilets, our previously roomy area became pretty crowded. This was the case for about five songs. There was jostling. Some people got pissed off.

I suspected that the band would come out of the side door, but every time they started a new song it felt less likely that this would be the case. Eventually, though, I was right. HAIM did come out of the door, through the human-walled corridor and I managed to get a high five from each member as they walked past to a B stage, where they did ONE song. All that security staff weirdness that lasted for five songs was for one song on a mini-stage. Still, I got three high fives, so that did something to mitigate my annoyance at the way the staff handled it. They subsequently plummeted even further down in my estimation through the way they handled the end of the concert. Some potential exits weren’t allowed to be used; we were funnelled into a mass to use a certain exit, with barriers hemming us in at the side, until these were opened when we neared the doors and we were allowed to use the other exits anyway.

These gripes aside, it was a really fun evening. The band was entertaining and performed really well, and the weird stuff gave us something to laugh about. Once more, live music has given me good times with a good friend.

I’m now back at home, having had lunch in a really nice cafe and endured a longer than usual train journey home due to work in the Severn Tunnel. There’s still a day before it’s back to work, and tomorrow it will be really nice to celebrate Father’s Day with the family. I’m feeling pretty good.

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