Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Wanted: Generous Benefactor. Must Have Own Tailcoat

When I was little it seemed like every child that I encountered in the many books I read, whether a gruel-weaned urchin or a fallen-from-grace posho, was fortunate enough to depend on the patronage of a generous benefactor. Maybe they couldn't afford an education, perhaps they were too poor for ballet lessons, or only had one vaguely presentable dress to attend balls in. Whatever – a kindly figure from the shadows of anonymity came to their aid.
I am neither an urchin nor a posho. But still, I don't have any dresses to attend balls in either. Although this is a matter of sartorial anthropology, not financial hardship. How happy I would be if I stumbled down the stairs one morning to pick up my post, only to find there on the doormat a stiff white envelope with my name written on the front in a scratchy, curling hand. 

And what would be inside? I'll tell you, gentle reader. Tickets to see Neil Diamond at the O2 arena, retailing for £50-£75 each, plus plucked-from-the-air ticket agency handling charge. That is what. Holding them in my trembling hand, I would fling the door open and tear down the path, only to see disappearing around the corner an elderly gentleman in pin-striped trousers, a burgundy tailcoat, and a silver moustache, the tip-tap of his walking stick on the pavement growing ever fainter. Naturally I wouldn't be able to tell he had a moustache from the back, but I would just know. And obviously in my head, where this plays out, I would be living on the Royal Crescent in Bath, and not a scruffy, terraced main road in south-east London.

Anyway, my point is, Dear Neil Diamond. I hope you are very well. But £50? For a cheap seat in a vast arena, where all I would be able to make out are the sequins on your stage gear glimmering like fireflies? This is badly done indeed. Regards, Miss Jones. 

While it probably costs a lot to sew diamanté on to satin shirts, I can't imagine Neil really needs the money. However, I don't like making an example of him because a) he is basically god and pretty soon everyone will realise, and b) he's hardly the only culprit. Dear Dolly Parton, do the rides in Dollywood need some urgent and costly maintenance as this seems the only explanation for your exorbitant ticket prices?

And then there's Leonard Cohen, at the O2 arena, matching Neil's hefty tariff. I don't know what is more shocking - the fact that Leonard Cohen is playing the O2 arena, or that he's charging so much for the privilege. And the latest person to make me dream of envelopes and letter boxes is Ray Davies. How lovely, I thought, to take my mum to see him at Hampton Court on a balmy summer's evening in June. Not for £60 though. Come on, Raymondo. You can't pretend you live on dead end street any more. Not in those sunglasses. 

Oh, and do your shirt up. You're 63 for Christ's sake, you're not Cristiano Ronaldo.

So anyway, that is my plight. And until that band of genteel philanthrophists chooses to make a comeback, I'll just have to make do with this. Sing along when you know it.

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