At the risk of incurring the wrath of TT die-hards, it’s more out of nostalgia than present-day fandom that we continue to watch ‘our boys’ – though, of course, we’ve done our fair share of the fanatical stuff, too. Okay, so ‘we’ might be stretching the truth a bit (obviously I mean ‘me’) but none of my T-shirt-buying, letter-writing, banner-making, face-painting antics would have been possible without Mum’s help. (Ah, correcting the grammar in her daughter’s letter to Gary Barlow. She must be so proud.)
While up in Derby over the weekend in preparation for the Manchester date (the one where it all got a bit Spinal Tap), Mum and I indulged ourselves in a bit of reminiscence, recalling memories of the hours spent on the receiving end of engaged tones while trying to buy tickets; the packed lunches in the car on journeys between the school gates and the NEC Arena; the nights on the floor at my cousin’s place in London after shows at Earl’s Court; the careful execution of buying all formats of new singles on the hour of release, and the practice that went into getting the moves to Pray just right. Half the fun of being a dedicated ’Thatter, it quickly became clear, was in the planning.
My reason for bringing this up is that, as I type this post, I’m involved in two separate email conversations, each about live music – but each seemingly as far removed as the other. The first is with the mate with whom I’m going to see The ’That at Wembley. Despite it being a month ahead of the date, we’re already working out how much – or, more to the point, how little – we need to drink that day in order to get within touching distance of Howard Donald’s bum without either of us ruining our prime position by needing a piss. The other conversation is between myself, P and our mates Jess and Matt, with whom we’re going to Glastonbury, and has covered not only the merits of windbreak-aided pitch demarcation and the quantity of Supernoodles it takes to cure a hangover, but a fully functional spreadsheet of the number of cans required to load into a campervan to avoid buying any booze on site.
Now, I expect I’m not exactly hitting wide of the mark by saying that this isn’t exactly regular behaviour, right? I mean, I’m definitely an advocate of the half-the-fun-is-in-the-planning stuff (arranging mine and P’s wedding, for instance, was one of the happiest times of my life), but is it really normal to find yourself looking so far ahead that you’re already thinking about your July bladder activity, or rearranging the furniture in your living room to make way for a portable toilet, a double sleeping bag and a giant bucket of Maoams? (And that’s quite aside from the giant contradiction of being a Take-That-loving Glasto-goer.)
The thing is, though, I love living like this: filling my calendar with things to look forward to, then getting childishly excited in the run-up to each one. It’s not exactly cool, granted, but getting my goon on is one of the things I do best. (Mind you, if you think I’m bad, you should have seen the fifteen-page bound and laminated dossier that Jamie handed out before he, Leanne, P and I went on holiday to Florida. The mere thought of it still terrifies me to my very core.)
As much of a kick as I get out of the anticipation of fun, it’s not without its drawbacks. Dad once (quite rightly) warned me that it could be a dangerous tactic, and as much a downfall as it is a charm: building things up in your mind, after all, always carries with it the danger of setting yourself up for a disappointment. And it’s a fair point. This time last year, for example, I was lying broken-backed in a hospital bed in Mexico, cursing not just the prospect of a missed Glasto but the idiot in me who chose to squeal ‘this is going to be the best June EVER!’ nanoseconds before finding herself arse over tit on a marble floor. (See also: the time I spent an entire school term boasting to my mates about going to see Michael Jackson, only to get to Wembley Stadium, sit through support acts by Kris Kross and Rozalla, then be informed just before MJ was due to take the stage that the show had, inexplicably, been cancelled... and I’d be on holiday for the rescheduled date.)
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the virtues of living in the moment – heck, the last few years have pretty much granted me a Living For The Day diploma – it’s just that, well, what if I don’t want to? I know the accepted way of living when coming out the other side of a massive curveball is taking each day as it comes, living each day like it’s your last and all that sky-diving, bucket-listing palaver. But what if I’d rather savour my time? Is that okay too?
As regular readers of this blog will know, it’s a rare occasion when I don’t heed
Yoda’s Dad’s advice. But if the last week of Take-That-tactics and Glasto-gooning have taught me anything, it’s that taking life one step at a time is all well and good, but even sweeter is knowing that absolutely nothing can undo all of mine and Mum’s hard work on the fun-forecasting front.
I’m not daft enough to finish this post with another fate-tempting ‘this is going to be the best June EVER!’ …but I’m not afraid to confidently predict that it’ll be pretty plan-tastic.