At 15 and after much negotiation with my beloved parents I went to my first ever proper gig at Earl’s Court. It was mid 1977, punk was well into rearing its spiky head and my cousin’s band, The Clash, was just about the most credible bunch of people you could choose to hang out with. So instead I – er – went to see Queen, front row at Earl’s Court, where Iâ€™m convinced Brian May winked at me during his Brighton Rock guitar solo.
Today I returned there with Wifey nearly 32 years later to attend the far more sedate Ideal Home Show, although to be fair the Ideal Home brand has been holding exhibitions there for far longer than it has rock gigs.
We went with a purpose, to buy a set of pans for the new kitchen. We left with far more than we bargained for. Every turn brought with it a new essential item that weâ€™d never heard of, but without which life now seemed somehow empty.
Friendly and overly charismatic northerners and Scots recited their 10 minute scripts with increasing degrees of excitement as they resolved some kitchen, cleaning or decorating crisis you werenâ€™t aware of before reaching a crescendo as they announced the price and threw in “as an exhibition special” an extra set entirely for free.
They possess incredible selling skills, but they’d met their match with my wife, who possesses equally impressive buying skills. In addition to the cookware weâ€™d gone for, we carried home two sets of wifi headphones (batteries not included), an expensive electric massage pounding contraption with a free “How fat are you” machine, a glorified set of goggles that massages your face, a selection of cleaning products, some sort of leather renovating cream and some pads that simultaneously remove hair from and exfoliate your legs.
It was a close thing, but we managed to escape without a set of electronic cigarettes, a new-fangled hand blender that would find several similar friends in our home already, a new bed and a set of indicators for a push bike so garish that they would scare 7 shades out of any poor motorist that saw them approaching at night in their rear view mirror. Actually the jury is still out on the hand blender.