Sunday, 2 June 2013

La Streisand

Last night had been much anticipated for months.  Barbra Streisand was playing at the O2 Arena and my father, sister and I just happened to have tickets. The fact that these tickets had cost us mumble mumble pounds and weren’t even in the front row, was neither here nor there.  This woman was a legend.  A superstar.  When I was growing up, I devoured all her films and had a collection of her songs.  While other women wanted to look like Cindy Crawford, I wanted to look like Barbra Streisand.  I grew a fairly impressive nose in my teens, but that was where any similarity ended.

Just before we were leaving for the O2, a drama contact said she had some free places in front of the stage, and I was lucky enough to secure a couple of seats.  I immediately rang my son and said, ‘If you want to see an icon, get yourself over to the O2 now.’  I heard a startled squawk and the call disconnected.  Thirty minutes later Rob and his other half were there, seven rows from the stage and sitting next to Graham Norton and other ‘faces’.  My sister, when she found out, was furious.  ‘Fancy not letting us sit there.’  My sister has never had children and doesn’t understand that when it comes to your kids you sacrifice all.  She was still grumbling about it when we were puffing our way up the steps to Level Four – the area where numerous printed signs warn of the seats not being suitable for vertigo sufferers.
          ‘How much further?’ Janice asked.
          ‘Keep going,’ I said grimly.
          ‘How much further now?’
          ‘Almost there.’
          ‘But we’re practically touching the ruddy roof of the O2!’
          ‘Er, yes, that’s our seat up there.’
          ‘The very top row?’
          ‘We paid all this money for the highest row in the O2?’
          ‘And to think we could have been on the ground floor.  Unbelievable.  I can’t see a thing up here.  Did you bring binoculars?’
          But at that moment I was incapable of answering my sister’s question because, as I made my way along the very narrow platform to my seat, I’d had the misfortune to look down.  Suddenly the O2 tilted on its axis.  Forget experiencing a hot flush.  At that moment my entire body went into meltdown.  I clung onto the back of plastic seats as I edged, inch by inch, along the platform. My palms were so sweaty, they’d have been virtually useless at gripping anything if I’d tripped or fallen.  And then, ahead, another nightmare loomed.  A little gathering of people were standing up, pressed back against the wall so that we could squeeze past them.  My father seemed to think this was all terribly funny and laughed his head off as I shuffled along the ledge at a snail’s pace.  My sister was still fuming which was doing wonders for averting any vertigo of her own.  I reached the point of having to work my way around the people and instead ground to a halt.
          ‘I’m terribly sorry,’ I croaked, ‘but I don’t think I can move.’
          ‘Yes you can dear,’ said a little old lady of about ninety.  She took my hand and helped me along the ledge all the while assuring, ‘You won’t fall dear, and if you do I’ll catch you.’  I thanked her from the bottom of my heart and cracked a small smile.  Angels come in many guises.
          And thus we were finally in our seats.  I clung on to the sides of mine until the Arena stopped rocking about and by the time La Streisand came on stage, the vertigo had gone.  I was in my own private bubble.  And I could see her perfectly – I had my specs on!  What a voice, and how fabulous did she look?  We met her sister and they sang a duet together.  Her son, Jason, also came on stage and, again, there was another duet.  Barbra also sang with a trumpet player and a young violinist whose talent went off the radar.  There were songs from musicals and Yentl, and of course classics like Evergreen and the more bouncy No More Tears which, back in 1979 Barbra sang with disco queen Donna Summer.
          And now you must excuse me.  I have a sudden urge to listen to the great lady singing.  Perhaps you’d like to listen too?



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