“I forgot the tickets,” he cried in a voice thick with a desperation akin to someone helplessly watching their beloved about to be ploughed into oblivion by a tractor.
“Are you f***ing kidding me?” I ask.
“No,” he says, “I’m serious.”
Seeing as how I can see that he’s very extremely upset with himself, and giving him a ton of abuse isn’t going to do any good, I laugh and satisfy myself with a simple, “I’m sorry, but you’re some f***ing pleb.”
I wish I could say I didn’t swear, but I did. I often do. And I believe there are many situations, like this or when the dog pukes on the carpet, that warrant it.
We were halfway up the motorway to Dublin and did a prompt u-turn, went home, collected the tickets, set out again, and arrived and parked in enough time to have a quick drink in Quinn’s pub around the corner from Croke Park.
I brought a few Bruce Springsteen t-shirts that I had left over from a failed t-shirt business (it’s comical how often I have failed in life) and thought I would surely get rid of them in this pub before the concert. The first half a dozen people I offered them to flatly refused and I thought I would be stuck with them, but then I saw Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar and decided to say hello.
“Wow,” I say, “I’m surprised that a celebrity like you isn’t surrounded by people looking for your autograph.”
“Ah now, I’m hardly a celebrity,” he modestly replies.
“Yeah, you are,” I say, “sure don’t you be on the telly and everything.”
For some reason I feel very much like some kind of half-daft country bumpkin. Perhaps it’s some weird inferiority thing born out of being from outside Dublin.
“Would you like to buy a Bruce Springsteen tshirt?” I ask.
“How much?” he says.
“For you: ten Euros,” I says.
“I can do a tenner,” he says and continues the way a good minister with integrity aught, “are you sure you’re tax compliant?”
I assure him there’s nothing to worry about on that score but he doesn’t look convinced, but buys the shirt anyway, downs the remainder of his pint and bids us farewell.
Nice bloke, I think to myself, and very down to earth. When I finish this post I’m going to Tweet him and ask him to send me a selfie of him wearing the shirt which, if he does, I will post right here after this paragraph and be 100% convinced that he is a true man of the people!
Onward to the concert we went and found our seats in the stands to the top left of the stage. My mind spontaneously reverts to the only other time I was ever in Croke Park which would have been about 17 years previously to see Oasis with an ex-girlfriend I haven’t thought about for a long time.
I momentarily get gripped by a sense of nostalgia such that one often does when something chances to open up a particular box of memories. Sometimes memory is like rummaging through a box that’s been left in the loft for years and the contents of that box take you backwards through time and, for a moment, the reality long passed fills you with the same sensations you felt when the memory wasn’t a memory but was actually happening. It was one of those what if moments that we’re all prone to on occasion.
When I snap out of my daydream, I’m mesmerized by the amount of people that are here to see this man and it almost seems like he’s some kind of God. People wave their arms and scream out his lyrics at the top of their lungs and it’s almost as if Bruce isn’t Bruce, but is actually the voice of the hearts, minds, and souls of every single person in the audience; as if his music is the soundtrack to everyone’s lives; as if the songs are not his, but belong to everyone. And I guess, in a way, they do.
I like Bruce Springsteen, but I’m not a huge fan and probably wouldn’t have come here of my own accord, but my brother had a spare ticket so I popped along. I really only know his hits, but it was rather an enjoyable concert and he and the band really engaged the crowd to the point where there were times I thought they could see, were waving at, and playing specifically for me, which is quite something when you’re one of a crowd of 80,000 people.
I wish I could say that the whole day was perfect, but it wasn’t. The sound quality, at least from where we were sitting, was bad and we were so far away that the band, to us, looked lke tiny specks on the stage and our view of the side-of-stage screens was blocked by a very stupidly placed speaker. But hey, nothing is perfect. It’s not meant to be. Perfect is for the idealistic pictures that people post on Facebook that make you feel as if everyone else is, depressingly, having a far more enjoyable life than you are.
All-in-all the day was a positive experience and me and my bro got on well enough to avoid either of us being charged with manslaughter, which is always a good thing.