Today I should be going to see Robbie Williams perform in Coventry. I excitedly purchased the tickets months ago, it may have even been last year, I really can’t remember.
In my mind the concert would be on a hot June day. We would drop Elliott off at nursery and let him know that Nanny would be picking him up that evening and he would excitedly wait for her to come and collect him. Mr H and I would head off in the car and join the daft queue to get near the front, I might even force him to do the silly run as soon as we’re through the gates, like I did at Wembley last time. We would sing and dance our hearts out, the setting sun glinting off our smiling faces. We might drink beer. We might sob during Angels (there’s no might about that, of course!). We would then return home to find my mom watching her soaps on TV and Elliott tucked up in bed.
First up, we’re perhaps not where we want to be in terms of childcare at the moment. My mom has looked after Elliott for short bursts when we’ve been out for dinner, or if I’ve had to attend a meeting during the week, but not for a long stint and she’s certainly never picked him up from nursery. So that was one warning light for us to be cautious about attending.
Then came Manchester. The horrific bomb explosion at the Ariana Grande concert. At first it didn’t put me off. ‘Dunkirk spirit’, ‘We must stand up to them’ and all that shizz. Then the threat level got raised to critical, there were police everywhere, even on trains. I don’t recall there being police on trains after 7/7. This seemed different. This seemed worse. And if the actual terrorists weren’t bad enough there were nutters and copycats using the Manchester event as an opportunity to let off fireworks, run amok with knives and just cause general havoc.
I started to feel uneasy about attending. I had never been like this before. I had always been of the persuasion that if you change your way of life – they win and I still stand by that, even though, at the moment, I can’t walk the walk. I lived in London for a year and faced frequent evacuations of train and tube stations (although life seemed less sinister back then), I vaguely remember being evacuated from New Street Station in Birmingham a few times in the 1980s when people suspected the IRA of planting bombs. I’d visited London a couple of weeks after 7/7 and not batted an eye-lid, other than to show my respects to those who unforgivably lost their lives. I’ve visited Sri Lanka, fallen asleep in the back of our transfer taxi and been woken up by the sight of man starring in at me whilst holding a machine gun. By no means am I a wuss, or one to hide from potential danger.
I spoke to Mr H about it and he was the same, although he was never going to be as invested in attending a Robbie Williams concert as me, so may have been looking for a get-out opportunity anyway. But, for me, I’ve been to every Robbie tour since Knebworth, before that in fact. I buy all of his albums on the day of release on CD. It’s the only physical CD I ever actually purchase now.
So, here I was a crazy mad Robbie Williams fan, who showed no fear in the face of previous threats, bottling it and considering selling my tickets. What had happened to me? I took to social media – some people were having the same thoughts – others told me not to live in fear. I noticed a correlation. All the people who were scared to go had kids. And that’s what it was for me. Whilst I wanted to stand up to those pesky terrorists (I prefer to refer to them as patheticists) I didn’t want to do that at the expense of my son. My son who I love. My son who, if something did happen to me and his daddy would be kinda screwed being as no one other than nursery has looked after him for more than a few hours. Sure, it was unlikely that something would happen, But what if it did? One girl helpfully reminded me that I could walk out of my house and have a tree hit me on the head and kill me. Sure, yes, I could and if that’s natures plan for me then so be it. But a fake headline of ‘Mother killed at concert that she didn’t really need to go to’ just kept flashing into my mind and I knew that, for me, if anything did happen, I would feel so selfish (if I, in fact, had enough life in me to feel anything).
A lot of people tried to correct me. ‘Tree girl’ and some others. You shouldn’t live in fear, you should go they said. Sometimes their demands were so strong I almost felt like I was being told off by strangers on the internet. I asked them to respect my wishes and I still stand by that. Different things affect different people in different ways. Sticking two fingers up to the patheticists and going to a gig might feel right for some people. Taking flowers to a memorial might work for someone else. For me, it’s protecting those closest to me. Everyone should be allowed to deal with these events in their own way.
So, today, someone from Walsall will be taking my place at the Robbie concert. I’m sure they will have a great time. I’m not even upset that I’m missing out on the concert as I’m off to the seaside with Mr H and Elliott. These recent events certainly make you realise who and what are important to you.
P.S. Don’t even get me started on Ticketmaster’s shoddy customer service!