Sorry about the appalling pun. It just goes some short way to demonstrate the full horror of last Saturday night when we (foolishly) volunteered to take a car load of screeching teenage girls up to the O2 Arena for Capital Radio’s Jingle Bell Ball.
The journey, which our lying git of a satnav reckoned would take an hour and a half, actually took nearer three hours. That’s three hours of nose to tail traffic through some of London’s least attractive neighbourhoods. Peckham anyone? New Cross? Yum yum. All the girls, except for our own, were restrained and polite, keeping their frustrations to themselves. Unfortunately, constant exhortations from the back seat along the lines of “for God’s sake mum, can’t you drive any faster?” when you are already moving at a scant 5 miles per hour, 2 inches from the bumper of the car in front of you, do not help to contain one’s temper. So we crawled along in the dark, in the horizontal rain, the like of which seems to have fallen every day and night for months on end. Traffic inched forward. Bored drivers looked around themselves for entertainment. Lecherous old men gazed delightedly upon our teenage passengers and the girls, in turn, squealed their disgust, declaring themselves “about to be sick if he looks at me one more time!” I glanced over at one such driver after a particularly loud bout of “eeewwwww – look at him! He’s so old, he’s like, DEAD!” and found the man whose gaze flicked shiftily away from my molten glare was all of 25 years old. It didn’t seem the time or the place to try and explain to the girls that, if they insist on dressing in minuscule skirts and tight tops, people are going to look. Especially as they are a bunch of stunning teenagers, one of whom is already signed to a top London model agency. Ho hum – a lecture for another day, methinks.
To entertain us all, the Shah elected to take on the role of embarrassing Dad with disturbing gusto. Quizzing the girls on the acts they were going to see, he sang loudly along to Lady GaGa, insisted on referring to “Stingy Tider” and “High Ho Cruise” The TD was infuriated. The Shah was doubled up with laughter at his own wit and her discomfort. The girls constantly phoned friends who were already there. “MUM! We’ve missed Jordin Sparks!” Eventually, after a quick scoot through many amber lights (they were green, honest officer) and a vain attempt to admire the attractions of Greenwich as they flew by the window, we saw the dome of the O2 in the distance. Narrowly avoiding getting into the lane for the Blackwall Tunnel, we skidded into the drop off zone and disgorged a bunch of hysterical teenagers who each whipped off their shoes and ran like greyhounds with us calling “Meet us in Car Park 1” vainly at their retreating backs. Having parked (the O2 has spared every expense with the car park and simply fenced off a rough area, chucking a ton or two of cinders down which makes it hell to walk on), we staggered off towards the dome, the better to entertain ourselves for the next 5 hours or so.
Fellow latecomers trailed after us. Another teenage girl, dressed in the uniform of tiny skirt and black leather jacket (sleeves pushed up) sprinted past us like Usain Bolt on steroids. Her mother lumbered along behind weakly calling her back “Loo-say! LOO-SAY! Wait on yer broother!” Sadly, Lucy’s brother was a lumpen twelve year old who wheezed asthmatically as he galumphed after his sister – who was doing a fine impression of Road Runner and was a mere speck on the horizon.
The O2 itself (for anyone who hasn’t been there) is like a small town. More restaurants than you can shake a stick at, an 11 screen cinema and a full size funfair to name but a few of the attractions (I use that word loosely, you understand) not to mention the concert hall which seats a mere 16,000. It transpired very quickly that The Shah and I had different forms of entertainment in mind. He, being film-mad, headed straight for the cinema to see what was on whilst I gazed forlornly at a restaurant, imagining a romantic meal a deux. Fat chance. We ended up grabbing a sarnie from Starbucks and chomping it whilst watching 2012 – one of the worst films I have ever had to endure. Ever. If you haven’t seen it, the plot goes as follows:-
John Cusack is divorced from his gorgeous wife who has remarried and lives with delightful 2nd husband and her two (cute) children by John. Unfortunately, on a camping trip to Yellowstone, John discovers (courtesy of wild-eyed hippy, Woody Harrelson) that the earth’s inner core is melting, causing the crust to shift drastically but manages to rescue said family in a limo and drive ahead of massive earthquakes to an airfield where 2nd husband (a plastic surgeon who also conveniently holds a pilot’s licence) flies everyone to safety. The End. Well, not quite – there’s loads more mawkish shenanigans in between:–
2nd husband conveniently cops it, leaving John to rediscover his feelings for wifey who merely shrugs when informed of 2nd husband’s demise. They find the government has constructed a load of Arks, designed to accommodate the great and the good and survive the tsunamis now threatening mankind. Needless to say, John & co go the long way round, enduring all manner of suffering, to gain access – quite unnecessarily as it turns out as, just before they set sail, the captain has a change of heart and lets the raging throng which has gathered outside on board opining “Gee, we can’t let all these people down” or words to that effect, hand on heart and misty of eye.
Meanwhile, back in the cradle of the universe (aka Washington DC) the President bravely refuses a lift on a passing Ark and spends his final hours tending to the occasional Geriatric who has keeled over in the street. There is more than one Ark, but we don’t get to know anything about the others, presumably because they don’t have any Americans on them. The Arks are numbered – John’s is number 4 – and it’s nice to see, as the climatic catastrophes subside and everyone is allowed to disembark into a brave, new world, that the Ark builders had time to print up a few t-shirts and promotional jackets as an embarrassed-looking Thandie Newton (as well she might be – an actress of her calibre) and a few other bods appear at the doors of the Ark, becomingly attired in t-shirts with a number 4 on them. Presumably some significance in this which was completely lost on me.
Throughout this torture (which, incidentally, dragged on for about 3 hours) I was receiving texts from my good friend, Mrs H, en route to a birthday party, the dress code for which was “Glamorous”. Glamorous? Flippin’ GLAMOROUS? Huh!
Later, reunited with our charges (and several billion others) in the car park, all is forgiven as TD apologises fulsomely for expressing her frustrations so volubly and all of them declare it was “just the best night EVER!” Apparently Lady GaGa was ‘amaaaaaazing’ and Miley Cyrus ‘like, INSANE!’ We got to bed past 2a.m. “Another ten hours of our lives we’ll never get back,” sighed the Shah as his head hit the pillow and the snoring began.