Breaking Into Heaven

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
In 2012 the Stone Roses announced they would be performing at Heaton Park that summer. This was big. Everyone Tony McGee knew would want to be there. This wasn't just music. This wasn't any city. This was the Stone Roses. This was Manchester.

Submitted: June 17, 2016

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Submitted: June 17, 2016

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Part One. 2012.

Tony McGee read the text message from his friend. He read it again. He grinned. This news was big. This was massive. This was the earth shattering stuff that every person from Manchester of a certain age had been dreaming of for years. Tony, at thirty five years old, was one of those people. The Stone Roses had announced they were reforming to perform a series of concerts in June that year. Tony forwarded the message to almost all the numbers in his phone.

Perhaps the entire country, maybe the North West, but definitely Manchester was very excited. Nobody would have predicted that one of the city’s most famous bands would get back together. It had been years since they had last performed and sixteen years since their last album. In fact only three years ago guitarist John Squire had given a now famous quote. He had stated that he had ‘no desire whatsoever to desecrate the grave of seminal Manchester pop group the Stone Roses’. That was no surprise. The fall out between the band members was well known. The Roses, the soundtrack to your youth, were just that, a thing of the past. The written foreword on their greatest hits album even spoke of them in the past tense.

And now they were coming back. The Stone Roses were back and heading to Manchester. Back to their city. The old buzz around Manchester for the band was back with a vengeance. Tony read everything he could find on line about the forthcoming gigs. The concerts would climax in spectacular fashion at Heaton Park. Tony and every single one of his friends were beside themselves with excitement. Tony shivered every time he thought about it. The Stone Roses. Live. Manchester. The words gave him butterflies in his stomach. This was special. This meant something. This meant everything. Tony smiled as he lay in bed that evening. He grinned in the dark room. This was the one.

In the weeks running up to the ticket release date the gig was all everyone across Manchester was talking about. The city got worked up when United played City but that was nothing compared to the fervour that now gripped Manchester. Eight cars out of ten that passed by had the Roses tunes blaring out. Local radio stations played Roses songs more than ever. The legends were returning. As one of his friends had said, this was like the Beatles returning to the Echo arena in Liverpool this summer.

But as the release date neared something niggled at Tony. All his friends, his colleagues, everyone he knew, and everyone they knew, was going to try and get tickets. He felt sick at the idea of not getting a ticket. Imagine, the Stone Roses triumphant return to Manchester. And then, imagine NOT being there. He shuddered. It just didn’t bear thinking about.

The tickets went on sale at 9am one Friday. That morning in Tony’s open plan office every phone call and every click of a mouse was done in to try and get tickets. Tony and all his colleagues were gripped by the bug. One of his colleagues, a woman in her sixties, clapped her hands in delight.

‘I’ve got tickets.’ She chirped.

A few people rushed over to her desk to congratulate her on her success and to discuss how amazing the gig would be. Tony swore under his breath. He hit redial on his phone. He looked at the computer screen in front of him. He clicked refresh. He swore again as he heard the engaged tone and watched the bloody egg timer going round and round on screen.

A couple of his workmates called out during the next hour as they managed to get tickets. Then came the sickening but inevitable shouts. That’s it. It’s sold out.

At lunchtime as Tony ate his cheese and pickle sandwiches he overheard his colleagues gushing about how awesome the gig was going to be. Tony shook his head. Some of the people who were suddenly massive Stone Roses fans were in their early twenties and, he was certain, had never even heard of Sally Cinnamon. There should be a points system or something, he thought. Or maybe when you rang up for tickets they should ask you to complete a song lyric. He would have bet money that these young upstarts would now be downing loading the Best of the Stone Roses on their iPhones and listening to the band for the first time.

Maybe there would still be the chance to get a ticket. It wasn’t over yet. Big events often sold out only for tickets to appear on other ticket websites and auction sites and even social media. There was also the possibility that one of his friends would have a spare ticket. He had seen Oasis back in the glorious Nineties thanks to one of his mates having a spare. All was not lost.

As the concert date grew nearer and nearer, indeed it was now only weeks away, there was a mad scramble for tickets. Tony was still without a ticket. The situation reminded him of the opening scenes of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Everyone in the  North West was becoming more and more obsessed with bagging a prized ticket.

Social media was full of it too. Tony grew sick of hearing how yet another person he knew had obtained a ticket and were oh so looking forward to it. Bore off, he said aloud.

He regularly tried ticket and auction websites but each time he clicked ‘add to cart’ the message would pop up that the items could not be found. The website would then suggest other gigs he ‘might be interested in’ and would try and flog him tickets to see Little Mix.

Two weeks before the gig. As the days passed by more and more people Tony knew managed to get tickets. Family, friends, and workmates,  the haves were beginning to far outnumber the have-nots. Across the city the standard greeting of ‘Alright?’ had been replaced by ‘You going?’. And yet Tony was still one of the dwindling number of have-nots. One of his friends, a lad called Colin who was originally from Hartlepool and was now a bus driver in Salford, told Tony that one of their friends might have spares. Word was that their mutual acquaintance Tommy had tickets for sale. Tony wasn’t surprised. As the saying went, Tommy got where gas wouldn’t. Tony thanked Colin for the heads up. No worries, and good luck, Colin replied.

That evening Tony felt anxious as he entered the pub. United were playing some team or other. Tommy would be in the Ship Canal pub watching the match. It was a grotty little boozer that was always full, especially on match days. Tommy wouldn’t watch United anywhere else. Tony found him in front of the big screen, pint in hand. He squeezed in and took the stool next to him.

‘Alright, Tom?’

Tommy glanced away from the football.

‘Sound mate. You?’

‘Yeah. Listen, I wanted to ask you summat.’

‘Not while the match is on, eh? The only question I want to hear right now is ‘Do you want a pint?’’

‘Do you want a pint, then?’

‘I wouldn’t say no, chief.’

Tony went to the bar. He returned with a pint for Tommy and one for himself. He sat there in silence while everyone else in the packed pub was enthralled by the game. Tony occupied himself with his mobile phone. He made a couple of notes, ideas for short stories. He wrote stories, whatever popped into his head. He always had done. The notes on his phone would be thickened up and fleshed out into a story at a later date. Maybe all this with the Stone Roses gig would make a good story. He looked up at the football on screen. This lot were glued to the telly. Tony just couldn’t see what the fuss was all about. Films, books, music. That stuff mattered more than where your local team finished in the league. Surrounded by the football fans all shouting at the screen he felt like a visitor from another planet.

Tommy pointed to his now empty pint glass.

‘Get us another?’  he asked.

Tony knew he was pushing his luck. He should tell him to do one. But he just might have the ticket that saw Tony see the Roses live. He sighed. If he did have spares then a couple of pints to seal the deal was well worth it.

‘No worries, chief.’ He said and went to the bar.

As the players on screen left the pitch at full time Tony gave Tommy a nudge.

‘I’ve heard you’ve got spares for the Stone Roses.’

‘Sorry, chief. Already sold them.’

Tony knew that he’d been had over. This feller would be dining out on rumours of Roses tickets right up until the gig. Tony muttered to himself as he left the pub.

The week of the gig.

The excitement in the city reached a mad frenzy. Local television news went on about the upcoming ground breaking sell out comeback tour. The Manchester Evening News had a special pull out supplement. More and more people Tony knew managed to blag themselves tickets. It was as though everyone else knew something he didn’t. The secret of how to get a ticket still eluded him. Maybe it was just down to luck, and he didn’t have any.

With just days to go he was getting desperate. Whenever someone mentioned they were going to the gig he asked if they had any spares. He called a friend one evening. The lad was a real music buff. He was always way ahead of the crowd when it came to music. He had been into the Kings of Leon way before anyone else had heard of them. And he’d been the first to slate them for abandoning their red neck roots.

‘Alright mate?’

‘Tony, how’s it going?’

‘Sound, mate. Listen, I’ll cut to the chase. Have you got a ticket for the Roses?’

‘Yes, mate. I can’t wait. It’s gonna be mega.’

‘Have you got any spares? I’ve not got a ticket.’

‘You’re kidding.’

‘No mate. Gutted. Can you help us out?’

‘Sorry pal. I sold the spare I had this morning.’

‘Right.’

Tony hung up as his friend promised to keep an eye out for a ticket for him.

And so, on the evening of the Stone Roses’ triumphant return to Manchester Tony was at home alone. With a lump in his throat he flaked out on the sofa and worked his way through a crate of cheap lager and a kebab the size of small mattress. He watched crappy Saturday night television and tried not to think about the gig.

He deliberately stayed away from social media. The inevitable posts about how amazing the gig was would have been too much to take.

The days following the gig were agony. He couldn’t escape people going on about how it had been the best night of their lives. As the endless stream of people went on and on to him he did his best to let it wash over him. One young lad in his office who had never even heard of Ian Brown and John Squire a week ago was now showing him a video of the concert. Best night of me life, dude, he said. Tony felt like screaming.

‘I can imagine.’ He sighed.

 

Part Two. 2016.

In January after much speculation the Stone Roses announced that they would be performing at Manchester City’s stadium in June. The city was gripped once again.

Tony was excited but anxious. Would this be like 2012 all over again? He hadn’t been able to listen to the Roses since then without thinking of the crushing disappointment. It was like those couples who, after a difficult break up, cannot listen to the songs that remind them of the love they once had.

He was torn. Should he even bother trying to get a ticket this time? He wasn’t sure he could go through all that again. Maybe it would be easier if he decided from the outset that he wasn’t going. No doubt all those so-called massive fans would come out of the woodwork once again. Once more he would have to endure people who were not even born when the Stone Roses were in their prime gushing about what huge fans they were. These were the same kind of people who bought shirts of whatever team won the league last season.

No, thanks anyway, but he would leave it. He was opting out. He would be the one deciding not to go. It would be his choice not to even try and get a ticket. It just wasn’t meant to be. It was no big deal, he told himself. His dad had been around in the 1960s but hadn’t seen the Beatles live. Most people hadn’t. It really didn’t matter. And so, Tony would be one of the few people he knew in Manchester that hadn’t seen the quintessential Manchester music legends perform. Big deal.

This time around he would approach it differently. It would be better if he did not even try for a ticket. And if his mates asked if he was going he could honestly tell them that he had decided to give it a miss. Not trying at all would be better than trying and not being successful.

Yes, his mind was made up. That was it. It was decided. He would leave the band wagon jumping young idiots to it.

The morning the tickets went on sale Tony drove to work as normal. The radio was full of it. They were playing their songs and talking about how the Roses were coming back once more to make Manchester’s summer. As he pulled into the car park the radio played the full eight minute version of I Am the Resurrection. That got to Tony. John Squire’s haunting, beautiful, wandering guitar solo almost brought him to tears. Stuff it, he thought. He had to have a go at getting tickets. But he couldn’t quite bring himself to try for tickets. He would need someone else to try on his behalf. His dad was the first person he thought of. If anyone could get him a ticket then it was him. His auld feller would be able to sort something. And if not, then it really was impossible. He walked across the car park. He pulled his mobile phone from his pocket. His dad picked up.

‘Alright dad. Can I ask a favour?’

‘I’ve got no money, son.’ He laughed.

‘Nowt like that. Have you heard that the Stone Roses are playing again in June?’

‘Yeah. It was in the paper.’

‘Tickets go on sale this morning. Would you be able to try and get tickets?’

‘Why would I want to go and see them? They’re crap.’

Tony laughed.

‘Dad, a ticket for me, you swine.’

‘Aye, I’ll have a go.’

‘It will probably sell out but you have to try, don’t you? Just let me know when you’ve tried.’

‘Will do.’

‘Cheers, dad. Appreciated.’

While all his workmates tried to get tickets Tony logged onto his computer and started work. He did his best to try and forget about the gig. Chances were that it would be the same as last time. In a few moments his colleagues would no doubt be lucky enough to get tickets. As good as his dad was Tony knew that what he was asking was virtually impossible. The demand for tickets was once again through the roof.

Then it happened.

An email popped up from his dad. With his fingers crossed Tony clicked on the message. The mail simply read: Section 318 Row CC Seat 503. Tony’s heart pounded. Did that mean what he hoped? Not even daring to dream of going to the gig he typed a quick reply.

Have you got me a ticket? Can I get excited?

A second later came the reply:

Yeah, you’ve got a ticket. No reason to get excited. It’s only the Stone Roses.

Tony read the message several times. This was it. He was going.

‘Get in!’ he yelled.

All eyes in the office looked on with envy.

‘You going?’ someone asked.

‘Yes.’ he said. ‘Yes, I am.’

 

Tony swiped the ticket into the slot with trembling hands. This was the night he’d been waiting for.

As he went through the turnstile he felt ecstatic. A child like euphoria gripped him. He pushed through the crowd. The atmosphere was electric. The vibe was spiritual, magical somehow. He felt like he was having the best dream ever. It was such a wondrous feeling. He knew this was going to be the best night of his life.

Perhaps it was the agony of missing the 2012 gig that made the moment all the more special.

The band swaggered onto the stage. The crowd went berserk. They launched into the throbbing baseline opening of I Wanna Be Adored. Tony wiped away the tears from his eyes.


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