Very worst of UK culture was on display at gig - Argus Friday 24th June 2016

Posted Monday 27th June 2016   By Ericka Waller

So last weekend I experienced the very worst of our culture. It started with an eight-hour drive to Manchester on a Friday afternoon. Within five minutes of getting on the M25, a car came as close to my bumper as possible, and started making hand-gestures that were hard to explain to my kids. (“Why is that man pretending to peel the sellotape off a cucumber Mumma?” “Because he is an idiot” “Mumma, you said a bad word. Say sorry”). I assume he wanted me to move into the slow lane, which I couldn’t because there was a lorry in it. A lorry that suddenly pulled out in front of me to over-take another lorry. I flashed my lights at him. He shouted something my children interpreted as “idiot” and so started making cucumber-sellotape peeling gestures at him.

We finally made it to Etihad Stadium. I assumed, like the fool I am, that 60,000 people had gone to see The Stone Roses because they loved their music. 

I was wrong. Some may have, but the majority went to get so drunk they could have been watching The Rolling Stones for all they knew. It was almost impressive how, in such inebriated states, they could still aim their urine into bottles before tossing them at the singer, and the crowd.

I can’t describe the feeling of being hit with a cup of someone else’s warm wee, whilst jostling for air among a crowd of leathered, angry Northerners all singing “Will Griggs on fire, your defense is terrified, Na na, na na na, na naaaaaaaahhh” but it was not what I was expecting.

I’d prepared myself for an out-of-tune accompaniment to “Fools Gold”, not football songs about players I’d never heard off. 

We kept moving back and to the side to get away from tall people, smelly people, people who wanted to fight and one guy that had OCD and kept rubbing antibacterial gel on himself, and on me every thirty seconds.

We ended up in the gutter, where paramedics tended to tanked-up teenagers. The sound was better, but the smell of regurgitated ‘Snakebite and black’ was too much for me, and we left early. 

Our tram was full of like-minded middle-aged moaners who ‘Didn’t go for that sort of thing’ and ‘would be writing an email about this’. We ended up in a bar in Manchester with some awesome Scottish fans. They taught me how to swear properly, which came in handy for the long drive back.

I posted on the Facebook fan page that I’d left early and the band seemed morose. I was immediately inundated with online abuse, none of which I can print here, but the gist being I could not be a proper fan if I’d left early. Flying urine, fights and vomit were part of the enjoyment. I deserved them and ‘worse’ for wasting a ticket and air-space that could have belonged to a more deserving fan. I was then kicked out the group.

(I think they were taking out their hangovers on me. A record-breaking 500,000 pints were sold over the four gigs. No doubt Glastonbury-goers will have a similar experience this weekend.)

Before we left, we went back into the city for the Manchester Day Parade. My girls were dumbstruck by the 45-minute cavalcade.  The diversity was incredible, ‘Afrotos’, ‘Brazilia’, The Turkish Community Association, The Algerian Society, Chinese jugglers, Scottish bagpipers, and a Polish marching band to name but a few. 

They were all smiling, and seemed proud to be part of an inclusive community, enriched by diversity.

Living in Brighton, my children are not exposed to the above. I’m horrified at the idea they may grow up to be part of our immoral binge-drinking nation.

The only way we can change the way our generation view what is important in life, and how to truly get the most from it, is to expose them to other cultures. To that end, my voting choice was simple. We need to remain in the EU, now more than ever.

And finally, police arrived on Boughton-on-the-water en masse after complaints that a charity rubber duck race on the village green had breached an ancient by-law. Local business owner, Carol Teece said "It needed to be stopped, leather-clad bikers turned up and started chucking yellow ducks in the river willy-nilly. The by-laws only allow for the village green to be used for band practises on Sundays and that must be respected.”

The crowd of rubber duck enthusiasts, and disappointed children dispersed quietly after the police asked them to jog on.  It has been suggested a charity rubber duck race may be allowed to take place on bank-holidays in the future, when the by-laws don’t apply. No real ducks were hurt, but the leather-clad biker’s feelings were bruised by accusations they revved loudly.

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