Irrational Encounters With The Modern World

Dubious Claims To Fame – 13

I dislike the number thirteen, so much so that I documented it on this blog previously. I still have a handful of claims to fame to write, some of them very tenuous indeed, and am trying to decide which one to bless/curse with this figure. Don’t get me wrong, I know that is a thoroughly irrational thing to attribute to a simple number.

On balance, I think I will use this one to break from the norm and relate something that I witnessed (rather than partook in) while I was working. I generally try and avoid stories that happened in the course of my line of work, but since this one doesn’t involve me except as a witness I think I will tell it.

It was the early 2000s, and I was casually employed by a theatre in East Kilbride. I have no love for that town, despite or perhaps because I went there weekly for twenty years or more. The theatre has a rising metal shutter at the side of the stage, and a stage door around the back. We were in to set up for a music gig, and when the shutter was banged we opened it and let some of the tour crew in. Moments later, it was banged on again and raised to let more people in. Then on the third bang, we loaded all of the gear in. On the fourth bang, my friend (who had had enough of people making him go through the painfully slow process of raising the shutter, rather than using the stage door around the corner) shouted “FUCK OFF!” very loudly at the door, before raising it. I was standing next to him.

Outside, there stood a very bemused Midge Ure – the man whose gig it was, and whose headline set was effectively paying our wages – and he just looked at us. My friend looked very sheepish and apologised. It must be nearly a decade later now, and we still remind him and each other of the time he told Midge Ure to fuck off.

That was an accident, and not entirely professional, but another friend deliberately spent the entire day walking around the theatre singing “Shaddap You Face.” That was the song that infamously kept Midge Ure’s renowned track with Ultravox – “Vienna” – from ever making it to number one in the UK charts. Haha, menace!

I didn’t see much of the set, sitting backstage and waiting to load all the gear out afterwards, but I do know it was the first time I ever heard Visage’s “Fade To Grey” – a great song, as I now appreciate.




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