Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Saturday 18th December: The miracle before Christmas

It’s Saturday morning a week before Christmas, it’s snowing hard and my £150 tickets to see Paul McCartney at the Hammersmith Apollo tonight still haven’t arrived. I look them up on the UPS tracking system and discover to my horror that they are at the depot in Croydon due for delivery on Monday. Great. I speak to UPS. They’re afraid there’s nothing they can do: adverse weather conditions and sorry, no, they can’t put in a call to the depot in Croydon, even a request to put in a call to the depot in Croydon wouldn’t go through for 24 hours, at least, which, of course, will be too late for me and my tickets.

I ring Getmein.com, the division of TicketMaster who sold me the tickets. No, they’re afraid there’s nothing they can do either. They can’t provide proof of purchase; they don’t know the ticket ID or seat number so they can’t provide evidence I could show on the doors tonight. They are sorry but due to blah, blah, blah, it’s beyond their control. Blah.

I very nearly give up but then I have an idea. We don’t live very far from Croydon, maybe I could drive there now through the snow and persuade them to find the tickets for me? They’re there somewhere. I google UPS Croydon and find an address on an industrial estate and an 0208 telephone number. I ring it. Eventually a girl answers and I explain my predicament. I beg. I imagine her sitting in a freezing cold desolate Portacabin on the outskirts of Croydon. I promise to bring her hot chocolate and mince pies, anything.

She says she’d love to help but there are hundreds of packets and parcels, it will be like looking for a needle in the proverbial. I give her the ID number. She says she will try and that she’ll phone me back regardless. And do you know what? About an hour later, just when I’m stepping out of the shower, she actually does! She rings back! She’s found my tickets and she’s put them on a van! I thank her profusely. I realise how very, very much I wanted to go to the concert tonight and that I had been holding back the disappointment, trying to convince myself it didn’t really matter. And now I’m actually going to go! So I cry. “Don’t cry!” Says the mortified UPS employee on the other end of the phone. “Now you’re freaking me out!”

When he arrives about an hour later, through the snow and ice and gales, I give the UPS man a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates for the girl back at the office (I put her name on it). And later, at the concert, as I stand about ten feet away from Paul McCartney himself and witness him singing Yesterday and Hey Jude and Let It Be and Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band and Blackbird and The Long and Winding Road and Get Back and all my other very favourite songs in the whole world, the best pop music ever written, by one of the best singer-songwriters ever, himself, in the flesh, in front of me. I silently thank that girl in the UPS Portacabin in Croydon.

I’m not a religious person, in fact I’m an atheist, but seeing Paul McCartney in the flesh - I reckon it’s the nearest thing to a religious experience I’m ever going to have. And getting that ticket just in time today, you could say that was a Christmas miracle, if you were religious.

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