You are currently browsing the daily archive for January 25, 2008.

I was 26. I had just become engaged to be married and been made a partner in the law firm within the same week.  I had a new computer and was charged with building a commercial department where there had not been one before. 

My new client did not look very prepossessing.  He had lost the use of one side of his body, had difficulty with his speech, was a registered drug addict, and had been left with the shakes, but he had a dream.  He wanted to arrange a pop concert at the local football stadium and he wanted me to help by doing all the legal work. 

He did not have any artist in mind, nor any idea how he would go about it, but he knew an accountant about the same age as me who would look after the money side, and later he found someone from a local building firm to deal with the alterations that would be necessary to make the stadium safe for the concert goers.  And he introduced a fifth member to our team, a local entertainments agent. 

My client was on welfare benefits, but he said he could pay me £5.00 a week on account, and more once the concert had taken place.  I was young and needed a challenge.  My partners in the law firm agreed to allow me to take the case on.  Amazing, thinking back on it.  It would not happen today.

Somebody mentioned Tina Turner.  So our motley crew managed to arrange a meeting with the agents representing her in the United Kingdom.  We asked if our venue could be included in the schedule for her tour, alongside Milan, Paris, Barcelona …  For some reason, the agents agreed that she would come and sing for one night providing we could pay her fee up front.

My client did not have any money, so this was a bit of stumbling block, but my senior partner approached the partnership’s bank, Lloyds Bank.  We went to see the Manager and asked if he would lend £300,000 without any security.  He asked around the office to see if the bank staff would want to go to the concert, and based on this scientific sounding, agreed to lend us the money.  Amazing, looking back on it.  It would not happen today.  I think freemasonery was involved, looking back on it, but it did not occur to me then.

Contracts were drawn up, and money was paid over.  Along the way we arranged insurance in case it rained and obtained the necessary licences to allow for the live performance.  We sorted out the stadium and poured over endless spreadsheets.  We persuaded local firms to supply us with furniture for Tina Turner’s dressing room, and flowers.   Tickets were printed emblazoned with the tour sponsors, Pepsi Cola.  I had all the tickets for the concert in my filing cabinet and began to distribute them to the ticketing outlets that we had arranged.

They flew out of my cabinet like fireworks and in only a few days they were all gone.  We asked if we could have another day, and Tina Turner’s management agreed, so more tickets arrived, were sold, more than 44,000 in all.

The day of the first concert dawned and the management arrived to check over the venue.  They weren’t happy with the dressing room and said Tina Turner would not perform unless it was changed.  They specified wall drapes in black and yellow.  Somehow we found these.  I do not remember how.  By now it was all a bit of a blur.

We had the best seats.  My senior partner and some of my friends, and employees from the law practice sat with us.  My senior partner had plugs in his ears.

Dry ice steamed over the entire stage and out of the white smoke a staircase unfolded and the diva descended.  It does not get any better than that for a provincial lawyer.

I still have the T shirt but I never did get all my fees paid.  All the profits were eaten up by those black and yellow drapes.  Every year since then there has been a summer concert in the football stadium.  I can stand in my garden and listen.  I still bump into the accountant and the builder and the entertainments agent every so often, but I have not seen my client for years.  I am glad he had a dream.

The sun came out today after ten days of gloomy cold cloud cover.  I went for a walk with Wolf in the park and we met a springer spaniel puppy and her young owner.  Wolf played and the young woman talked to me.  She did not stop talking and I felt happy that she was comfortable talking to me.  The dogs ran on ahead and we walked through the park.  The ancient oak trees still had no leaves on their bare spiky branches.  They stood like scarecrows in the watery sunshine and childhood nightmares of Rupert Bear and the horrible sticky creature came flooding back.  He was called Raggety and he stalked me for years.

I found a picture of him and he still makes me shiver.