On Friday night Harry and his dad went to a gig. A proper outdoors, lots-of-people gig. Most teenagers have probably been through this rite of passage with or without their parents long before reaching the age of 18 but Harry is not most teenagers.
Harry loves music. Almost as much as he loves TV. He knows the words to songs that we have never heard of, from contemporary pop songs to middle-of-the-road classics from the 1950s. It helps that he spends a lot of time on the road. Harry’s taxi run to school is roughly 45 minutes each way with the radio tuned in to BBC Radio 2. He knows (and sings along to) all the jingles that get played between 7.45-8.30am and 3.30-4.15pm. He will also sing along to TV commercials. So, really, what is the point in me muting the ‘Webuyanycar.com’ advert if Harry is going to sing it anyway?
So, when we had a letter come home from school saying that they were planning a trip to take Harry’s class to see Will Young perform at Dalby Forest we jumped at the chance for him to go.
The full cost of the tickets was £35.00 but the school subsidised part of the ticket price so that Harry’s ticket cost £20. Staff were going to accompany the students on a one-to-one basis to act as carers unless parents wanted to go… My husband will take any chance to go to a ‘proper’ gig and so he decided to attend as Harry’s carer and his ticket was free. How cool is that?
The idea was that students would travel from school to the venue and have a picnic tea in the forest. As things turned out, this aspect of the trip was cancelled due to staff shortages so instead, kitted out in wellies and waterproofs, ‘the boys’ travelled from home together. The venue – Dalby Forest – is only a 30 minute drive from home but the queue to get into the forest was long and slow-moving.
Having parked the car, the queue to get into the concert area was also pretty horrendous. Harry isn’t too bad with the concept of queueing but there is always a chance – more so in a forest – that he will start to scout around for sticks. He didn’t. Perhaps the amount of people around put him off because he held on tightly to his dad’s hand until they had passed through the security check.
We had done plenty of research before they set off, so they made their way to the Disabled Stand, an area set aside for wheelchair users and their carers. There was plenty of room for Harry to sit down or stand up and dance as the mood took him. At one point he was really jigging about and my husband was worried he was bouncing about too much and disturbing others around him. He was just about to put out a restraining hand when the young lady sitting next to him prevented him. She put her hand on his arm and said, “It’s alright. Leave him be.” How lovely.
The support act was Nerina Pallot, an artist my husband had never heard of, although he recognised several of her songs once he heard them. Harry knew many more of them and happily sang along.
At the interval food was procured. Canadian BBQ steak sandwiches, lemonade and coca cola which Harry wolfed down and ended up with sticky fingers – that’s rock ‘n’ roll!
When Will Young appeared the place really came to life. Two elderly ladies suddenly became extremely animated and were up on their feet, singing and swaying along to the music. Harry needed no encouragement to join in and was soon completely absorbed. So much so that he was oblivious to a nasty fight between a man and a woman which suddenly started up, only feet away from where he was standing.
Fours hours later the boys were home and buzzing with tales of their night out. Harry’s verdict was: “It was fantastic!” And my husband was vowing to attend more outdoor concerts with him.
The value of music as a form of therapy cannot be underestimated. I am always taken aback by the effect it has on Harry. It brings him to life in a way that few others things do. He seems suffused with joy and it brings a smile to his face which is transfiguring.
Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good, just and beautiful, of which it is the invisible, but nevertheless dazzling, passionate, and eternal form (Plato). (Wordsworth Dictionary of Musical Quotations, 1991, p. 45).
(I found this quote on the Voices website and hope they don’t mind me using it here).