Ten years ago, on this very day, I did something really quite exciting!
My friend and I got up at silly-o-clock to catch the early Mega Bus from Plymouth to London. I remember the sun didn’t even show itself until we’d been travelling for at least two hours, and the journey seemed endless, stopping at towns along the way to pick up passengers off for a day-trip to the big smoke, maybe to do some Christmas shopping.
We arrived at a freezing Paddington Station, then made our way across London, a few tube stops away, to reach our destination – BBC Television Centre. The reason we were coming to London was to attend one of the last recordings of Christmas Day Top Of The Pops. But not just that, the real reason being that we were here to see Coldplay perform their new single Christmas Lights.
What we didn’t know before we set off from Cornwall on our marathon 24-hour trip, was that only the first 100 people would be granted access to the show. So, when we joined the ever-growing queue which snaked around the gated building, we had no idea whether we’d make it inside, after getting up way before the birds, and travelling all that distance.
It must have been our lucky day because we were counted in as numbers 87 and 88 and with a huge sense of relief, made it through the gates and past Doctor Who’s Tardis, parked outside the front entrance. We were then guided to a waiting area, herded along like cattle and told to wait. Eventually, after what felt like hours, we were finally led along a dimly lit, back corridor and into a black walled studio.
We then had to do a little more waiting, but this time instead of being left to keep ourselves occupied observing a few weird and wacky looking people in the crowd, who were obviously Coldplay addicts like ourselves, some forgettable jokes were told by a warm-up guy. Then Black–Eyed Peas I Gotta Feeling was played, in an attempt to hype us up to fever pitch, ready for what we’d come all this way to witness.
Then, as we were beginning to wonder whether Coldplay were ever going to actually make an appearance, very quietly the doors were opened at the left-hand side of the studio, (fortunately, right next to where I had positioned myself), and the next thing I knew, Chris, Jonny, Guy and Will were all stood to the side of me – about 6 feet away. (It was at this point that my carefully calculated decision not to wear a Coldplay t-shirt paid off. I’d thought that it would be far too cheesy, so I’d chosen a purple Green Day one which I’d bought at their gig the previous year).
The four Coldplay boys were all stood in a huddle, obviously doing their pre-show talk and preparing themselves for their imminent performance. Chris looked around, stared right at me, then lowered his gaze to my purple Green Day T-shirt, with a punky lady making a rude gesture emblazoned on the front, and that was the moment when I could’ve spoken to him. And what did I do? Nothing! I was literally dumbstruck and too tongue-tied to speak. Seconds later, the stage-call came so they climbed up the steps at the side of the stage and they were gone, I’d missed my chance. Something I don’t think I’ll ever stop regretting.
The song had to be recorded twice, and as we’d been given priority access two days before, courtesy of the Coldplay.com website, and being such ardent fans, we already knew the words and sang along as if the new tune was already a classic and had been around since Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody.
24 hours after setting out, and back at home, it didn’t feel real, our whistle-stop trip, for a ten-minute Coldplay performance. But I’ll never forget the way Chris looking me up and down, and I’ll always wonder what thoughts were running through his head…..?