Thursday, September 26, 2002


Rolling Stones. My Stones memory is not what you might expect. Not the music - although, of course, there are plenty of memories of the band who are older than me in individual songs: 'Satisfaction' in the gym at the exchange school in Germany; trying (and failing) to play 'Angie' on the guitar; 'Miss You' in the Drama Theatre at school; 'Emotional Rescue' in the car on the way to Edinburgh for the first time - but that's not what I remember.

What I remember is standing on Leith Street in 1982. Lunchtime in the Potterrow refectory; I've wandered upstairs - probably in search of someone who wasn't there, and the TV is on in the corner. The news peters out, and 'Reporting Scotland' takes its place. The lead item is the startling fact that the Rolling Stones are set to play three low-key concerts in Scotland - Aberdeen Capitol, Dundee Caird Hall and Edinburgh Playhouse. These are the kind of venues - probably the actual venues - they last played in about 1964, and although it must have been a slow news day, it's hardly surprising that it's at the top of the agenda. Tickets had already gone on sale, apparently, and I noted this fact as I turned to go back downstairs and resume my search. About half an hour later, something clicks in my brain. It would actually be something to go and see the Stones in a small(ish) theatre; after all, they won't be around for ever, and even if I'm not such a fan, it is the kind of thing I could tell the grandchildren about. So I walk down to the West End - no particular sense of urgency, for some reason - and join the back of what is now a long queue, stretching up Leith Street from the Playhouse doors. And we stand and wait, and stand and wait. After about an hour, it is clear that this queue is not going anywhere, and one or two people start to drift away. Not long afterwards there is some kind of official announcement, and the queue dissolves. Ah, well. I've still never seen them live, and I still don't own any Stones music, but it seems there's no hurry...

Still, that would have been something, wouldn't it?

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