My first gig as a ‘Disabled’ person

June 20, 2018 2 Comments
Nick Cave at All Points East festival. Sun setting over the crowds.

My first gig as a ‘Disabled’ person

June 20, 2018 2 Comments

I started this post just a few days after I went to see Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. But, life stuff got in the way. I can’t remember exactly what, but I’m sure it was all VERY important.

It was touch-and-go as to whether or not I’d make it. I’m proper pleased that I did.

Read on to find out more…

Sitting is lovely, and standing? Not so much.

Why had I written off festivals? Well, to put it simply – brain surgery has made it difficult to stand for long periods.

Post-chemo, I’m a nana when it comes to energy levels (not like my nana, who can speed walk and line dance – but other nana’s). I need regular rests (like power naps, minus the sleep bit) accompanied by several cups of earl grey tea.

We booked the tickets some six months before. And at the time, I’d been optimistic that by June 2018 these things (my ability to stand etc.) would no longer be of significance. Not so.

As the date of the festival neared, I had to face the fact that sitting is lovely and standing is not.

Trying to get a seat at All Points East

A couple of months beforehand, I began trying to get a seat in the disabled access area via customer services. It didn’t go too well. “No seats available love. And, don’t keep asking – because that’s that”. They were new levels of unhelpful.

We protested, and protested, and protested. I succeeded in obtaining a complimentary ‘disabled access ticket’ but on further scrutiny, it turned out to be a pass for a carer to attend with me. Not helpful guys. Let’s remember that I’m here for the chairs.

I deliberated about going. Deliberated hard. I thought about the fact that I’d only just finished chemotherapy.

And, about the location – in Victoria Park (London). I worried about the hassle of getting across the city (being all too aware that tube stations often have lots of steps, and no lifts – or more specifically – lifts that work).

I carried on weighing it up as my sister (who we were going with) ploughed on – determined to get me a golden Nick Cave accessible access ticket (what a mouthful). She sent angry, frustrated emails to All Points East and their American parent organisation!

It all had an air of ‘computer says no’ about it. In the end, it was public Twitter shaming that produced results (it is a good strategy btw – I have a mate that uses Twitter to sort out all manner of problems on the regular – from late buses to incorrect grocery deliveries). And within minutes the guilty party is usually keen to swiftly rectify in the DM zone.) as were All Points East.

After a royal rigmorale – we were back in business.

Braving it

We got The Ticket one week before the event. And I still wasn’t sure. Was it sensible? Would it be defeatist not to go? I didn’t want my illness to be the reason I missed it. You know how it goes – it’s always fun when you get there.

It all came off in the end, and (in spite of a seizure that afternoon) there we were – eating delicious fish finger butties in our silver wristbands.

I’d thought that it might be a bit uncool in the seated area, but it wasn’t so bad. I’d like to take a minute to say that it was FAR FROM FULL – yep, I’m looking at you All Points East.

Nick Cave at All Points East festival. Sun setting over the crowds.
Sunset over Victoria Park

Nick Cave plus a special guest

On the night, there was a surprise appearance from Kylie Minogue! The crowd could hardly believe it. As she began singing Where The Wild Roses Grow a sea of phones stretched out high on video mode.

I hadn’t expected Nick Cave to be such a peppy performer – all kinetic energy, limbs, and lunges. It was as though he was there for the audience. Stretching out his arms to fans, allowing them to grab eagerly. As the set ended, the stage was packed with members of the audience, who’d been invited up for the last few songs.

One overzealous admirer even tried her luck with an on-the-lips kiss.

Black and white picture of a couple at a festival holding handsBlack and white picture of a couple at a festival holding hands

Nick Cave and Flip Phones

I grew up with Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. My mum and dad played Cave – in their Passat (or was it a Citroen?) and on a silver CD and Radio stack in our kitchen at home.

Back in the days of ‘flip phones’, my boyfriend and I heard Into My Arms on the car radio. We were driving home from a mobile phone shop, and after that, it was one of our songs.

Now, we sat on fold-out chairs amongst wheelchairs and mobility scooters (noseying around, I wondered if they’d always been disabled and how many – like me – were still quite new to it). There was a sense of nostalgia – as I thought about the times I’d been on his shoulders, balanced precariously, in a mad, hot crowd.

Afterall, it’s more than just music. Isn’t it?

It’s the mass of raised arms and the story that you and them will tell. It’s the smell of curling cigarette smoke. Yes, that’s it. The spilled overpriced Red Stripe, and hearing other people singing your song.

Sar x


  • Sam June 21, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    Sarah, you bloody legend. As usual you’ve put a massive smile on my face and given me watery eyes while reading this.
    Two weeks post surgery last year I went to Citadel festival in Victoria Park with my walking stick and went into Status When I woke up in hospital the next day they told me I had fallen unconscious and seizing for 30mins straight.
    Ever since I’ve been too nervous to go to a festival due to the standing & walking energy required from my body. I’d considered requesting an accesible tkt but didn’t know if I deserved one.
    You’ve given me the push to look again. X

    • SarahGaffney June 24, 2018 at 8:51 am

      Oh sounds like you had it tough Sam… it takes time to feel confident again but sounds like you might be ready to give it another try (and thanks for reading as always and I’m glad to hear you enjoyed).

      Sar xxx

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