Late last Thursday afternoon I caught a train from Chester to Manchester to meet my husband. On arriving at Chester railway station, late courtesy of the taxi which arrived late to collect me, thinking that I was short of time to purchase my ticket I headed straight for the new fangled automated ticket machine. In my haste to buy a ticket I purchased a return ticket instead of a single.This is the third time that I have used this machine and only once have I managed to purchase the correct ticket. This machine has no instructions and could never be described as user friendly. Realising my mistake, I debated queuing at the ticket office to change the ticket but decided that I did not have the time to join the queue. The risk of missing the train was too great. At Manchester Piccadilly station I was met by my husband. Our intention was to walk towards Manchester Victoria which according to him is a 15 minute walk. Manchester was at its' best. It was raining heavily so I suggested that we wait until it slowed down, but he did not want to do that so we set off. I did manage to get him to shelter when the rain became even heavier, then he had the bright idea of getting a taxi. By now we were already half soaked. We clambered into the taxi and were whisked away to the restaurant that we were aiming for. The evening had not yet started and already three things had gone wrong. But now, that we were in the warm and dry, perhaps things would improve.
We had a very nice Chinese meal swiftly served but no so swiftly that by the time we went out it had stopped raining. Now for the purpose of the trip to Manchester. We headed for the MEN area. We were early. We had a wander around then made our way to our seats. The warm up act came on, on time at 7.30 pm to a half empty arena. Whoever they were, they were so loud that I was vibrating with the music, if you could call it music. After half an hour they left the stage. The lights went up and still the arena was not full. Amazingly for another half an hour the audience casually sauntered in. As I had nothing better to do I quite enjoyed watching them. They came in all shapes and sizes from teenagers, through heavily pregnant to senior citizens, with walking sticks, white sticks and hearing aids - I am not kidding. By 8.30 pm the arena was as full as it was going to get. The lights went out and Eric Clapton and his band took to the stage. For a 64 year old, who lived life in the fast last during his twenties and thirties, he looked very good, with a full head of glossy brown hair, his only concession to ageing appeared to be his trade mark metal rim spectacles. Wearing a casual black, short sleeved shirt and denims he spent two hours on stage performing from his repertoire of hits. My husband is the fan, so I have to say that I did not recognise some of the numbers that he played. However, I did recognise I Shot The Sheriff and Layla which was performed as an easy listening number rather than the raw version which was a hit all those years ago. Then he went on to murder Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Judy Garland would have turned in her grave if she had heard it. And of course, he had to play Wonderful Tonight, the song that he wrote for the model, Patti Boyd who he later married. After an encore, they were gone. Clapton was good and he is still master of the guitar but his voice is not what it was.