Simon O'Hagan: Nothing beats the buzz of booking tickets

Every year that there's a Glastonbury, life stops for tens of thousands of people


There's only a fortnight to go now. The long wait is almost over – a wait that began all the way back at the beginning of December last year. The Olympics aside, I didn't think it was possible to book tickets for anything so far in advance. I don't even book holidays that far in advance. But there it was – David Sedaris, the American humourist, at the Cadogan Hall in Chelsea.

It wasn't just the other side of winter. It was the other side of spring, and of summer, and of London 2012 – of a whole stretch of life. Who knew what could happen between then and now?

None of that was any deterrent. I had no plans to emigrate. So I was straight in there – I love David Sedaris – and it was a great feeling. Even better when, to my amazement, the tickets arrived in the post a few days later. More than nine months to go, and the tickets were already printed. Impressive.

I've had that feeling a few times since – like when I finally succeeded in booking Olympics tickets. Booking Proms tickets – they're so much more in demand than they used to be – was also special. Then there was the "buzz" that I guess in part caused me to book for something at the Young Vic that was almost as far off as David Sedaris had been last December.

What is it about booking tickets? It has turned into a whole new experience. The internet's seen to that. Who doesn't love to study the plan of the auditorium, those little heads and shoulders – heads and shoulders with, it seems, your name on them – just waiting to be clicked.

The whole process has become an end in itself – a pleasure and a thrill quite separate from the actual thing you're booking to see. That's not to say it can't also take a while, and induce stress, and vacuum up money you very possibly don't have.

Right now the papers are full of their autumn arts previews. That means a whole lot of booking going on. Booked for the new Alan Bennett yet? Beach House? Bryn Terfel in The Ring? Ready to get to grips with the security check that is that weird hallucinogenic and so easily misread collection of letters?

Huge ticket-buying moments make news. Every year that there's a Glastonbury, life stops for tens of thousands of people. The clock ticks down to the designated day, hour, minute. And then, in a flash, it's all over. The whole lot gone in under half an hour. It's like a vast collective convulsion followed by months and months of gradual comedown leading gently into the object of your purchase, which may or may not be quite as good as you'd hoped. But the wait is fun while it lasts, and these days it can last a very long time indeed.

In that sense, I already feel I've had quite a bit of my David Sedaris money's worth. I don't doubt he'll be brilliant. I've seen him twice before so I know what I'm getting. But whatever happens, he's given me that essential adjunct to modern cultural consumption – really good ticket-buying.

* Ming Campbell has chided Vince Cable for exchanging text messages with Ed Miliband. "The success of this Coalition depends upon everyone who participates in it being a full subscriber," the former Lib Dem leader says.

You can see why Campbell is put out, but for those worried about such fraternising, isn't the real problem here the two men's chosen form of communication? If they'd been spotted having a drink together, that would have caused a stir, for sure. But it still would have lacked the illicit element that's somehow an intrinsic part of communication by text.

The discovery that David Cameron and Rebekah Brooks were texting each other so enthusiastically was one of the key revelations of the Leveson Inquiry. Now we learn that Vince and Ed have been at it. Everybody is, of course, but the intimacy of the written word means that texting will never lose a certain frisson.

Twitter: @SimonOHagan

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