A couple of days ago I lost out in the contest for tickets for Kaiser Chiefs’ Ziggo Music Session in Amsterdam tomorrow, 27 June. It hit me hard. I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember, and when I first started to lose my sight music only increased in importance to me. For me, an autistic person with an acquired brain injury, sensory input has always been vital. Music makes me happy.
For years Kaiser Chiefs have been my favourite band and I’ve been to see them whenever I could. When you’re a Dutch fan opportunities aren’t nearly as ample as they are for UK fans. I don’t get to see them every week, like some fans do. Once a year was my maximum for a long time. Of course I appreciate ‘my’ gigs all the more for it.
Gigging is always complicated for me. Funding any gig plus travel, me needing an essential companion (someone needs to be willing and able or it’s a no go), having to overcome a lot of physical and mental obstacles. I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks and I’m still having to forcibly stop myself from doing a U turn for every single gig I travel to. I mean, if you thought walking through town was quite scary (pun intended), clearly you haven’t tried getting through a crowd with very little vision remaining, using a white cane nobody pays attention to, trying to avoid yourself getting trampled while crippled by anxiety and constant sensory overload. I swear I’m constantly battling the urge to run and hide. Of course running is not really an option when you’re using a white cane. Yeah sorry, sarcasm happens to be one of my coping mechanisms.
There’s always tomorrow, always another time. How often do people say that? I’m extremely – perhaps even overly – aware that for me most things cannot wait till tomorrow. There are many things I need to do now, before eternal darkness stops me. When the future is so unclear, living in the present is more essential than ever. The Ziggo gig is present. Except I won’t be present.
Ziggo was so very special for me. A small crowd. Bliss. But I didn’t make the cut. I’m absolutely gutted about that. Right now there’s a thorough lack of horizon for the next scheduled Kaiser Chiefs gig I could get to and I’m feeling it. This time last year I still had 0.30 vision remaining, by the end of 2018 it had dropped to 0.15 and spring 2019 took it down to 0.05. There’s not much left to work with, is there?
I’ve taken to very deliberately saying goodbye at the end of every Kaiser Chiefs gig, because I’m very aware that I’ll have been at my last Kaiser Chiefs gig without knowing it, until after it happens. I’ll have a last glance, savouring the moment and trying to record it in the collection of my memories for eternity.
Not wanting to live my life through a lens, I take only about a dozen photos during a gig, randomly pointing my camera towards the stage, not being able to properly see my subjects or the camera display. Upon return home, when I’m finally able to see and check the photos on my big computer monitor, I’m always desperately hoping I’ve actually snapped something decent, so I can retrospectively merge the sound and vision in my head. Waiting for the gift of sound and vision, as David Bowie would say.
I don’t want to sound overly dramatic, but missing out on this Ziggo gig tomorrow afternoon hurts a lot. The thought of it isn’t likely to be buried until the gig date is firmly hidden somewhere among many yesterdays and even then it won’t go quietly. After all, the reality of it is that I get very few opportunities to see Kaiser Chiefs, with very little (if any) time remaining for another chance.
Let’s make one thing clear, that Ziggo Session tomorrow is still in my head. My essential companion Jolien and I were considering to travel to Amsterdam in the off chance we might actually catch a glimpse of the guys.
(Although technically of course it would be Jolien doing the glimpse catching followed by a nudge for me). The question is, would there be a point to doing that?
All I really want is just to be at tomorrow’s Kaiser Chiefs’ gig…