Tomorrow evening I am going to a concert in Manchester with my eldest granddaughter. We do this from time to time. She's good company. We shall have a meal in a restaurant beforehand. A good time will be had by all.
So yesterday I received an email from the Bridgewater Hall, the concert venue, reminding me of the time the concert was due to start, letting us know that there will not be a support act - Suzanne Vega is doing a tour to celebrate it being 30 years since Solitude Standing was released, so it's a quite specific concert - and consequently people should not expect to drift in late.
The email also pointed out certain parking difficulties due to works going on nearby: not a problem for us as we intend to get there by tram.
And then came the increased security measures: bags will be searched, no backpacks or suitcases allowed in the building, no iPads or laptops - people carrying these will be denied entry! Just out of interest I clicked on the full list prohibited items and found this:
* Backpacks, holdalls, luggage or other large bags
* Laptop computers, iPads and other tablet computers
* Video cameras including Go Pros and professional cameras
* Alcoholic beverages, other drinks or liquids in any container
* Flammable liquids in any container
* Aerosol cans (hairspray, mace pepper spray etc)
* Illegal drugs or substances
* Knives or weapons of any kind
* Signs, banners, flags on poles, staffs or selfie sticks
* Fireworks, confetti or glitter bombs or sprays
* Air horns, whistles or other noise-making distractions
* Projectiles (including frisbees, beach balls, footballs etc)
* Wheeled footwear, skateboards or scooters
* Masks and helmets (cycle & motorcycle helmets permitted but these have to be stored in our cloakroom)
* Large studs and chains
* Animals (except service animals to aid disabled people)
* Laser pens/pointers
* Large/golf umbrellas (these are permitted but have to be stored in our cloakroom)
* Anything else which we deem to impact on the enjoyment or viewing experience of others
I particularly like the last item. Basically, they can ban anything they choose!
Who takes fireworks to a concert though? Or footballs or frisbees?
I have never received an email like this from the Bridgwater Hall before and we have attended many concerts there. Perhaps, I thought, it's a consequence of the terrorist attacks during the last year. And on the whole it seems like a good idea. And then I remembered that the Conservative Party Conference will be starting on Sunday, in Manchester Central Station, just across the way from the Bridgewater Hall. So that is a big part of the reason for the increased security.
With all these extra people around will we be able to find a table at a restaurant for something to eat before the concert? That remains to be seen.
A couple of questions spring to mind: Is this what the future holds for us now? Have we left carefree leisure activities behind us?
We have tickets for another concert in a few weeks time, this time at the Lowry, not quite so central but still close enough to demand a little extra care. I am waiting to see if I receive a similar email from that venue!