Sunday August 11th 1974.
I was short of cash, but had enough to get into the Proms that evening, Elgar, Dream of Gerontius. There were only a small number of ATMs around then, including one at Barclays, Kensington High Street, so before joining the queue, I tried my luck there. Well, it was the end of the weekend and it was empty. I just had enough cash to Prom and a bus home, no refreshment, no programme.
I joined the queue which was part way down the steps by the RCM. A short while later a man walked down the queue with a spare Gallery ticket to sell. Now I always preferred the Arena, but this ticket was a bit cheaper so I reckoned I could get a programme if I bought it (useful as I did not know the Elgar piece at all). By the time I had made up my mind and got the loose change sorted, I turned round to see a rather attractive young woman,15 yards behind, buying it. At that point I decided I would go to the Gallery when the doors opened.
There was plenty of space in the Gallery and as I walked round to decide which archway balcony to view from, I noticed the same woman (she had very distinctive long red hair) leaning on a balcony ... and there was a space next to her! There was still 10 minutes before the performance (BBC Scottish Symphony Orch, I think, Alexander Gibson conducting), I saw she had a programme and said "could I have a look at your programme please". Well, at the end of the concert we agreed to meet again at a Prom a few days later, Mahler 2nd symphony.
Forty years later, ahead of 11th August 2014, I let the Proms organisers/RAH know this story. I had tickets for us (Nielsen 5th Symphony) in the choir seats. When we arrived at that level, the usher was expecting us, and told us our tickets had been upgraded, and she gave us 2 for the box next to the Royal Box. When we got there, the Front of House manager asked us if we would like Champagne then or at the interval!!! Four house moves and four kids on, my wife's hair is shorter now, but still red, and mine is greyer, and we live 100 miles from London, but are still excited by our regular visits to the Proms.
The picture supplied is us at the Proms on our 40th wedding anniversary, August 2018. Thank you, Royal Albert Hall!
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