Le vent se lève!… il faut tenter de vivre!

-Paul Valéry (1871-1945)


“Seat 13?”

‘I am on seat 14… yes. This is 13.’ She points to the vacant seat to her left.


Picking up the detritus mostly comprising flyers for upcoming shows at the Apollo, I sat myself down, shoving my crumpled courier bag containing my newly-bought tour T-shirt and DVD under my seat.

She then turned to me and asked, ‘Where are you from?’

“Malaysia. And you?”

‘I am from Finland.’

Only to add, after a brief pause, ‘But I am Japanese.’

“You have seen Perfume before?”

I wasn’t too sure at that time, but she seemed to nod yes.

The show hadn’t started yet and from the looks of it, it was likely to be half eight. The ticket only stated that doors were opened at seven. An hour and a half is enough time for punters to form that maddening non-queued rush for merch and then grab a pint at the bar. There appeared to be a strong representation of the Japanese diaspora at the venue which didn’t surprise me. There were middle-aged corporate types in pinstriped suits milling at the foyer, as well as younger student types making V signs whilst having iPhone photo mementos taken in front of the venue. Heck, I even obliged to take a photo of a trio near the mezzanine merch stand, one of them doing a right kawaii stance.

“So, you came all the way from Finland to London just to see Perfume?”

And that was, like, after a ten minute afterthought.

‘Umm. Speak slowly please?’

Ah. Presumption is the mother of all cock ups.

“Sorry.” I then asked again. Motto yukkuri this time.

She did appear to take a few seconds to prepare an appropriate response to my repeated query.

‘I came to London with my family, but I am here with friends. They are somewhere down there.’

She must have been late in deciding to join her friends for the gig as there was no one next to me when I checked the seating plans at the time of buying my ticket. And I could have sworn the seating plan described seat 13 as being the the one next to the aisle, explaining my surprise when this petite young lady was found sitting comfortably at the aisle seat when I arrived.

“My Japanese is not very good, by the way. Marēshia kara kimashita, demo… Igirisu de… shigoto? I work in Sheffield. I had to take the train down for this. Ni jikan… desu.”

‘I see.’ Her eyes gleamed with mild surprise, although I wondered if she was just being nice. My worse-than-kindy level of nihon-go. Chotto warui desu ne.

“Your husband is not here to see the show?”

‘No, it’s a bit difficult. With the kids and all. Someone needs to take care of the kids.’

The house lights then came down and the Apollo erupted in cheers.

‘Let’s enjoy the show!’

She seemed just as excited as I was as Perfume kick started their second ever London gig with Enter The Sphere.

Both of us were on our feet throughout Perfume’s entire set. Our arms raised in tandem to the beat. Migi. Hidari. Migi. Hidari, hidari. What A-chan says, the crowd does. Ne?

Anyone here seeing Perfume for the first time?“, asked A-chan. As I raised my hand, she did too.

Ah, sou desu ka.

During the MC, Perfume also did a little a capella ditty about brushing one’s teeth .

She leaned over to me and said, ‘This is a children’s song.’

She must have noticed my bemused look, and then went on to sing along, word for word.

We went absolutely bonkers during Spring of Life, Game and Glitter, and she seemed to know the right choreographed moves during Chocolate Disco, with me only knowing the, umm, right-handed binocular move.

Perfume came back onstage for the encore, and after ending their set with My Color, she turned to me whilst getting her coat on.

‘I hope you enjoyed tonight.’

Much to my surprise, she shook my hand and then abruptly left.

To join her friends.

And, later, back to her family.

Before I could even return any form of pleasantry.