It’s a Thursday evening in London at 6pm. I’m sweating profusely under my bright orange velvet suit after running frantically to make my train. I squeeze through the closing doors, desperately hoping the wide-leg style doesn’t get trapped as they close. Ripping off my jacket in this -4° weather receives numerous odd looks, as if I’m trying to seduce the mid-fifties man opposite me by fanning my sweaty, unshaven armpit in his face. ‘Sorry’ I say, ashamedly. He doesn’t look up.
I’m off out on an evening with Debenhams*, and despite the disastrous start, I’m so exceedingly excited I might actually wee. Let’s hope not, eh. I’m meeting a crew of other bloggers to watch Florence and the Machine at the o2 in a box (yes, you read correctly, a BOX). Not only that, I’ve also picked out the orange, velvet and now slightly damp suit I’m wearing from Debenhams.
Once on the Jubilee Line, I realise that I stand out like a sore thumb. Especially amid all the grey suit-wearing city workers at Canary Wharf. I suddenly doubt my fashion choices and regret picking an outfit that a) means I can’t stand at the back and pretend to be socially inept, b) only women such as Heidi Klum should wear and c) makes me look like an Oompa Loompa on steroids. I text my boyfriend ‘I feel stupid :(’ covering my phone with my chewed fingernails so over-the-shoulder-lookers on the tube don’t see. ‘I thought you looked great! Even rushing around and sweaty!’ he replies.
One stop away from North Greenwich, I decide there’s nothing else to do but own it. I’m going to strut into the o2 like I’m Naomi bloody Campbell, and then find a quiet corner to remove scruffy trainers and change into heels…
I don’t know what it is about heels, but as soon as I’ve got them on I feel like my alter ego comes out. A bit like Beyoncé’s Sasha Fierce, or Paul O’Grady’s Lily Savage. I stride confidently over to the gate where I announce proudly ‘I’m here with Debenhams, to sit in a BOX’. ‘Ok love,’ the woman replies, ‘we just want to take a look inside your bag’. Disappointing.
Once inside, a kind man named Davide leads me to the other bloggers. Explaining that I don’t wear heels regularly, I apologise for tottering behind him so slowly. ‘Tottering?’ he exclaims, ‘What is tottering?’ I explain, and due to his olive skin and European accent, I ask him where he’s from, ‘Deptford’ he replies.
The minute I see the other bloggers, I’m met with sequin skirts, silver boots, and satin dresses. What a relief. There are burgers and chips and cheesecake and everyone is chatting about whether it’s better to have your instagram profile as a business or personal account. I feel instantly relaxed. We take photos of one another like we’re old friends, sipping wine and filming boomerangs as we go.
I’ve seen Florence a few times. Once at Reading Festival when she first became a ‘thing’, and once at Ally Pally when she became more of a ‘thing’. I feel quietly proud that I know all her songs and am v grateful to Debenhams that we’re seeing her and not Boyzone or one of the other crap o2 listings (yes ok Boyzone had some bangers, but come on: Florence > Boyzone).
Florence is an ethereal woodland nymph, running around frantically in a sheer, pale green-coloured dress. Barefoot, of course. It’s always odd when singers speak between songs and Florence is no exception. She has a small, child-like voice that seems strange compared to her warbling, empowered vocals. As she throws herself into Ship to Wreck, I actually worry that she might be over-doing the running around bit and am relieved when she stops for water (reason no. 1 for why I am a mum**).
I am seriously considering packing in my gym-membership and buying a wafty 70s dress to run around the house in. I’m sure it would do me more good than running on a treadmill for half an hour watching Loose Women.
She comes back on stage for the encore. The familiar lyrics of Shake it Out fill the 20,000 capacity o2 arena and that is my cue to leave. Mainly because I’ve seen her perform it live before but also because I’ve already experienced one over-crowded tube this evening and I’m not overjoyed about the prospect of another one (reason no. 2 for why I am a mum).
After saying goodbye to all my new blogger friends and the wonderful Debenhams crew, I leave the o2 feeling extremely fortunate and full of wine. My Cinderella evening is coming to an end and I take off my silver heels and put my muddy trainers back on. Someone’s been sick in my train carriage and I do the incredibly British thing of staying exactly where I am for fear of being impolite. I suddenly panic and wonder if it’s all been a dream. Did I really see Florence and the Machine at the o2? Or have I just been sat on this stinking sick train for 2 hours? I flick my camera on. I feel like the girls who captured the Cottingley Fairies, because there she is, a tiny figure, a distant memory, a minute, mid-air, Florence and the Machine.
*This blogpost is part of a Debenhams party wear campaign. See disclaimer for more details.
**not a real one, obvs.