Morrisons is a cultural phenomenon in Norwich. Whenever there’s a big event across the street at the stadium, whether it be the Norwich Football Club hosting an opponent or a music performance like Rod Stewart’s tonight, the place is heaving with people, either lining up at the café near the checkouts for a quick bite beforehand or wandering down the aisles looking for treats to take to the big show.
I’d planned to cycle to Morrisons to do a bit of shopping, not realizing Rod was performing in just a few hours. I have to pass right by the stadium to get to the grocery store, so out of curiosity, I cycled amongst the festive early crowds gathering in front. I then realized there was a whole section behind the stadium I didn’t know about, a temporary junk food haven, set up only for special events. I cycled past food kiosks with names like “The Finest Burger Bar (Hot Dogs Tasty and Hot,” “Hog Roast - The Great British Pork,” “Jilley’s Jacket Potatoes (Freshly Baked),” and everywhere in the air hung the enticing aroma of frying onions, so reminiscent of the PNE. People freely strolled around drinking beer out of clear plastic cups. I almost bought some fish and chips from “Friar Tuck's” kiosk because they actually looked really good. I thought for a moment too about buying a ticket and joining the happy crowd, and went to the ticket window where I was told there were still some left, going for £64. I just couldn’t justify the cost though.
Feeling right at home with this demographic, I pushed my bike through the crowd towards Morrisons. These people were mostly in my age group – some a bit younger, some older, some middle class and well dressed but there was a good smattering of the endearing Nearly Normal Norfolk Folk to save it from homogeneity. I saw a woman of about 75 with bleached and permed hair wearing red patent high heel shoes and bright red capris topped with a white cardigan, tottering smartly towards the stadium doors like there was no tomorrow.
After a quick pass through the food aisles at the grocery store, I headed out the doors with my Morrisons award winnng fresh linguine and “new” puttanesca sauce. Scores of people were sitting on benches in the sunshine, tucking into chicken legs dripping in BBQ sauce or stabbing at their macaroni salads with little white plastic forks, serviettes opened and flapping in the wind under the plastic food containers balanced on their laps. Some people, not so small in stature, perched themselves on concrete curbs in the parking lot, smoking, drinking, and laughing with friends, waiting for the event to begin across the street. And it was only 5:00 pm – at least three hours to show time. I worried they weren’t pacing themselves and would all peak too early, picturing a bunch of nodding off fans in front of poor Rod as he pranced across the stage, belting out all his old faves.
Once back at the flat, I opened the front windows when the show started and could hear the crowds singing and cheering alongside The Legend. Across the street, neighbours were standing on their front steps, enjoying a fag and tilting their heads towards the stadium. But the music was barely audible above the intermittent police sirens screaming along Prince of Wales Road, and I could just catch snippets of songs – a warbling version of “Tonight’s the Night” – enough to feel a stab of nostalgia, then “Sailing,” followed by a distorted “You’re in My Heart.” I reluctantly closed the window against the night sounds, and kind of wished I’d splurged and bought a ticket.