‘Beyonce wasn’t built in a day’ – A blog by Gavin Oattes
In 2003, pop music’s biggest stars descended upon Edinburgh for the 10th annual MTV Europe Music Awards.
A massive big top in the Leith area of the city popped up and became the centre of the music universe for the night with a galaxy of top stars.
An estimated one billion people in 28 countries watched the show, featuring performances by the likes of Beyoncé.
And I was there. And so was Beyoncé.
One of my comedy pals wangled me the role of Supervisor. What did this even mean? What needed supervising? Could it be the audience, the staff or better still, could it be the stars themselves?
Whatever it was, it was huge. They were paying me and I was well and truly in.
Did I mention Beyoncé?
I was 100% up to the task. I can supervise superstars. Nothing was going to stop me. This could be the greatest job in the world, and it was being handed to me on a plate.
My instructions were clear…
Supervise the shit out of the event. There will be some serious ‘names’ there.
Oh, and wear black. All black. Shirt, trousers and shoes.
I had the trousers and the shirt but I didn’t have black shoes.
I bought new black shoes. Simple. I went for the cheap ones but they would look the part.
Then came the big night itself. I was tired. I hadn’t slept at all the night before. Partly because I was excited but I had also bought a new bed recently that just wasn’t cutting it. My back was killing me but nothing was going to stop me from breaking into the industry.
Could this be the opportunity of a lifetime? This was the biggest night in music, impress all the right people and maybe, just maybe I could have a dream career in the entertainment business.
How could I not be excited? This was huge.
I arrived early to be told where my position for the night would be. Essentially I was given an area. This included the arena itself and a small backstage area.
My job remember was to supervise. In other words, to stand for hours and keep an eye out for anything untoward.
And stand I did. For hours before anyone even started to arrive. My back slowly getting worse. But I was up for it, I could feel the excitement building around the venue, occasionally I’d get a quick glimpse of a mega star. Pink, Timberlake, Aguilera and the likes.
Thousands gathered. I could hear the noise outside, it was incredible. I couldn’t wait for it all to begin, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and who knows where it could lead.
Then came the turning point of my night.
As the thousands of excitable fans filled the room I began to feel some intense pains in my feet.
Now, we’ve all had blisters before. This was not just your average, everyday blisters. I’m talking enormous blisters. The ones that are so painful you can’t even walk.
Blisters and a bad back.
This was unbearable. I had a decision to make…
Suck it up, grin and bear it, push through like a champ?
Be a total wimp, sneak away and get my shoes off asap?
There was one simple question…
Would she allow the blisters to ruin her opportunity? Would she sneak away and get her shoes off? Would she moan and complain to her manager about her sore feet?
She’s Beyoncé. She can command over $1,000,000 for a 5 minute performance. She’s cool and she goes by one name.
In this moment I stood tall and tried to channel my inner Beyoncé. I thought to myself, C’mon, do what Beyoncé would do. She’d break out her alter ego Sacha Fierce, seize the moment and own the whole damn thing.
My alter ego is probably way more Dave the Postman than Sacha Fierce.
You see, I’m not anything like Beyoncé. I’m Gavin Oattes from Troon, and I had to get my new shoes off as fast as I could and sit down. My feet were bloody killing me and were clearly about to fall off.
I received instruction at this point to move to the smaller backstage area. This meant walking.
I probably had to walk about 100 yards. Each and every step though was torturous. I made a noise as I walked. Phonetically it would be spelled as follows
Say it out loud. In fact, say it out loud while limping and you’ll get the idea.
I got to my next position.
There was no one else around. This was my chance. I could take my shoes off for a while and give my feet a break.
Just as I bent down to take them off the door opened and in came a group of people. I quickly stood back up, “Huuahyaohsshhh” I said out loud. Everyone turned and looked at me.
The first thing I noticed was how small everyone in the room seemed. Then I realised who they were.
In the exact same space as me were the following…
Kylie Minogue, Christina Aguilera and Just Hawkins, lead singer of the Darkness. Pop and rock royalty.
And then it happened.
The door opened and in came Beyoncé. The most famous and powerful woman on the planet. Sacha Fierce Herself.
And all I could think about was my damn feet. By this stage the pain had reached a whole new level. My feet were channelling their own Sacha Fierce.
This was my moment to say hello to these people, to become their new best friend, to launch my brand new career in celebland.
‘Do NOT mess this one up Gav’ I thought to myself. Just turn, smile and say hello.
I turned, I smiled, and a blister burst.
My feet were on fire. I needed to take my shoes off. I couldn’t. Not in front of Beyoncé.
Just at this stage I was radioed once again to change positions. I was to head back out to the arena.
I hobbled back to my original position with tears in my eyes and never saw Beyoncé again.
The night came to an end and I left.
I got on the night bus to head home. To finally sit down felt like a dream.
The bus broke down and I had to walk the last 3 miles.
I chucked my shoes and walked in my bare feet, the cold pavement felt amazing on my burning soles.
I contemplated my experience.
Honestly? Dreadful. The music was dreadful, the venue was dreadful, the job was dreadful, my new shoes were dreadful and my new bed was dreadful. One of the worst days and jobs I’ve ever had.
But what did I learn?
No matter who you are or where life is taking you, always buy decent shoes and a decent bed. If you’re not in one, then you’re in the other. It matters.
I also learned I’m not Beyoncé and that I don’t belong in her world.
And that’s ok.