A Fabulous Personal Account: The Day I Saw Bette – Colette Goes To The Parkinson Show

Mister D: I just really want to thank Colette for sending in this fabulous first person account about seeing Bette on the Parkinson show. It’s a good read and makes you feel you were right there in the audience with her. Thanks Colette!:

Photo:Thanks for the scan, Sara, Queen of the Divine Dutchies!

Let me tell you of the most fantastic, over-whelming, amazing, and ecstatic day that I had on Thursday. I started my day by getting up, getting ready and leaving the house to get the bus to the train station to catch an early train to London.

I went with my friend from University, Clare and several points during the journey to the train station I forgot how I had actually gotten there because these day had already felt very surreal and the most amazing thing hadn’t even happened yet. We then got on to the train and 2 hours later we had arrived in London. The entire time I had not thought about what was going to happen to me, but when I did think about it I couldn’t believe I had tickets to see my heroine on Parkinson, a very high profile show that she had appeared on before 28 years ago. Anyway, I tried not to think about it because it wasn’t a guarantee that we would definitely be able to get in, because with television shows they tend to over-subscribe the tickets so just in case people don’t turn up they will still have a full audience. I was scared in case I never actually got in to the taping of the show, to ease my Jewish Neurosis we went to the studios 3 hours before the doors were suppose to open. Obviously we were told to go away and come back in an about an hour.

During that time we went in to the reception of the television studios and waited for Chaz who is another HUGE Bette Midler fan and has met her at Hulaween and a number of other times (lucky thing!) She brought me loads of souvenirs from when she went to New York in October and went to Hulaween and not only met Bette, but she also met the fabulous Mr D, who I luckily got to talk to over the phone at about 3 in the morning British time. Anyway I got lots of pressies from her which was fantastic.

I then got changed because I was not going to have Bette see me in my rags I had been travelling in. We then headed off to stand in the line again and lucky we left then because the line was getting quite long. We luckily were only bout 20-25 people away from the front of the line. I still wasn’t entirely convinced that I was going to get in to see the Divine One, but still stayed positive and had such an amusing time talking to random people and educating them about Bette. I felt so unbelievably proud to say when people asked who I was here to see, “Well, I’m here to see Bette Midler because I am a huge fan”. It was such an incredible feeling and I loved being able to tell people about her newest project and how she and Barry Manilow met, it was wonderful.

Chaz and I made a sign saying, we heart Bette, and soon we started moving further up the line. 10 minutes later when the security guard had checked our bags it dawned on me that I was definitely getting in to that studio and that I was going to see Bette Midler for the very first time after loving her for 8 years. It was such a surreal feeling, I could not believe that in less that 2 hours I would have seen Bette Midler live, right in front of my very own eyes.

We walked in the studio, me clutching my friend’s hand and shaking. Guess where we were placed, yes you got it, FRONT ROW. We were sitting front row on the right hand side of the studio. Bette was going to sing left hand side and the interview was going to be held centre stage. I could not believe my luck. I think it was fate because it was my time to see Bette, I have loved this woman for 8 years and it was time for my dream of seeing her live to come true.

The warm up guy was quite funny and Chaz and I were so hyper and excited. When Parkinson came on and the show started when he was saying who his guests would be he said Bette’s name and Chaz gave a massive scream, it was hysterical because Parkinson acknowledged it and it was on the final show that was aired. That made the experience seem more real because I remember that moment so clearly because I was clutching Chaz’s knee because I would not stop shaking.

Sharon Stone was the first guest on and she was slightly boring, they edited the final show so that she seemed interesting but at the time we were like, “come on we want Bette”. Next British comedian Stephen Fry came on, and he was very interesting.

Now it was time for the Divine one, the incredible, the intelligent, the beautiful, the legend herself BETTE MIDLER. She came on stage to sing “I’m A Woman” and I went crazy, I was screaming and I couldn’t actually believe that someone who I have admired for so long was SO close to me. I feel like crying with happiness just thinking about it. She sang the song once, and it was beautiful, but being the perfectionist that she is she wanted to sing it again because she felt there was something wrong with her microphone.

During the time of fixing the microphone and singing the song again she asked for some water. So 2 guys who were working on the floor gave Bette a bottle of water, they had noticed that we had been going insane for her and standing whilst the rest of the audience were sitting down. So what did he do”¦ he GAVE ME HER BOTTLE OF WATER. I have Bette Midler’s bottle of water, I was so excited and of course still in shock of this whole event. She chatted to us a bit and did a really funny vocal warm up, which showed how much of a perfectionist she is. She then sang it again which was even better than the first time, which I didn’t think could be possible. Then she did a little dance, which unfortunately was cut from the aired show and she went over to Parkinson for her interview.

Unfortunately for Chaz and I, the crane camera went right in front of us so we couldn’t see a bloody thing. However, they had televisions suspended from the ceiling so we could see what was happening. I felt like I was at home watching television so I kept looking through the machinery as I was able to see her shoes and her nose and mouth. That was the only thing that told me that this was real. She spoke really well, she was interesting and funny, and what I found very strange was that she mentioned that she was rich which I had never heard her speak about before. I have never heard her mention how wealthy she is and in consequence I had never really thought about it.

Anyway, she was very entertaining and she mentioned that she felt embarrassed about not coming to the UK and that she is thinking that she may have a show that she bring over here. They didn’t cut much out of the interview but they cut out an hilarious part when Stephen Fry told her to tell us about Sophie Tucker and he did an impression of one of Bette’s jokes. They also cut out a tiny bit when she mentions her daughter Sophie and I think that is all they cut from her interview.

After the interview, the show was over but Parkinson explained to us that Bette wanted to sing her song again; of course we went wild because we couldn’t believe our luck that we were getting to see Bette perform again. She went off stage and the warm up guy came back on again, and he acknowledged Chaz and I to the entire audience whilst Bette was standing at the side of the stage and out of view from cameras and the audience, but because of our positioning I could see her standing at the side of the stage. So with Bette present he mentioned that we were huge fans of hers and we showed the audience our sign and the Bette t-shirts Chaz had brought.

She came on a while later and thanked everyone for staying longer so that she could sing again. Whilst she waited for the drummer she stood in front of the microphone for about 10 seconds in absolute silence and I swear you could have heard a pin drop, the anticipation of the audience was incredible, we were putty in her hands. She then did an impression of Madonna and started doing Yoga which was hilarious and then mentioned that she in fact couldn’t do it because of all her “health problems” because of her “old age” and then she demonstrated the old walking off stage which was so funny. She then at some point went off stage again and came back on with one shoe off and one on, which was really funny because she looked like a real person and she looked tiny and so cute. It was such a casual relaxed thing to do that I just found it incredibly endearing. She then started to sing again but stopped 30 seconds later because she didn’t like the sound of it.

My friend said she admired this so much because she was wanting to get it absolutely perfect and she wasn’t afraid to say, “no that wasn’t good, lets do it again”. I completely agreed with my friend and loved how she just stopped and started over. She said before that this would be the last take and she hoped it was going to be better but if it wasn’t then that would have to do. I loved how she was so polite and she explained to us that she wanted to get it better. She did her vocal warm ”“up again and this time I saw something in her face that looked as though she was thinking, “why am I not getting this right”, when I saw this I just cheered even more so I could give her the support that she needed. She sang for the last time and it was flawless and it ended up being the take that aired. She then thanked everyone and said good night.

During the time we had waited for Bette to come back on stage we had spoken to several people asking them if they could help us meet Bette after the show, we asked everyone including the floor manager and he unfortunately said that she was tired and just wanted to go home. However, we ran to an exit outside the studio and tried to get her car leaving but we missed it. I was upset to begin with but then I realised that I got to see Bette Midler live, and even though the camera was in front of me for the interview, there were no camera’s in front of me when she was singing so I got to see her crystal clear. Also another point which may amuse the Yukers is that the floor manager asked her to come on stage again, and she repeated what he had said to her in an English accent, well an ok English accent, which was so funny and it completely reminded why I loved Bette (as if I needed reminding).

Even now, and even after watching the show on television it doesn’t seem real, and even writing this I can’t believe such an incredible thing has happened to me. Every so often throughout the day since Thursday I have seen an image of Bette in my head standing on the stage singing looking absolutely stunning and I just can’t stop smiling. As it still feels unbelievably surreal I keep on having to look at the bottle of water to realise that it is Bette’s bottle and I saw her in the flesh. It was such an amazing day and I had the most incredible time. I hope it will sink in soon because it overwhelms me every time I think about it so much so that I have broken down in joyful tears, or laughed and not stopped smiling.

For me, this was the most incredible experience and I don’t think it will sink in and feel real for a long time yet, but for the time being I love having the overwhelming feeling, when my heart starts to race and I get a small realisation that I have seen Bette in person. This has been a life long dream and I have lived it and achieved it and I can’t thank Bette enough for being so amazing and making my experience incredible and worth waiting for.

She looked beautiful, she was funny, she dressed incredible well (I loved her shoes and her red earrings, wow), she was entertaining, she was friendly, but most of all she has an incredible soul and I love her dearly for it. I feel so proud to call myself a Bettehead and I do feel like the luckiest person. I just want to thank Nigel so much for giving me his extra ticket, I want to thank Chaz for giving me her extra ticket and I want to thank Bette for being such a huge inspiration that seeing her live and thinking about seeing her live brings me to tears because my respect and my admiration is so overwhelming.

This Bettehead is signing out. I feel very proud to share my first Bette Midler encountering with the rest of you who feel proud calling yourselves Betteheads and I only hope you understand and get to experience the wonderful feeling I am feeling now!

Lots of Love
Colette xx

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