Where to begin?
I think, perhaps, with the simple facts, which are as follows: the Royal Albert Hall is full of fucking scabbers.
Turns out, members of the Royal Albert Hall – roughly 330 individuals who own 1,276 out of the 5,272 seats inside the venue – were sent what basically sounds like a how-to pamphlet on "secondary ticketing". According to the Guardian, RAH members have exchanged detailed advice on how to flog their unwanted seats for Phil Collins and The Proms and other such events for old posh people on Viagogo and StubHub to other old posh people who presumably have £1,500 to splash out on a wild night out with Handel's Coronation Anthems. The advice, as distributed by a seat owner who spoke to the Guardian anonymously on account of being a big bastard, is that this practise will help the seat-owning community to "optimise their returns". Because if there's one thing people who own an actual fifth of the seats at the Royal Albert Hall between them are in dire need of, it's extra income.
In the most scathing combination of words since "hard Brexit", the venue's former president has labelled its stewardship a "national disgrace".
"The [official] ticket return scheme is good, but what I do is sell some of my tickets online and get a slightly better return," says the anonymous bastard, "it's simply a question of arithmetic." They then add that many members give their time and money to the hall without asking for anything in return (except for a choice of four luxury, themed menus served by a private waiter at each event, invitations to premieres, a 25 percent discount on event spaces for private functions and their own dedicated account manager).
So, you know, think about that for a second before you shun someone for turning the box nobody asked them to spend upwards of £14,400 +VAT a year on into an investment asset. Also consider: the damages incurred to their personal brand for renting a square of private property that is literally worth more than my parents' entire house to some unknown commoner for the evening. The definition of commoner here being: someone who did not inherit space within the Royal Albert Hall from their parents but still has a grand to spare on Dave Gilmour tickets. Let's take a look at how that might go down…
Kensington Gardens, 6.45PM.
It is a brisk evening in late March. No longer scarf weather, but chilly enough for Jasper Hunton-Blather to hunch his shoulders up towards his ears and bristle when the wind rises. Mother was right, he thinks to himself, his coat tails trembling solemnly in the breeze, perhaps I was too hasty in rotating to my spring wardrobe.
The park is quiet and the Royal Albert Hall cuts a crescent against the darkening sky. Jasper does a nonchalant lap of the Albert Memorial, rubbing his hands together like a dictator who's just had a really good idea, and comforts himself by imagining himself at home tossing another copy of Posner's A Failure of Capitalism on the hearth. His thoughts are interrupted by footsteps – a figure approaching. Jasper's heart leaps into his throat, the way it does when a horse ahead of his at the races falls and breaks its leg.
"Psst," Jasper Hunton-Blather hisses, but the figure carries on walking.
"Psst," he hisses again, "You there."
Footsteps moving faster now, the figure – a man roughly in his forties, gripping the strap of his backpack so tightly that even in the dark Jasper could see that his knuckles were white – shoots him a nervous look.
"I say, might you perchance be searching for tickets to Russell Howard's Round The World tour?" Jasper asks.
The man runs off, screaming.
Jasper sighs. Feeling down, he dips a pink, clammy hand inside his dinner jacket and pulls out a pamphlet: 'A Beginners Guide to Profiting from Your Unwanted Concert Seats by Fleecing the Upper-Middle Classes'. He opens it to a dog-eared page and begins to read. "Sell your seats. Optimise your returns. It's a simple question of arithmetic," he murmurs to himself. "Sell your seats. Optimise your returns. It's a sim-"
Jasper looks up, startled. A young girl stands in front of him, chewing gum.
"Alright," she repeats, brushing a strand of hair out of her eye. "Do you have any stuff, like, I mean, my stuff?"
"That depends," Jasper says, "What exactly are you-"
"Gear, mate. Stuff."
"I'm sorry I'm not quite sure I follow…"
"Listen mate, if you're gonna fuck about I'll call Ron and he'll be here like that," she says, snapping her fingers.
"I'm sorry, miss, but I think you've got the wrong gentleman."
"Oh, OK," she says, her face softening all of a sudden. "Do you have any gum then?"
"I, well no, I…" Jasper stutters and the girl's eyes darken again. She spits the gum she was already chewing out of her mouth, aiming at Jasper's dress shoes. Aghast, he takes a step back.
"Posh prick," she says, and walks off.
Jasper really feels down, now. Perhaps this side-hustle, which brought in a mere few extra thousand a month, wasn't worth the bother after all. Then, just as he was about to give up, he overheard raised voices nearby – a couple, having an argument.
"Fucking hell, Tony, I told you to book them months ago," a woman snaps.
"I told you, darling, I was going to do it on Wednesday and perhaps if your mother hadn't interrupted we mightn't-"
"Oh now it's my mother's fault is it!" She's really livid now. "You know what, Tony, I don't think I'm even in the mood to see Russell Howard anymore. Not with you, anyway."
Jasper stuffs the pamphlet back into his jacket, smooths it down, and stands up straighter than he has in years. "Forgive me for interrupting, sir, ma'am, but I couldn't help but overhearing," he says, approaching tentatively. "Might you be after tickets for Russell Howard's Round The World tour, perchance?"
"Well, yes, sort of," the man says, looking both startled and depressed.
"Funny you should say," says Jasper with mock-surprise as he whips the tickets expertly out of his pocket. Nailed it, he thinks to himself. "I happen to have two right here!"
"How much," the woman cuts in.
"A thousand for the pair."
"That's a bit steep, don't you think?"
Remember your training, Jasper says to himself. Remember the pamphlet. "Begging your pardon, ma'am, but these are box seats, good enough for Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second by the Grace of God hers-"
"Yes, yes, fine," she says, rifling impatiently through her purse. "Cheque OK?"
After folding the cheque and tucking it neatly into his breast pocket, Jasper walks off in the direction of home with a spring in his step that could almost be described as happiness. Won't father be pleased? he thinks to himself. Won't mother have egg on her face now that she can no longer call me an enormous failure in front of the Blackburns' at dinner? And with that, he disappears into the park. The night falls silent again, and the woman turns to her husband, eyes glinting as they lock intently with his.
"Honey," she says, "Do you know how much fucking money we can make off these on StubHub?"
You can find Emma on Twitter.