Read all the pieces in the New Statesman’s “The night that changed my life” series, available now in our Christmas special issue.
Rose Tremain on interviewing her teenage icon: “He is 77 and I am 57. My hands are shaking. My heart is furiously beating.”
Paul Morley on the Sex Pistols’ legendary 1976 gig: “It made me the writer I wanted to be”.
David Hare on a sunlit afternoon with Hitchcock: “we sat all afternoon, eating cold roast beef and baked potatoes and asking him anything we wanted.”
Simon Armitage on David Bowie at the V&A: “The exhibition turned me from a grumpy old man into a weeping 15-year-old boy.”
Kate Mosse on her first trip to the theatre: “Launched into another world, perfect and bright and different, exciting and confusing.”
Rowan Williams on watching Ivan the Terrible on TV: “it was the start of a lifelong fascination with Russian history, culture and religion.”
Olivia Laing on the cabaret that helped her discover her queer identity: “I’m trans,” I told a friend on the steps outside”.
Alan Johnson on joining the Labour Party: “Three pints with Mick from four doors down was all it took for me to sign up.”
Sarah Hall on seeing Eric Clapton live: “It didn’t make me a rock convert: but it hooked me on live music.”
Simon Callow on his first opera: “I was a 16-year-old schoolboy besotted by classical music but only, so far, on record.”
Musa Okwonga on a game-changing hip-hop night: “On my schoolfriend Nick’s 18th birthday, I learnt what stage presence was”.
Margaret Drabble on Watching Pirandello on TV in 1954: “I felt I was entering the adult world”.
Kevin Barry on watching Paris, Texas with his father: “I could see that he was moved by the story, perhaps uncomfortably so.”
Lavinia Greenlaw on Anni Albers at the Tate: “I left the Albers retrospective feeling a mixture of triumph and rage.”
Jonathan Coe on the premiere of Steve Reich’s Different Trains: “The impact, on me and on everyone else in the hall that night, was overwhelming.”
John Gray on eating ice cream with JG Ballard: “I found that he embodied everything I admired in his work.”
Eimear McBride on Romeo Castellucci’s take on the Divine Comedy: “It was revelatory”.
Philip Hoare on a lifetime shared with David Bowie: “It’s one long performance, one long evening shading into brilliant night.”
Josie Rourke on an all-male As You Like It in Manchester: “I realised that there was such a thing as transcendent performance.”
Frank Cottrell-Boyce on seeing The Pogues by accident: “Their performance showed me that sincerity always beats irony.”
Suzanne Moore on her daughter’s coma: “People think they know about comas but they don’t. It’s not like the films.”
This article appears in the 08 Dec 2020 issue of the New Statesman, Christmas special