Today is five years, a whole half decade since I met Jason Orange on a bench. Yesterday at work one of my customers was actually called Jay Orange which freaked me out a bit (his name wasn’t Jason, I did clarify).
I meant to go visit the bench today actually but I live so far from Kensington (I live East, Kensington is about an hour away which is a long trip to sit somewhere). Hey me of five years ago, you live in London now and you’ve met the rest of Take That. I don’t think you need to know what else happens to them though.
It was March 2nd, 2012. About half 12 in the afternoon. Me and the bestie were wandering around Kensington trying to find somewhere to grab lunch, we’d only flown in that morning and were famished. We sat down in one place but no one paid us any attention and we decided to just grab Pret from the station instead.
As we were walking back, Amy started looking at the guy sitting on a bench and asking if it was Jason which to I went ‘Hah it’d be funny if it was because he’s sitting on a bench’. Then I looked properly, realised it was him and screamed. I ran/Amy dragged me behind a bit of wall so I could calm down. My legs were shaking like mad. After a few minutes I decided I was ready to go speak to him but Amy didn’t so Jason had to witness me walking up to him/Amy still trying to pull me back for some more calming down.
I stood in front of him and blurted ‘Jason I like love you so much’ and when he only replied ‘Right’ and I thought ‘Oh god it’s not actually him’, blurted ‘I’ve seen Take That live 14 times!’ And all smiley he went ‘Have you? Come sit down here’ which I did. I touched his leg (soz Jase) and went ‘You’re my favourite you know’ and he went ‘Am I?’ smiling even more. Oh god I was melting. Amy took some pictures and we started chatting.
We were chatting and I was just like 'I can’t believe I’m chatting to you’ and I didn’t want to be annoying him. He said I had a good eye and that people didn’t always recognize him with the sunglasses and the beard and I said 'Oh you’ve shaved, not shaved shaved but you’ve not got as big a beard’. I could not stop rambling.
At one point I went ‘I don’t want to be annoying you’ and he went ‘Nah you’re cool’ to which I shouted in his face ‘Oh my god Jason Orange just called me cool!’ to which he just burst out laughing. Sorry again Jay but years of low self-esteem don’t lead you to believe one of Take That will ever call you cool even if you didn’t mean it in that context.
I decided to quiz him on the next Take That album and asked when they going back in the studios to the words of ‘Gary’s off working and you’re here sitting on benches’. His reply to this, a couple of years later, made me realise why he left. ‘Gary like’s working though doesn’t he? I like sitting on benches.’ We agreed Gary worked too much and started talking about the tours.
He asked why we were in London ‘Oh you just over from Ireland for the weekend then?’ and we were like 'Yeah’. He asked what we were doing and I said nothing really and that I’d met him now and I could go home happy. I said we didn’t have much money to do anything and he was like 'Oh that’s my fault with all the concerts’ and I was like 'Yeah but I’d pay thousands for tickets’ and he was like 'Really?’ Yes Jason, yes, also me of five years ago, you’re pretty much doing that now. It’s so much fun.
I asked him if he knew the elephant’s name was Nellie and he said ‘Yeah, Nellie and Om’. I told him The Circus Tour was my favourite. He said most people said that and he was saying how he thought that they peaked at The Circus and that perhaps they were trying too hard with Progress, he didn’t know and I was sitting there going 'No no Progress was brilliant’ even though I completely agreed with him.
I eventually decided to leave and said we’d best go as I didn’t want to be annoying him too much and he was like 'It was lovely meeting you girls, enjoy your non-shopping shopping weekend cos I took all your money’. Then he put his hand out which I took and he pulled me into him for a hug and he kissed me on the cheek. I remember feeling the stubble on my cheek, my vision going black and all I could think was ‘Don’t scream, don’t scream’. And then we said bye and left. Amy told me she was saying thanks so much for talking to me and he had made my life and he said 'You’re more than welcome’.So afterwards I went and called my mum, ran around Kensington Gardens going ‘Oh my god, oh my god’ and crying and not shutting up about it for weeks (ok months, ok years) on end. Even writing this up now has made me cry. I forgot how much I miss Jason, I know he’s happy which makes it ok and I adore the three boys. But yeah, he made those five minutes on a bench some of the best of my whole life. Thanks Jason, the whole thing is still as clear as day and you really did make my life.