Friday, 3 February 2017

The End

And what an end it was!

In about October of last year, I had a call from Tony, an old school friend, and the guy who had organised the tickets for us to go and see AC/DC in 2015.  He simple question was would I interested in going to see Black Sabbath on their last ever tour, The End Tour, in January.  No brainer, really.  So I immediately said yes, asking for two tickets, the second of which was Drew’s Christmas present.

So after all the exertions of the Saturday night, I made my way home, collected Drew and we made our way up to the O2 Arena in Greenwich.

It turned out that we weren’t the only ones going who had been at the party on Saturday night as two other people were also going, an old school friend called Martin, whose son had got him tickets for his birthday, and Dave, a friend who lives locally.  And, as Dave was driving, he offered to give Drew and I a lift back home.

After grabbing something to eat, Drew and I met up with everyone and we made our way into the arena.  We were in the golden circle, a kind of posh mosh pit, which meant that we were quite close to the stage.

First on stage was the support act, a band called Rival Sons from California.  They were loud and they were good, even if the lead singer did seem to think that he was Jim Morrison with his mannerisms, movement etc, and the keyboard player had a ZZ Top beard.

After a twenty minute break whilst the roadies set up, Sabbath appeared, launching straight into Black Sabbath.

The band had three of the four original members playing, Geezer Butler on bass, Tony Iommi on guitar and Ozzy Osbourne singing.  Sadly, due to contract disputes and falling out between him and Ozzy, the original drummer, Bill Ward, was absent, although his replacement, Tommy Clufetos, did an amazing job, including a fifteen minute drum solo.


The band was on stage for almost two hours, and although all of them, bar Clufetos, are nearly seventy, they still know how to perform.  Even Ozzy was all over the place, though not as much as in his younger days.  I think that the drink and drugs in his younger days have taken their toll, and at times his movements were almost Parkinsonian.

The gig ended with Children of the Grave, whilst giant balloons floated about and cannon fired out “Black Sabbath” confetti, the band briefly leaving the stage before returning to encore with Paranoid, which had everyone rocking.

Soon after this, Drew and I were outside, buzzing from the gig and partly deaf, where we met Dave and his friend Sean and we were home by midnight, although I confess to being absolutely knackered at work the following day.

If this really is the end, I’m certainly glad that I got to see one of the world’s best rock bands live before they disappear into history.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Underhand, Conniving, Sneaky & Devious!

No, not the name of a firm of lawyers wanting to provide help if you were ‘involved in accident that wasn’t your fault’, although if it was headed by my girlfriend had my three children as employees, it would be the perfect name.

This last weekend, I was going to a gig in London (next blog) and the guy who had arranged to get the tickets called a couple of weeks ago to say that he was going to come down the night before, and did I want to meet for a couple of quiet beers.  I agreed and even arranged for Tony to stay at Emma’s.  Emma told me that she was going to meet up with the girls for a few drinks at the same time we were out.

Saturday arrived and I was staying at Emma’s.  Nothing exciting happened, it was just another day. 

Idiot Alert #1!  Alec was out, although when I saw him leaving, he looked like he had a big white box, like a cake box.  However, when he got home, he told me that Emma’s neighbour had seen him leaving and asked him if he could drop a parcel off at the Post Office for her.

Tony arrived at about 5pm and we got ready to go out.  We were at school together, so I have known him for almost forty years!  Alec dropped the pair of us into Tunbridge Wells, suggesting that we should meet up later when he met with his friend, Angus.

We made our way into the town and Tony decided that we would stop at the Opera House for a couple of drinks, which we did, before heading out to find another watering hole.  I had suggested the local beer cafĂ©, but Tony suggested not.  I then suggested another pub close to the shopping centre, but when we got there, the access gate was closed.  I had suggested that we access it via the main road, but Tony then suggested that we head to another pub that he knew from his days when he’d lived in Tunbridge Wells, called Caesar’s.

I’d never heard of the place, but we headed up the road.  However, Cesar’s appeared to be long-gone and had been replaced by another bar called Townhouse.  It looked ok, so we went in, but it did seem somewhat packed.  Tony made his way through the crowd’s to some stairs at the back and started to go up them.  When I questioned him, he told me that there was a bar upstairs that was much quieter.

Idiot Alert #2!  It never occurred to me that Tony, who had earlier told me that he hadn’t been out in Tunbridge Wells for about 20 years, knew that there was a quieter bar upstairs in a bar that hadn’t existed the last time that he had been out in the town!

We made our way upstairs although Tony did loiter a little on the landing.

Idiot Alert #3!  As we were going up to the “quieter bar” I noticed that there were two large helium balloons, one in the shape of a 5, the other in the shape of a 0, and I then became concerned that we were about to gate-crash somebody’s fiftieth birthday party.

Idiot Alert #4!  As I walked into the upstairs bar, I saw a group of people to my left, one of whom I recognised from the hospital.  I was just thinking that it was a coincidence that she should be at this unknown person’s birthday party, when the room erupted with a very loud “SURPRISE!”  It was at this point that I realised that Emma had organised a surprise fiftieth birthday party for me!

I will not repeat what I called Tony, but it was short, and began with C.  There were quite a number of people at the party, old school friends, work colleagues, people whom I’d worked with and old friends, all of whom had been conniving with Emma.

I then found out that the white box that I’d seen Alec with was in fact a cake box containing my birthday cake, which had been made by one of Emma’s previous work colleagues.  I also found out that the reason that Tony had been loitering on the stairs was because he was covering a “Private Party” sign.

It was a fabulous evening, with good food and plenty to drink, as well as my receiving a lot of very generous presents, with Emma, Tony, Alec and I being the last to leave when the bar closed.  And whilst Emma, who was ‘vey vey drunk’, headed off to be, the three “boys” had a Becherovka as a nightcap before heading to bed at about 2.30am.

We were up bright an early, at least I was, in time to see Tony head off back to London.  Emma was feeling somewhat delicate so got up a little later.  At about lunchtime, I headed back to mine to meet up with Drew and head up to London for the gig, the tickets for which were Drew’s Christmas present.

I still can’t fully believe that Emma managed to arrange a party with all these people and that I had no idea whatsoever.  I was completely stitched up, although it was a very pleasant evening.

I also know why Emma had had so much to drink (she was worse the wear by the time I arrived at the party).  It was due to nerves, I think.  Nerves because the previous weekend, when we were in Prague, Emma had asked me how I felt about the fact that I was away for my birthday.  My response had been that I was perfectly happy, and that at least she hadn’t organised a surprise party for me, because I couldn’t think of anything worse!