Rugby & Rock Concerts

23 10 2010

Rugby and rock concerts.  Two pursuits of happiness that make for a contented Lizzie.  Last weekend was all about that particular combination with a rugby match at Wembley and not one, but two, Stereophonics concerts.

Amazingly I had not actually attended a rugby match here in the UK until last Saturday.  Considering I made a point of attending every possible Lions, Hurricanes and All Black game back in Wellington, this long gap in rugby attendance is rather uncharacteristic.  However, for the grand total of ten quid I found myself among 45,000+ other spectators for Saracens vs Leinster at Wembley.  Wembley is a stunning ground, and while Leinster took the victory over the home team (thanks to Sexton and to the delight of the Irish supporters around me), I was just a bit gutted that my camera wasn’t working because it was a truly gorgeous early Autumn’s day.  Well, I thought my camera wasn’t working.  I tried turning it on and got the message change battery pack. I thought this was a strange message as the last time I checked the battery (the day before) it was full but nevertheless I put it back in my bag.  It wasn’t till I got home that I found that the battery was fine, the camera was fine, it was just having a bit of a moment on me.  Shame, because there was a clear, crisp blue sky behind Wembley and you could see out over most of the City of London from the stadium – it would have made a lovely photo or two.  This disappointment was tempered somewhat by the Elvis impersonator I passed on the way to the ground singing Suspicious Minds. Awesome.

The Stereophonics performed their two shows at the Hammersmith Apollo with Word Gets Around on the Sunday night and Performance & Cocktails on the Monday night.  Not used to school night excursions two nights running, I was a zombie at work on the Tuesday, fuelled by tea and anything with sugar. 

I have been a bit of a mark for the ‘Phonics since I was but a school girl and – as I mentioned in this post – I have made a point of attending as many of their concerts as possible while I’m here in the UK.  The ‘Phonics are supreme live and these concerts were no exception.  Both nights started with Kelly telling anecdotes of Stuart Cable, who sadly passed away earlier this year.  I particularly appreciated the story of Stuart and their first ever gig at Wembley Stadium in 1999.  Stuart was big on rugby and the same day and time that the ‘Phonics were playing Wembley (supporting Aerosmith no less) was the same day and time that Wales were playing the ‘Boks.  This presented a dilemma for Stuart (and one with which I can sympathise).  Faced with a 60,000+ audience, Steven Tyler on one wing of the stage and Noel Gallagher on the other wing of the stage, Stuart solved his problem by taking a small portable telly on stage with him so to not miss the match.  Good on ya, mate. 

Highlights of the concerts?  For Sunday, one would be Kelly’s response for a request for Sex on Fire from someone in the audience. “F*#k your Sex on Fire” was his reply, easily one of the best quips of the night, week, month, year.  Thank you Mr Jones.  But seriously, closing with Bartender instead of Dakota (and similarly closing with Local Boy instead of Dakota on the Monday) was awesome.  Also well enjoyed was Too Many Sandwiches.  Back in the days of school uniforms and homework I wrote out the lyrics to this song in Carla’s leaving book – that was how much I liked it, so much so that I knew it off by heart and ten years on and I still know it by heart.  Also deserving an honourable mention was the Word Gets Around version of She Takes Her Clothes Off and the humble request that they play this version more often? Please and thank you.  Highlights for Monday night would be  Roll Up and Shine, Is Yesterday Tomorrow Today? Nice To Be Out, Plastic California and I Stopped to Fill My Car Up which ends with a particularly storming solo by Adam and worth hunting out online. 

Set list 17 October:

Chaplin/Tramp’s Vest/Thousand Trees/Carrot Cake & Wine/Chris Chambers/Tie Me Up & Tie Me Down/Same Sized Feet/Traffic/Goldfish Bowl/Check My Eyelids for Holes/Buy Myself a Small Plane/Poppy Day/Home to Me/She Takes Her Clothes Off/Too Many Sandwiches Encore 1: Billy Davy’s Daughter/Raymond’s Shop/Last of the Big Time Drinkers/Local Boy Encore 2: Pick a Part that’s New/Radio/Maybe Tomorrow/Have a Nice Day/Dakota/Bartender

Set list 18 October:

Roll Up & Shine/Bartender/Hurry Up & Wait/Pick a Part that’s New/Just Looking/Half the Lies You Tell Ain’t True/Radio/Fiddlers Green/T Shirt Suntan/Is Yesterday Tomorrow Today?/In My Day/A Minute Longer/Sunny Afternoon/Nice To Be Out/She Takes Her Clothes Off/Plastic California/I Stopped To Fill My Car Up Encore 1 Thousand Trees/Tramp’s Vest/Same Sized Feet/Too Many Sandwiches Encore 2: Traffic/Maybe Tomorrow/Have a Nice Day/Dakota/Local Boy

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Lizzie meets an Angel

8 10 2010

The following is an account of what happened to me this Monday (4th October).  It was a timely reminder that there are people of grace and kindness all around us, even if there are times when we can’t see them for the crowds that surround us. 

Monday started early, I had a lot to do (even for a Monday) and there was a Tube strike to contend with and work around.  I thought I had arrived early enough at the Regent Street bus stop to miss the crush of people who would normally catch the tube to work but had opted (like me) to try their luck with the buses instead.  It didn’t take long before I realised that I had underestimated the situation.  Fearing that it was now or never, I managed to squeeze onto the third number 23 bus which stopped at Regent Street.  Relieved to be on my way, I found a spot on the floor near my feet for my backpack and grocery bag and tried to make myself as comfortable as possible amidst the crowd of Monday morning commuters.  Everything was fine for the first 30 minutes or so and then I began to feel unwell.

Pull yourself together girl

I tried telling myself

You’ll be fine

No such luck.  I began to feel as if I were no longer welcome in my own body and the bus around me began to change into a tunnel.  I awoke in the door well, lying on my back with an angelic commuter (there is no other way to describe her) holding my hand in both of hers, reassuring me that I’d be alright.  Confusion morphed into realisation as I slowly figured out what must have happened.  I felt something metallic under my head 

I must have hit my head when I landed

It was the first coherent thought that I could manage.  Shock began to set in and I felt my body start to tremble slightly.  The raw emotion of the past week (which I had done so well to mask up until that point) mixed with the shock and formed a tidal wave under which I felt overwhelmed

You’ll be alright

Reassured my Angel.  I felt tears began to warm my eyes and then slide down my cheeks.  I gripped her hand a little tighter.  The bus driver arrived at the back door

You alright love?

Someone told him what had happened, that I’d hit my head.  I felt unable to speak.

Should I call an ambulance?

I wasn’t sure, but I felt that right now wasn’t the time to be stoic.  I wasn’t the right person to assess whether or not I’d hurt myself.

Yeah, maybe, yes.

I managed to get out those three words out, though they felt strange and like someone else was talking.  The other commuters began to file off the bus as an ambulance was called.  I felt like a bizarre specimen in a science lab which everyone glances at but doesn’t want to be seen to have done so.  The bus driver reappeared at the back door.  My Angel remained by my side, holding my hand.  Not sure where to look, my let my gaze flit from my Angel, to my abdomen (watching as I breathed in and out, I was wearing red, my power colour), to the commuters as they left the bus.  A police officer who was passing by stopped and asked the driver what had happened.  He bent down to talk to me.

What’s your name?

Liz

You fell?

Yeah

Even though I was still collecting myself  (I could only now feel blood tingling back into my fingers), I was beginning to feel stubbornly frustrated that I was only able to manage monosyllabic answers.

You two travelling together?

This time the question was directed at my Angel.  It occurred to me that I didn’t know where she had come from.  I couldn’t recall seeing her on the bus. 

No, I was walking by and I saw her fall

Her slight eastern european accent began to filter through, I noticed for the first time her ringlets of strawberry blonde hair and realised that the look of concern which I had first noticed about her hadn’t left her face.  I felt more tears slid down and drop onto my shoulders.  I heard the bus driver’s London accent again

They asked me how old you were

He waited for effect

I said 40

I felt a giggle escape from my body and then a smile.  I could hear sirens in the background.

Sirens? I get sirens?

The thought puzzled me and the moment felt immeasurably surreal.  I had heard plenty of sirens during my time  in London.  I never thought I’d hear them ringing through the city for me.  The police officer remarked

I think these are for you

Before adding with a reassuring smile

You’re getting well looked after – Police, Ambulance…

The ambulance arrived and one of the medics looked me over. All the while my Angel remained by my side, the last commuter left on the bus. 

You’re going to survive, we’ll just take you to the ambulance for a couple of small tests

She followed just behind me as I slowly made my to the ambulance.  I stopped at the ambulance door

Thank you

Those words seemed horribly inadequate

I wouldn’t have left you

Was her reply, her reassurance that I would have never had to pass through that moment in my life alone.  I felt tears prick my eyes again.  I had not before experienced such grace and kindness from a complete stranger.  I felt humbled by it.  Words failed me and it was the best I could do to say

Thank you.





Lizzie returns and the Battle of Britain

1 10 2010

Almost three months gone and no post…holy blogosphere Batman! But seriously, that is a long time between drinks. Rest assured that the silence on the blogging front wasn’t for a lack of material, but rather it was a lack of machinery that left me stranded in the blogging wilderness. After seven years my much-loved laptop is finally on its last legs. Until my last encounter with it I wasn’t actually aware that you could get the blue-screen-of-death so many times in a row. After the fourth blue-out I began to engage in that futile talk one feels they need to have with an uncooperative computer “Come on laptop, you’re overheated and so am I…either you start up, or blow up, which do you prefer?” While it didn’t blow up, it is now resting in a state of retirement.

Anyway, back to the business of blogging. Much has happened in the world of Lizzie. Some of the escapades, trails & tribulations of the past twelve weeks were enjoyable and others weren’t so much – some may end up as posts, while others are unlikely to become posting material.* However this post is one that I’ve been thinking about for a couple of weeks and it would be remiss of me to let the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain to go by without commenting on it.

Seventy years ago the Blitz was raining down on London while the Battle of Britain was being waged in the clear late summer skies over the city and south-east of England.  I was twelve during the 55th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and I developed an all-consuming interest in it.  This interest had been sparked by the movie (starring Laurence Olivier amongst others in a stellar cast).  When my Form Two teacher, Mr Sullivan, asked the class to do a project on something that interested them I chose the Battle of Britain.  Other girls chose to do their projects on horses and pro surfers – it was another moment in my school life that marked me out as a bit of a total nerd.  Not that I cared, everything about this battle fascinated me: the planes, the pilots and the personalities of those involved.  

Like many a spectator of history who finds themselves separated from the events that intrigue them by the passage of time, I’ve often wondered what this moment was like for those Londoners who witnessed it. This is especially true for me now as I have begun to consider London a home of sorts.  With all that was at stake, when those Londoners watched the dog fights raging above the familiar landmarks, could they distinguish between the men and the machines?  Between the pilots of flesh & blood who flew, and the machines of metal and armour that were flown? Hmmm, I think such a distinction might be a luxury of us spectators of history, who posses the ability of hindsight.  What I do know for certain was that amongst those Londoners was my Nana.  Too young to enlist, she joined the WAAF the following year.  As a spectator of history, this is as tangibly close as I will get to the actual event.  

Over the August Bank Holiday weekend I caught the second half of the Battle of Britain movie on TV.  It was a moment of serendipity, as it was quite possibly the first time that I had seen it in almost ten years.  Watching it through adult eyes brought home just how young some of the pilots were who were flying those planes.  As a twelve-year-old, a 22-year-old pilot sounded well, rather, old. Now, as a 20 something who is on the greater side of 30, a 22-year-old pilot sounds exactly like what it was – young.  

A similar moment of reflection had occurred earlier that day when I visited the Yorkshire village of Aldborough.  Ostensibly I had visited this village as it was built on the site of a Roman town and it had some Roman remains (which I did see while I was there).  However, amongst the park benches and maypole on the village green I came across the following plaque:

So, here is a moment to reflect on the men and women who had given their lives during this conflict, the preceding world war and all other wars that have followed.  To die young in these circumstances is to die too soon. Further, to die in the act of saving the lives of others exemplifies a selflessness that demonstrates the better side of our humanity and is something that is worth remembrance and reflection. 

*As I said, I’ve not been short of material, just means. While the value of this material (if one can put a value on words) is a moot point – I do wonder what the point of having a blog is if one does not actually post onto it one’s words. Hence the new tab, pieces of writing that are not exactly posts but are the end results of thoughts, feelings and experiences bundled into nouns and verbs.