I remember watching last years new years eve London firework display from the 4th floor of the four seasons hotel at canary wharf from a combination of the huge window looking over the London skyline and the big tv in the room. The reason we were there was that as an end of year treat Cally had booked us into the hotel without telling me and it had come as a massive surprise. So much of a surprise in fact that I had turned up at this swanky 4star hotel in torn jeans and trainers and handed my car keys to the valet Parker who did his best to not look down his nose at my dirty,rubbish strewn car as he drove it off to a hidden location in the car park far away from public gaze. The bell boy did an equally good job in staying professional when confronted with my rucksack as opposed to the usual Louis Vuitton or Gucci luggage he would normally have to deal with and when we got to our amazing room the only cash I had on me to give as a tip was a £10 note which was more than what I’d paid for the bag in the first place. The hotel was amazing,what with its magnificent London view as well as the service from everyone working there and if you ever contemplate doing it yourself I strongly recommend it. Staring out over the Skyline made me realise that the best thing about new years eve is that it’s a chance for a clean slate and the chance to set goals and ambitions for the coming year as well as a chance to look back and see how many of last years goals were hit or missed. No other day presents itself in the same way as this day does; it’s a kind of system restore point giving us something to anchor new ambitions and self promises to.
2012 was also going to present all of us with what was going to be a once in a lifetime chance to see two events. In any other year the Jubilee would have been the event that captured the mood of the nation creating an outpouring of national pride, a reassertion of national identity and a chance to wave a union flag without being labeled a racist. In most years a flotilla down the Thames, a star studded concert outside Buckingham palace and street parties up and down the land would be enough to see out the year with some pretty good memories and in most years the massive amounts of pomp and pageantry provided by the monarchy would have swelled the national pride to bursting point.The jubilee concert gave me some of my most memorable moments of 2012 not because of its brilliance but because of the utterly toe curling moments of embarrassment watching Miranda Hart, Rolf Harris and Lenny Henry dying on their arses, Cheryl Cole proving that she is so useless that she can’t even mime convincingly and Grace Jones gyrating with a hula hoop non stop for 5 minutes in front of a totally baffled audience of millions.Madness arrived and sung out of tune before Peter Kay was brought on to shore things up and then Sir Paul McCartney was wheeled out of storage to sing some Beatles classics and make everyone feel good.
From the moment that David Beckham lit the olympic torch at a cold and wet Cornish airbase I became increasingly wrapped up in the London games. I stood in the road to watch the Olympic torch come by and found myself high fiveing the police outriders as they came past making way for the coca cola bus and then the torch itself,carried by a bearer who’s one mile stint turned out to be all up hill so by the time she got to where we were standing she looked more than a little out of puff. After having seen the torch procession on the tv it was really good to see it in the flesh and it’s fair to say that the Olympic spirit was beginning to take hold and I was genuinely looking forward to the start of the games,even though I wasn’t able to get any Olympic tickets and couldn’t afford to buy any that we’re available anyway. The closest that I got to experiencing the atmosphere of the Olympics was going up to London on what turned out to be super Saturday.After getting the train to Waterloo we spent an amazing evening taking in the sights at sunset as well as the atmosphere. As we walked around we began to get wind of team GB’s successes as lots of the outdoor bars had big screen tv’s showing the events from a few miles away at Stratford and as we walked between these bars the atmosphere got more amazing as medal after medal was won.Seemingly every time we got to a new bar another Brit was winning another gold.We saw Greg Rutherford win the long jump in one bar but the highlight was walking through Pickfords wharf and around the Golden Hinde where those dining on board stood spontaneously to sing the national anthem in full voice as Mo Farah crossed the line to win team GB’s 6th gold medal of the day. I know we weren’t in the stadium that night but just being in London was as an amazing experience and a privilege to have been there. From the opening ceremony onwards both the Olympics and Paralympics were so good that the now traditional biennial let down from the England football team has been pretty much forgotten.Except to say that in a year of sporting magnificence these overpaid,self absorbed fools were shown up for what they are big time.
With the mighty Iron Maiden choosing to avoid everywhere apart from North America in 2012,live shows were lacking quantity but not quality as I only managed to get 3 shows in but it’s fair to say 3 very good ones. In January we went to see Danny and Ben from Thunder on their solo tour at the Brighton Komedia where they performed a few thunder classics as well as a whole bunch of cover versions plus shared with us many of their stories from their lifetime on the road. This was all being played out in front of an audience of about 200. For anyone not familiar with their work, I would urge you to get online and download ‘ backstreet symphony’ which at a cost of just a few quid will be the best few quid you will spend in any year. In June we went to see Sebastian Bach (ex skid row) At the 02 in Islington where we managed to get right at the front on the barrier by the pa where for two hours plus our ears were pummelled to death firstly by support band ‘the howling’ and then by Seb himself. Having previously never heard of the howling I was delighted to discover that they are a kind of modern punk band with a great groove and that between them they had more attitude than the inmates of a young offenders institute and songs that were catchier than the norovirus. Never before have I seen a bands stage entrance include the singer lobbing his microphone into the baying crowd whilst one of the guitarists took a mouthful of carlsberg before spraying it into the air above himself before throwing more shapes than slash and Janick Gers put together. The whole gig was turning out to be one of those where everything was going wrong though. James Black (vocals) kept throwing the mic into the crowd and rarely got it back in time to sing his next lines meaning he had to resort to taking the guitarists one instead causing some very confused looks from said guitarist who repeatedly turned round to sing only to find his mic gone. At the end of the show the singers hat was thrown into the crowd which we thought was for keeps but after the band departed a roadie was dispatched to retrieve it. Good luck with that mate! Sebastian Bach didn’t fair much better either.When he took to the stage to the tune of Skid Rows classic ‘slave to the grind’he managed to hit himself in the face with his mic stand causing him to stand there bleeding while singing the opening number then throughout the show proceeding to spend far too much time at the sound booth complaining of the sound and leaving Nick Sterling to perform the vocals instead. All in all though this was a mega show. Bach’s most recent album Kicking and screaming is a belter,one of my favourites of the year and the old skid row stuff stands the test of time so if you ever get the chance to see him do so,If for no reason other than the fact that he can headbang like no other.As for the howling I genuinely hope I like their upcoming stuff as much as I want to and I definitely plan to see more of their live shows in 2013. Download maybe? The final gig wasn’t until November when we we went to see Bryan Adams at the Royal Albert Hall which was amazing and a full review is available in my archives section.
And so with the sun setting on 2012 it’s now time to start thinking about what fun and excitement 2013 has to offer. Musically speaking the download tickets are bought, the tickets to see Maiden in Paris are safely stored away and I have promised to accompany Cally to Wembley to see Robbie Williams in July. A trip to Amsterdam is planned for the end of January and it’s going to be fantastic and hopefully a few other new places can be visited before this time next year as well.I have already set my new years resolutions for 2013 which include my traditional 2 easy ones which I never achieve and 1 impossible one which while more effort gets applied also never gets achieved. Last year they were to learn how to juggle (I didn’t event start), get the tattoo I wanted on my right arm (bottled it) and the big one this year was to lose weight. After 11 and a half months of actually not doing much about it i’d managed to lose a whole pound which means that at the current rate of loss I’ll be at my target weight sometime during December 2082. This years resolutions are equally unobtainable as well. Number 1 is to learn the words to auld lang syne in time for Monday night so as not to be the only one in the world having to mime it. Number 2 is to learn the Gangnam style dance in time for my sisters wedding in a weeks time but all is not going well with early practice for this one as early attempts make me look like I’ve just been taserd.Number 3 is the same as last years. Having spent the best part of the last week or so feeling fit to burst, I’ve been very guilty of committing 3 of the 7 deadly sins namely sloth,greed and gluttony. I’ve drunk my way through 2 boxes of beers, a few bottles of wine and champagne and a bottle of Jim beam honey as well as eaten my way through more crisps,chocolates and cakes than even I thought was possible to do. I’ve also found myself opening another bottle of Budweiser whilst saying to myself things like ‘ well they all need to go by the 31st’ and ‘ once they’re gone they’re gone’.So with that in mind it’s time to get more serious this year and make more of an effort to turn my body into a temple as opposed a kind of run down kebab shop that it has become. So keep your fingers crossed that it will happen this year!
I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read my blogs since I started writing them in September. From a standing start I’ve discovered that they have been read in 12 countries and I’ve had over a 1000 hits which is very gratifying indeed.Please feel free to add your email address and click the follow button as i’ll be doing stuff that won’t be shared on facebook or twitter which I hope you’ll also like.
Cheers, and have a great 2013