So no, I don’t want to go to Cuba – 20th-22nd February 2018

We’re taking an overnight flight to the UK and of course, I slept a lot already.  It’s only in more recent years that I’ve been able to even sleep a little bit on planes.  Except for that one time out of Guangzhou, I was lucky enough to start to talking to a girl as we were waiting for departure.  Just by chance, she knew the staff working the counter and wrangled an upgrade to business class for herself.  She was kind enough to come back down to cattle and tell me to follow her back to business class, where there was a spare seat.  Best sleep on a plane ever, and probably the last time I’ll enjoy that too.

Our plane in and out of London is the new A380 and it is huge.  Even for the likes of us paupers, it feels like there is a little more room to breathe at least.  I barely manage to sleep though.

We arrive in London around 6am and the weather has me instantly cold and chilled (not in the relaxed sense at all).  We pick up a hire car, which is amazing but I keep forgetting that it is manual and stall it at every roundabout.  Then we take the wrong lane and exit off the motorway and the sky is grey and the rain is drizzling just that annoying amount to make the wipers screech.  I am thoroughly depressed already.

Somehow the shitty English coffee manages to take off the edge at least for a while.  Just remember not to watch what the barista actually does and just go by taste.  I think I had one half decent coffee this trip – which is one more than last time I visited the UK.

As we arrive in Brighton the sun very occasionally decides to show itself.  We’re staying at Amy’s university friend’s house and she just happens to live herself on Brighton Marina.  Sometimes I feel especially lucky to find myself in such beautiful places just through the people that I know.

It’s a great little house, and when I say little, I always forget just how tiny and compact English houses are.  And doors – always doors.  Gotta keep that heat in.

Amy has decided that we must eat Indian food on this trip and, as they are everywhere, it’s only a short walk to our lunch.  It’s cold and even the slightest breeze is enough to make us shudder.  We have prepared appropriate coats but there’s still the other bits turning blue.  Luckily the sun decides to stay for a long while and the sky turns blue.  Wait, are we still in England, in February?

Amy’s friend, Bookie, speaks with the typical American accent of her tutors from years ago.  Something that I (or Australia) have managed to change with Amy over the years.  She doesn’t sound English and not really Aussie but at least it’s not American.

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Bookie is married to an airline pilot and he is away 20 days a month and he’s away now, arriving back in the following couple of days for his birthday.  They have a five-year-old son called Kyle and when he comes home from school I’m tasked with keeping him entertained whilst food is prepared.  We have fun playing Star Wars action figures and making up stories.

Later, Amy and I enjoy the comforts of a nice soft bed and perfect pillows.  Back at Amy’s parent’s house, the bed we are sleeping on may as well be a block of concrete – it’s good for learning to sleep on a tiled floor though.  The only downside of the night is I wake up having a coughing fit and end up in the living room for a spell.  Amy is starting to catch it too and her voice is starting to crack.

We wake up again to brilliant sunshine and coffee’d up (instant) we hit the road, passing Arundel castle and some other Olde Worlde buildings.  The history and mystery of England is a little bit magical for me if only the temperature was more appealing.

Heading along the coast we get back into very familiar territory for me, with roads I travelled repeatedly in other glory days.  We soon arrive at my cousin’s house and are treated to a warm welcome of food and central heating, along with discussions about details for my mother’s funeral and some other minor details that need to be sorted whilst I’m here.

My cousin, Sharon and her husband Ken have been doing all the hard graft for my mother and for me, of course, over the last 18 months or so.  I’m so lucky that she has been here and willing to assist with everything.

It still doesn’t seem real that my mother isn’t here to talk to, to show pictures and to keep updated on the minutiae of everyday life.  I feel sad about that but not overly emotional.  I keep wondering if I’m going to sit down one day and have a big cry.  Maybe.  I’ve upped my dose of antidepressants recently, in preparation for my big life move and it’s likely they are helping keep things smooth for me emotionally.

Another coughing fit just after going to bed sees me again relocating to the living room until I’m on the verge of sleep when I return to bed and later Amy wakes me with coughing of her own.

The weather is excellent again and even though it’s cold there’s little wind to bring in the chill.  We drive back to my hometown and go to the bank where my mum and I have a joint account and sort out access for Sharon to deal with expenses etc.  Amy and I spend a little more time walking around, returning again for pizza at Piccolo Mondo, once my favourite pizza ever, not so much these days though, it’s still good though.

We take ourselves on a country drive as I search out Bulbarrow Hill.  I love this place.  It sparks that mystical quality of olden days more than some of the other places scattered around the south, even more than Stonehenge.  It’s a fabulous view and the sun’s rays break through the scattering of clouds.

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I have time to scoff down some more home cooked food, that Sharon says isn’t to her usual quality but it tastes great to me.  Bring on the cheese, potato, garlic and butter anytime!

I’m off for a quick catch up with old school friends Rupert and Murray, though we barely have time with our busy schedules.  A quick couple of pints and it’s time to head off on our merry ways, and I am feeling quite tipsy.  That is until I open the pub door and the cold wind blast instantly sobers me.  This forces me to reminisce quite clearly the many many nights spent walking home from the pub, or the local football club, or the school field where we huddled around a couple of cans of beer and maybe a fire.  Those days were either hell fun or hell shit depending on my mood and what was going on around me.  I miss the good bits.  A lot.

Edit:  Could not stop humming this tune during these few days – https://youtu.be/xk2QbCDRP0U

The Clash, Dancette at Poole Arts Centre – 27th July 1982

12th May 2022 – Looking for info on this show, I discovered that the poster for the attached image sold for more than £1,600!

Another band played this show too but I don’t remember and can’t find any other information.

My mum would’ve taken Rupert and me down to this and picked us up afterwards. I wonder now, what she was doing during the time we were there. Did she go home or go and hang out somewhere? If it was me (now) I would’ve found something to do nearby although, admittedly, back then there wasn’t much else to do except go to the pub. I guess there’s not much else to do even now but people can keep themselves occupied fiddling with their phones whilst waiting. I’d take a book.

I don’t remember anything about this show. I just have a snapshot in my head of a blurry stage and Mick Jones on the left. I’m sure I enjoyed it though. Rupert and I would’ve been pogoing like mad punks were supposed to.

Friday night’s here, what’s the scene? – 29th January 1982

Stiff Little Fingers
Flying Padovanis

Poole Arts Centre, Poole, Dorset

19th Oct 2021 – My very first concert. Mum dropped me and Rupert at the Arts Centre around 7pm and would come back around 10.30pm to pick us up again. There were people everywhere. This was still a time when entertainment was not at anyone’s fingertips and folks would save their money for events like this and make a night of it. We were rowdy 14-year-olds on what felt somewhat like unknown territory.

My only recollection of the Flying Padovani’s was a bald guy on stage. Their music passed me by like a familiar b-movie, anticipating the real deal.

Stiff Little Fingers had made a big impression on me back in 1980 with their ‘Nobody’s Heroes’ album and seeing them perform ‘At The Edge’ on Top of the Pops. Intelligent lyrics and rousing choruses, melodic guitars and galloping rhythms.

By 1982 they had already released their third album ‘Go For It’, another classic, and were touring around this new ‘Listen’ EP. Although the recording felt a lot more restrained than previously, they were still writing great songs and they translated perfectly for the live experience.

Our skinny bodies were adept at squeezing our way near the front and the hall was rammed with people. When SLF came on I learned something that many have noted since, that the floor at the Art Centre was sprung, or at least felt that way. Jammed side by side with other sweaty youthful punks and rockers, the whole front of the audience pogoed and bounced in rhythm with the songs. It was impossible to fall over, everyone was packed in so tight. It was so exhilarating.

I was rapt from start to finish and asked my mum to buy me an SLF silk scarf which I still have.

Rupert and I in celebratory mood

The Week That Was – 1st July 1979

Record of the week: C’mon Everybody – Sex Pistols
Highest entry: Chic – Good Times – 22 (What crap!)

7th May 2022 – Well, I’m going to take my word for it and not even going to bother checking out the Chic song again. Could C’mon Everybody really be by the Sex Pistols? Were the Pistols the Pistols without John Lydon? Obviously, moneymakers thought they could use the name but when it comes to the actual ‘real’ band, they only really had about 18 songs in their catalogue. For a band that had such a great impact on musical culture (culture in general, really) it seems an incredibly small recorded legacy. Are there other bands with such a minuscule recorded output that was such a huge influence?

The video has Sid riding his motorbike without a helmet, which was SO punk rock to 11 year old me. I couldn’t understand how he was allowed to do that, to get away with it! I’m going to watch it again in a minute but the footage I remember is of him riding through English country lanes and that takes me back to the time of doing the same, pushbikes and then motorbikes (with helmet, of course!), about 5 or 6 years later.

I went on a bike ride this morning, around a lot of country lanes here in Chiang Rai and despite the different types of foliage, it’s quite a similar experience. As I was riding I was thinking about going back to the UK and hitting up Rupert and Jeremy, hiring some 50cc mopeds and hooning around our old haunts.

1st July 1979
Yesterday I was in bed all the time because of me leg (see Friday 24th June)
2p

2nd July 1979
POP DAY
Making out my pop records that I’m playing
2p

3rd July 1979
Used a spud to make C L A S H, you know, cut-outs.
2p
2p^ not in debt

7th July 2022 – My love of the Clash was getting creative. I also made some tiny bread buns of those letters and at school made them out of wood whenever there was free bits leftover from making….whatever we were supposed to be making. I was never handy with tools and soon gave up on woodwork and metalwork classes.

4th July 1979
I’m actually saving money
If you look back to Feb 9, the middle statement has become false
2p
4p^

7th May 2022 – This situation wouldn’t last!

5th July 1979
1. Tubeway Army – Are Friends Electric?
2. Squeeze – Up The Junction
3. Janet Kay – Silly Games (what crap!)
4. Anita Ward – Ring My Bell
5. Gerry Rafferty – Night Owl
9. Sex Pistols – C’mon Everybody
2p
6p^

6th July 1979
Sports Day This year Last year
Long Jump 1 1
75m 1 1
150m 1 1
Cricket Ball 1 1
Relay 1 2
2p 8p^

7th May 2022 – I could’ve been a contender, I suppose. There wasn’t much support for a dumb kid from the backwaters of England and there wasn’t enough internal motivation. I didn’t believe in myself, no one else believed in me and so it goes.

7th July 1979
Borg vs Tanner
6-7 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-4
Ipswich’s last 3 seasons places
6.3.6
2p 10p^

7th May 2022 – I liked Bjorn Borg for some reason. He seemed humble.