The UK Brain Dump

I distinctly remember the day I casually, even offhandedly uttered the words, “We really should just go to the UK and do a tour.”  I’m not even sure I really meant them at the time.  It was one of those things I tend to do – state a dream out loud as though I can somehow make it happen.  At the time, I have to admit that of course I’ve always wanted to go (who doesn’t?!?), but I could never imagine having that conversation with my husband.  Flying to the UK isn’t exactly cheap, and while yes – he travels a lot for work and we have tons of frequent flier tickets racked up as a result, it never occurred to me that I could actually use one to fly there without him.  It seemed like something I’d use to go on vacation with him, not away from him.  Oddly though, Amanda jumped right onto that train with me.  She wanted to go, but of course there were so many details to sort: work (her), home (me), money (both of us), etc. etc. etc.  Both of us felt that there may not be many more opportunities to go, and that if we really wanted to live in the moment, we’d better just go for it.  So we did.

Naturally, we all know how that first trip ended up.  Even the planning for it was not without trial, and in hindsight (its 20/20, right?) I think we should have sensed that all was not sound with our plan.  Both Amanda and I came home with very mixed feelings, and to this day she insists that we both had some post traumatic stress.  I hate admitting things like that, but it’s probably true at least in part.   Staying in the UK during the days that followed was extremely difficult, but I have to say – from the time I left my house here in California the day I caught my flight out to London, there were no tears from me.  I simply refused them.  I’m not a crier by nature, and I refused to give that stupid band any of those tears.  Yes, that’s really how I felt.  While we were in the UK, I kept as brave of a face on the blog as possible, tried very hard to be a good sport and never let on just how incredibly disappointed I was.  Besides, as bad as it was – and trust me it was bad – for Amanda and I, in the back of my mind I knew that I had absolutely no right to my disappointment.  I wasn’t Simon or the rest of the band.  They had it far, far worse than I ever did.  I could go back home and continue to be me – but what about Simon?  That thought is what kept me from completely losing it on that first trip.  Once I got home, I threw myself back into my normal life, and figured that time would take care of the rest.   Although, I did hold on to a tiny, minute shred of hope.

At first, hope was all that kept me writing. Some days I’d be fine, others – well, others I’d have writers block.  Then the news would come creeping out that Simon was improving, and I’d be thrilled on one hand, and on the other I’d wonder if it were true.  (horrible, I know)  It was around this time that the rescheduled UK dates showed up, and I have to tell you all, throughout the entire planning process for Amanda and I – I never once really and truly believed we’d ever see those shows.  We both were so casual about the planning this time!  We sold tickets, bought new ones…and then stopped planning altogether.  Then the announcement of the rehearsal shows came, and I wondered just how likely it really was that Simon really *could* sing.  It was difficult to say from here, so I relied on news from UK friends.  Then the shows happened, and I have to say – and some of you who are close to me know this – I questioned whether or not it was really Simon singing and not a backing track.  Blasphemous!!!  To be fair, I just worried about him in general.  Then of course the US dates were announced and even then, I had very little desire to go.  I’m not quite sure what it really was, but I didn’t have that deep seeded pit of excitement that I normally do.  It was almost like buying tickets for any other band, I guess.   Where was that sense of excitement???

The night of the Valley Center show arrived, and I still wasn’t very thrilled to be going.  I tried to play it off here on the blog as something different, but all I can tell you is that I was not that excited.  It could have been because I was going with my husband (its not the same as going with Amanda or my friends), it could have been because I had 50,000 other things going on including my daughter’s first high school homecoming dance, but I just felt like it was one more thing I had to go do.  Odd.  If I had to place a finger on how I felt that night, it was as though I was angry.  When they came on stage that night, I couldn’t even look at them.  I saw Simon come out and begin to sing Before the Rain, and I had to look down and practically turn away.  Hearing him sing actually hurt, and I can’t explain it.  It wasn’t until a good minute into the song that I gathered up enough courage to finally look up, and yes – the first person I saw was Dom.  He was right in front and winked at me. (yes, it really was AT me.  I was 3rd row that night right in front of him so there was really no mistaking it.)  I highly doubt he knew what was going on, but it did help.  I gave a small smile in return and tried to get into the rest of the show.  It was a good show overall.  My reaction was so weird that night, I mean – I’m a fan and all but seriously even *I* know when I’m being weird, and this was definitely just past weird.  The rest of the show was fine, but I couldn’t wait to get out of there and get home.  Poor Walt, he tried cheering me up but I just wasn’t having any.  I didn’t long to go to other shows, I just wanted to come home.

Then Chicago came about.  Originally I wasn’t even planning to go there – so when I finally said “OK, I’m coming” I think I even shocked myself.  In hindsight I’m really not sure why I didn’t plan to go sooner, but I didn’t.  I waited until pretty close to the last second to buy a ticket, went to the show, had a great time with friends – but still I felt almost nothing.  Once again the day I left, I couldn’t wait to get home.  I really thought that maybe I’d gone the distance in this fandom and that I’d run my course.  That worried me sense I was about to embark on what was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime to the UK…but what could I do except try and explain my lack of excitement away?

By then, Amanda and I had to really plan for this trip.  Every single part of planning had gone very smoothly.  She got the time off, Walt didn’t mind that I was going on another trip, buying and selling tickets went pretty easily, everything seemed pretty cut and dried.  That is, of course until we heard about the strike.  I have to tell you all, that really threw me.  All I could think of was that once again – we were going to miss a show, and that REALLY ticked me off.  That said, and I want to make this clear because I have friends who were involved in the strike in one way or another – never once did I fault anyone for going on strike. I was frustrated over the irony of the situation, not for the strike itself.  The UK is not my home country, and both Amanda and I felt that it would not only be unwise, but flat out rude for either of us to comment about the political or economic happenings over there.  Both Amanda and I felt that our options for travel were severely limited based on her work schedule and my child schedule here at home, so we agreed to stick with our original travel plans…and while I was ready to do some Duranie sacrificial offerings, I did stop just short of throwing my Red Carpet Massacre CD into the fire.  (just barely)  Hope for the best, expect the worst, right?

So that brings us to last Tuesday, November 29th.  I didn’t start packing until the day before I left.  Quite unlike me, if I may say. I also don’t mind mentioning that my bizarre ambivalence towards the band continued up until the day I left.  Over the weekend, I told Walt and the kids that this was my last trip.  I might go to see them when they come back to the US, but that I was done traveling for extended periods to see them.  I even told Walt several times that if it weren’t for Amanda, I would have cancelled the entire thing.  I just felt like it was way too much trouble.  I’d even said the words “I think I’ve lost my inner Duranie.” (oh the drama…and I dare wonder where my oldest gets it from.  Gee, I don’t know.) I cried the morning I left as I held my little girl – she’s 3 – on my lap, and I don’t even know why.  (insanity I’m sure)  So I get to the airport after walking away from our car with a lump in my throat, go inside and prepare myself for battle.  Security.  🙂  Once again the good TSA allow me to collect my baggage and head for my gate, and once I arrive I realize my flight is going to be late.  First by a few minutes, then by more than an hour.  This is nerve wracking, but even so I figured it was just more nails in the coffin that was to be the Brighton show.  We still had 3 more.  Amanda and I texted, then I boarded the flight, only to have it announced that the door to the plane wouldn’t shut and that they were having maintenance come check it out.  At this point, I literally got up from my seat, ready to get my bags and head home.  No, I’m not kidding.  The lady next to me even asked me if I was going to leave.  I remember thinking at the time that this was it, that I just was not meant to ever get to the UK, and while many other fans were allowed the opportunity, it wasn’t in the cards for me.  That really annoyed me, but at that point I was just done.  I texted Amanda as much, and as soon as I sent the text (I think it said “I am ALL DONE with this nonsense”), the pilot came on over the intercom and announced the door had been shut and that we were leaving.  I slowly sat back down and buckled up.

Alrighty then.  We’re making progress now.

It was at this point that I think the trip took a serious turn.  I don’t know how to describe it other than to say that I really and honestly felt like an angel was on my shoulder the rest of the way throughout the whole experience.  I think most of you know that my Dad died a few years ago (nearly 4 now).  We were very, very close.  I’m not overly religious or anything like that, but its easier for me to believe that my dad is somewhere rather than nowhere. I could just imagine his telling me that it was all going to work out just fine that day, and for some reason, that comforted me. So we get to Chicago without incident – I’m a little late, but nothing horrible.  Amanda and I eat dinner, comment that this trip isn’t going to happen and that it sucks to be missing Brighton, then go on our way.  When we boarded the plane it was very obvious that it wasn’t a full flight – in fact we were able to move to other aisles and have enough room to stretch out and sleep – which we did.  Amanda and I almost never sleep on a plane, so this was good.  Then the pilot told us that while the strike did take place, the reports from Heathrow were that it wasn’t badly affected as of yet.  We held out hope for what I really think was the first time since May.

When we arrived at Heathrow, Amanda and I were ready for the worst, but as we got off the plane I swear I could have dropped a pin and heard it as it hit the cold tile.  Amazing.  The workers were grinning, happy to share the news that there was no wait – and we were shocked.  Even a bit giddy!  We got through border control in under 5 minutes.  Unbelievable.  We were so excited.  Brighton was going to happen!!  The funny thing is that at that moment, this was the first time that I genuinely felt real excitement.  It started as a tiny bubble, and by the time we actually boarded our train for Brighton a little later – it felt like a fountain!

We met up with friends we’d met in May for dinner, Nicky and Rie. I have to say that the gift…or the silver lining, of what happened in May is that we made some wonderful new friends.  Nicky and Rie are two of those people and we were overjoyed to be able to see them again.  We ate at Jamie’s Italian that night, and I won’t lie – I could barely eat.  This is what Amanda and I know to be “concert anxiety”, and boy did I ever have it.  I will feel like I can’t eat, I’ll be anxious and can’t sit still – and it’ll feel like I’ve got a tuning fork inside me.  It had been a long, long time since I had that feeling – and it was welcome!!  When we walked into Brighton Centre for the show, my initial thought was “Wow.  The band is playing in a high school gym!”  That’s truly what the place looked like.  I half expected to hear that there was a basketball floor underneath the temporary cork boards they’d put down, or to see scoreboards up in back of the risers they used for seating.  I guess arenas are older there in the UK than here… but we went off and found our seats, which were great for this show.  4th row, right in front of Dom.  Nah, he’s not my favorite at all.  Oh. Boy.

Here is where I want to make a disclaimer…we did NOT pick our seats for these shows.  We took whatever we could find, and oddly….we ended up smack in front of Dom for every single show we attended.  Yes, it was weird, but I promise I wasn’t stalking him.  Never mind that if given a choice I would have sat in the same area…..I wasn’t stalking!  I’m sure he got very sick of seeing us out in that audience, so I’m sorry for that!

When they came out on stage it was all I could do not to burst into tears.  The joy of seeing them up there – I had to keep pinching myself to remind me that I was in the UK.  I was finally getting my chance to live out a dream.  It was completely unreal and even today I have to look at pictures to prove to myself it really happened.  Then the unthinkable happened and they played Secret Oktober.  I just wish someone would have taken video of Amanda and I because I am sure it was priceless.  At first, I remember my eyes getting super wide, and then I yelled “OH MY GOD”.  I looked at Amanda, she looked at me, and then we hugged.  Hilarious.  Then I stood there in shock for most of the song.  I will never, ever forget that moment.  I’d flown a long way and gone through one hell of a lot to get there.  Then they had to go and follow that up with Mediterranea – which is one of my favorite recent songs, and Dom played his 1966 Epiphone, which is incredibly gorgeous and sounds amazing.   After this show, I wanted more.  Finally.

The beauty of going back to the UK is that we’ve been writing the blog for over a year and have had the opportunity to “meet” many new people on Facebook, the blog and Twitter.  There is a real community of DD fans out there, and it was as important for Amanda and I to meet them as it was for us to see the band.  What we didn’t count on was that so many Duran Duran fans wanted to meet us as well.  Amanda and I write Daily Duranie for a lot of different reasons, but the main one is that we enjoy it.  We want to bring the fans together in a way that nothing else really does.  We want people to get to know one another, and we want there to be a “safe” place to discuss the band and being fans – and even the downsides.  I don’t think that we ever really take too much time to consider that people genuinely love the blog – I mean we’re thrilled that anyone reads it, but its not like we expect to be recognized for our efforts.  We just love what we do and hope that comes through here.  We love being fans.  We love the band, and we both love to write.  It’s the easiest job I have.  🙂   In any case, we met many, many new friends on this trip, and we’re very thankful to have them in our lives.

A few new friends invited us to go with them to Bournemouth the next day. We’ll be forever indebted to Michelle, Amy & Sarahjane for allowing Amanda and I to squeeze into their car and gab the entire way.  Hands down it was the best travel day of our entire trip and we owe it to the three of you.  Come to the US and we’ll tour this place together!  We really did have a lot of fun with these girls and I adore them!   After dinner with the girls, we met up with Julie and Alison for a drink before the show.  Once again, more laughing commenced.  I have to say that it never really mattered to me that I didn’t run into the band or that I had no idea where they were staying or what they were doing – I just enjoyed being with new friends, and that’s the way it really should be!   I had a very, very nice surprise while waiting to get into the venue that night – Faby came up from out of nowhere and hugged me, which was crazy!  She is yet another fantastic person I met when we were here in May, and at that time there was just something about her that made me want to be friends.  She’s vivacious and happy and I think her smile is infectious.  I was so thrilled to see her in Bournemouth, and I only wish we’d spent more time!

I’m trying to force myself to write one nice detail from each show as opposed to giving another review of each show because let’s face it – we’ve all got lives and this blog today is going to be epic in length as it is.  So for the Bournemouth show I have to say that it was my least favorite, but not because of the band – because of our seats.  We were farther to the left than necessary at this show, and it taught Amanda and I a real lesson: go for the good seats!!  It matters where you sit and what the crowd is like around you.  Its never good to see people sitting in the front row, and even if Dom did wink at me more than once – I craved more.  *clears throat*  MORE SHOWS, thankyouverymuch!  🙂  I think Amanda hated those seats even more than I did because she’s a John girl to the very core of her being, and he hardly came over to that side of the stage.  I felt bad that night because as it was all of our seats were on Dom’s side of the stage – but this made it even worse.  Even so, it was a good show.

Our trip from Bournemouth to Birmingham the next day was via train.  In hindsight I wish we’d gone with friends, but at the time Amanda and I didn’t know what we were doing, and we didn’t want to keep someone else from going off and say – finding the band or getting to their hotel or whatever people do.  Once in Birmingham though, we got settled into our room and had room service delivered.  Champagne and pizza.  What could be more American??  We also had a visit from Asha, a friend from Twitter, which was lovely.  Later on, we met up with Bryony, Rie, Anu, the girls we’d traveled to Bournemouth with along with other new friends including Eileen and Sam, some girls from Germany whose faces I remember but names are escaping me….  So many people!!!  I know I’m forgetting names and faces and I feel badly about that – I hope you forgive me if you were there that night or if we met at another time on the trip.  We were at a pub, and there were many, many drinks to be had, which we did.  I miss Strongbow already, although I just found out that I can get it here at my favorite wine store, which is fantastic!!

What to say about Birmingham…it was the show of a lifetime.  I still can’t quite believe I went to see Duran Duran in Birmingham and was actually allowed in the venue.  I told Amanda that for the first time, I felt like an outsider that night.  It was the only time during the tour that I felt that way – and I think it’s just because standing there that night, I knew that it was a hometown crowd.  The band seemed just the tiniest bit more nervous, and I just didn’t quite feel as though I belonged there.  That said, it was a great, great show.  I have memories that I won’t ever forget – some of which may or may not include certain people up on stage that were insistent that I sing Hungry Like the Wolf and like it.  If you read the blog then you know just how much I dislike that song. Don’t get me wrong, I used to love it.  I loved the video.  I hated watching Roger get kissed by the girl in that video.  I loved seeing John Taylor in that video.  I laughed at Simon’s changing haircolor.  Then about 10 years ago, I got sick of hearing that song.  So sick that I’ve completely deleted it off of my iPod, iPad, iPhone…computer….well, you get the idea.  It simply does not exist in my home, and when I hear it live, it means it’s time to take pictures.  Yes well, that plan was blown all to hell the night of Bournemouth.  Trust me, the song has new meaning for me now.  Thanks Dom, thanks a lot.  We’ll see if you remember the next time you come to the US, because I’ll be there, and if I have my way – I’ll be up front!  Oh and by the way – yesterday I played the CD’s that were in my changer in my car, and that blasted song came on.

I let it play the entire way through.  Dang it!!!

Let’s see, that brings me to our last show.  Glasgow.  To begin with, we took a train from Birmingham to Glasgow.  That was one HELL of a long train ride.  5 hours.  I’m not a huge fan of trains to begin with because here in the US, they seem to crash a lot.  Call me crazy, but I like living.  Regardless, we were on one for most of that day.  I have no idea where we were most of the time, but I’ve got to say – the English countryside is gorgeous!  We just don’t have areas like that here where I live.  There wasn’t much to do on the train except for listen to music, sleep (we did a little of that), talk, and blog (I did!).  We passed through many tiny little towns along the way, and then there was Newcastle.  I was shocked by how far it is from Birmingham – I guess I never pictured it that way, nor did I picture the city being so large.  Eventually we made our way to Edinburgh, which is where Amanda’s friend Tanya lives.  We stayed with Tanya and her husband for the final two nights of our trip, which was a lot of fun.  They took us for some outstanding curry and then we spent the evening at a Scottish Single Malt Whiskey club.  My husband continues to be envious….and I admit that makes me smile just the tiniest bit wider.  He’s never been to Scotland and I have!!!  😀

So, Glasgow.  I already reviewed the show, so you know how that went.  We met up with Kayren and her fiance Andy, and another friend – Nath from France, before the show.  We laughed a lot – most of which at MY expense, which is probably just as it should be.  😀  As we sat there in the bar that night though, I couldn’t help but feel a little bittersweet.  It was our final show, and although I’d gotten to do a lot of the things I’d wanted, there were some things that, as a fan – I still completely missed.  I made the decision not to dwell and to be thankful that I was there at all.

The show was a dream.  Truly.  Second row center.  Right in front of the band.  Who doesn’t want seats like that?  And….for the fangirl segment of this epic blog:

Every single time John and Dom would come over in front of us – which was often during this show – I’d get all giggly like I was still 11.  Honestly.  I roll my eyes in disgust at myself.   Another funny thing happened at that show that I have to share, and it was during White Lines.  You all probably know the part when Simon saunters on back over to the risers for Roger’s drum kit and he takes a drink of water…you figure he’s gonna swallow but no, instead he thinks it’s super cool to come over to the front of the stage and basically spray it on everyone. He’s been doing that for a long time now – at least since Thank You came out.  The US fans pretty much hate it (although I think some probably like it), and I think he’s gotten to the point where he doesn’t do it much over there.   I’ve threatened to do many things if he should so choose to spray me with that water – and I’ve meant them.  Well, that night I came prepared.  I had an umbrella in my purse (zebra striped) and I was all ready to put the damn thing up should he get close.  The funny thing is that when he went back for the water, I realized my purse was safely under my chair and I was up right by the railing, sans umbrella!!  Not only was I nowhere near the umbrella, I was close to the stage – and center stage at that.  So I did what had to be done.  I backed the hell up!!  What’s really odd is that instead of spraying at center stage, he went to John’s side.  Simon was allowed to live another day!

They were so close to us and the energy of the arena was outstanding – it was a dream come true.  I still smile when I think of that show and how Dom would look over, making an attempt to connect with anyone who was looking. (and yes – I was absolutely looking!!)  Then there was Hungry Like the Wolf again…all I will say is that Amanda – I win!!!  😀   Dom made the show fun for me, to the point where I have to remind myself that yes, I’m still *supposed* to be a Roger girl and that there were actually other people on the stage that night.  Go figure!

Is anyone gagging yet?  🙂  Well, you’d think I would have asked for a pick or sticks or SOMETHING at the end of the show, but no.  I’m a little too shy for that.  Ask Amanda.  I’m all talk until it comes time to actually see them, and I will find any reason to avoid it.  I guess the reality is that I just don’t want it to go badly, and I don’t want to give them the opportunity to crush 30 years of my fandom.  Does that make sense?  I think Dom would be different, mainly because I’ve met him before – I’ve had a real conversation with him in a very strange place (an airplane), and I am fairly sure he knows exactly who I am and that when he sees me at a show he recognizes me (which must mean I’ve been to far too many shows…), but even so, I couldn’t bring myself to ask.  *sigh*

When we waved goodbye that night – it was a little heartbreaking.  Amanda and I have been planning this trip for an entire year.  Now what?!  (I’ll tell you what – I’ve got to get my Christmas shopping done, that’s what!!!)  We did what I consider to be the ultimate fan thing – we went to the homeland.  We saw shows.  We met what I hope will be lifelong friends.  Now what?  I really don’t know.  I don’t think I’m overly depressed, just trying to figure out what we’ll do next.  We have some ideas, though.

………One of which involves a winnebago and me driving…….


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