I guess it’s best to start with the really long story and edit it from there… so may I start?
I slept soundly enough Wednesday night and into Thursday. Probably didn’t settle down quite as early as I should have, but at least sleep wasn’t elusive that night and I got a good few hours in. All things considered, considering how absolutely pent up, anxious and full of dread I was – on the actual day of our departure I was sailing with low level optimism. Low level, granted…but with optimism nonetheless. Albeit, on a scale from 1 to 10, it was maybe a 2 or a 3…it was there at least!
I packed a small carry-on bag, making sure I had ALL essentials (earplugs included!). I showered relatively early and was ready by 11am. Birdy was ready an hour later. I decided we should get the 75 to Renfrew Street and just walk down to Killermont Street to the bus station instead of the faff of getting to the bus station from Queen St. I was worried I made the timings a bit ambitious from the time of getting off the train at Queen St to getting to the bus station for the Edinburgh Air coach. So…the 75 seemed the better option. All good. Had a chat with neighbour Robert (who was taking his dug, wee Chico, for a walk around the park space by Hawthorn Quadrant) while waiting for the 75 to arrive.
Got to the bus station in plenty of time. Got to Edinburgh Airport in good time as well. We arrived around 2.45pm for a 6.30pm flight out. Had the usual stuff go on at security. I didn’t take all the liquids that I was required to out of my bag and I was wearing stuff that triggered the security alarms. I had to be body searched and portably scanned with a handheld scanner. Birdy went through similar stuff but it’s always to be expected at any UK airport. We had time on our side. It was all grand.
Next hurdle – boarding – not a hitch! The plane departed slightly later than scheduled but we landed in Paris on time. It was a very smooth journey on the plane. Last hurdle. French border security! All good!
Actually, that was the penultimate hurdle. The last hurdle was ‘le taxi’! Birdy had booked a taxi via Booking.com and…short story, the driver didn’t greet us at arrivals but was waiting for us at departures! I know, right?! Anyway…it was sorted. We found our driver and off we went. French traffic is APPALLING! It was 10.10pm on a Thursday evening and the roads were just HEAVING…everywhere. From the moment we left the airport right until we got into the Boulogne-Billancourt area of Paris where the hotel was…nearly the whole taxi journey was a slow crawl through heaving traffic. A lot of stationary moments.
I finally could breathe a sigh of relief once we arrived at the hotel just on 11pm. I should have had Birdy pinch me! Lol. I couldn’t believe that it all actually went pretty damn smoothly and there were no big hazardous snags to have to deal with. WE WERE IN PARIS! And I was going to see the most amazing band in the whole universe the following day.
Not sure what time it was that we bedded down, possibly just after midnight? Not too late anyway. We were both knackered. I quickly realised after laying down that I forgot to get the earplugs out of the bag. I got up, tried to have a quick feel around to see if I could find them. Couldn’t remember exactly WHERE I had packed them and didn’t want to take the bag apart looking, so I just thought “Meh, I’m so tired anyway…I’ll get to sleep.” Well…upon reflection I wish I had pulled my bag apart trying to find the earplugs because … FUCK ME – the snoring! Jesus Christ! Birdy had NO TROUBLE AT ALL falling asleep. She was out like a light in minutes and then snoring like nobody’s business for the vast majority of the night. TWICE in a week I had been kept awake by birds serenading me – GIVE ME THE BLACKBIRD ANY DAY – the Yvonne Bird I wanted to chuck into the Seine!
The worst ‘sleep’. The worst! I maybe got about two hours during the short lived silent pockets in which ‘el Birdo’ woke up for a while and wisnae snoring. Truly those pockets were short lived.
We had breakfast at 9am. I have never been so thankful for coffee EVER. The hotel was great. Fab room. Great bathroom. Very affordable. A two-star place. Great reception staff, everything. Its only fault or let down was that there were no tea/coffee making facilities in the room. I was fucking GASPING by the time we got down to the dining area for breakfast. OMG! French coffee is MAGNIFIQUE!!! There was orange juice and yoghurt and a selection of bread and pastries – a small crusty bread roll, a small croissant and a pain au chocolat (which I took back to the room for later). I had two coffees.
Back to the room after breakfast to shower and get ready for a little look about, maybe get some lunch or just find another place for yet ANOTHER coffee. We were a 15 minute walk from the hotel to the venue. We needed to cross the Seine via this footbridge (it took traffic too – but was being used primarily as a footbridge) which went over in quite the arch. It had a little area…like a decked area either side of it where you could just sit on and enjoy the spot. Couldn’t really take in much of a view if you sat down there. But it at least allowed you to take the view in without getting in the way of people wanting to cross the bridge.
The weather was GLORIOUS! Mostly sunny and around 23 degrees Celsius. I felt wonderfully warm. We had coffee and a sweet treat from a place by La Seine Musicale called ‘Seguin Sound’ – more cafe creme for me! I had a chocolate mousse thing with it which was divine! Then I realised with having to repack stuff for the trip I had to pack two very small bags to carry with me for all my ‘essentials’ – cash, cards, phone, reading glasses, distance glasses (I cannae do bifocals), lip balm…I forgot to pack the Sharpie I had in my carry bag into the ‘essentials’ bags. SHIT!!!
It was 2.30pm. I had time to get back to the hotel, grab it and come back before we started queuing for the ‘VIP’ experience. I wanted to make sure we were there right on 3.30pm because I knew I’d be having to explain to someone the whole circumstances of why I was there and didn’t actually have VIP tickets…ya da ya da. Made it back to Birdy waiting for me at Seguin Sound at around 3.15pm. Phew! I was feeling a little flustered, though I tried to pace myself getting back to the hotel to get the Sharpie and get back in time.
As I thought…once at the front of the VIP queue I had the fun of trying to explain why I didn’t have VIP tickets but that I should be on a list and allowed in. The young woman at the door was very helpful and thankfully the organiser lady (who I now wish I had asked her name) for SJM Concerts knew who I was and knew the whole score and PHEW!!! Birdy and I were let in, given our merch bags and all was good. We took a seat over the way and I thought I spotted a familiar face – which I had…more of that (even if very briefly) later.
A few minutes tick by and I see the organiser lady walking towards us. “Guess what, Larelle? You have a question to ask.” Whaaaa?! Again? Honestly, I wasn’t expecting that. I just put questions in, hoping against hope. Never really expecting it. When it happened in Glasgow I just couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t that lucky with Newcastle though. I’d have loved it if Jim had answered that question for me. I left asking the question for the Paris gig until the last minute. Wasn’t even sure what I was going to ask but then thought, well, I am an Aussie after all – I’ll ask JIm and Charlie what their fondest memory is of their early days touring Oz. Hoping against hope that I might get some hilarious anecdote from Jim. I remembered him years back – early days of me being in the fandom – posting on FB about the fun him and Charlie got up to at Kings Cross on their first tour. For those not so familiar with Sydney – Kings Cross had quite the notorious reputation – when I lived in Sydney, at least – full of nightclubs – also where the red light district is – the seedy side of the city – akin to Soho in London – underworld crime too. All of that. I just remember at the time of that FB post thinking “Yeah, I can well imagine you and Charlie getting up to all kinds of shifty stuff there!” I always reckon that’s why he’s wearing sunglasses and Charlie looks so wasted on that Countdown performance of Love Song. Clatty pair of stop-outs! Manky pups! Lol
So, no one was more surprised than me to be asking another question. And I was thinking “Oh, fuck! He is going to be ssoooooooooo tired of me!” GOING to be…? IS already! Has been for ages. The anxiety ramps up.
Those of us asking questions are led together as a small group. I see one reprobate I know through the fanbase online that I had yet met face to face (you know who you are – if you’re reading this!) – we said hi. He introduced me to his mate – double trouble, really. Thank you – to both of you. You both said such lovely, wonderful things to me that I wasn’t expecting at all. Please know that those words meant so very much to me. I know that one of you said that you read my stuff – so if you’re reading this – thank you! (I’m smiling – even if it is through tears.)
The soundcheck was probably the most special one. I think Jim waved at me. I think. I never know for sure. Always questioning afterwards. Probably for someone behind me, beside me, above me…around me…anywhere else! For anyone else but me. When it came to asking my question, I couldn’t even look at him. Thank god for that sheet of paper – because I could just look down and pretend I was looking at that. Bless him – he got bogged down in talking about when they can tour Oz again. It has little significance for me personally. I gave up on the dream – of my own ‘holy grail’ of seeing them down there. I have accepted that, for me, it’s not meant to be and that’s fine. I’m glad for the Oz fans out there though that he addressed it and that Birdy filmed some of it and … yeah. “What was the question again?” Lol
Do you think I’m the biggest pest in the world? Do you dread seeing my face at every damn gig? Do you just pray that I’ll go away? …
And a million other questions if those three would be lucky enough to be answered with “no!”
Charlie was on the ball. God bless you, Charlie, you lovely, lovely man.
The questions ended on a beautiful note. I feel blessed to have experienced what happened at this soundcheck. It was lovely.
During the meet and greet that followed, myself and a fellow fan got chatting to Derek Paterson – Cherisse’s drum tech. Del’s a lovely man – nuts – but wonderful. The crew are so hard working! Such amazing people.
Then I am there in front of modern music’s own Glaswegian version of Laurel and Hardy. Lol. Or perhaps it’s just Jack and Victor? Still not sure who’s who in that comparison.
He says to me “Hello, Larelle. How are you?” – How long have you got? That’s NOT what I said, because my brain doesn’t work when I am in front of him and I can barely put two words together. So for want of any kind of great, catchy repartee with him, I say “Ooookaaay…I think.” Can’t remember exactly how he asked it but he asked how I was enjoying Paris, or had I been looking about, or some such….I think I said that we didn’t arrive until late the night before. At one point, I think it was after he said hello and asked how I was and I replied with my “oookaaay, I think”, he said to me (I think he said this…) “you’re quiet”. I wish I could have said “Oh, really…you think? Jim! Why would THAT be…I wonder?!” Lol. But obviously….I HAD NO FUCKING REPLY TO THAT! I wish I could say “Uh, derrrr!” I think that is probably the most rhetorical statement he could have EVER made! “Yeah, Jim Kerr…and bears shit in the fucking woods! And the Pope’s a Catholic!” I’m quiet.
I wish more than you will ever, ever know that I was this exuberant, bubbly, chatterbox…mouth going ten to the dozen…and YOU, James Kerr, wouldn’t get a word in edgeways…but that ain’t me – certainly never seems like it ever will be now when I am around you. That’s just how it’s now destined to be, it seems. Whatever minor bits of confidence I exuded some years back that was there within me sailed off long ago. And it was you that gave that to me! That confidence. But it’s disappeared now completely – whatever vestiges of it existed in the first place.
A few snaps and…it’s all over.
I did manage to make use of that all-important Sharpie and get the question sheet I had signed by Jim and Charlie (and Birdy got her lanyard signed).
Nearly 2,500 words and we’re not even at the actual gig itself yet! This is the place where I am ‘chatty’, Mr Kerr.
I have ssoooo much more to write…but I am KNACKERED. I am going to have to do this in two parts. Part two might not happen until tomorrow. But for now I need a break and I will post this as part one.
Stay tuned! (If you haven’t tuned out already.)