Suddenly it’s real, it’s the final night in my old van. I’m sitting on the sofa, staring at the place my tv used to inhabit, letting memories flood through my mind. Memories such as running up and down the seafront, countless times, at sunset – inspiring. Sitting in my ‘bit of garden’ reading or sketching – blissful. Taking endless bad photos of the moon – joyous. Talking of The Moon, as I’m not very good at goodbyes, I’m going to let moonii do it for me. It seems fitting at this moment in time to let moonii have her say on the matter – it’s the end of an era…
I’ve been very happy here by the sea, but all things must come to an end, so I will look back fondly and try hard not to stare. The weather is giving me a final farewell show. Today we’ve had sunshine, rain and now thunder and lightning. I’ve lost count how many nights, over the years, I’ve turned off the lights and pulled back the curtains, to watch the lightning dance over the sea – I’ve even been caught out running in a storm this year.
It’s difficult to sum up my time here and I find myself looking round the near empty shell of my van, at the few bits lying around, (that didn’t fit in the removal van) for clues to help describe it. Sitting on the sofa beside me the square, glass vase, with the flowers I dried last season still in it. On the floor opposite, the huge mirror that hung above the fire, which I did my exercises in front of – this will be my ‘memento’ of my time in my van. Above it, in the cabinet, sits a little stick of Dublin rock – I’m leaving it behind. On a kitchen unit is my wok – an awkward thing to pack! There in the corner is the shelf where my wooden buddha sat. The red light on the electric fire is still glowing and coming full circle next to me, hangs the big pink thermal door curtain… note to self I still need to pack this.
From my old van I have had some great family times – sister visits a plenty. Including many a walk on the South Downs, along the pier and the odd peer in a charity shop! All helped along with great food, wine and a good disaster film. I’ve also had the most fantastic Robbie adventure, which I have written about before. Beginning as a virtual world experience, it crept into my real world and whilst riding that time, on a crest of a wave, I made some good friends along the way, some very good friends. I hope to continue this adventure (while I still have chips to do so), but I just want to pause here to acknowledge it’s beginning.
I (moonii) have had a lot of fun and laughter – thanks, to this place and to all who shared it with me. So it’s a fond farewell to my old van, one last long look at the sea and onwards to life by the river, surrounded by mountains.
It’s been a blast for me, I hope it’s been a blast for you, My Old Van.
I closed Facebook with a sigh, clicked on start and then shutdown, before placing my laptop on the empty side of the sofa beside me. Slumping back in my seat I drew my legs up onto the top of the footstool and let my eyes wonder across the room to the fireplace. On the mantelpiece the old clock caught my gaze in it’s frozen stare – one day I will get it repaired and bring it back to life.
Centre stage, pride of place, two Robbie Williams Take The Crown tickets had been carefully arranged either side of the old clock. A smile began to twitch at the corners of my mouth, traveled all the way to my eyes, which welled up with emotion and escaped as tears. Brushing them away with the back of my hand, my eyes searched for and found the green disc I’d written ‘Online BOOM’ on and held up alongside Julie’s banner. They had got a point point from the mic doo darr. I laughed out loud at the memory – Julie had lead the way and had shown me when to waved my green disc in the air. It’s now propped up on my bookcase.
I absentmindedly began to hum The Candy Man song and immediately I was transported back to Wembley… I heard the crowd’s cheer, mingled with squeals of delight, which were quickly stifled so their voices could join in with the song. I could feel the stadium prickling with suppressed energy. We all looked up to the top of the giant head with anticipation – eyes flicking back and forth to one of the big screens, not wanting to miss The Moment. The band (who had taken their places on the stage) started the intro to Hey Wow Yeah Yeah and we began clapping, hands overhead, in time to the music. Then fireworks and flares went off and there was a split second pause… before like a phoenix from the flames he emerged above the giant head. Suspended on a zip-wire, he looked down at us, demanding our absolute attention. Finally Robbie **cking Williams descended and for the next two glorious hours we were oblivious to anything else and our arses were his!
If you didn’t experience this for yourself you wont understand any of this, but everyone I know, who did, will be sitting somewhere now, with a smile slowly spreading over their faces, as they are transported back to the summer Take The Crown tour of 2013.
It was completely awesome – thank you.
Thank you to Mia Rundqvist for putting together some lovely memories of the tour.
It’s a cold afternoon in January and I’m leaning on the windowsill of the cottage, looking gloomily at fields covered with snow. I check the time – it’s 3.30pm and already the light is fading. The sleet slaps against the window and I let out a sigh – this couldn’t be further from the weather we had that weekend in Dublin. I draw the warm pink pashmina shawl further up around my neck, as I settle back down on the old sofa and reread my last blog. A little while later I sit back, pick up my mug of latte and absentmindedly lick at the edges of the caramel froth, that’s settled on the top of the warm comforting milky drink. I let my thoughts drift back to Dublin…
I can’t help smiling at moonii, standing there in he middle of that heaving mass of fans. She’s grinning away, trying her best to send a telepathic message of joy to her pop star. Eagerly answering his questions, panto-style in union with the other fans.
Hallo, thanks for coming —- HALLOOOOO, YEHHH!
Are you all right? —- YESSSSSS!
WE LUV YOU ROB BEEEEEE! One of the hysterical girlies behind us made herself heard.
All the while cameras and mobiles were clicking and flashing away at him.
If there was more conversation it was temporarily lost on me. My mind was busy taking in all the details; sharp hair cut, equally sharp clothes, tall, broad shoulders and tanned to within an inch of his life. Yep, yep one hell of a good-looking man…. He seemed to make eye contact with me and I came to, feeling more than a little embarrassed at having been caught ‘looking’. I stopped ogling and concentrated on what he was saying.
The panto-like banter continued – well rehearsed – both sides understanding their roles, happy to play the game.
Are you coming to see me tonight? —- YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!
His eyes danced with mock surprise and he briefly flashed us one of his boyish grins, pleased with our response. This in turn brought about a series of girlish squeals.
His eyes flicked over to his ever-vigilant team, who had begun twitching and rustling paper on their clipboards. I couldn’t see Josie but had the feeling she had just raised a Candy pink umbrella – like a tour guide – and had pointed the way forward. Leading the circus parade onwards to its final destination at the O2 Big Top, for the night’s performance.
We all saw his look and instinctively knew he was leaving and like small children about to be told it’s bedtime, we all clamoured to drown out the words before he spoke them, but our voices didn’t have the power to keep him and his look reprimanded us.
Gotta go, see ya tonight.
So we gave in and turned our anguished cries into cheers and see you laters – Scrummy frantically waved her huge bag of Minstrels at him and for a split second he looked like he was going to grab them. The security man closest to us tensed in anticipation, but Rob suddenly changed his mind and called,
Give them to me tonight Babe!
Then he turned and was immediately swallowed up by the throng of people behind him – gone from our view.
Everyone seemed to freeze, straining to hear. We briefly and faintly heard the warm tone thanking people and then… nothing. A series of heads popped up to make sure he wasn’t hiding around the rack of clothes we could just see down the aisle, but no, he’d definitely gone.
One thing comforted us all – tonight, when he got on that stage, he’d be all ours!
Security stood down, unclenched their buttocks and checked the next move with their governor. We, meanwhile, were bobbing about 2 feet off the ground, like a bunch of helium balloons some child had let go of. Aimlessly but happily bobbing in the way of all the proper shoppers, who were reclaiming the area set-aside for The Visitation. Grinning and hugging each other, we eventually gathered our thoughts enough to find the exit sign and take the escalator to the ground floor.
As we mobbed the street outside passers-by glanced over at us, picking up on our energy, questioning eyes asking ‘what’s gone on here then?’ The same eyes rolled skyward when they caught a glimpse of a Robbie T-shirt. Harr we had seen that look a thousand times over the years – their loss! We skipped aside – moving on, not looking back.
We all suddenly had a feeling of panic in the pit of our stomachs – what was next on our schedule? Scrummy and Carspindle needed to urgently hotfoot it to the O2 and get in the queue… Taxi!!!
Five minutes later we were all squashed in the back of a Dublin taxi. Someone was texting and then phoning the girls already in the queue, while someone else was updating their Facebook status – the rest of us were chatting to the cab driver, who’d been there a million times before.
Ah sure girls, you’ll be fine – no worries. I’ll drop you right outside…
Blood red octagons, or are they hexagons? As soon as the thought springs to mind ‘they’ become squares – lots of them, countless squares! I give up. Let it go. The image returns to pulsating hues of red, orange and mauve – doubling multiplying like cells.
My mind flicks to other senses. I become intensely aware of the sounds around me. Waves are gently breaking on the pebble beach, every now and then the Big Wave crashes in. I find myself waiting, trying to predict the moment the Big Wave hits the beach, but the time between them is irregular and eventually I relax back to just acknowledging it’s arrival. The sound of the sea is always present; day or night I can always hear it. It’s the background track to my life here and I love it – it reminds me constantly that the world is not man made.
The rhythmic surge of the sea is now distrupted by the buzzing of a bee. Weaving it’s drunken way from one Osteospermum to another. Sometimes settling for more than a second on one flower to strip it of it’s pollen before lumbering on to another. Buzzing grumpily as it goes. Make way, make way for me, I’m a busy bumblebee!
The creaking of metal interrupts my thoughts – the temperature of the huge vans is beginning to lower. To me these sounds are a form of communication from the vans to us, the humans that inhabit them. A warning to come inside, a warning the day is drawing to a close. I ignore the warning – for now.
It is 5:35pm and now I hear the faint, but constant drone of rush hour traffic, as it winds it way along the coastal road. Seagulls are also making themselves heard, over and above the drone, as they move to their evening roosting spots – stopping off to snatch a snack. Most of the day they are quiet, just occasionally ‘gulling’ a warning to other seagulls in the area that food is about. Sitting here, eyes closed, I may catch the sound of one gliding by, if it swoops low enough for me to hear the air cutting through it’s wing-feathers or if it elegantly flaps it’s wings to effortlessly climb up and over a caravan roof. Of course, when I’m inside and a seagull lands on my van roof with a thud, all elegance is gone. On go the hobnail boots and the rolling stomping gate thunders up and down the length of the van. I do like them though. I know many people don’t – considering them a noisy, messy nuisance – but I think they are both regal and comical in equal measures.
A different bird calls out incessantly, but this is interrupted by the harsh sound of plastic coming into contact with plastic – an ugly sound – next-door are back. I open my eyes and look down, waiting for my eyesight to adjust. Dull black and white images become infused with colour once again. All around me I now hear human voices, human movement, cutlery and crockery chinking and wafting over me the faint whiff of food cooking.
Glancing to my right I catch sight of the small Buddha figure that’s become almost hidden in my little ‘bit of garden’, which is in front of my van. I like my secret companion. I like the fact that it is a secret. Of course should anyone walk right up to my ‘bit of garden’ all would be revealed, but hardly anyone does.
Why the secret? Hmmm, a good question. I like the private reminder to stay peaceful and calm. It’s a link to a period of my life, when I was reading a lot, searching for answers – something to make sense of what had gone on before. I also like to have something to sit with, although I love the peace of being alone.
Shifting uncomfortably to relieve the numbness, I realise it is indeed time to move, to answer the creaking call of the vans. I pack away my journal, sketchpad and pencil case into my small rucksack I keep just for sitting in my little ‘bit of garden’. Then rearranging the sarong – I use either to protect myself from the rays of the sun or (folded) to lean on while I write – I turn and pick up my half drunk mug of latte. A daily treat – my guilty pleasure. I stand up and I’m no longer noticing my world.
How strange we call all of this Peace and Quiet. How strange to feel isolated but to actually be a part of this swirling soup of senses.
Scosha and I nestled ourselves in behind Scrummy and Carnspindle and we all exchanged various bits of information about who, from our group, was where and doing what.
Our attention was brought back to where we were standing in Brown Thomas, by a flurry of movement, as security men, dressed in smart dark coloured suits, took their places along the roped off area. We peered expectantly down the walkway at the huddle of highly preened men and women (the beautiful people) who were clearly on tender hooks awaiting the arrival of our man. After we scanned their faces once again, we relaxed – clearly Rob’s arrival wasn’t imminent.
I stood on tiptoes so I could see over the heads of the lines of fans and was taken aback by the length of the line – I dropped back down and pushed any feelings of panic about being at the front of a crowd out of my head.
Jane and Scrummy were going through a bag of goodies they’d brought with them: several bags of chocolate Minstrels and two very clearly ‘printed’ banners – I avoided eye contact with Scosha at this point!!!! Jane also had a very impressive looking camera round her neck.
The crowd of fans now stretched back to the entrance of the men’s clothing area. Dropping down from tiptoes again I commented about the length of the line…
How did you know which walkway to stand by?
Scrummy and Jane looked at me blankly… what do you mean?
A sudden chill went through me… didn’t they know about the ‘other’ walkway OMG!
I pointed to the right… down there, there’s another group of fans!
A flash of panic went over everyone’s face and several other fans stood on tiptoe to see what I was going on about. Jane took a look and quickly dropped back down…
Moonii they’re not another set of fans, they’re us – that’s a bleeding mirror!
Much relieved laughter followed – though I did take one more look to make certain. Sure enough someone looking exactly like me (but with wilder hair) was looking disbelievingly back down the line at me! I gave her a quick scowl and settled back into my place behind Scrummy.
Tap, tap… excuse me… tap, tap… I looked round awkwardly and was confronted by a rather impressive zoom lens.
The lens spoke… Would you mind to exchange place with me, I’m a photographer and want to get a good shot – I’ll let you have a copy of photo. Err did I look like I was born yesterday? I didn’t actually need to answer before he’d moved on to Scosha with the same request. No idea where in the world he came from, but he wasn’t getting our places – mind you it was brave of him to ask!
The group of young girlies at the back started up another lairy version of Angels… doooown the watar falllllll where evar it may taaaake meeeee… … … I silently groaned – seriously ‘it’ couldn’t take them soon enough for my liking, bless them… then it occurred to me, that back-in-the-day, that might’ve been me and the thought made me smile.
The huddle of ‘beautiful people’ suddenly got into formation and the security men snapped to attention. For a split second we all held our breath and froze, waiting for a sign of confirmation… the ‘beautiful people’ shuffled forward and we heard a murmur of voices, then we heard some nervous laughter and then through the murmurs we heard the tone of a voice, a warm familiar voice, The Voice we’d all been standing there waiting for.
Several things happened simultaneously… the foreign photographer leaned forward and for a split second used Scosha’s head as a tripod – I never saw what she did to him, but I wasn’t aware of his zoom lens from that moment on… the girlies screamed as if their very lives depended on it, which caused two security guards to snapped round to checkout the situation… the three OAPs were squashed together and seemed to merge into one body… and in the middle of all this chaos I stood completely and utterly still and waited, waited quietly, but determinedly for Rob to finish the round of meet and greets with the ‘beautiful people’, waited totally focused on the walkway, my heart beating so hard I felt I had to hold my hand against it – to stop it pounding it’s way out of my chest… waited until he was free to come over and stand literally the other side of the roped off barrier from where we stood.
I hadn’t been this close to him since 1997. There was a clamour of voices calling his name, trying to gain his attention… I stood quietly… I saw him scan our faces and then scan the banners – quick as you like – I could see him making a decision… I stood quietly, now totally unable to control the grin on my face. He raised his hands and silently shhhhooshed us… the clamour of voices died down to a level where we could hear him speak.
Thinking back, it was the strangest thing meeting up with The Friendlies. Although I’d never met any of them, they didn’t feel like strangers. We hugged like we were old friends who hadn’t seen each other for years – one of those hugs that speak more than words! All weekend there were squeals of recognition, as we spotted each other in the crowds – yep we all resembled our avatars! OMG we’re here, OMG we’ve met – after all this time and OMG we’re going to see him!
Hold on, I’m getting ahead of myself…
After I found the right burger bar (I must have pasted AussieSally) and met Scosha and Julie B (who I was sharing a room with), we grabbed a quick burger meal before heading back to the hotel. There we had a few drinks and set about creating our banner.
Okay, you write your RW.com name there and I’ll write mine here. I concentrated hard – in between the odd slurp of pear cider…
Someone’s mobile rings:
…. Yer, we’re all here, no we’re just doing our banner… pause…
(moonii meanwhile was concentrating hard and colouring in… slurp)
… No, Julie B is gonna get in the queue first thing and we’re going along later, cos we’re seated… pause…
(moonii still concentrating hard and slurp… colouring in… slurp)
“Scos_ _ & mooMii” Julie B read out loud “MOOMII!”
WHAT! FFS! MOOMII!
Cue howls of laughter from Julie B and a look of complete horror from me!
… No, we’re not laughing at you, it’s moonii, yep, she’s spelt her bleeding name wrong on the banner…
Later, after a correction of sorts had been applied to the banner and we’d all convinced ourselves it was ‘fine’, we called it a night and tried to get some sleep before the ‘big day’.
Two dull lights glowed from either side of the room:
Hissed whisper… moonii’s just posted on our fb page and you’re here in the same room!
Giggling whisper back… I know, it’s too weird!
Rainforest noise increasing in volume – oh nooo surely not!
Much stabbing at the Snooze button… … …
Yep, and again… … no wonder it’s in danger of becoming extinct!
Bleary eyes suddenly realised where they were and snapped open – Dublin, Friday 14th September 2012 OMFG!
Ignoring the freezing cold shower, shallow baths were run, the selection of Robbie outfits discussed and bags packed.
Hallo? Yep, we’re just heading for breakfast… pause
(It’s Scrummymummy in a car with Carnspindle – on their way to Brown Thomas to see Rob)
Oh, okay, wait I’ll check…
In the end Julie B decided her best bet was still to go and get in the O2 queue asap. Scosha and I were being picked up by her friend, who was the angel giving me a roof over my head, for my remaining stay in Dublin. It was this angel who said we’re only a couple of streets away, so why not go to Brown Thomas and with that she drove us over there.
Suddenly, I found myself being ‘one of those fans’ who turns up at one of those events! I suddenly felt too tall and too self-conscious for words.
Hissed whisper in a secret agent voice… Yep, yep, we’re here… No, no, we can’t see anything…
Well, that was because we were in the wrong bleeding Brown Thomas! Not conspicuous at all then. Me in a VERY pink T-shirt and mad hair – yep I fitted right in with all the lovely clobber!
A mad dash later we found Scrummy and Carnspindle at the front of a roped off area, stood beside three OAPs who were hoping Daniel O’Donnel was gonna make an appearance! More hugs and OMGing!
I wasn’t lucky in the ticket ballot, such a huge disappointment. To begin with very few friendlies were lucky and we all began to wonder who exactly were getting those tickets. Then one by one someone else got lucky. It was so hard not getting a ticket. It had happened before, I hadn’t got tickets for his RAH concert, but for some reason this had got to me – at one point I shutdown my laptap, took myself for a walk on the beach to clear my head and to take a break from it all. It helped and I was fine.
So, I was back to chatting with friendlies in the fans facebook group and at the tables, on Robbie Williams Fun Poker. I’m one of the night owls (NO) who are up late and so when a fellow NO popped up in a chat box I didn’t think anything of it. Then she offered me a Golden Willy Wonky Ticket to the Dublin gig! OMFG! And what did I do… I said no. NO. I couldn’t possibly go to DUBLIN. Too far – would cost too much money. Nope. Think about it and let me know by tomorrow.
I texted my mum. Take the ticket – GO! came the reply. So, I went!
Mum and I spent the next afternoon booking the flight to Dublin, giggling away like a couple of teenagers. There was a moments panic when I discovered my passport was out, but I was able to travel on my driving license. Suddenly, there I was going, one of the lucky ones. I couldn’t believe it – this kind of thing doesn’t happen to me, but it had and I was a +1.
My sister phoned:
So, which part of Dublin are you going to… er, I don’t know.
What’s the name of the hotel you’re staying at… er, I don’t know that either.
So, just to be clear, I had a return flight to somewhere I’d never been to, to meet someone I’d never met and didn’t even know where I was supposed to meet her anyway – cos she hadn’t been there either. Fine, no worries then. The strange thing was I wasn’t worried at all!
On Thursday (the day before the gig) I set off for Gatwick airport. The whole journey went like clockwork. All the way I bobbed along in a bubble, with a constant grin on my face and Rob’s set-list playing, on a loop, in my ears. Before I knew it I was standing at a bus stop, waiting for a bus to Dublin town centre.
Take the 747 bus and get off at the top O’Connell Street – we’re outside the burger bar there.
Okay, for a start it was either upper or lower and there are many MANY burger bars on O’Connell Street. Found the cinema, passed 3 burger bars, no friendlies.
I’m at Upper O’Connell street by the cinema…
No, the other end (oh LOWER O’Connell Street) by the statue of the Angels.
Haha, Angels, yep, yep, where else would Robbie fans be standing!
So, I dragged my (thankfully) little case down to lower O’Connell Street and there I spotted Scosha.
Cue much shrieking, hugging and OMFGing!