Monday, 24 May 2010

The Old Boys Still Have It

Just a weekend observation from the perspective of an old(ish) git.

Friday, got the train to London. Perfect timing, perfect service, clean, cool, smooth running train (East Coast Line).
A stroll down sunny Euston Road to take the overground to Wembley Central. I spy a poster of Ozzy trying to grab my attention. He succeeds as always. Oyster card had some credit on it so am doing alright. On the train had a jovial conversation with a South African living in Watford. Funny how tube conversations are still pretty much a no-no yet the overground versions seem to have slightly less restrictive norms. is it the fact that you can see the outside world and so get a greater sense of personal space?

Wembley Central at 3pm.  I breeze out of the station onto the High Street, my lightweight rucksack over my shoulder and baseball cap pulled on to keep the blazing sun off my bonce. Oh deary me. I seem to be in a street scene from, "Black Hawk Down" - minus any Black Hawks down or  US Rangers. Time for a decent beer methinks. I fight my way through the bazaar and, not seeing any pubs, fear that they too have succumbed to the change of scenery and I may end up in `sad central` ie drinking in the hotel bar. Then I spy `The Bear`. I step inside and it's an oasis and....deep joy...they serve Bombardier, a brew worth shelling out for. Down it goes, just brushing the sides.

I receive a text from Hogday jnr. who has got out at the other Wembley tube station, so I'm in the wrong place to meet him. Never mind, a ten minute stroll back through the `film set` will fix that. We RV at the hotel, in the shadow of Wembley Stadium, check in and then head straight back to The Bear for a couple more, as we catch up with each other.

Time is marching on and so should we. We speak to the friendly manager of the packed California Kitchen, a restaurant that is most def not of the local High Street variety we avoided. The lady fixed us up nicely and we ordered a Mexican pizza and a burger special. The pizza base was produced before our eyes and the beef was beef. I even order a glass of house red. Nice.

A ten minute walk up the road finds us in our seats among the faithful and the curious. Out they come at 8.15pm. Mr Steve Winwood,  Mr Eric `Slowhand` Clapton and their stonking band. We are treated to 2 hours of great blues and rock with an amazing version of Jimi H's `Voodoo Chile` thrown in for good measure.  A shot of `Cocaine ` (the JJ Cale variety) and it's all over. It was like time was suspended. We stroll back through the warm night air, sink one more brew in the hotel, head to our respective rooms and zonk.

Saturday morning and I can hear a sound from my past. I can hear a rowdy mob chanting `sheep shaggers, sheep shaggers`. Thinking I was hallucinating, I peeped outside and found the source of the battle cries. Cardiff City were playing Blackpool in the premiership playoff promotion thing and the fans from Lancashire, swigging down cans of lager at 9am, were greeting a passing group of Cardiff fans just in from the valleys. I thought the chanting a little off kilter and wide of the mark, because most folks I know from Cardiff wouldn't recognise a sheep if it fell out of a tree in front of them. The Blackpool lads must have mistaken them for folks from Bristol, who really do shag sheep.

We fought our way to the buffet breakfast. The hotel staff were slammed as the place had obviously filled up with football fans whilst we were being regally entertained the previous evening. We check out and escape to the relative sanity of central London. Have a stroll along the South Bank and grab some coffee, a rather fancy Cappuchino and an American and then another walk along the Thames eventually bidding our farewells on the concourse of Waterloo Station. I miss him already.

Train journey and hotel - £200. Tickets for Clapton and Winwood - a birthday gift from my son and daughter. A first class upgrade on my return train journey - £25. Spending a night out with my son - priceless.


Blue Eyes said...

London in the sunshine is a completely different town to London in the miserables. What an awesome weekend, although I may have smarted at being offered a coffee with such pretentious chocolate sprinkles ;-)

Hogday said...

Blue: Artissimo Italiano in extremis. Like an old Moto Guzzi, it was glitzy, had plenty of kick and style, but the dressing would blow off over 50mph

Anonymous said...

I've taken to watching cricket at Old Trafford again. Beer poor, cricket dire, but a few old mates 'priceless'. Just thinking my grandson is about old enough for a similar trip Hog. You might just have firmed up the idea. The lad has no interest in my old pursuits but does play the guitar. I had hoped we'd be down watching rugby league over a cold-centred pie by now, but he's far too sensible.

Hogday said...

Allcopped: It was my lad's idea, bless him. I'm hoping I can persuade him to come on a US Road Trip with me, on an H-D of course, but there's too much crap flying about his life at the moment. My grandson is only 2, so I'm afraid old Slowhand won't be playing when he's ready to see the old master. C`est la vie. C`est la morte. (And the Met are very welcome to police Wembley High Road, thank you).

Sage said...

Brilliant trip, glad you had such a good time and made me wish I was there

Hogday said...

Sage: They have a live double CD that's been out a while. I first saw Winwood when he was about 17 - gawd, its flying by...