Posts tagged: Greenwich

Love On Top

Beyoncé Gisselle Knowles-Carter, even the full name oozes show business sex appeal. This is the exact phrase I used when partaking in some twitter banter with my colleagues Priyam and Imogen at Microsoft. There were 48 sleeps to go until the Mrs Carter Show World Tour starring Beyoncé would be ending its six day run at the O2, Greenwich Peninsular, London. We would be there along with almost twenty thousand others.

Let me first underline my disappointment that I was not attending this concert with my dearest colleague Harps. He is probably the biggest Beyoncé fan I know but he had not been able to secure tickets. In fact, his plans for the entire Bank Holiday weekend were up in the air. Not only was it is birthday weekend (28 years young now?) but it was also his last day with the company. Talk about planning your exit!

My own plans were a logistic nightmare to resolve. I was going to be over three hundred miles on a boys weekend in Newcastle. I could not rely on them driving me back to Reading in time for the evening show, (plus I would still need to get myself from Reading to the other side of London) so had booked a flight back. With hindsight, it probably would have made sense to book the flight up there, as we had a catalogue of issues which ended with me having to book a last minute train instead.

I got up early on Sunday morning, got ready and headed out the hotel at 8am sharp. In the early hours of Sunday morning, security had been called to Pav and Ben’s room due to noise and the boys told to go to sleep. I had sneaked off to bed a few minutes before the reprimand and saved myself the embarrassment although with all the hotel rooms booked under my name I perhaps should have been worried. I headed back to the station and got the Metro. I bought a ticket which cost about three pounds and worked out my route to Newcastle International Airport. The tube in the North East was relatively busy for a Sunday morning with people heading to work around the city. As I made my way out into the suburbs and beyond, the number of passengers tailed off with just a few of us left for the final stop at the terminal. I made my way to the check-in kiosk and put in my credit card to verify my identification. It was at this point my Barclaycard was eaten by the machine. In a mild panic, I headed to the information desk to a helpful chap to explain what had happened. It was only then I realised why my card had been eaten by the kiosk. In my haste to make this booking, I had made a minor typo on my surname, “Tegal” instead of “Tegala”. Was this going to cause a problem on a domestic flight? Thankfully the airport employee went to check and it was not going to cause any problems whatsoever. He retrieved my card for me and waited to ensure I printed my boarding pass before wishing me a safe flight back to London. I now had plenty of time to kill before my flight. I wanted to get something to eat first of all before killing time listening to music and using my tablet. Priyam had a countdown running on her iPhone 5 and she had sent me a screenshot of the image, which I promptly uploaded to FlickR and created a quick post onto my blog. Probably the ideal moment to have used Tumblr for such an update. (I joined the service towards the end of the month)

Now I had several hours to kill before my flight, so decided to make use of my tablet as much as possible. I read the news, caught up on some blogs, checked my social media and was listening to my mp3 player at the same time. While I had some breakfast and a extra large mug of tea, Beyoncé’s Sweet Dreams came on either the radio or internal PA system. In some nine hours time we would be watching the superstar before a sold out crowd. Until then I had quite a long journey via plane, train and tube to the venue.

My flight was less than an hour but taking into account boarding and disembarking and taxiing to and from the terminals, as well as being stacked to land over Heathrow it was perhaps nearer to two hours in total travel time. I had to wait several minutes for my luggage to arrive at the carousel. I had opted to put it in the hold to make life easier while around Newcastle airport and not having a bag to worry about or carry around. I was then making my second trip by train. I caught the Heathrow Express to Terminal Four and from here got the slower Heathrow Connect to London Paddington. An American got onto the train near me and was asking me why it was so busy on a Sunday afternoon. I explained to him that it was a Bank Holiday Weekend and we had an extra day off (Monday). He nodded and sat down, busy with his smartphone checking up on work or perhaps his weekend plans.

Once at Paddington, I had to wait for Michelle, whom had caught the slow train from Slough. Once she arrived, we would make our way to our hotel in Strafford before grabbing a quick bite to eat in Westfield and heading straight over to the O2. We got there early because, as usual I was over eager. To the point I accidentally joined the VIP security queue at the entrance only to be directed by the security guard to the next queue for standard ticket holders. We made our way up the escalators, got a drink and headed for our seats. The guy at the snack kiosk had informed us that Beyoncé appears around 8pm and James somebody was the support act. We took our seats and waited for our friends to arrive.

Priyam with her twin brother Dipen, fellow MS employee Imogen and Priyam’s friend Kavita arrived casually just before 8pm. They had been for food at one of the restaurants in the complex and planned to head back into the West End after the show.

What can I say? This was an awesome show. Beyoncé was full of so much energy, passion, enthusiasm and gave such a wonderful performance, I am lost for words on how to actually describe the experience. The whole show surpassed my expectations. The constant costume changes, the high tempo dance moves, the band playing at full pelt, a group of dancers at the top of their game. A personal highlight was when Beyoncé came across to the middle of the audience to perform Love On Top – one of my favourite songs.

Beyoncé

There is always the anti climax as you leave the O2 at the end of a gig. The realisation that the event you had waited for several months for, was over and you need something new to look forward to. I should have gone with Priyam and friends to Leicester Square where they bumped into Beyoncé’s backing dancers out for the evening to celebrate their final date in London. Michelle and I had headed back to our hotel but had to stop off at the only fast food restaurant open in East London for a bite to eat. I was surprised at the amount of people around at 1am in the morning, including a group of guys roller blading in the old shopping centre. With the security guard doing nothing to even acknowledge their existence.

Heroine Worship

I would never consider myself a big Beyoncé Knowles Carter fan, but generally I enjoy her output. I have seen her perform live, almost seven years ago at Earls Court, for the World Music Awards (she even performed my favourite song at the time, Irreplaceable from her second studio album, B Day). It was perhaps her performance at Glastonbury a few years ago, which made me think, I need to see this woman perform live at her own concert (not just an awards show) where she is fully in control of the entire experience. Soon after I made this statement, she fell pregnant and it would be at least two years before I would be able to see her perform, if she ever embarked on a world tour again. It is not like she really needs the money, married to a multimillionaire hip-hop artist in his own right.

Only recently did I discover that my colleague and friend Harps Virk is probably the biggest Beyoncé Knowles fan this side of the pond. In fact, we were both at the World Music Awards almost seven years ago! Harps was towards the end of the catwalk part of the stage, whereas I had been standing quite close to the front of the stage at the start of the catwalk. Such a small world we live in, that I would not only be working with this guy, but he also happens to live in the same town as me (Slough for the uninitiated).

How do you prove your worthiness as a fan? People do this in many different ways, some set up fan sites, as shrines to their beloved movie star or musician. Others convert their bedrooms or even living rooms to a living museum to their idol. Having been a fan of MJ for many years, I know fans whom have gone to such extremes and beyond. Harps is no exception, having a high quality mug made of the former Destiny’s Child singer (can I still say former when they are making a comeback, unsure of the group’s current status).

Beyoncé

He says, he also has a life size card board cut out in his bedroom. I have yet to see photographic evidence of this, but surely that would put in him a league of his own in Beyoncé fandom. I mean, he even goes to the extreme of only pausing a Destiny’s Child music video (playing via YouTube application on my Nexus 7) when B is on the screen! (I do not want to have Kelly on my screen, was the remark made). So here we are on Thursday morning at 8:46am, waiting impatiently to get our hands on my some tickets for the Miss Carter World Tour. Breakfast can wait for a change but I do look forward to my victory cup of tea shortly! Talk amongst yourselves, I could be a while!

Beyonce at the O2

After almost two hours of waiting, I end up with nothing. Watching as other fans across the UK bag their tickets and proclaim their joy on the social network that is Twitter. I used the hashtag mrscarterworldtour and many of the tweets I have retweeted into my time line, if you are so inclined. My colleague Priyam got into the site but was only able to purchase a single ticket. Nobody wants to see Beyoncé on their own. She closed her Internet Explorer window and I did pretty much the same a few minutes later after received this error message, multiple times.

Computer Says No

Sunday 8th August 2004

On the late shift at work this week, I decided to make the most of my free time in the mornings. A sensible person would have much better use of this time available to them, and spent it in bed. This was not something I wanted to do. Not with one of the world’s most picturesque cities to go and explore. I would be foolish to waste the summer, working and not taking in the many sight seeing opportunities around me. There was my brief. To get into Central London by 8am and then go and explore, take photographs and ultimately to find inspiration. Inspiration for my blog, to feel, to understand, to be moved.

Monday morning, I headed for Piccadilly Circus. Hoping to capture the mood of the city after the weekend, and with the heavy working week minutes from being truly upon us. Little did I know that somebody else would be recorded, famous places down the street where I work. How was I to know this was to be his first calling point. I walked down the road, to Leicester Square, to see a busy clear up operation coming to an end. Delivery vans were making the first calls of the morning, with a general relaxed and calming overtone, which I was struggling to understand. As I crossed the square, there were a few early commuters scurrying towards work, but apart from them, there was nobody around. A few people grabbing their first dosage of caffeine of the morning, so I decided to do the same. Although several more reasonable options were available to me, I again had an urge for Starbucks. I headed up towards Tottenham Court Road and then passed Goodge Street tube station. There was a small cosy branch, which invited me in. I had my mug of tea, then headed to the underground station. What to do? I wanted to take in the views from the river. I was considering at first to go to London Bridge,
but headed a few stops further down the Jubilee Line to Canada Water. These new tube stations lookso futuristic and break from the mould of claustrophobic Victorian
model. Time was running out, I had to get to work.

Tuesday, was the day, which I had planned very differently. In the end, as I started at 9am, I could not really make anything out of an odd hour. So I just headed
to work, early instead. Not to know, home sweet home would not be a prospect for 7pm, as it should have been. Wednesday, I headed to Embankment. This is the station at which I change to catch the Circle or District Lines. Just outside the station is the Golden Jubilee Bridge. Walking across to the South Bank, you can catch some nice glimpses of the London landscape. Sitting down on a bench, I took in the beautiful sunny morning. As the rest of the rat race, dashed to work, before me.


Just behind the bridge you can see the Palace of Westminster before which stands the British Airways London Eye. I headed in that direction, east towards Westminster Bridge, camera snapping as much I could.

Crossing over towards Westminster tube station, I took a final few pictures of the observation wheel, before heading into work. It was coming up towards
10am, and I had no desire to arrive late.

I had made the decision on Monday that I wanted to come down to the Docklands and more specifically Canary Wharf to take some photographs. Would have done this
on Monday, but by lounging around the West End, and drinking my tea, as if I was on some kind of holiday, meant I did not have the luxury of time.

Did you go to the Millennium Dome? I did not. Even though there was talk in 1999, within my circle of friends of going down when it opened that December. Little happened on that front, talk quickly died down, as it did with us going to watch England play at Wembley. :( I wish I had gone
to it, at least then I could have given my true opinion, rather than just one based on thirdly party information. A few years ago, my friends did talk about going there for a big clubbing event on New Years Eve. I am not sure if it actually did take place, due to security issues, but I remember back at University someone
mentioning it, so perhaps it did. From Canary Wharf, you can make out the Dome in the distance. Walking around, I could see there was a high security presence across this business district. All cars were being stopped and searched, with only those with valid passes being allowed through in the underground car parks and offices. Something suddenly crossed my mind. Here I was, an Asian guy taking photographs of London’s biggest landmarks at a stupid time in the morning, when in reality I should really be somewhere else. None of the security guards stopped to question me, or find out why I was taking photographs. I was just regarded as some tourist, taking the offbeat track. Great to see, so much money being pumped back into the development of Canary Wharf. Hopefully it will grow to be a place, I can enjoy to come and visit, when all the building work has finally finished.

For a split second, I thought I was in America. With these towering skyscrapers all around me, and small intersections in the built up area. Slowly I came out of my daydream, looking at my watch, it was coming up to 9.30am, I had to be on my way. I was going to say that it was that man again, but he is still very much just a boy, help Arsenal clinch the Community Shield earlier this afternoon. Picking up just where he left off last season, glad to see he is knocking on the door and proving a great option for the left of midfield. Expect a fine review and the latest on the Vieria situation from Arse Blog. Overall, I was impressed with Pennant, who obviously has learned many things from his season loan at Leeds. Another player I enjoyed watching was the young, Fabregas. He was quick, breaking up Manchester’s attacks and then quickly switching the play with great vision and killer passes. Can you believe he is only 17? Bring on Everton!

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