Posts tagged: Michael Jackson

Wednesday 2nd December 2009

So here I am, my official first blog in my new Word Press application. I was hoping to get this all kicked off over the weekend but for some reason the One-Click Application was not working on my hosting. I logged a call with my host 123-Reg and they resolved the issue by Monday afternoon. Even though I perhaps expecting far too much gave them a call around 4pm on Monday to chase for an update. The installation process was completely painless and the most difficult thing was deciding on a theme and more importantly name for my blog. T3G:2 does not really mean much to many people and I have been in the need for some inspiration. At first I thought maybe the name of a movie I had recently seen at a friend’s house – What Lies Beneath, but it had too many negative, dark, eerie connotations. I then went for the same approach as my dearest friend Barry Tuck. (It should be noted that he is the main reason I have finally made the jump onto WP). He uses the lyrics from his favourite (or one of his favourite Radiohead songs. So I went with the same concept, selecting Human Nature, my favourite slow MJ song as the lyrics do kind of fit.
Once I got my head around how to publish posts, create an account for myself as an author, I began the process of transferring all my previous posts into this online application. Originally I thought I would work my way from October 2009 back but this would mean I would have to go through entries in a second pass to link them to the correct historical page once all those pages were up. Therefore I have gone way back in time, to the start of this blog back in 2002 and started from there. It is going to be tedious job but the outcome is worth it. I will have all my entries ready, you will be able to read and subscribe by RSS and even get e-mail updates when I create a new post.

So what have I been up to recently? I must go back to the weekend first. The Drive In Movie at Pinewood Studios was very good, even in the pouring rain. I had not really considering how they were going to pump the audio to us, I just expected large speakers scattered around, but as we entered the main parking area, the attendant told us to tune into 107.7FM. Genius, perfect sound in the car, no need to have windows open and engine noise would not interfere. I had sent a tweet to Pearl & Dean wondering if their titles would appear on the biggest outdoor screen in Europe but even though they had been running competition for tickets recently, their response in a direct tweet on Monday morning was no and I should just hum it myself before the movie starts. Not the same P&D, not the same at all! Notting Hill was very good and better than I expected. I am not a big fan of either Grant or Roberts but it was watchable, in parts very funny and Grant’s housemate, had me in stitches in part. It must be great being Richard Curtis. Having the idea of what it would be like to bring a the most famous person in the world (at the time, in this case a Hollywood actress) to a local dinner party, how would your family and friends react?

Sunday turned out to be a lad’s day. After clearing a great deal of paperwork from my room and shredding it, I spent the rest of the day infront of the television watching three football matches back to back. First there was the Merseyside Derby, followed by the London derby (the less said about that the better). This was followed at 6pm by action from La Liga, El Clásico. It was not as dramatic as the match I watched last season over the May Bank Holiday earlier in the year. After all the build up, it was a tight, one nil victory for Barcelona.

On Monday I had a few jobs to do in town but it was not the ideal weather to be waiting at the bus stop. It was 10am and I was soaking wet. Ryan’s Punto sped past and he recognised me just in time. He had just finished a shift at the supermarket and was heading home, so I asked if he could give me a lift into town and he kindly obligied. The 100 Park & Ride was already on the circuit down from ASDA back from the Empire Cinema, but I did not have the patience to wait. I collected my Dad’s mail from the Royal Mail sorting office, handed in a job application at Argos before heading home.

In the evening, I was hoping to catch FlashForward on five but my Mum wanted to watch some serial on Star Plus, so I used Sky+ to record the show and I would catch it later. In the end, the temptation was too much and I downloaded the Austrialian broadcast version (Channel 7) and started watching around 1am (into Tuesday) but I was so keen to catch the mid season finale and so many questions to be answered. It was good, with a brilliant twist in the middle. The ending though turned out to be somewhat predictable, but I guess that is because we now used to the format of the show.

Tuesday was a day spent on the job hunt pretty much all day. I had the treat of Heroes to late in the evening and got to go to my sister, Julie’s school production in the evening with my Mum. I had an interview on Wednesday lunchtime and had been given a great deal of work to do in preparation. I had missed a DHL delivery around 11am, so went to the debot to collect the package (which we eventually found after a little driving around town), drop my sister at school and then return home for a quick bite to eat before we headed back out to Marlow to see the performance.

As with these things, it started a little late my Mum and I were seated way in time for 7pm. The show was called Starstruck after the song by Lady Gaga which features on the album The Fame. I became aware of this song, when it was featured in an episode of sci-fi series Fringe screened back in late April. Series 1, Episode 17 – Bad Dreams. The show took the concept of a talent show playing a parody on Britain’s Got Talent format. The show began with an intro sequence of various performances of the younger school children, some miming, so ballarinas, some street dancers. Afterwards the show began itself and we were introduced to our three judges. Simon Crewell, Miranda Holdall, Pierre Moorhen played by Sixth Formers and a school teacher respectively (Mr. Stuart Ross). They were then sat to the right of the stage on the same level as the audience, so at times it was difficult to make them out and I had to just make do hearing their voices. It was then down to business with act followed by act, some good, some very very bad. My sister performed in Street Unity, third on the bill in what can only be called a poor man’s Diversity. It was good fun and I could see my younger sibling was enjoying herself. After all the performances there was an intermission. Although I was not at all thirsty, my Mum insisted on getting a drink (I was able to decline the option of a muffin). I was happy to share a drink but my Mum wanted a drink for herself, so we got two Apple & Mango J2O. Minutes later when we were seated, she moaned that it was too sour! The second act was a flashback, showing how each of the different acts found out about the Star Struck show and then went about preparing for the show. The highlight for me was the performance of Ben by Miss Britney Zavaroni but we later discover it was all planned by her scheming mother. An MJ song was selected to capitalise on his death and the song dedicated to Granpa Ben, when in fact his name was Ted. Britney was also told to cry during her performance midway through to further tug on the judges’ heart strings. Overall it was a very entertaining show and a good way to spend an evening for a change. Rather than the usual visit to Albert Square.

When I finally got home last night, I had a nice cup of tea and then settled down to watch Heroes. When I started to play the video file, I discovered the first few minutes were corrupt, with the footage skimming several seconds ahead and missing major parts of the plot. Fans of Heroes will know that major plot devices are always revealed in the first few minutes before the title sequence. I therefore had to go back to MSN and more specifically MSN Plus! Chatlog and pick out the HTTP link from Pav. He has abandoned torrents in favour of direct downloads. He had explained the link was to a super fast server and it took about 40 minutes to download. What was I going to do in the meanwhile? I decided to watch Paradox. I had forgotten to set the show to record on Sky+ so caught up by streaming on BBC iPlayer. Do not get me wrong, it is no FlashForward, but it is good by BBC production standards and has enough going to keep me occupied. I caught episode one over the weekend and decided to give the series a chance. You can therefore imagine that I finally went to sleep sometime near 2am, having watched both shows back to back.

Keeping up with what has now become tradition, please see below my Advent Calendar for this year. I actually requested Transformers from my Dad this year, even though he usually just picks up something he believes I would like. Every year, being my Dad he has been spot on but I just thought it would be ideal to give him a slight nudge for 2009! To keep all my images of advent calendars together, I have created a new set on FlickR. Now the question is are you a good person and eat your chocolate only on the designated day or are you like my sisters (particularly Samantha) whom would have eaten all twenty-five before the fourteen of December has arrived.

Transformers: Optimus Prime Advent Calendar

Sunday 1st November 2009

November already? The penultimate month of the year? 2009 nearly down? Well it is a year I am actually looking forward to seeing the back of for many reasons. Perhaps a little too early for a review of the year or even rant of the year. I will save for that sometime next month. Today was the day I finally went to London to see This Is It. My review shortly but first a quick roundup of the weekends activities.

Saturday was not too bad, got up watched television, had some breakfast. Bummed around online for a short time before the North London Derby. I watched episode six of FlashForward but my parents wanted to talk, so I was playing little attention to the dialogue and will have to re-watch the episode in full later this week. Most likely during the day so there are no interruptions. Then it was down to the business of playing our deadliest rivals. I was actually nervous, particularly after throwing away at 4-2 lead last year. However, my nerves were settled before half time. What a game! What a result! Barry had predicted in a comment on my Facebook status that Fabregas would have a blinder, I just did not think a run like Maradona in the 1986 World Cup!

On Friday night I had wanted to catch FlashForward but my sister, Julie wanted to watch Transformers, so I threw it on via the Xbox. I have seen the movie twice (once at the cinema, then again at IMAX). I have then also seen parts as screen on Sky and skipped to my favourite parts on the computer. We started the showing around 10pm and it finished around 12:15am, including breaks to get ice cream. The movie was as great as ever and I had a sudden urge to watch the sequel there and then. I will be patient and wait for the trilogy DVD box set (hopefully by then I will be buying on BluRay!)

Pav got his iPhone last Tuesday (27th) and had to send me a photograph of him reading my blog. It was an historic moment in our friendship. Ever since I have known him, over eleven (yes eleven) years we have always both had Nokia handsets. Usually the same models. It all began back in 1998 when we both had the amazing 6110. Perhaps still one of the best mobile phones I have ever learnt. It was until October last year when we both owned a N73 before my upgrade to my current E65. However, we were still with the same brand. Recently, following a test drive on the iPhone through a friend, Pav had his heart set on one and upgrade last week. While I agree that the phone has a few benefits, I still believe it is more of a fashion accessory than a decent mobile device. Although I have tried to make my phone more of a personal organiser (to sync with Outlook) I never put enough information in the PIM to make it worth while. All I need on a phone in reality is wireless connectivity and I have that with the E65 and it is great to be able to check my mail while in the lounge. (Well until Santa brings me a netbook!) Thank you but I will be sticking with the Finnish manufacturer for the rest of my life. If I was to switch, which is extremely unlikely, it would be a HTC device with Android!

T3G:2 on iPhone 3GS

I got back to the house around 19:20 just in time to watch Harry Hill’s TV Burp. Excellent as always, this is just the warm up act for The X Factor. I have to be honest, I now just look forward to JEdward’s peformance to see how crinch worthy it can be. Afterwards we watch the new Impressionist show on BBC1 which was very good. I then retired to my room to get on with some things. For some unknown reason I suddenly was enthused with energy and got various tasks completed including updating the blog and organising various other geeky things. I finally went to bed around 3am, knowing I had to be up relatively early on Sunday for my day out.

I got up around 9am during breakfast, I watched Smooth Criminal (it was being shown on one of the music channels). As my Mum was awake, I showed her the trailer (below) via the XBox to show her what I was going to be watching that evening. She was surprised at how well he moved for someone just a few years younger than her. I bummed around online before getting ready. I was listening to non-stop Michael Jackson on the Squeezebox! I eventually had a shower around 11.30am before heading out just after midday. My plan was to get into London for around 2pm and meet up at Paddington station. I knew I would make it in plenty of time, I just did not know my friend would be nearly thirty minutes late but never mind. I parked my car at the station, got my ticket from the one “Time Machine” that was working and then headed for the platform. I missed the 12:36 by a minute. If I had run, I would have made it but I was not in a hurry. Just as I got up to platform three, the train pulled away. Never mind, my next pressure issue was the fact that the seal for one of my ear phones was missing. While not a major problem, it annoyed me because I had fixed the earphones the previous evening. I looked around for the seal and then came to the conclusion that I had just left it on my desk in my room. The next train was at 12:55, I had a while to wait and listened to my mp3 player, I had charged and added new songs yesterday. These include Britney Spears – “3” and Whatcha Say by Jason Derulo.

I got to 13:58 as I walked onto the Paddington Concourse. I had a little wait but kept listening to my music before finally meeting up with my friend. We had a drink in Starbucks at the station before heading to the O2. We headed to the ticket machine to collect our tickets but the machine was out of paper, I assume. So we had to head upstairs, queue with people wanting jumbo popcorn and then get tickets. As they had already been issued (according to the computer). I had to wait for a manager (who looked about 17) to come over and sign off the reprinted tickets which were then finally issued. We then headed off for a late lunch. The Haha restuarant was right opposite the entrance to The Michael Jackson Exhibition. There was quite a queue outside, so we got some food and thought if we had time we would pop in and look around. The film showing was not until 19:30, so we had plenty of time on our hands. In the restaurant they were playing back to back MJ! It was the perfect atmosphere for a Michael Jackson day!

An Asian couple were sitting the other side of the restaurant next to us and my friend asked if the exhibition was worth going to see (the giveaway was the official exhbition bag the girl had sitting by her). They recommended it but said it would take two hours to go around because it was so busy. We would be able to squeeze it in, if the waitres was quick processing our bill.

Our tickets were printed at 17:37 and we headed straight in pretty much after we were cleared by the Chinese man at the door. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. We watched a shortfilm with strobe lighting before going through to the actual exhbition itself. It was amazing with some really interesting facts and artifacts. The original recording contract signed with Motown Records and signed in May 1970 by Joseph Jackson. There was even the hand written lyrics by Michael for Beat It! The most touching and perhaps most emotional to see were his designed costumes for the concerts. Brand new outfits for all his big numbers, Beat It, Billie Jean and Smooth Criminal. Unfortunately no photography is allowed at the exhibition but more reason for you to come down to the O2 and see for yourself. (Although some people have been able to sneak a few pictures and upload them to FlickR)

There was a cabinent with all his awards, Guiness World Records, American Music Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, there could have been more but only a handful have been selected by the estate, including the odd Grammy! You can view some behind the scenes photographs and updates on their official Facebook page. The final part, was details of the shows. Copies of all the different versions of the tickets had been framed and placed on a wall at the last room. I wondered for a split second how it would have been holding those tickets for 18th July 2009. There was a mock up of the stage in a model. MJ had even wanted a video of Vincent Price played during the Thriller performance. There was a book of condolscenes or rather several books which I signed (once I found a working pen) and left my personal note to the King Of Pop). The final article was the world famous sequened white glove. We then headed for the exit and the souviner shop. This perhaps hurt, all the merchadise that would have been sold during the concerts was now being re-used in his memory. Many people will say that this is just sheer profiteering out of a dead artist’s legacy. To a certain extent I agree but when it is someone so important and so significant, it is not about the money. It is about having a memory and perhaps even buying a piece of the magic. While a younger me, may have been tempted to buy a t-shirt, bag or hat, there was no need. I had the movie to look forward to, I had the memory of him and the music. Plus, I had the memories of his visit to Earls Court almost exactly three years earlier.

It only took us an hour to get around, it was not that busy, being quite well into a Sunday evening, most people would have come first thing and now be on their journeys home. We had a good hour to kill before the movie and went for a walk outside before taking a seat on the comfy sofa’s outside screen eleven. Slowly a large queue formed, with some forty minutes to go before the movie started. We could hear some of the MJ classics playing in the auditorium and I felt a bit of a buzz when I heard Human Nature. I remember getting home from work and watching the trailer on YouTube. I instantly updated both my Facebook and Twitter feeds with one of Michael’s lines. I had been looking forward to this precise moment for months and was glad I had been persuaded to come all the way to London’s O2 (the world’s best venue apparently!) rather than go to see it at Reading, even if I would have seen it sooner, it was well worth the wait and the company.

We eventually were allowed in at around 19:20 and I found seats perfectly in the middle, although a few rows higher would have imroved the view but only slightly. I was all set, phone was off. Then Asteroid came on. This was definiately going to be it.

It was an amazing concert movie. I loved every second, it was a pleasure and an honour to watch a musical genius still wanting to push the barriers of what is possible with a stage show. Even at sixty percent, the King Of Pop was still at the top of his game, saving his voice for the actual concerts, his moves were as mesmerising as ever. He was at times out dancing his backing dancer, most of whom you would imagine were half his age! The shelf life for a dancer is around 27/28, so for Michael Jackson to still be able to pull off his signature moves and keep up the stamina to perform such an elaborate show would have wowed the fans and even the sceptics. Highlights for me, were Human Nature (most of which has already been used in a TV spot for the movie trailer) Beat It, Smooth Criminal and even Billie Jean. The performance of Beat It (my favourite MJ track, but I am sure you knew that already) was absolutely breath taking. The new jacket was going to be set alight at the end of what would have been a memorable showcase. Michael was forever the showman and to see his ideas, even in this rather raw, rough cut format was great. I loved the intro scene to Smooth Criminal with Humphrey Bogart chasing and shooting at Michael before he smashes through a window! In 3D that would have been something else. I could keep writing about this movie but I do not want to spoil it for anyone who is yet to venture to the cinema. Plus my words are nothing in comparison to the watching the movie for yourself. Trust me, better to watch it now at the cinema, it will not be the same on DVD when it is released next year (even if you have a 50″ plasma television like my best friend Dave). If I had one critisim of the movie, it would be that I would have wanted some of the more recent material included. There is a few seconds of Speechless (perhaps my favourite song from the Invicible album) at the outset. I am just trying to picture how Unbreakable or You Rock My World could have been performed. It would have been out of this world. During the closing credits, I wondered what could have been and felt empty. The concert would have been taking place just a few feet away behind the screen I was watching. The greatest concert ever – the world is never going to get to see!

Saturday 18th July 2009

This blog has become a very large burden. I think having a blog is fine, if you live a rather empty life, as you can then dedicate a great deal of time on it’s upkeep. However, when you are running around like me (more so this summer than ever before). It is difficult to find the time to sit down and blog, let alone remember exactly what you were doing, thinking and listening to a week, two, three or more ago. I will try and do my best. As you read this, I have already fallen some two weeks behind and it may be well into August before I truly catch up with myself. I will therefore keep the ‘catch up’ as brief but enlightening as possible.

Last week, was very busy with me spending only three of the five week nights actually in. While that not may seen many nights out (two on the bounce) to many of you out there, you have to appreciate that I keep my party time for the weekends. It is rare for me to leave the flat on a school night. On Monday I watched Michael Jackson – The Last Days on More4, as I had been busy on Sunday evening (12th) with the server install with MightyMouse, when it had been screened for the first time on Channel 4. (With hindsight it did not matter, as it was repeated regularly across the Channel 4 network for the week) Although I should have been updating the blog and Pav would regard it as a wasted hour. On Tuesday I had another night in, as usual but made very little progress with the blog or anything for that matter. On Wednesday evening I went over to see my friend Clive and help him with his website. On Thursday evening, I was catching up with old work colleagues in Maidenhead and Cookham. We went for a drink at Bolters Lock and a curry at the Cookham Tandoori. It was great to catch up with them, the last time I had seen them was in March. The last and only other time I had been to this restaurant was back on Wednesday 15th June 2005. (How do I remember the date so well? That evening, when I got back from the night out, I ordered my computer from Overclockers). Friday night, last night became the first night in and I needed the rest. It was good to have time to myself and I have major minor plans for the weekend (if that oxymoron even makes sense to you). I made a list and actually plan to get most of it completed.

The weekend though it empty, there is a big whole were Saturday night should be. I should be back in Wycombe at the this precise moment, planning my outfit and bouncing off the walls. I would then head into Central London in the early afternoon in preparation for the concert at the O2. Okay, I understand it was not to be, but hearing all about the production, The Dome Project and the puppets as zombies for Thriller, that were planned. I think the director, Kenny summed it up, in an interview when he said, “We are having a blast!”. It would have been the greatest show on earth, I have no doubt. Once again, I am left with the music and the thoughts of what could have been and tears that I will never be able to ‘undo’ my biggest regret and that will live with me forever.

Friday 17th July 2009

Every story has a beginning. Every adventure has a starting point. Mine begins way back in 1986. 31st March 1986 to be precise. The location is Lane End, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Little did I know at the time, how this one moment would make such a significant impact on the rest of my life. It is a good thing, therefore that my Dad arranged for the whole event to be filmed. Secondly it is also a good thing that the elders (my Aunty I believe) allowed for a change in the music which enabled this moment of sheer musical magic to happen.

I have not seen this video for a while, several years in fact. Although it used to be play regularly during my younger years going through primary school. My Mum and Dad would need little excuse to put on the VHS, which by now was showing it’s age. The last time I watched it was when my Dad had had the VHS converted to DVD and we watched it together as a family and remembered how much a wonderful party it had been all those years ago.

Fast forward some twenty years and my MJ moments occurred on a regular basis. There was actually a long journey from February 2003 to June 2005 and finally November 2006. The fans out there among you will already recognise the significance of the month and year but for the rest of you, I am going to explain and point you in the direction of the archives for you to read more if you so wish.

There had been a big build up to the documentary but most of it had passed me by until perhaps a week or so before, when I started to see preview clips. The fact that I was working in Bedford and commuting from High Wycombe every day, meant I had very little time in the evenings to watch much television. The one which was shown was of Michael in his studio with Martin, showing him how to moonwalk and explaining how he came up with the melody or back beat for Billie Jean. I remember watching the documentary with my whole family that evening. I was disappointed with Martin Bashir, I expected better from him. Michael even said to the award winning journalist, “Your better than this”. This being some of the gutter press questioning and speculation that Bashir had decided to sensationalise the story for his own agenda.

In my final year at University, I was sharing a house with Nav and Paul, both big MJ fans. It was in late October 2003, that I heard One More Chance for the first time and Paul, actually let me know he had been released to radio and sent me the mp3 of the song played on German radio (there was still the DJ speaking in German over the intro). It was released in November, and throughout that time I mention the release of Number Ones and the arrest and subsequent trial. My dreams of the greatest comeback in entertainment history, were shattered but I was willing to stay the course.

In my first job after university, I was changing over the laptop for a lawyer (as I had been doing for most of the summer and early autumn 2004). I was intrigued by a little paper and signature that this Japanese lawyer had placed to the side of her computer screen on the wall. It took a while to register, if you had been there you would have noticed the penny drop. I first noticed Sony Corporation and then realised, it was the signature of one Michael Joseph Jackson. A moment from some time ago, but a keep safe if there was ever such a word. Although I had been tempted to grab a photo with my camera photo (a 6210, if I recall at the time). It would never had done the moment justice, so I decided to keep the whole affair as a memory and not even mention it on my blog.

I had two interviews in December 2004. I came home from Reading to get some food before heading out for interview number two. VH1 were playing Michael Jackson, read the full story of the final day of Immortals Week from Friday 3rd December 2004.

For Christmas 2004, my lovely sisters got me Michael Jackson – The Ultimate Collection. I recall, coming home one Friday night and putting on the concert DVD and listening to the finale featuring Man In The Mirror. Anika text me to comment on how the spins are just mesmerizing. I had actually been prompted into finding out about the greatest hits collection by my old house mate, Paul early December. It was the single, We’ve Had Enough, a protest at the Iraq war, which would lead me to discover unreleased material was about to surface.

In January 2005, the documentary Wacko About Jacko aired on Channel 4. I got home from work on Tuesday 5th January in time to catch the show and watched it in great anticipation, even if I hated the title. The programme would be like a skeleton key for me, opening the door to many of UK fans and various forums. Most of these friends remain to this day and have only become stronger over the course of recent weeks.

My involvement with the other fans became regular and I wrote, perhaps my best ever blog post on Monday 13th June 2005. A rather bland Monday, turned out to being a moment of justice and HIStory. At the time, I wrote the blog, literally moments after the event had unfolded on rolling television news networks and it was heart warming to know that I knew people out there, standing and cheering outside the court house. I was with them in spirit.

On Sunday 2nd October 2005, I went to see Arsenal play Birmingham in the League (we won, one nil, thanks to a late goal from Robin Van Persie) at Highbury. Afterwards, instead of heading directly home, as you would have expected, I headed to Picadilly Circus to my first MJ event. Anika had arranged with other fans to raise money for the Katrina victims via the Red Cross. The plan was to have MJ fans come down to show their support, while impersonators performed under the bright neon lights of London’s West End. On a side note, I had discovered a Gooner blog via Technorati weeks prior to this event and actually e-mailed the blogger. Little did I know that Terry was both an Arsenal fan but also a very big fan of the King Of Pop, I would meet him for the second time at the event and then subsequently at future events and Arsenal games. I never uploaded the photographs from the event at the time for some unknown reason. Having dug them off the archives (i.e. my 320gig portable hard drive, well not very portable when you consider old IDE caddy drives). So here, they finally are!

Seany, Anika &

On Saturday 22nd October 2005 the item was returned. The Moonwalker had returned home, after spending over six years out in the wilderness. I lent Pav my VHS original copy of MJ’s one and only movie blockbuster and did not see it again from 1999 until that fateful day in late autumn. I personally thought it had disappeared into the garage forever.

In late August 2006, I was one of the lucky people to see the first ever performance of Thriller Live. Yes, although it is now a common stable of the West End, it all started way back in 2006! I went to the show with my friend Victoria, herself a very big Jackson fan. Although we have lost touch in recent years, we went to several MJ related events together. My favourite moment from the show, organised and arranged by Adrian Grant (whom I met at Anika’s birthday party the previous September) was when they had children and full gospel choir, perform Speechless from the album Invincible.

A dream came true in November 2006, when I finally saw the man for himself at The World Music Awards in Earls Court. As with all MJ related events, it was a roller coaster ride, from start from finish. Would he be appearing, as there had been rumours for the the show the previous year but MJ had not turned up. At one point I had a free ticket to the event, which was revoked hours later. I then lost out on the official online ballot of free tickets but arranged to go with Victoria. She let me down, litterally at the door, so I had to scramble a ticket from Holly while in the queue outside the arena around 3pm. It would be way after 8pm by the time we were allowed inside. Was it worth the wait? You bet, I would have waited twice as long.

I met Mutaza at my first MJ event and we kept in touch via forums, MySpace and Hotmail (now MSN Live Mail). He explained that he was staring in a music video for The Mitchell Brothers in late September 2007. He had previously also starred in the Sugababes video, About You Now as a chef (on screen for less than ten seconds) in the preceeding few weeks.

On Valentine’s Day, last year I finally owned the biggest selling album of all time. It had taken me a while but I had finally bought, arguably, Michael Jackson’s greatest master piece. As I listend to the album on the drive home, I began to appreciate perhaps for the first time, the achievement of this man as a solo artist. A colleague stated that the ‘masses are asses’, to explain away the popular appeal of the album. I tend to disagree, it was a special defining moment in the history of all music. I strongly believe that for that moment, we were all Michael Jackson fans, just some prefer not to admit that now.

Fast forward to March this year and the frenzy returned and this time, there was some substance to all the rumours. The minute it flashed up on BBC News, I had to call Kish and speak to him. I recall the image of Michael appearing at The O2 Arena to make his comeback announcement on Sky News and even spotting Kish in the crowd! This Was It!

I finish with not my own words but the words from a Guardian journalist, who perhaps puts together how I felt between March and late June this year. The return of one of the largest pop stars in the world, at the most popular arena in the world; Come on, how can it not be the biggest event of the year?

Wednesday 8th July 2009

An emotional and hectic week but on the plus side only four days in the office as I have tomorrow off. I shall pick up from Monday, I got an e-mail from my sister that she was going to be at a meeting in Newbury, at The Chequers Hotel. She asked if she could crash over on Tuesday night and of course I replied that it was not a problem. Monday passed by without much fanfare, it was a usual day for me in the office and at home.

Tuesday on the other hand was going to be an emotional day and I was looking forward to getting home promptly at 5pm, after a very stressful day in the office. I got in time to tune in live coverage from Sky News. The coverage on Sky News was blanket, whereas BBC News filtered in and out from the correspondent in LA at the Staples Centre. I kept Sky News on but was appalled at the lack of knowledge. I am not a big fan of Kay Burley even if she is a big Arsenal fan. She got the order of the Quincy Jones produced trilogy wrong. According to her script it was Thriller, Off The Wall and Bad. How could such a basic mistake be made? Then the presenter reporting from the entrance to the Staples Centre went and said that his “opinion” was that most of Michael Jackson’s material was very dated. Fine, your opinion chap but not necessary minutes before the singer’s memorial. I thought the news was suppose to represent fact and balanced analysis and not personal opinion. When the memorial did start, it was thirty minutes late, I switched over to BBC2. I did not want fancy news tickers getting in the way of my viewing.

This was not how it was supposed to be, but the news that Michael’s casket was to be on the stage made me very sad indeed but in a way brought some closure to the events of the past twelve days.

The Beeb coverage was presented by or rather voiced by Trevor Nelson and Paul Gambaccini. While the commentary from Trev was borderline acceptable, I found some of Paul’s comments just in bad taste. No wonder there were 302 complaints logged. The event did not really need commentary, or little more than perhaps someone explaining who people were (those not speaking or singing but shown in the audience). I was frankly very disappointed with the BBC, because their coverage to these world wide, historic events is usually the best in the world. In years to come, they may use it for one of the BBC News Channel trails, where were you when you found out the King was gone?

My sister arrived thirty minutes into the service and the emotions did get lost in part for the rest of the show. When John Mayer appeared, I said to Samantha that perhaps he would do Human Nature (my favourite slow MJ song) and sure enough, after I returned from the kitchen with food, he was playing the opening bars on his guitar. Excellent rendition, nice to be heard on a different instrument and it was great to get the backing vocals in as well. Perfect. Well I suppose perfect in the circumstances, I was hoping that Michael would have sung the song during his comeback tour and it is most likely that it would have been on the set list. For a while, as the song played I was in a day dream of what might have been.

I am quite open to admit that at points I was in tears and felt a great deal of pain. Perhaps the greatest when Jermaine came on stage to perform Smile and when Michael’s daughter made (what Paul Gambaccini described as) her “world debut”. It had been a moving few hours and I do not think the whole event will actually sink in for several months. Rev. Al Sharpton was the character who got a standing ovation for his eulogy. He said some poignant things about Michael and what he had to deal with in his life. The comment from Trev was that this “guy doesn’t need a microphone” and it was true, he was projecting his voice through the centre with no need for electrical amplification but I think that just added to the impact of his profound words.

I have been a daze ever since I heard the news, not being able to believe what was unfolding before I very eyes that Thursday evening. At times having to remind myself that Michael was really gone. But in the next moment not being able to comprehend such a thing. The fact that I was three weeks away from seeing him perform in concert makes the emotions raw and the emptiness more hallow. I had been looking forward to the event since they were announced in March. As a fan the events have been overwhelming and at times I have hoped I would wake up from this nightmare. I was glad my sister was here to witness with me the final public goodbye to the King Of Pop.

The rest of the event was touching, particularly Usher’s performance and the finale which would have been used as such in the This Is It tour. It was great but how difficult it could have been with Michael there, cheering on the audience to get to their feet and join in. The atmosphere was completely the opposite. I enjoyed Jennifer Hudson’s performance, a young woman touched by tradegy in her own right. When it was all over, there was a sense of longing from my heart. It is difficult to explain. So many unanswered questions, so many unexplained rumours and half truths. There was some closure, but if my heart was only half settled my mind was still racing. I let the thoughts drift away, just as the tears fell town my cheeks watching the Jackson family on stage and Michael’s children live infront of an audience of billions. I summarised how I felt in a tweet but even that perhaps was not enough!

Friday 26th June 2009

I had kept my emotions in check for the majority of the day, the whole working day in fact. Even when I had seen the newspaper headlines on the stand in the Tesco Metro, Northbrook Street. However, as I left the office at 17:04, this afternoon I received a heartfelt message from my fifteen year old teenage sister, Julie. She had sent the text 13:38, “Andrew B(baa), did u heard about MJ? Sorry Andrew baiya :)”. I could not hold it in anymore, I had been as strong I could and a tear fell down my cheek. It was just those simple ten words that have me in a flood of tears as I write up this blog post on platform two, Newbury train station at 21:50. I have made the spontaneous decision to go into Central London, to be with other MJ fans and to be with some of the dearest friends I have. While I begin my journey into London, I thought it would be an ideal moment to write down my feelings.

It was a normal Thursday evening, I got off the computer just after 10pm and put on the TV, as I do every week night to watch the news. Instead of being healthy and eating my yogurt (a new regime for evenings) I was eating dark chocolate (which I should not have been doing). George Alagiah was presenting instead of Huw. That was perhaps the only thing out of the ordinary for a usual Thursday evening, there was no sign that my evening was about to be thrown onto it’s head. There was breaking news that Michael had been rushed to a hospital. I called Preeti to let her know and she too put on the rolling news channels. The signs were not good. I put on Sky News and watched this and switched between this and CNN. CNN were being far more cautious than Sky News. They were reporting that TMZ web site were reporting that Michael Jackson had died. I refused to believe it. I did not want to believe the dream had died.

There was a glimmer of hope for a moment, when Sky report that MJ was in a coma but surrounded by his family at UCLA Medical Centre, Los Angeles. I cared little for the O2 residency at that moment, I just wanted my idol to be safe. The moment of hope was shattered a little later. Preeti called back, it had been confirmed that MJ had passed. I was still hoping it was all wrong, but the ticker soon changed to breaking news, “SINGER MICHAEL JACKSON HAS DIED OF CARDIAC ARREST”. I did not know what to do. I rang Kish at 22:51, he was distraught and lost for words. We spent a few minutes on the phone, but it was the conversation of people whom had just lost something and the phone call had distracted them from finding it. I watched as much rolling television news as I could stomach. I retired to my bedroom and put on FiveLive. Good to hear a more positive atmosphere, with fans (young and old calling in) with news fed in occasionally, rather than the over sensationalised television (even the Beeb sometimes gets lost). Richard Bacon was very good, keeping the tone warm and heartfelt but also at the same time delivering the facts in between loving memories from the fans (some mild, some diehard). It was, I have to say a perfect way to present a radio show at this difficult time.

Emotionally you can appreciate I was all over the place and I just wanted to go to sleep listening to my Zen but it was only then I discovered that I did not have Human Nature on my mp3 player. I had to jump onto the computer to transfer it over. Although it was tempting to go online and start reading the blogs, the news articles and the tweets but I resisted. I had no need for the information overload and the speculation. I wanted to be alone with my memories and the music (the most important legacy). I transferred the song over, got back into bed and found the strength to switch off the radio, even though I wanted a to keep listening in the hope that the news would change. The penny drop moment was when Richard came back to confirm officially that the BBC had verified the story. I called Terry, he was on his way back from another MJ fan. They had been getting their t-shirts ready for the O2 gigs. He was not really able to speak and I felt bad for putting him on the spot but I wanted to connect with my network of MJ fans. I felt a little isolated so far away in Newbury. It was 11:50pm.

Do we truly appreciate music in this disposable digital age? Probably not but it is amazing how the meaning behind a song can change after certain events in your life. I have always liked Human Nature but only fell in love with it once again as recently as 2003. Jason Nevins sampled Jackson’s track on “I’m in Heaven”, which featured vocals by Holly James. While this was climbing the charts, a local radio station played Human Nature and I remembered how great the was back in the mid 1980s and still sounded fresh, some twenty years later. I switched off the radio, put on the song and the memories came flooding back. Also a little realisation that I would not be hearing the voice sing any thing or anything live. I broke into tears and for a few moments was lost in myself, in the surrealness of the event.

I could not sleep, even though I tried. I tried to block it all out, pretend it was not actually happening but I could not. I put the radio back on and listen to the rest of the Richard Bacon show. Nav was interviewed, the impersonator I had seen perform at MJ events in recent years. The show ended with One Day In Your Life, perfect way to end such an emotionally charged radio show. I listened to Up All Night with Dotun Adebayo MBE and he sounded as shocked as the rest of the country. Although he quickly gained some composure to bring us facts then some commentary and analysis. However, I slowly drift off to sleep.

I woke up to a headache on Friday morning, I think it was due to the dark chocolate I had been eating the night before way past 9pm. It took a while for me to then piece together the events of the previous evening, the phone calls, the rolling news networks, the radio discussion and perhaps most importantly the music. Had it all been a really bad nightmare from hell? I wanted to believe it so much but I was wrong, BBC Breakfast was covering the story and I did not feel like breakfast but had some food in any case, knowing that I needed energy to face a difficult day in the office. It was dull overcast and grey outside, perhaps even God knew today was not a day for sunshine. This was perhaps the first time since I have moved to Newbury and definitely the first time in several years I just did not like the thought of going to work. Suppose it was much easier than the difficulty I would have faced in my previous office, there would have been the jokes which I could have taken but I think I would have come to blows with a few people disputing MJ’s legacy.

Was it really that bad? No but it was hard to concentrate on work, sales figures, splicing and dicing the sources, did it all truly really matter? No of course not. My idol, my inspiration, my friend had gone and I felt a strange sense of loneliness which is very difficult to describe. It was as if a member of my family had passed away. That is no exaggeration, and I still feel the same way. Even though I only briefly saw him in November 2006, it is a memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life and I will cherish every song, every recorded performance. More than this, I have made so many great friends through Michael and have so memories I have shared with them. Those I will come back to another time, right now the emotions are just too raw.

After work you would think that I would be more than happy to escape back to the flat, put on Thriller 25 (if I had a CD stereo, suppose I could use my PC). I actually went to the pub for a few drinks with colleagues. It was Friday night after all, plus it was Nikki’s birthday this weekend. Preeti then called to explain she was at the station, so I left the bar to go and meet up with her. I had received an e-mail during the day that The Standard (formerly the Evening Standard) had produced a special MJ Tribute magazine and although I had e-mailed Preeti to get the paper if she could, she had missed my e-mail, having already left the office by the time I sent it across. However, she had purchased three newspapers for me. Although I had originally considered going straight back to the flat, we headed back The Pig & Paper. We stayed for a drink before heading back to the flat, I had wanted to catch the MJ Special on BBC News but we missed it and arrived just in time for Eastenders. The soap included a last minute additional scene which mentioned the passing of the Pop Legend. I know they were under the pressure of time but I would have liked a greater input from more of the cast, particularly the younger black kids (Theo?). They did also have Thriller playing in the Queen Vic, although it is unknown whether that just pure coincidently or pre-planned. Afterwards, I put on the various music channels which were all showing MJ videos. Remember The Time came on. I thought of my sister’s text message and I burst into tears.

What was I going to do all night? Watch MJ videos, cry and think of what could have been? No, I was going to do something, I was not going to have the same regrets I had for many things relating to Michael Jackson. I called Kish and I asked where he was. The O2 Arena but heading to Trafalgar Square, my other MJ fan Terry was there. I was going to go to London, to join the fans and show my respect. It was 9:04pm, it was going to be a long night.

Newbury - the Journey begins

So we left a sunny Newbury and walked to the train station. It was a calm, sunny summar evening. Emotionally I was all over the place but contacting fans along the way. Anika was not coming out, as she could barely stand up but would be going out during the weekend. I left a message for Holly in Edinburgh but could not get through to Michaela (on both the numbers I had for her). It was 9.50pm, as we waited on Platform 2 for the next train ending to London. Most people were ready for a night out, or a weekend away in London. I was lost. We boarded the train and took a seat, I started to scribble down some blog notes, some of which I am trying to read now to write this post. In end I ran of words, it was too soon to be able to put down a coherent set of feelings on paper. We pulled into Paddington at 10.42pm and I called Kish. He was at Trafalgar Square and would wait for us there. When we got to to the famous landmark, it was quite a scene.

Underneath Nelson’s Column, a hundred, perhaps more MJ fans had gathered. Most were singing along to classics played out on wildly underpowered stereo speakers. It was a very strange experience. I had been to MJ events in the past but the turnout and voice and spirit of the people. No, not the people, the fans. Although a great deal of the passing Friday night public had come just to witness the spectacular event. I am not sure how I felt, I am not sure if I was ready to be celebrating Michael’s music, although I know, looking down from heaven that is what he would have wanted me to do as a fan. I feel I have the rest of my life to enjoy his music, the music videoes, those magical moments. For me, this time, these initial twenty four hours are all about respecting the life we have lost. Life is just an insignificant word to use, spirit, inspiration and mentor. There are very few artists that you can listen to any time, any place and they can instantly change your mood, make you feel better and get you tapping your feet. I kept calling Kish but it went straight to voicemail. There was no point leaving a message, I kept trying. We walked around to see the other memorials and vigils taking place. On the steps outside The National Gallery many fans were sat in small groups, with photographs, placards and candles. It was a strange scence. However, at last the sense of lose was present for me. Reading websites, watching rolling television news and listening to the radio, still the news is remote, not truly real. Also factor in that this terrible event occurred all those miles on the other side of continent. For the first time, I came to the realisation that Michael was gone, I could not really deny it any longer. We walked up the steps to entrance to the National Gallery. There were a group of lads on inline skates. It reminded me of a scene from the Bad music video, when one of the group skates backwards (obviusly in late 1980s in old fashioned rollerskates). There was a large shrine on the railings to the right of the Gallery entrance. A young black girl, was just completely distraught, her hand covering her face, to mask the tears and the pain. Next to her, several photographs and lit candles. Preeti took several photographs as I went to look at the messages on both the wall and on the railing. The shrine had gathered quite an audience. I was glad to be here but it still did not feel real.

The FansWe Love U, MJ
Broken for MJ

We wondered into Leicester Square, in the hunt for water. The journey had taken it’s toll and it was late into Friday night. For many people, it was your average Friday Night in the West End. The restaurants and bars were busy. A long queue to get into Oxygen. We walked around to the cashpoint and then headed back to Trafalgar Square via a newsagents to get some water. Throughout this time I was trying to call Kish but it kept going direct to voicemail. In the end I gave up meeting up with any of my friends, even though I saw Obi in the crowd underneath Nelson’s Column. I spotted a few fans I recognised from previous events but knew perhaps more from their profile pictures on the forums (or signatures). Maybe it was the shock and the fact that my feelings were still raw but I did not know how to react. Was it good to celebrate MJ so soon after his passing or should this be a time for deep reflection? I was not too sure, there was plenty of time for the music, I just felt it was a time for perhaps, to take a step back and appreciate for once the complete body of work, the complete package. I have been around to notice moments such as this. The death of Princess Diana being the most recent and similar in scale, although I was out of the country (in India) at the time of her death, so only saw the images beamed back across satelite on BBC World. The feelings are different when it is your idol, your hero, your superstar. It was frustrating not to be able to meet up with my friends but it was not to be. We spent a great deal of time walking around and reading the tributes and watching the dancing and singing. At times it felt like a dream, like I was outside of my body, watching myself watch the scene. It is difficult to explain but I had a sense that I was not really there.

Tribute to MJ 3MJ Miss U

It was getting late but there were few signs of the crowd dying down. The police had arrived by now and were surveying the area, with a riot van pulling up onto the Square outside the Gallery. One of the reasons for treking down from West Berkshire was to get a sense of perspective. This was real, this had happened I had to deal with it, but even so I still had not come to terms with the death. Sure, I agree that this moment will be forever marked in history and it is bigger than me, the fans in London, the fans around the world. It is a moment that defines an entire generation. My parents had Elvis and the generation after had Lennon, I now have Michael Jackson. I was able to keep my emotions in place, perhaps because it was a celebration and a realise that this one human being (he was only a human being I need to state that clearly) did so much, was a tortured soul but still gave his all for the fans.

It was this point in the evening, 23:21 I called Aniyah (I had tried her old number previously and got through to voicemail and left a message, which she would never pick up). It was great to hear from her, she has been one of my closest MJ fans (not geographically because she lives in Plymouth and we have yet to meet up) but I got to know her through the forums and the Wings ballad – Keeping The Dream Alive. I had, in fact, inspired or rather spured Aniyah (at the time Anne Marie) to start writing her first blog. (Been removed long ago but will need to find a link to her latest blog, which I believe is on MySpace). It was great to be able to make contact with a fan whom I had known for several years. We were both emotional and she wished she could be in Central London like me and I told her I was thinking of her and would report back every little detail on this blog. We stayed around for a little while longer, the crowd underneath Nelson sang along to Beat It and They Don’t Care About Us. It was rather fitting I thought but I still could not put a finger on the atmosphere, did it feel right? I suppose because this is my first time dealing with the grief of such a major influence on my life, it is difficult to comprehend because you never thought the day would come?

Around midnight we decided to head back home, it was late and I would be able to get to Reading and then catch a taxi back to Newbury. Preeti kept snapping photographs on the journey back (although of course, her stop was Hayes and Harlington). You can view the rest of her FlickR set over on, FlickR of course. I eventually got back to my flat at 2.30am and completely shattered feel asleep. Tomorrow was going to be a difficult day but I had redeem a little loneliness in my heart and shared in the sorrow and joy with the other fans in London.

Michael Joseph Jackson was the soundtrack to my life and I will do everything in my power, to ensure he continues to be that power influence, not just in this life but in the next. If there was any need for evidence of the King Of Pop’s everlasting precence look at the photograph below. A girl, perhaps as young as eight, trying to mimick her hero. Similar to the text message from my sister, Julie which is how I opened this blog post. She never really knew of the King Of Pop as us children of the 70s and 80s did. Older brother constantly playing the music videos and CDs gave her a little idea of the magic, but living something second hand is just not the same. The legacy is the music and the beat goes on forever.

mini Jackson

Thursday 25th June 2009

Friday 13th March 2009

Sometimes the gods are just working against you and there is little you can do as a mere mortal. I, like millions of other MJ fans were online at the Ticket Master web site waiting for the official sale to begin at 7am this morning. I had dragged myself out of bed at 6.30am and logged onto the computer first thing. I could see some of my other MJ fans had been online and awake much longer (from Facebook status updates or tweets over at Twitter). In the end it was all for nothing. I had been here before, October 2006 for MJ with the adulation of winning two free tickets, only to be told a little while later that the password had been given out in error and to wait for the real draw later. When that came around a week or so later, I was unsuccessful. It has been a similar story with Arsenal, I have failed to get tickets against Reading last season, as they all sold out in a matter of minutes when the Red member sales started on the site one morning.

The site crashed several time as we approached 7am, but it was not until 7.15am, that I found myself actually in the queue and making some progress. The wait was fifteen minutes or more (according to this screen shot)

Ticket Master

Over forty five minutes later, in which time I had brushed my teeth, had a shave and shower, there was no progress. (I had even taken the precaution of not switching on my Squeezebox in case the little bandwidth it uses would have affected my web browsing! I listen to FiveLive in the morning as I get ready before heading into work) Then the site crashed again, or at least my page did. My friends on MSN were having little luck themselves.

Rewind to Wednesday, the date of the presale I discover that I have not received the first batch of codes sent out and instead am in the queue for additional codes as more dates because available. To begin with, I liked the idea of 10 dates at the O2, a number of shows that I believe Michael would be able to perform at his best and give the world what they have been waiting over twelve years for. However, since then dates have continued to be added and now stack up to fifty (yes fifty) dates concluding on 24th February 2010. In any case, Pavneet and his colleague Barry were able to get the code and book their tickets for early August. I did not receive a code until 7:38pm on Wednesday evening and by then it was too late, unless I wanted to see Michael in 2010. I could not wait almost a year to see my idol. Pav did his best to rub it in throughout Wednesday, texting me and also forwarding on confirmation of his booking and his seat allocation.

The highlight of the week, apart from Michael Jackson tickets going on sale was the second leg of the knock out stage of the Champions League. It now I appreciate the beauty of Sky Sports News. I can see the goals a few minutes after they are scored. With the game level and heading for a penalty shoot out, I went from the computer back into the lounge. Normally I would have listened to FiveLive and I did listen to the extra time on FiveLive on the computer but just had to switch over to the Freeview channel when it went to pens. The Philips digibox is easily the best purchase I have made in the past six months.

Falling asleep during the last segment of Newsnight, being woken up by the booming theme music and going off to bed. Listening to Richard Bacon but never being able to stay up long enough for SHH . In fact I have only stayed awake to listen to one special half hour in 2009, sometime in late January. It was the night that Olympic rower was on. Matthew Pinsent I think. Been overall a very tiring week, with Tuesday spent out ont he road with a colleague over in Essex and Hertfordshire. A nice change of scenary and time out of the office. Made quite a bit of progress at work this week and overall I left with a satisfying feeling this afternoon way past 5pm.

I have been given Pav’s Grandad’s old PC, full spec to follow but it is my mission to convert it from a useless black box into a full fledged media centre. TV card will be transfered from my current desktop (since the rebuild, the drivers and software load but the picture is highly pixelated). Linux and then MythTV installation perhaps? Throw in a wireless card and we are all set. Since having my desktop back, this is my first Friday night with my desktop back in action, I have been distracted by other online activities and usually MSN so not fully concentrated on the television show I am watching. This will of course change when I can enjoy all my US TV from the comfort of the lounge.

A very busy weekend, but also next weekend too. This weekend we have Div and Nige’s engagement do in Caversham tomorrow night. Before all that I have the usual chores to do back at the flat and get things sorted out plus watch Sarah Connor and Dollshouse before I head down the M4. I have been listeneing to Knock Me Down regularly for the past week (just check out my Kanye West is the described as the ‘icing on the cake’ by my dear friend Bhavna The song has been confirmed as next single and video is currently in production phase, I just cannot wait and the album release is just a few weeks away (eleven days to be exact). Did I mention to you that Keri Hilson once said in an interview on TRL that she has two professional ambitions in life, to write the come back song for Lauren Hill and another little known artist. Michael Jackson.

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