After watching Sky News, I feel asleep around 2am. I got up early and Dave was awake soon after and in his smart work clothes. It was around 8.30am on Sunday morning. I declined the offer of tea and breakfast, opting to get the car packed and head out onto the road. I set the TomTom as I reversed out of the parking space, saying goodbye to Dave and thanking him for a great weekend. The ETA for High Wycombe was 12:00 exactly, the current time was 9.06am. I had a long busy journey ahead of me. My objective was to get back before midday and I try to make sure throughout the journey the estimated time of arrival reduced as much as possible. The sun was shining as I left Wrexham, I listened to the tail end of Nehal on BBC Radio One. He played the new Kanye West track, “Stronger” and I put the volume up a little. The listener chosen for the New Music Generator liked a diverse collection of music. From MJ, ‘Billie Jean’ to Beyoncé ‘Irreplaceable’. The song chosen for him was Foundations by Kate Nash. Her style is similar to Lilly Allen, quite urban and street. At 10am, it was time for Vernon. The drive was fine, a little rain but nothing drastic. I overtook a few trucks and slow drivers and was happy with my progress. I got stuck behind a tanker of some kind on the single carriageway A5. However by the time I hit the M54, I was plain sailing. Of course, I wish I had my A3, to switch over into the fast lane and tear past the cars but had to make do with the ability of the courtesy car. I had music, which for is the most important ingredient of any long journey. If I had no radio or cassette, I would seriously have been insane behind the wheel. By the time I got onto the M6 heading south bound the heavens opened and it was very difficult to see vehicles up ahead. Taking no risks, whatsoever, I switched to the inside lane and crawled at a lousy 60 miles an hour. This would be the pattern as I hit the final two motorways on my journey, the M42 and finally the M40, which to me will always symbolise the home straight. On the radio, Newsbeat was mentioning the concert and this perhaps is a fitting time for me to explain all the secrecy.
I heard that the Princes’ were arranging a concert to celebrate the memory of their late mother. I booked tickets literally the second they became available in early December. I however, did not tell anyone at the time. A few weeks later my Dad was in the living room and it was mentioned in the news and I explained I had bought tickets and smiled. We spoke nothing more about it until a few weeks ago, when the tickets arrived Special Delivery on a Friday morning in mid June. My plan had always been to take my Mum and elder two sisters. I wanted to take my Mum for her first trip to Wembley and also to a concert. Something she has never experienced before. It was not to be. When I called after the Doctor credits, I asked my Mum to pick up the tickets which I had left with a letter under the computer keyboard in my room. She passed the letter to my sister, Natalie read and I heard cheers in the background. My youngest sister, Julie was upset as she could not go. My Dad had said he would take her to the cinema. It was one of those unfortunate circumstances where I could only get four tickets, if I could have got more I would have. In any case, I was really looking forward to the concert, for the amazing set list and the fact that it would be one of the first handful of concerts to be held at the new Wembley. So here I was, hours away and many hundred of miles away from the main event and perhaps a milestone of my weekend.
I pulled up outside my house at 11:53am, I remember noting the clock on my dash. The train was at 12:55pm and I shouted to get my sisters to get ready. My parents were out with Natalie, so I hoped they would get back soon. I had a shower and changed and was ready by 12.30pm. My parents and my Mum gave up her ticket for Julie. I was upset but knew something like this would have happened. My sister grabbed her company Astra and we headed down to the station. We were be lucky to catch the train, but I bought tickets from the FastTicket machine while they parked the car. The train arrived on time on platform three and I looked at the clock on the platform as we left. Within an hour, I had come back from Wales, got ready and on the way to Wembley. Truly a rock and roll weekend. My sister, Natalie had a group she wanted me to listen to. Acappella songs, so she said. I have always liked acappella music, from the Flying Pickets to more recently, Rockapella and Noorkuu. This however was something different. My sister told me there name and got me to listen to the song. It was Desert Rose by Sting. The band were called, Penn Masala. I was impressed, they were a talent group. Skipping across the tracks on the iPod Shuffle. They played a mixture of Hindi / Bhangra songs combined with Western songs. We tried to hunt down Kangna but my sister could not find it. I was rather impressed with “Show Me The Meaning of Being Desi”, which is a take on the Backstreet Boys hit song but rewritten for an Asian audience. I wanted to hear more and would do, on the way back.
When we got off at Wembley Stadium our tickets were checked before we walked up the stairs to the stadium. Everything had been cordoned off and we had to walk to the far side, even while our seats were to the left. We then joined a queue, it was before 2pm so I did not expect to wait for more than a few minutes. I explained to my sister Samantha, as she began to moan after just a few minutes that I had to wait nearly five hours back in November. I took a photo as we queued.
I decided against taking either of my digital cameras. The heighten security situation and then the nagging headache of having yet another thing to look after. My N73 was more than capable of taking a few photographs and overall did a stern job, even though I did not use it constantly. There were other people there with professional cameras and one guy to our right with a telescopic lenses! We eventually were allowed through, some twenty minutes later and had all our bags checked and were padded down by the security guards. The recent events over the weekend in London and Glasgow had made security a top priority, which was understandable. We rushed around to our entrance, K and went through the turnstiles. We headed up the escalator and went to find our seats. Then Natalie and myself went to get some food but nothing hot apart from chips was ready so we opted to wait a little while. On our second trip, I noticed the terrace bar and went to take a look. It was the same place we had seen so many England fans, exactly a month earlier for the friendly against Brazil. I decided to take some photos and once again, the sun shone behind the arch.
We grabbed some food and then headed for our seats. This is where I would sit for the next six and half hours of entertainment. I was excited. I was looking forward to the show. I was looking forward to being able to re-watch the whole thing in full via the MythTV recording MightyMouse had scheduled at home. My favourite performance of the evening was P.Diddy with his rendition of “I’ll Be Missing You“. It was a fitting tribute to Princess Diana and the star has amazing stage presence. Kanye West who performed before Diddy, was very good but played only a seven minute set which was a medley of old songs and his new single. I was frankly slightly disappointed. Other highlights including Fergie with Glamorous (although she had to ad lib the rap part of Ludicrous herself, to limited affect). Elton John, Tom Jones and Rod Stewart never disappointed. The Scotsman kicking several footballs into the crowd. Take That were fantastic, and a girl of around 17 from Newcastle, sitting behind me, went absolutely crazy the minute they came on stage. The screaming from girls was just too much. Roger Hodgson, was great with his SuperTramp medley, particularly as younger fans would know his music (myself included) from Scooter – The Logical Song and Cupid’s Chokehold by Gym Class Heroes. The full list of performers and speakers can be found over on Wikipedia. When we left around 10.15pm, we did not have to wait long for a train. It was the walk all around and against the flow of other punters which was annoying. The first train at the platform was heading stopping at Wycombe. We got some seats, my sister gave me her Shuffle and I put it on. How ironic, Penn Masala started playing acapella version of Every Breath You Take. The perfect way, to end a perfect evening and more so, a perfect weekend.