Sunday 28th June 2009

Probably one of the most emotional weekends of my life and I would have been forgiven for wanting to spend Saturday and Sunday cooped up indoors, with MJ playing back to back. It was attempting considering and I had even considering not attending the L.A.D.S. weekend (even though I was hosting at the third party venue of St. John’s Hill). In the end I decided to go because being in my flat on my own all day was not going to do me any good. I had originally planned to get over there for 1pm but that was shot after I got up rather late. Pav called me around 11am and was shocked I had broken the 9am wake up time. After breakfast I went to Tesco to get some food shopping done. I went online and it was my first time online (at home) since news had broken and I had several e-mails, messages, tweets to catch up on. I was impressed with Aniyah’s Twitter background, so grabbed the image and used it myself as a tribute. It was difficult, at 13:55 Five put on Moonwalker and I had to watch the first half music video montage. I had commented to Preeti on Friday night that one of the channels would play the movie, it was inevitable. The opening segment had me close to tears. Seeing the great man walk in with his classic loafers and white socks and the magic star dust, the spin, the twist and the creation of the world famous MJJ Productions logo. I was back to being seven years old, watching the movie for the first time on television that Christmas in the late 1980s.

MJJ Productions

I caught the 15:59 train from Newbury to Reading, listening to MJ music predominately, although at times it got difficult to then think I would not hear that voice live ever again. I walked to The Retreat and was there around 16:24. Elliot, Ollie, Foxy and Geoff were already there, outside enjoying the street dancing but Pav had disappeared inside the pub. I went back to the house to drop off my bag and discovered that Pav had bought the exact same barbeque kit that I had bought for my place last weekend. We returned to the pub, it was the St. John’s Road festival, with a barbeque taking place and entertainment. A girl, aged perhaps eight, played the Oboe. Discussion, as it would fell onto MJ and Foxy actually gave me a big hug which I really did appreciate. (Obviously being manly men on a lads night out, we would not be so open and honest with our feelings). I requested we play Beat It on Guitar Hero later that evening as homage to MJ and Foxy agreed, giving me lead guitar! We headed back to the house, as we were all hungry and Geoff and Pav got cooking, it was nice to just chill out in the back garden in the sunshine. Pav brought down the stereo from his bedroom and put on Radio 1. They were having a simulcast with 1Xtra, a tribute to MJ hosted by MistaJams. It was great to hear MJ’s music and everyone appreciate the legend for his pure talent and genius. They played a tribute to King Of Pop, by The Game, Chris Brown, P. Diddy and Boyz II Men. I did not hear the title at the time, but later discovered it was called Better On The Other Side. It captures the mood, but some of the lines by Diddy towards the end are a little cheesy but nevertheless hit the right mark. I felt everyone had had enough Michael and Foxy went to put on some rock, although the band I do not recall. Nige arrived but he was only given a temporary pass and would leave after we got back from the pub. We played Guitar Hero but I was next to useless. We got to about 30% complete of the classic rock song from Thriller and in the end I had to withdraw to enable the rest of the band and much more competent players complete a song. They played Eye Of The Tiger, with Elliot giving a great performance on the drums, followed by Go Your Own Way (by Fleetwood Mac). I was allowed back on but with the difficulty set from Easy to Beginner. I no longer had to press any of the keys and just strum (as Foxy would remind me constantly). I improved a little but still not enough and gave up for other guys to step up to the plate. After the barbeque we tried to plan out the evening. We were going to head back to The Retreat for a few before then heading on into town. Foxy put himself in charge, as he usually does in these cases. We went over to the pub and played some pool around 8.30pm. We were grouped in pairs, I played with Ollie and won and then played with Elliot and won again, not a bad run but by then we changed to allow the losers to play each other. We were warned early on by the landlord for making a bit too much noise, “Lad’s this is a small terrace pub please keep the noise down”. Foxy, commander-in-chief for the evening reintegrated this down to the rest of us, “Lads we’ve been told to keep the noise down, it is a small little street corner pub”. We had a moan that there was no modern music in the jukebox and the landlady responded, “So it should be”, to the comment that there was nothing from the last thirty years. Geoff made the first choices, followed by Foxy. I thought I had noted down the songs but I had not. While not playing, Foxy planned the rest of the evening for us. Initially it was a choice between a club in town or the Casino. Foxy was fifty five percent in favour of the Casino but was happy to go with the democratic majority. Then suddenly, like a bolt of lightening he pitched the idea of After Dark. He did not really need to give me the hard sell, I had not been there before but heard a great deal from Pav’s visits in the past. I was up for it. We headed back to the house, changed, put on some shoes and then headed back out although it took longer than the designated window of fifteen minutes which the T_Dogg had insisted on. It was at this point in the night that Div and Rav came to collect Nige. I thought I should go out and say hello. We walked around the back to the Murco garage before then heading to After Dark. It was a club in the middle of nowhere and if you did not know where it was, you would never have found it. On London Street via a little alley way. It was completely dead when we arrived and it appeared to be an 1980s electronic night. We got some drinks and were assured by Foxy that it would fill up soon. It did sure enough but the clientele were not to the T_Dogg tastes. It’s turning into a bit of a Weight Watchers convention in here lads. I’ve not seen a woman lighter than me yet!”. Pav and I just burst out laughing but there was more to come. When the Foxy gets a target you have to understand it will take a great deal for him to finally give up. Using Elliot as his point man, so to speak marked out two targets, with a particular emphasis on the girl in the pink dress. Elliot got talking to them, while Foxy headed to the bar, when he returned, the girls were gone. His message to Elliot was in a deep frustration, “What happened?” I was in stitches, I could see the annoyance in those bushy eyebrows. I will return to this story a little later. After Dark is a relatively small venue. There are a great deal of Oriental bar staff which I am sure Kev would have enjoyed. The room at the rear with pool table, is a shrine to Who and in part The Jam. As the room filled up, we went to have a dance on the dance floor, even the stage at one point. They played a great deal of 1980s electronic music, Human League, Soft Cell and the line. The DJ even threw in some MJ classics, such as Wanna Be Starting Something, Thriller and ended the night with Human Nature. (I was unfortunately outside talking to the guys so missed this and just heard it through the main door. Then again, not a very good song to dance to). Elliot had gone in for the kill, or rather set the trap for Foxy and he took the bait. They got talking to these girls and then invited them back to Pav’s house as we left at 2.30am. We were outside his out at 2:47am, and I recall a neighbour waking up and shouting out of his window that he was trying to sleep and for us to shut up. We were not making that much noise really. Rather than go into the house, the girls and Foxy stayed outside and were talking. They had perched on the wall but Foxy had decided to perched on a very thin fence or rather trellis. It was like I was watching him in slow motion has he fell back and you heard the wood snap in several place. The girls, as you would expect quickly disappeared and we then quickly headed into the house and off to bed. The next morning, I headed off around 10am to the train station, on the way, crossing Queens Road I noticed a chap with brand new trellis he had just purchased from Homebase. Must have been Pav’s neighbour then. I got to the station just before the 10:47 left to Newbury. I arrived on time in my hometown at 11:17am and as I walked from the station to my flat, I listened to HIStory (Tony Moran’s Remix) which brought back memories of watching the music video on Channel V in India in the summer of 1997. Oh, if you are wondering why there are no photographs or video footage, particularly on Facebook, then here is the answer. Pav left his camera around at his parents house. This was a good thing for me, but a bad thing for other people, as I am sure it would have been good to capture some of the moments on film. Then again if the LADS weekend does have the tag line, “All Bros and No Hoes”, it might be best there was no evidence and perhaps parts of this blog will have to be amended in time. I was keen to get as much done as I could today, so changed and went straight to the gym for a heavy session before coming back to tidy the flat and iron a few shirts. At 2pm, Clive arrived for my piano lesson, although we spent an hour catching up. Around 5pm, we were in the Hogshead getting some food before Clive had to head back to Oxfordshire. Then, once again I was all alone and had a chance to concentrate on this blog. It took me a while. I listened to the Top 40 with Scott Mills. It was a joy to hear so many MJ songs and Anika had text me earlier to request I buy Man In The Mirror from iTunes before 6pm, to ensure it made the number one spot. It missed out, only just but it proves that finally the man’s music is truly being appreciated by the UK audience. Then again, I think the UK was always one the King of Pop’s most popular markets hence his choice to stage his come back here. I really wanted to speak to a fan and sent a tweet out to tweet out to Aniyah and instantly she called me back. Do you not just love the power of Twitter. I had caught her just as she was leaving a status update. We spoke for about twenty minutes and I felt much better. It gave me the strength to be able to face the week ahead. It was not going to be easy and I knew I would still be coming to terms with the great loss. I went to bed around 11pm, completely shattered and emotionally drained by the past few days. Before I signed off the computer, I updated both my Twitter and Facebook statuses with the lyrics from Speechless. Helpless and hopeless That Is How I Feel Inside Nothing’s Real But All Is Possible If God Is On My Side

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