Band of the Week - Porcupine Tree

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Sunday, 29 June 2008

What a week!


I often get asked by people 'what are you doing next week, Gwyn?' or 'do you fancy going out sometime?' Now, I am glad that I get asked these kind of questions, but inour current circumstnces I find it impossible to plan ahead. Now take this past week, for instance. To go to a concert held in Birmingham there has to be planning involved, book hotel, get tickets etc. So we decided almost 2 weeks ago that we would bid for 4 tickets to see George Benson at the National Indoor Arena for the 28th (last night). Got the tickets at face value by contacting the seller on E-bay, received them in good time and I booked a room for us at a hotel quite near the venue (3 minutes by taxi). Baring in mind these are 2nd row tickets and that we have never been this close to a stage seeing a world class performer before.

Last Monday started ok, kids went to school as normal, then Tuesday Ben has tonsilitis. Now, he has a history of sore throats but in the last 2 years they have left him alone. By Wednesday he is in a bad way, raging throat, unable to swallow liquids very well, and very lethargic, lying on the sofa all day watching cartoons all day. I can recommend Sponge Bob and the old Tom and Jerry cartoons by the way! We are now beginning to think that this is a threat to our brief visit to Birmingham. By Thursday it's time for drastic measures and go to the doctor. By now we think we will have to miss the concert as no way Ben can get better in time. We get anti-biotics for him which we play the placebo game and stress toBen that this is 'magic stuff' which will get him better fast. It's a sickly pink liquid, tastes of orange and indeed is magic stuff. We see an improvement certainly by tea-time and by the following morning he is regaining his own self again. By Friday the concert is on again and Ben is almost good as new. Remarkable really considering what he was like only 2 days earlier.

We had planned to start for Birmingham about 11:30 - 12:00 which would give us plenty of time to get there, prepare for any bad traffic, and settle in to our room and get ready for the concert. I said before about planning things ahead for us is virtually giving the kiss of death to any ideas of things to do and place to go. Well our little car which has been impecable since the day we got it, died on us just on the turning off the A55 to Glan Clwyd Hospital. Opposite us is the sign for Bodelwyddan Castle, so those who know the area will know exactly where I mean. The RAC came out in really good time and gave us the dreaded verdict - the car was unrepairable and the trip looked doomed. We had accepted it, reluctantly, that we were not destined see George Benson. Tracy was crying, though she wastrying to contain the tears, and the boys were still in a bit of shock from the incident that had just happened. The car had made a brief noise and immediately lost power. Tacy did well to steer the car to the hard shoulder, and we were lucky that there was no car behind us as its driver would not see any brale lights coming on to indicate deacceleration. The problem? The cam belt had snapped and the Clio would have to go to a garage. We told Paul the RAC man where we were going and how disappointed we are for not only not going to see George Benson, but we stood to lose the money I had paid for the tickets and for the hotel. I had tried to phone the hotel but could not get through. I tried all afternoon, by the way, and still couldn't get through. The reason for this would become clear later on. This is when Paul suggested we try and hire a rented car to still make the concert. He even phoned some companies up for us, but all seemingly had closed at noon. The jinx seem to be holding its grip on our fortunes, trying its best to prevent us from going ahead with our plans. We were by now discussing the best way to get the car to Gwyn's garage opposite our house. By this time Ben was getting upset, always been a sensitive lad, probably realising that with all his efforts for getting better, we were still not be able to go. Paul then suggested that he knew someone else who could help us with getting a hired car and he was located in Rhos-on-sea. After discussing this with Tracy who was suffering from shock herself from the incident, and was unsure about going on, we went back with Paul anyway and left the boys in the stricken car in a safe road off the A55. We figured we had to get a car anyway as the boys needed to go to school on Monday. After much forking out for deposit and hire of a rented car we set out to get the boys. Tracy, understandably, was nervous about taking a car she had not got used to, to a destination she had never been, and a city to boot. So, by this time, and it was ticking away, we still weren't sure if we were going, but I kept encouraging her and told her that this was HER car, and that she was well capable to do this. Bythe time we got to the boys, she felt more comfortable about going and actually found that it was an easy car to get used to. We transferred our bags and other things to our rented Corsa and decided to at least ty and make it to Birmingham. By this time it it was 3:15 and doubts were raised if we could still make it. The car was more powerful and I had confidence in Tracy and I said it would not matter if we were late, we would still be able to go to the concert. We arrived at 6, despite our sat nav losing signal as we were entering a very busy area near the hotel, which was located off Broad Street in the Ladywood district of Birmingham. We got there, that's the main thing, and I can't praise Tracy enough for her bravery and sheer guts to get us there. We checked in and thankfully everything was ok, including the fear that the sat nav had led u to the wrong Premier Inn (there are 3 all very near to each other). The reason why I couldn't get through on the phone? The receptionist appeared to be speaking to a friend when we arrived so I asume that's why I could not get through.
We had 45 minutes to get ourselves ready and book a taxi which wasn't bad going. We booked a taxi and 3 minutes later we were going up the steps of the National Indoor Arena...

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