All the way from Cape Town to London. But no further.

It’s sad that after all the anticipation, all the planning, all the trials and tribulations, that the final photo I managed to get on my trip up North was this one:

But it does speak volumes about my last few days in the UK. Taking photos inside the airport – even if you were in the mood to do so and there was something worth recording – is frowned upon by the Sussex police and their big guns. And the view from the windows was grey, industrial and limited by poor visibility.
That pic was taken on my arrival at Gatwick on Wednesday afternoon. The following morning, I trekked 4 miles up the A23, towing my suitcase. To put you in the picture (not literally), this is the the major route that leads in, out and around Gatwick airport. It’s a major road, a busy dual carriageway. Usually, anyway.
This was it on Thursday morning at about 9:30am:

This was just before I hitched a lift with an aircraft engineer called Brian, who was trying to get into work and who had been on the road for over an hour, despite living only 6 miles away. He told me that the ground staff had cleared over 160,000 tonnes of snow off the runway in 8 hours the previous day. I wondered why the person weighing it was bothering – the numbers are meaningless when you’re fighting a losing battle anyway.

And so, with Gatwick cut off from the outside world – no planes, no buses, no taxis, no hire cars, no nothing – in or out for over 24 hours and with reports of the weather rapidly worsening towards the west of London, when a single (and I mean a single) bus did become available to Heathrow, I jumped at the chance, got to T5 and moved my flight home forward by 48 hours. And thus, I found myself – ironically, left without a reason to stay – checking in for a flight back to Cape Town at just about exactly the same time a-ha would have been coming onto the stage at the Oslo Spektrum.

Utterly heartbreaking and a disastrous end to my trip. I didn’t see the friends I wanted to see, I didn’t get to Oslo and I didn’t get that last opportunity to see Morten et al doing their thing for the last time. At least for my part, I did everything I could.
There were the usual, annual reports in the papers about how badly Britain had coped with the snowy conditions, but this was exceptionally bad weather: the worst in living memory in Sheffield, as you can see from this photo of my parents’ road – yes – it is there somewhere.

Back to Cape Town and normal life (such as it is), then.

Which actually isn’t such a bad thing.

Left without a reason to stay

So, here it is. This is it.
While the magic of WordPress schedules this post, I will – all being well – be in Norway for my final audience with a-ha. And so, it seems rather appropriate that I should present you with their final song and video, Butterfly, Butterfly – and it’s one of their best, I think.

Heading back to their early years, they employed the services of Steve Barron to direct the video – he directed the ground-breaking Take on Me video (and Michael Jackson’s Billie-Jean, as it happens, but we won’t hold that against him,ok?).

This video is full of symbolism: from the chrysalises at the beginning, through the flashbacks to their early videos, the three roads heading in their different directions, to the butterflies flying free into their new lives at the end.
And that silent agreement on their decision at 2:38 and poignant goodbye: heartbreaking for fans like me.

And, because they made the decision to split, rather than just fade away, we get an insight as to some of the stresses and strains of being in a successful band:

Over thinking every little thing,
Acknowledge the bell you can’t unring,
Tomorrow, you don’t have to say what you’re thinking,
You don’t have to mean what you say.

Tomorrow, you don’t have to mean what you say,
Left without a reason to stay,
Comes the last hurrah,
Here’s our last hurrah.

Who knows if they will finish on this one tonight?

It’s worthy of that honour before we step out into the frozen streets of Oslo.

Baby, it’s cold outside

Blimey. Chilliness abounds.
Yesterday, I nearly died at Portishead by the side of the Bristol Channel. And bloody hell, there are nicer places to pop your clogs, I can tell you.
I would have taken more photos on such an elemental day, but I was shaking too much: when my brother feels the cold, you know it’s bad.
It was bitter and I needed a pint of the same to recover.

Then onto the football – least said, soonest mended, although I will quietly seethe forever at the inexplicable and biased actions of Mr A Wanker – or whatever that ref’s name was. Still, always a pleasure(?) to watch my beloved red and white wizzzaaaaaards.

Today – sunnier, more beautiful, less windy, slightly less chance of getting hypothermia. Slightly.

Up onto the moors above Sheffield for a walk in the snow. And very pretty it was too.
Photos from the first two days (which have passed far too quickly) are here.

Tomorrow, Newcastle, where I can apparently expect to see A LOT of the white stuff – and get some more of that infamous Portishead-style wind.

Back into the pub, then.

TLH 2010 – some admin stuff

As you will have heard, I’m away for a while in the frozen Northern hemisphere – seeing family and friends, but primarily to be at one of a-ha’s final ever concerts in Oslo. Obviously, normal service on the blog (such as it ever is/was) will be somewhat disrupted, but I’d prefer it if you didn’t just forget about 6000 miles… and go and find something of equal or greater quality elsewhere.

For that reason, I’m going to keep posting as much as I can. Apparently, despite its backward reputation, there are some places in Europe where one can access the internet. Of course, many of those posts will involve news and photos from my trip and some may be of a personal nature to my family back in Cape Town.
Not too personal, obviously – you shouldn’t expect to read stuff like “but thankfully, the rash has cleared up now” or anything involving the word “discharge”. I do have some standards.

So, please bear in mind:

  • Comments may be a bit slow to be cleared
  • Emails may be a bit slow to be read.
  • Twitter and Flickr should be updated fairly regularly.
  • It’s difficult to type with frozen fingers.

And I’ll be back at some point in the very near future.

Sorry, Michael

With apologies to Michael Stipe and REM:

I looked ahead
I’m saw the mountain there
You don’t need me to tell you now
That nothing can compare

You might have laughed if I told you
You might have hidden a frown
You might have succeeded in changing me
I might have been turned around

It’s easier to leave than to be left behind
Leaving was never my proud
Leaving Cape Town never easy
I saw the light fading out

Flying out of Cape Town tonight – into the snowy UK – looking forward to the trip, but not so happy about leaving home and family behind.

Back soon.