My 2020 in photos

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

The best, the worst

My friend Liz did a list of the good and bad stuff that’s happened to her in 2020 and the good by far outweighed the bad. She said she wanted to see other people’s lists so here is mine.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Bad thingsGood things
Global pandemic, millions dead, millions sick.Went to the far top of Norway in January and saw my old friends Inger and Steve in Bodø. We were at uni together in the late 70s, we hadn’t met up for about 20 years!
Contemptible never ending series of cock ups and mismanagement from our despicable, uncaring government made up of self serving greedy bastards.Made some new friends including new online friends.
My friend lost both her parents within days of each other to Covid.Went to the Alpes Maritimes to be loved by my friends in February. Great walks.
Friends getting sick with Covid.Went to the Lake District for my birthday a bit before lockdown started. There was a shortage of paracetamol in Ambleside but stacks of loo paper in Booths in Windermere.
Friends sick with other awful illnesses.Grew veg for the first time properly in the garden. Hit and miss but it was nice eating my produce.
Had to remove this one as don’t want to be sued.The blue tits nested in the box they demanded I put up. The babies fledged and I hope the jay didn’t get any of them. The only time I saw the jay was when the babies were about to leave the box.
Some bouts of depression.Walked a lot and then some more.
Did more exercise.
Not done the travels I planned. I was about to “set wing to wing”.Started to like myself again, enjoying living on my own in my lovely house with a great view. I’m very lucky.
I have routines and like looking after myself.
Nearly lost the plot waiting for results of 2 tests for cancer (negative).Because of IBS, had a better diet and lost some weight.

Last time I had a hug was on March 15th, it was a good one with Cath.Pre lockdown visit from Ian, who I’ve known since childhood, was a real tonic.
Not had any overnight visitors.I got my guest bedroom all set up to receive overnighters. One day they will be able to come.
Had to cancel short break in January 2021 to Wales. This was so that I would not be at home for 2nd anniversary of Carol’s death. Was going to meet up with my cousins. It is what it is.Saw my very good friends Liz and Tracey and my cousins Sophy and Jo.
Video calls and phone calls with old friends.
The love and support of friends and family has been central to this year and to keeping me sane. You know who you are and I love you.
Had to cancel other trips in October as well.My house and garden are much improved thanks to work done by contractors and by me.
I know my neighbours a little bit more.

Had a memory lane holiday in Cornwall and a short walking break in North Yorkshire, all a bit Covid weird but good to get out and meet people.

Continued to enjoy occasional blog post writing, helps me to work through things. Each post is crafted over several days, weeks sometimes. Some lovely feedback about my posts.
It will very soon be just 2 years since Carol died. I am coping, not seeing lots of people is ok, it’s allowed me time for reflection.
I miss the 2 loves of my life more than words can say, every single day.

Continued to enjoy taking photos. Having the time to take photos makes a huge difference.
Music has come back into my life in a big big big way. Playing it, singing it, dancing to it. Starting to learn to play the guitar (this will take a while which is good because it looks like being confined to barracks is going to go on for some time yet).

Bruce at 71 is sexier than ever and singing in what he calls his current voice which is not the same but ok in a new way. He put out an album, Letter to You which is really good and he sang along with fellow New Jersey songwriter, Jack Antonoff on brilliant Bleachers’ track chinatown. Happy music. Bruce has been doing a regular DJ slot and plays some epic tracks. Listen to it direct from the US not the watered down BBC version.

Natalie, oh Natalie. I was in love with Natalie back when the Dixie Chicks first released Wide Open Spaces in 1998. I remember seeing the videos and had the CDs. Then she and sisters Martie and Emily were vilified and threatened with being shot because Natalie had the balls to criticise Bush on the eve of war in 2003. And she did it in London which incensed the good ol’ bad ol’ boys even more.
At the beginning of 2020 a new album and a tour were coming and my interest was getting perked up again. Gaslighter eventually got released a bit later than planned. It’s an excellent album produced by Jack Antonoff. Do not mess with those chicks! I love this track which is a love song to Natalie’s boys Young Man.
When Natalie sings her voice inspires very intense emotions in me, both on her own and in the harmonies with Martie and Emily and with other singers.
In my view, Natalie’s also very hot but that’s actually second to what her voice does to me.

Natalie posted an impassioned entreaty on Instagram re staying at home to which I responded equally passionately. She liked my comment and made my day! She manages her own account and doesn’t post very often so extra exciting!
I came out as trans. Not done anything about it but not planning to do more than live my life as the boy I am, breasts and all. The breasts have annoyed me for years but no way am I having surgery.
Sexuality, no change there then, as Carol would say, “so long as they’re breathing”. Pansexual despite all the kitchenware jokes.
Looking forward to wearing more hats and showing off my legs in 2021. Peace and love.

Malham

Monday 24th August

Staying at Newfield Hall near Malham in the Yorkshire Dales. Nice big country house. Mark and Owen jointly manage the house. Yes, I think so. I arrived a bit after 3.30 so once I’d checked in I went for a walk round the garden. Then branched out and went along the road, up through a field of cows (and one rather large bull) to find a tumulus. Not a madly exciting bulge in the ground but it was there. Back through the field but unfortunately Big Bull and his coterie had moved to exactly where I needed to go so luckily I’d spotted another gate and got out onto the road without having to barge through them all.

For dinner I had watermelon salad, a small portion of risotto and a fruit salad washed down with some Sauvignon. I’m doing gluten free to see if that will help some issues I’m currently having.

Tuesday 25th August

It was a bit of a mad idea but seeing as the weather was dreadful I decided to go through with it. Drove up to Hadrian’s Wall because it’s nearer from here than it is from home and finally went to Vindolanda fort and museum. Well worth the long drives each way. I didn’t go to Vindolanda when I walked Hadrian’s Wall because I knew it would need a good bit of time plus it’s some way from the wall and would have extended my day by miles as well as hours. It was all done well for Covid apart from the 3 people without masks. It was terribly wet when I was walking around the excavations and I got wetter when I put the brolly up so on entering the museum, my specs steamed up and I couldn’t see a thing for ages. After Vindolanda I drove to Allen Banks and Staward Gorge (Nat Trust) mainly because Dave said he and Carol had been there and that she had liked it. I reckon part of why she liked it was because her dad’s name was Allen and spelt that way. I liked it too, the River Allen was in full spate so I did a short walk and having dried out from the first wetting, I got another one.

I’m so emotional at the moment, thank god I’m not with anyone. I’ve got Natalie Maines and The Chicks songs whirling around my head constantly, even when I wake up in the middle of the night. Which is fine, her voice is pulling me all sorts of ways. Such a vocal range and agility. Listen to their interpretation of Dylan’s Mississippi, a great song but he manages to mangle his own song. Bob mumbles a tuneless dirge, Natalie soars to heaven and beyond. Sex, emotion, politics, passion, love. All the things I love about Bruce are here as well.

Dinner was spicy cauli, a huge salad and then vanilla ice cream, with a glass of Pinot. Chatted with fellow guests and laughed.

Wednesday 26th August

Picked up D who was patiently waiting for a bus and we drove to Malham where I easily parked the car in the car park. He trotted off to do a long walk. I walked to Janet’s Foss and then up to Gordale Scar, both quite busy but enough room for us all to spread out. The map shows a path up the side of the waterfall so I’d thought this might be something I could do, however it is about 35 years since I was last here and I’d forgotten a) how steep it is and b) how wet it is. And currently extremely wet thanks to the endless downpours. Instead I went up Malham Lings and Broad Scars, where there wasn’t anybody else so a nice peaceful lunch on a bit of limestone pavement. Back down Trougate, a quick peek at Malham Cove and down to the village. Not a long walk but I felt pretty tired and lots of bits were aching. I’m not exactly in full health at the moment but trying to build up my fitness levels. Back to the car park which was over full, into the car, drove about 100m and then waited in a traffic jam for half an hour because the road into the village was rammed and it’s only just wide enough for 2 cars to pass. Some total twat had parked such that they created a log jam. The police were moving us all past this one car that was sticking out into the road.

Dinner of spicy meatballs, huge boring salad and fruit salad, with a glass of Sauvignon.

Thursday 27th August

Today I drove to Fountains Abbey which is about an hour from the house. Had an espresso in the visitor centre before setting off to look round. I don’t remember there being a visitor centre when I was last here but apparently it was very new then. That was on 9th July 1994. I looked round the abbey and walked through the water park. The homoerotic statues may have inspired Carol to propose to me that day. Unusual for me that I couldn’t locate exactly where the proposal had taken place and I guess it doesn’t really matter. It was a hot sunny July day then and I was blinded by love and lust. 26 years later it was humid and overcast. I saw quite a lot of deer as I walked round the deer park. Had my lunch on an old bridge with not a soul around. I like how easy it is to get away from the crowds. Walking back to the car park the rain came on heavily (much earlier than forecast). Drove back along the really high B road through Pateley Bridge feeling a bit James Herriot. Fortunately no beasts needed my attention.
It was good that this visit to Fountains Abbey was not marred by being badly beaten up in a homophobic attack in Ripon afterwards. I didn’t actually go to Ripon to test that out. I looked up the names of our attackers recently and they are still knocking about in the town.
Dinner of beetroot and goat’s cheese, veg stew with potato on top and lots of green veg, ice cream and a glass of pinot. I can’t be arsed to get into drinking wine now it looks like beer is off the menu.
Chatted to C and M in the main hall sitting at a sensible distance from each other and we got reminded (almost told off) that we should have been wearing masks because we were in a public area drinking our wine. You don’t have to wear a mask in the bar where you sit quite close to each other. This is so stupid.

Still washing myself in Natalie Maines’ voice and the Chicks’ harmonies. I don’t normally play the same tunes over and over and over but it’s some sort of cathartic thing I feel compelled to do. When I’m not actively listening the tunes keep running around my head in a massive continuous ear-worm that’s been going on for weeks and weeks.
Anyway I need to see them live and up close, possibly even more than I do Bruce. I’ve seen Bruce 17 times already and whilst my love for him is undiminished after 35 years, these days it’s his early performances I listen to, when he was at his peak. He said on his radio show during lockdown that he wants to get out playing again when it’s safe to do so but I doubt if and when that happens that it’ll be the 4 hour marathon shows. I think those legendary times have passed. Bruce and Patti are shielding because he’s 71 in a few weeks and Patti has health issues.
Natalie Maines has said she’s not leaving home so it’s a long wait ahead for any of it. It took huge courage for the then Dixie Chicks to play live in Dallas in 2003 after receiving a threat that specifically said “you (Natalie) will be shot dead in Dallas”.


“I know you said
Why can’t you just get over it?
It turned my whole world around
And I kinda like it”

Not Ready to Make Nice: Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire, Emily Robison, Dan Wilson

It was round about then that I got hooked on them, the Shut Up and Sing movie is well worth a watch. I love how bolshy Natalie is and she has an immaculate kitchen which she claims to clean herself. This is contrasted with Bruce’s house which usually seems a bit messy. Also Patti said she can’t get into their shared recording studio on the farm because he’s always in it (great, where’s the album, Bruce?) but why oh why do these multi millionaires not have 2 recording studios so she can get on with her own tunes? I’ve been reading far too much celebrity crap.

Friday 28th August

Had a nice breakfast of yoghurt and fruit compote then smoked haddock and poached egg. Drove to Settle by a very high single track road. Looked about and then decided to go home because it was raining again.

Why does Jak keep going on about Bruce Springsteen?

Or Chris, Carol, Bruce and me; a story of heart-stopping, pants-dropping, hard-rocking, booty-shaking, love-making, earth-quaking, Viagra-taking, justifying, death-defying, legendary Springsteen fans

As much as we could

I want all the time, all that heaven will allow

All That Heaven Will Allow

Bruce has been the soundtrack to half my life and it’s been and continues to be a love affair sans pareil. It’s always been just me and him, 1 on 1, oh and Chris and Carol.

1975. The first song I remember hearing was Born to Run. Released August 25th. Bruce was nearly 26, Chris was just turned 22, I was 17 and Carol 14.

Together, Wendy, we can live with the sadness
I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul
Oh, someday, girl, I don’t know when 
We’re gonna get to that place where we really wanna go 

And we’ll walk in the sun
But ’til then tramps like us
Baby, we were born to run

Born To Run

1981. The River. Carol saw Bruce on The River tour on 20th May 1981 at New Bingley Hall near Stafford. She was 20. Setlist

Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true? 

The River

1984. I danced in the dark to Dancing in the Dark in the Scarlet Coat in Bristol. The Coat was a lesbian disco, with a tiny dancefloor and it was very dark. I used to drink far too much beer and was pretty stupid.

1985. Bruce released Born in the USA. I was living in a shared house in Bristol when Bruce played Roundhay Park in Leeds but that day I was on the M62 which was full of fans. Carol was at that gig with Dave on 7th July. Setlist. To my shame I joined in with my housemates’ dissing of Bruce because he was so macho. I knew nothing. There were some clips of the tour on TV which stayed in my mind mainly because they were not at all macho and I thought maybe I had been wrong, lesson learned – make your own mind up: Growin’ Up part 1 Los Angeles 1985 Growin’ Up part 2 Los Angeles 1985 I was just about to convert to the majesty and mystery of rock and roll, Bruce style.

1986. I met Chris and she performed that magic trick. She introduced me to Bruce and as quickly as I fell in love with her, I fell in love with him. I wore that cassette tape of BitUSA out.

1988. Chris and I finally got to actually see Bruce live for the first time in Sheffield, at Bramall Lane on 10th July. This was the Tunnel of Love tour, still my favourite album. The atmosphere was electric, the show thundering and left us wanting more. The band opened to the title song, this video is from the Barcelona show. Nine days after our gig, Bruce played to 300,000 people in East Berlin and the gig was broadcast live on GDR state TV and radio. This resonated for me because my parents took me to GDR Berlin in 1973 when I was 15. Mum was on a JS Bach pilgrimage, one of the things I remember was the border control confiscating a rock magazine that I had. Setlist

Then the lights go out and it’s just the three of us 
You me and all that stuff we’re so scared of

Tunnel of Love

Just as I had become completely and irrevocably hooked, Bruce broke up the band, ending his first marriage, embarking on his second with band member Patti Scialfa and starting a family.

1993. 22nd May. By this time, Chris and I had changed the texture of our relationship and I had met Carol. Carol made me mixtapes with Hungry Heart and Out in the Street. All 3 of us went to Milton Keynes to see Bruce with the “other band”. I was sporting a lovely stars and stripes nylon flag and Carol and I got really close to the stage. Setlist

That flag
Not posing or anything. Nice boots, what happened to them?
Not very pleasing whatever Chris was eating. We’d struggled to find anything to eat in MK at all that day. The brown car was later stolen (and torched) from the car park opposite the police station in Leeds while I was at Pride in London

We swore we’d travel darlin’ side by side 
We’d help each other stay in stride 
But each lover’s steps fall so differently 
But I’ll wait for you 
And if I should fall behind 
Wait for me 

If I Should Fall Behind

Tonight I can feel the cold wind at my back
I’m flyin’ high over gray fields my feathers long and black
Down along the river’s silent edge I soar
Searching for my beautiful reward

My Beautiful Reward

What is it about Bruce? I’ve not even got to that part. He’s sexy, he’s funny, he’s real (I don’t personally know that but there are no bad stories about him). He’s a multi millionaire but still has time to talk to his fans, he’s acutely conscious of how he’s got to have his wealth and fame. He has a big ego but isn’t afraid to show his soft side. He’s generous with his bandmates, many of whom have been with him for 40+ years and with other musicians. His politics are left, he has an unpublicised charitable foundation, he gave money to the miners’ wives during the strike. He regularly does fundraisers. He’s withstood depression. He reinvents his music, turning the solid rockers like Born in the USA and Born to Run into acoustic ballads, singing falsetto, switching seamlessly across musical genres. He’s always been a friend to the LGBT community right from the get go and more recently speaking out for gay marriage and for trans rights, actually cancelling a show in North Carolina to show solidarity with those affected by anti trans laws.

1996. Bruce’s solo acoustic Ghost of Tom Joad tour. I failed miserably to get tickets for Manchester Apollo. Chris and I had one of our very rare fallings out over this, I can only remember 3 quarrels in 30 years. On the day of the gig, 28th February, I was to be found standing outside the back gates of the Apollo, for hours and hours in sub zero temperatures in an attempt to get Bruce’s autograph. Because I thought I was still young (I wasn’t) and was definitely still stupid, I wasn’t wearing sufficient clothes. The ground frosted up beneath me. I heard the gig as the amplified acoustic songs seeped through the walls, whilst I waited for Bruce to appear. I waited with a strange bunch of folk. They were the obsessed and the dangerously insane, they made me look like a puppy. I bought an old Born in the USA poster off one of them for £1 so I could be ready for the autograph. This was then sneered at for being out of date. One guy was getting ready to have his arm tattooed once Bruce had written on it. And then, after about 6 hours of freezing to the ground, Bruce was there and I was next to him. I managed to say something on the lines of “I think you’re really great”, he signed my poster, giving me a very deep intense look and that was that. Of course, the poster has pride of place in my bedroom and Chris and I made up very quickly. Setlist

Them smokestacks reachin’ like the arms of God 
Into a beautiful sky of soot and clay

Youngstown
The autograph

1999. Bruce got the E Street Band back together on the Reunion tour. Carol, Chris and I saw the band back on form in the MEN Arena on 1st May. They opened with My Love Will Not Let You Down, which Carol and I played at our civil partnership in 2008. Bruce reinvented The River with a haunting sax intro from Clarence. Setlist

I see you standin’ across the room watchin’ me without a sound
But I’m gonna push my way through that crowd, I’m gonna tear your holy walls down
Tear all your walls down

My love, love, love, love, love, love, will not let you down

My Love Will Not Let You Down

2003. Bruce played the Lancashire County Cricket ground at Old Trafford on 29th May. Carol, Chris and I were in attendance for this gig of The Rising tour. A great gig with some great songs. This was the only time we heard Bruce and Danny play Sandy, a breathtakingly beautiful song. Setlist

Now, the greasers, ah, they tramp the streets or get busted for sleeping on the beach all night
Them boys in their high heels, ah, Sandy, their skins are so white

4th July, Asbury Park (Sandy)

I got seven pictures of Buddha, the prophet’s on my tongue
Eleven angels of mercy sighing over that black hole in the sun

Mary’s Place

2005. Bruce released Devils and Dust, or Drivel and Dirt as Chris and I called it. We weren’t happy with it but still went to see him at the Royal Albert Hall on 27th May. He played some songs I really wanted to hear but I didn’t much like the solo arrangements then, strangely they’ve improved with time. We hung around at the back door for ages but he didn’t come out or rather he’d probably left before we got there. It was steaming hot inside and outside the RAH. Setlist

Out ‘neath the arms of Cassiopeia
Where the sword of Orion sweeps
It’s me and you, Rosie, we’re crackling like crossed wires
You breathing in your sleep

Long Time Coming

2006. Boss time was ramping up. Bruce released the Seeger Sessions folk album. Chris and I loved it. We saw it at the start of the tour at the MEN Arena on 7th May, it was a very intimate show, rough and ready. Setlist

Then we went again to Sheffield 6 months later on 14th November, with Carol, after a rather exciting drive in the rain to the venue. By then the show was much more polished. The band opened with a stunning electrifying version of Blinded by the Light. Setlist

2007. The Magic album and tour. December 12th. Chris and I travelled outside the UK for the first time to see Bruce in Antwerp. A great gig with a real calliope on the stage. The Sportpaleis was a dark venue, like going back to the 70s. The staircases were dark, the seating was in darkness. We had a fun December trip together drinking late in bars. I wrote it up and this blog was born. The blog was a love letter. Now that Chris and Carol have both gone, I don’t really know what it is anymore, or even whether to continue with it. Setlist

2008. We all three went to Old Trafford football ground on 28th May for the Magic tour. Danny Federici had died a few weeks earlier. Setlist

11th October, Carol and I were married (civil partnership which we later backdated and upgraded to a marriage). Dave and his mother Joyce, spoke for Carol, Chris for me. We played My Love Will Not Let You Down.

2009. 3rd July Chris and I travelled to Frankfurt for the Working on a Dream tour. A great show, Chris had brought an inflatable guitar and a sax which we waved around. On the way out, we and the crowd sang the Badlands refrain all the way round the stadium. We then had a fun holiday in the hills, Chris attracting several old men. Setlist. Chris also saw Bruce in London on 28th June. Setlist

Chris in Frankfurt
These got waved a lot

2012. Since the previous tour, Clarence Clemons had died. 27th May, Chris and I were in Cologne for the first of many Wrecking Ball shows. We had a great trip. Chris was very keen to go on a cable car so we bought our tickets and then when we got into it she was less keen. It was a small 2 person car and I was told not to speak. I was quite surprised when it took us over the dual carriageway but we arrived safe and sound. Lucky for us because 5 years later the same cable car system collapsed into the Rhine. Chris was never to know that. Setlist

Cologne
The teeth have closed up now.

Back in 2012 on 22nd June, Carol, Chris and I were in the Etihad Stadium in Manchester. Carol was starting to not be well and was heading towards complete loss of kidney function. It was amazingly wet, rained so hard I could hardly see the M62. I’d got together a picnic which we ate in the car. It was a good show and the last time that Carol got to see Bruce. Setlist

Chris, Jak and Carol. I’m wearing a hat I bought in Koln.
That’s my jacket and my hat, Carol!

2013. Chris and I travelled to Oslo and then Bergen on the mountain railway. We returned to Oslo and arrived early at the Telenor Arena on 29th April. We managed to get into the arena very quickly. As we mounted the stairs, I said “I don’t recognise this version of This Hard Land” and as I said it we realised that Bruce was in the arena playing a warm up. We raced as far as we could get and he played a “pre-show” set just for us and a few hundred others. One of the 4 songs was All That Heaven Will Allow which was prescient for us, he’d also played it the first time we saw him in 1988. Setlist

After the gig
In Bergen

Back in the UK, Chris and I went to Coventry on 20th June for what was to be Chris’s final show. She wasn’t very well that day and it wasn’t the best gig we’d been to, the sound was poor. He started with The Ghost of Tom Joad. Setlist. On 24th July, Bruce opened up the new Leeds Arena and I’d managed to get just one ticket. I went to my first Bruce gig alone and made some friends in the queue. It was good seeing him in a smaller venue. He finished up with a solo Thunder Road. Setlist

Now some may wanna die young man 
Young and gloriously 
Get it straight now mister 
Hey buddy that ain’t me 
‘Cause I got something on my mind 
That sets me straight and walkin’ proud 
And I want all the time 
All that heaven will allow

All That Heaven Will Allow

2014. This was the year Chris got sick.

2016. Bruce was due to play the Etihad in Manchester as part of The River 2016 tour on 25th May. I got tickets and then Andy and I mapped out how to get Chris to the show from Borth. In the end Chris decided not to go because she was too sick. She’d worried about letting me down and she had really wanted to go but I was just sad that she was so ill. I went to the show and cried a lot. Setlist. 23rd July saw me in Gothenburg at the Ullevi stadium on my own, I liked Gothenburg a lot and saw Little Steven from a tram. Setlist. I gave Chris Bruce’s autobiography and it’s the last book she read. Chris knew she was dying and knew she wasn’t going to make it till Christmas.

October 27th, Chris died. She was 63. She requested that we play Bruce at her funeral. We chose Thunder Road, Lift Me Up and Born to Run. At the crematorium we all turned round and asked the man controlling the music to “turn it up” for Born to Run.

Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night
You ain’t a beauty, but hey you’re alright
Oh and that’s alright with me

Thunder Road

2017. Chris’s birthday. We commissioned Marc Treanor to do a sand drawing on Mwnt beach on 22nd August, the drawing was based on Chris’s tattoo. He did and he made a video of the day which he set to Lift Me Up.

Your skin, your hand upon my neck
This skin, your fingers on my skin
This kiss, this heartbeat, this breath
This heart, this heart, this wilderness

Lift me up, darling
Lift me up and I’ll fall with you lift me up
Let your love lift me up

Lift Me Up

2019. 14th January Carol died. She was 58. Although not totally unexpected it was still a shock. She and we were not thinking she would die just when she did. She was still future planning including wanting to see Bruce again. All she’d wanted for her funeral was for it not to be costly. We managed that. We finished up with Out in the Street, which along with Hungry Heart was part of how Carol wooed me. It’s May now and Bruce has released a new single Hello Sunshine (makes me think of Morecambe and Wise and Round the Horne) which I think Chris would have loved and perhaps Carol less so. Carol liked the 3 minute rockers more though she’d always stop and listen when I was playing Bruce. Bruce is still managing to say things that have meaning for me. And now it is just me and him.

When I’m out in the street, oh oh oh oh oh, I walk the way I wanna walk
When I’m out in the street, oh oh oh oh oh, I talk the way I wanna talk

Out In The Street

Gothenburg and Bruce July 2016

Thurs 21st

Easy travelling to Gatwick airport. Seemed much less hassle than getting to Heathrow by train.

At the airport I just followed the signs and the Bloc hotel is actually inside the terminal. The room is small with no window. The wet room is also small but all good fittings. The lack of a window means that it’s like a cell albeit a comfy one.
Ate my samosa and salad from M&S and settled in.
Popped down to the Wetherspoons for a bottle of craft lager from Hog’s Back brewery, very good beer but a shame about the Wetherspoons as it’s the only bar in the south terminal. I guess I could have stepped outside and gone to a hotel bar but I was too tired and didn’t.
Cath and I usually start our navigation courses at a Wetherspoons because it’s open, quiet and cheap however we want to boycott them after their Brexit campaign support so we will now be going to the Bear cafe in Todmorden instead to do the first bit with our clients.
Went to M&S again to buy my breakfast and a mini bottle of wine. This made me suddenly overwhelmed and almost sick with sadness as I’d last been in this same M&S doing much the same with Chris before we went on our holiday to Finland. I returned to my room and got a message from Gary from the Romania trip who was in the Wetherspoons (!) so we had a message chat and then I popped down for a chat with him. Nice to see him and his fingers have recovered (see Romania blog post). He works near the airport and was there because he’d worked late and missed a bus. Funny because I’d seen someone earlier who reminded me of Gary and had been thinking also about coincidental meetings.

IMG_1102
Sunset over Gatwick

IMG_1099
Cell Bloc

Fri 22nd
Up at 7, Bircher muesli in my cell and straight to check in. Didn’t even get patted down at security! Free double espresso from Pret a Manger and a bit of a wait. Chatted to an American medievalist as we both tried not to be assaulted by 2 plump puffins who were “amusing” the kids. She was a nice 3 minute interlude! Amazing what you can learn in a short time.
On the plane I had a window seat next to Simon who did a lot of talking but was nice and funny and clever. So 2 nice, sensible people to amuse me!
Smooth flight, met Simon’s partner and friend who were seated further along. They were nice too!
The luggage took a while to come and mine was almost last off the conveyor belt.
Got some money with my Revolut card, bought a travel ticket for the city not a City Card and got on the bus.
About half an hour to the city. The stop is just a big bus park. A few minutes to orientate myself. I’d worked out I needed a number 3 tram so was pleased to see one straight away. I got on and followed my map, getting off about 6 mins walk from Tidbloms hotel. It’s in a quiet residential area. The hotel is on a hill so although the room was first floor it was actually the ground floor at the back. This meant that with the windows open (very hot here) it felt a bit exposed. Also a dark gloomy room.
Set out to the official alcohol shop to buy some beer for while I’m here. Not too expensive. 3 cans for £3.50.
Then supermarket for bottles of water. Back to hotel thinking about asking for a new room. Hungry so got a tram to go to the Haga area. It passed the Elite Plaza hotel and Steven van Zandt was outside with a few fans. I got off at the next stop but just missed him by 30 secs. Talked to a couple of Finnish women. Bruce is travelling back from Dublin where he’s been with daughter Jessica and a horse competition (she is top horse person) in his own jet, not Ryanair! I got back on the tram to Jarntorget which was a bit rough (old winos) so moved on to Haga which is an old, quiet nice area. Found a lovely restaurant, En Deli Haga and sat outside with a selection of salads. Less than £10 but the beer was £7. Walked to a better tram stop to return to Tidbloms hotel.
I asked for a different room so now on 3rd floor at front. It’s a better room, lighter, some road noise. Although the rooms are non smoking there is a lot of smoking going on on next door’s balcony but at least I can leave the windows open and mostly the wind wafts it away.

Haga
Haga

Haga
Haga

Haga
Haga

Haga
Haga

If it helps!
If it helps!

Sat 23rd
Excellent breakfast. Strong coffee, fresh orange juice, home made granolas and mueslis with pouring yoghurt and berry compote. Cold cuts, cheeses, hard boiled eggs with mayo and dill, lots of different breads, salads, hot food. I didn’t have the egg or the hot food.
Out on tram to Botanical Gardens, these are lovely. The city has lots of trees and suffers from litter as do most cities but the gardens were fine as is the area my hotel is in, mostly residential. On the way I stopped at Stevie’s hotel but no sign of him or anyone else.
Through the gardens via the scenic viewpoint route. Met English couple who have FOS (front of stage) tickets so they don’t have to queue all day in roasting sun for the pit. Bet they cost a packet. Then into nature reserve which is the forest and lakes and heathland in the city. Extraordinarily quiet, not loads of people. Walked around for a couple of hours then back to Botanical Gardens for an open cheese sandwich on rye with salad on top and an espresso. Excellent. Then an ice cream before heading back to prep for Bruce.
Tram to the Ullevi stadium a few stops away. The ticket I bought on Greasy Lake from Josef Mahmood got me into the lounge. This is a posh restaurant where you pay more for strong drinks because the ordinary folk are only allowed to have 3% beer. Despite this one man had managed to drink so much he couldn’t stand and he dropped one of his £7 beers all over the poor man in front of me. I’ve met some very nice Bruce fans but I often seem to end up at the gig with one or two total knobs nearby. Pissed up git was with man with enormously long arms which spoilt the view when he was clapping. He was well over 6′ tall so his arms stretched out that far too.
Before the gig I had a veggie wrap but it wasn’t very nice.
When you go in the lounge you get a wristband to show you can have strong liquor but you’re not allowed out again (can’t imagine why this could be a problem seeing as you clearly have the wristband) however I sweet talked several staff in my vain search for a 23rd July t shirt. Went on the pitch and out of stadium and got let back in!
Bruce started with Meet me in the city then did the whole of The River and then another hour and a half of solid R&R, not many ballads. No Patti. It was perhaps a good thing it wasn’t too emotional a show. I’m quite capable of doing that without Bruce. It’s still very odd doing something like this without Chris who is with me in my heart all the time. It’s just not the same, my love.
My favourites were:
She’s the one, my video on YouTube

The crowd were crazy even before the band came on. Bruce didn’t do any requests, no Sunny Day with kid thank god, but got several people up for Dancing in the Dark. Finished with Twist and Shout, no quiet solo last song for us. Bruce clearly nowhere near retirement! It was VERY LOUD. They were selling ear plugs and rain ponchos!

After buying a shirt I walked back to the hotel about half an hour away. At first a little unsure about doing this on my own but kept usual eyes in back of head and kept to lit streets. Lots of people around. Late to bed!

Nature reserve
Nature reserve

Nature reserve
Nature reserve

Botanical Gardens
Botanical Gardens

From Botanical Gardens
From Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens
Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens
Botanical Gardens

Hotel stairs
Hotel stairs

Nature reserve
Nature reserve

Nature reserve
Nature reserve

P1050387

Bruce and Stevie
Bruce and Stevie

P1050362

Soozie
Soozie

P1050360

One side said "Welcome Home" and my side said "Bruce and E Street". The people in front of me are holding up the papers to make the sign.
One side said “Welcome Home” and my side said “Bruce and E Street”. The people in front of me are holding up the papers to make the sign.

IMG_1224
Panorama Ullevi

IMG_1207
Fireflies phones

P1050392P1050394P1050395IMG_1199

 

Nature reserve
Nature reserve

Goteborg by night
Goteborg by night

 

Sun 24th

Got up just in time for a shower and breakfast.

Out on tram for about half an hour to Saltholmen for the ferry to Vrango. Straight into big queue for boat but no trouble getting on. Direct boat no stops. Lovely sea breeze. Just under an hour. Island is small and has surprising number of houses. No cars allowed so people are on foot, on bikes with trailers in front or behind, electric golf carts and 2 stroke bikes with trailers behind or in front.

There are 2 cafes, one is entirely fish and the other ok but not brilliant. I walked a circuit of the island through a naturist area which was lovely and not a naked person in sight! Bought an ice cream from a man selling them from his garden.  Used a compost loo, not as nice as the Finnish one we went to. Found a bit of sea all to myself so had a paddle.

The land on the island and in the nature reserve in the town is largely glacial. Lots of big humpy bits (roche moutonees).

Back to village and harbour. Saw the fishermen’s sheds I nearly stayed in (until I realised I might not get back there after Bruce). Went to cafe, had not very good blueberry cheesecake.

Back on stopping ferry. Trams. Very very hot. Hotel.  shower. Walked to nearby pub Olstugan Tullen. Had vegan chick pea patty with roasted parsnips and carrots and salad. And soya mayo. Big glass of lager!

Hotel. Ice. Beer. Fan.

There are lots of bikes, they look quite heavy, step through and old fashioned. Some have kids in front of them in a sort of motorbike sidecar thing except in front.

There are a lot of very tiny dogs I guess chihuahuas. They have a fenced off poo park to go in and no poo on the streets and the dog area is clean too.

Man buns. Oh no! A lot of beards. And some face tattoos, they make the man buns look good.

IMG_1246
Slow boat

IMG_1243
Fast boat

The Stena boat kept popping out from behind little islands
Big boat! The Stena boat kept popping out from behind little islands

IMG_1238
A life on the ocean wave

 

House on Vrango
House on Vrango

Vrango
Vrango

Boat for Chris
Boat for Chris

IMG_1258

Vrango
Vrango

Not a naturist to be found!
Not a naturist to be found!

Vrango
Vrango

P1050405

Vrango
Vrango

Vrango
Vrango

Vrango
Vrango

P1050400

Vrango
Vrango

Vrango
Vrango

Vrango
Vrango

Vrango
Vrango

Vrango
Vrango

Entrance to cemetery on Vrango
Entrance to cemetery on Vrango

Vrango
Vrango

Donkey bikes!!
Donkey bikes!!

Mon 25th

Got up late only just in time for breakfast. I’m going to try making my own granola as so much nicer.

Packed up and checked out. Tram to central station and managed to heft my suitcase into a locker above my head height so not easy as now seems to be twice as heavy and full although what with I can’t think. Not really bought anything.

Went on ye olde fashioned Liseberg tram for a round trip (free on my travel card). Took half an hour. Rammed all the way to Liseberg funfair then just me all the way back.

Another tram to Haga area where I wandered. A bit more open and busy than Fri evening. Nice shops, nice cafes. Stopped for a while at one. Resisted the famous cinnamon roll because it’s massive, the size of a dinner plate. People next to me shared 2 between 5 but didn’t eat them all. Smelled amazing though. There was a big dalecarlian horse.

Back on my last tram to central station. I loved the trams! The travel pass is very good value, I went everywhere including the return trip on the boat for under £15 on the 3 day pass. Collected bags and chatted to man who has seen Bruce 167 times. How is that possible in time to take, in money? He is self employed. His partner has only seen Bruce 3 times because they’ve been together 2 years and she only goes to nice places!

Bus to airport. Check in and security all fine. Small amount of shopping. Long queue for passports. Wait to get on bus. 15 min wait on bus not moving. Drive to plane 10 more minutes not moving. Onto plane more time waiting. Smooth flight. Bobbie the bear films. Plane in holding pattern prior to landing.

All easy at Gatwick. Checked into room with window. No extra cost and all because I said I didn’t like the lack of window when they asked for my feedback. M&S for supper wine and breakfast.

On ye olde tram
On ye olde tram

Ye olde tram
Ye olde tram

Something very similar to these in Nice
Something very similar to these in Nice

On ye olde tram
On ye olde tram

Window view!
Window view!

Bloc hotel with window
Bloc hotel with window

Big dala horse
Big dala horse

Even when it didn't have a line through, I still found this the most baffling sign
Even when it didn’t have a line through, I still found this the most baffling sign

Tues 26th

Granola yoghurt and berry compote. Nowhere near as nice as Tidbloms Hotel’s. Going to try making my own granola.

Problem with fire at place controlling electrics for all trains from and to airport. Got onto first one. Crowded so standing and v uncomfortable. More people got on at Croyden so even worse hell. I hate being in contact with people and they probably do too. One woman was closer than my optician or dentist and accidentally touched my face as she got off. Totally hideous and I’m fit and healthy, would be awful if not. I feel a complaint coming on.

Had a cheese and tomato croissant with my espresso from Patisserie Valerie at King’s Cross to recover. Could do better but the coffee was fine.

Rest of journey all to plan. Home again, jiggety jig.

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

MAPandCOMPASS

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