The Dangerous Moment

I’ve been on holiday for a few days, but instead of writing about the good parts of it, unfortunately, due to what happened, I’m going to start at the end.

On our way to our first stop on the Sunday, we were travelling along a stretch of dual carriageway. I was sitting in the back.

We begin to make an overtaking manoeuvre, being in Lane 1, and wanting to get in front of a car ahead, we switch to Lane 2.

I look across to my right, instinctively, and see, arriving at great speed, a car extremely close to us. I shout out “Oh my God” – as I cannot believe what I’m seeing. Our driver realises the danger and starts to veer back into Lane 1, but it is irrelevant.

The speeding car veers to the right to avoid us, but it quickly runs out of ground on its right, and at such speed it loses control. It clips the central reservation, and then swings across both lanes violently, on its side.

It flies into the bushes and trees at the side of the road, landing upside down.

The whole incident is over in one, or maybe two seconds at most. No one can believe what they saw for a second, but we know we must stop and report what we’ve just seen. We stop where it’s next safe.

Our driver is inconsolable, thinking they may be the cause, but they did everything they could right. No one can account for another driver arriving at such pace, way beyond the speed limit, not able to react before the danger arrived due to the speed they were going.

But myself and a fellow passenger know we must report the incident and go back to see what, if anything, we can do. My fellow passenger makes the call, thankfully, as I am so useless at giving locational information, especially as he had the map in front of him too. Then we stroll back up hill to the wreckage.

It takes us longer than we thought, but we find it. A huge gap in bushes and trees at the side of the road. Then an oldish sports car laying at the bottom of it. It’s out of our reach and a bit difficult to get to… so we call out, not expecting to hear anything.

A voice comes back. But what can we do? We are in no position to help, and not experts. We tell him help is on the way.

We wait agonisingly… it’s hard to believe how long it felt, but eventually we spotted the police car rushing over the hill and catch him just in time before he zooms past. He stops and joins us, but there’s not much he can do either but call for more backup.

We go back to wait down the road with the driver. Within a few minutes, an air ambulance lands right next to our car. Just unbelieveable. The sight and the noise would have been awesome to behold in less worrying circumstances.

Eventually we are told that the driver is in a bad way, but nothing critical. We have to wait for a long time to give our statements to the police, but we worry just what will come of all this. The police officer with us is very gentle and thinks there won’t be a problem, but it doesn’t mean much.

We get moving a little afterwards, after watching the air ambulance take off in another moment of magnificent technological wonder.

What concerns me most of all is that life incidents like this are played out at fractions of a percent. Had the driver clipped our car at any point, we’d have all been seriously injured, if not killed. Had the driver been travelling slower, he’d have hit us as he veered across us. Had there been a car nearer in Lane 1 they would have been taken out completely by the errant driver. Had he not clipped the central reservation, or there was just a little more room, he’d have stayed going in a relatively straight line, and would have come out of it unscathed.

Had he not been speeding at all, none of this would have happened.

Incidents like this happen all the time on the roads, and people die every day through careless, reckless and dangerous driving.

But to actually be involved in something like this, for the first time ever in my life, has really worried me. I have no idea if the driver is alive or dead, or whether they will ever recover from the inevitable injuries they will have suffered. They were my only thoughts yesterday, as well as replaying the incident in my mind over and over. And the other concern is that I know full well about the frailties of human memory. I think I have just described what happened above accurately… but I could be wrong.

I just hope the driver is going to be OK. But I don’t think I’ll ever know. That’s a worrying thing to take ahead into the rest of my life.

Ed Sheeran – iTunes Festival – 2 September 2012

I still can’t believe how good it was.

The evening started early as we had a bit of travel to do. Getting to London is easy, but doing it with the minimum of cost is not usually reasonable. So we split the difference – me and my guest parked in an outside of London train station, then got the train into town, and the Underground the rest of the way.

We arrived about 6:30pm, and the queue was already pretty long. Still – we didn’t have to wait long and we were inside the Camden Roundhouse. An impressive venue, and very intimate. I’d never been there before… and, to be honest, this is the first time I’ve ever been to a ticketed venue where it was “standing room only”. Amazingly, I’m so glad it was. Not like me at all.

So we got in with plenty of time to spare before the 9pm kick off. The two support acts, Rudimental and Charli XTC were better than expected, especially the latter, who had a real 80s vibe to them. And, I made sure I wasn’t too well hydrated. After all, going for the toilet is a fatal move in amongst a crowd. You can get out, but you can’t get back in…

I was pretty fortunate. I was standing about four rows from the front, and within five minutes of Ed Sheeran starting, a couple of people ahead inexplicably disappeared, and I was in the gap quicker than a rat up a drainpipe. Second “row”. A definite win.

The concert itself was just outstanding. I knew Ed Sheeran’s master trick was the loop pedal, but I didn’t realise how well you could put together a one-man band with one. There are no ends to his talents. Iwas a bit surprised at how outgoing he was, as well. I always thought he’d be quite shy, but there was none of that. He was full of energy, bouncing around, and orchestrating us – the “gospel choir” as he said.

I have to admit to a bit of star-struckness, too. When Ed first emerged, going straight into the sublime Give Me Love – I was so excited I was shaking. I never thought I’d be like that… it soon went, as he made everyone feel so comfortable. You do get the impression you could have a drink with him very easily.

My favourite bit, I think, was when Ed did a cover of Chasing Cars, by Snow Patrol, which is maybe one of my favourite songs of all time. I was pretty chuffed when I worked out what the song was before virtually everyone around me (I’m a musical know-it-all at times, so I have to meet my own high standards!)… and I just had a feeling we were going to get a guest appearance at that point, having been promised one all night. And yes, there it was, Gary Lightbody came out of the darkness to do a duet. It was just brilliant.

The show ended with a more than 10 minute monster mashup rap with a few other guests using the song You Need Me, I Don’t Need You as a starting block. I have to admit it was extraordinarily well done, from a technical perspective, but my tolerance for proper rap like that is not huge. It did generate a massive level of appreciation from the crowd, but I think it went on just a bit too long. My only criticism of the performance. I always prefer singing to rap… cos then I can join in! Rap is more of a “stand in awe” thing…

Talking of joining in, maybe the only other disappointment was that the people standing around me didn’t seem all that interested in participating. I was singing the most of everyone nearby, I’m sure. But other pockets of the crowd were really getting into it. Just not standing in the right place, that was all. I still enjoyed myself!

In the end, all good things had to come to an end… and we made our way back. I hung around for 5 minutes afterwards in the vain hope that he’d come back out for a meet and greet – as he has done on a number of other occasions – but no such luck. Still, I couldn’t have asked for much more after winning free tickets and ending up right at the front. Simply amazing.

In summary: bloody brilliant. I’ve spent all of today going over his tunes now stuck (again) in my head, and watched some of the video I filmed on my phone. It’s pretty crap quality (and is ruined in parts by how crap my own singing has become!) but it’s a good memory I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

Thanks, Ed, for a very enjoyable evening. I’ll be looking to buy some tickets on the next tourt, whenever that may be. I missed out for this tour by 10 minutes…

The Luck

Tonight I am going to see a music concert in London. And until Tuesday, I knew nothing about it.

It’s hard to believe it, but I actually won a competition. I’m not one to enter competitions ever, but when I got an e-mail from the Ed Sheeran mailing list about a month ago, I thought “why not!” because the questions were not stupidly easy, and I just had a good feeling about it. I submitted it and forgot about it.

On Tuesday I got an e-mail to tell me I was the winner of a pair of tickets. I was astonished. I was on site working for a client at the time, and I had to keep my excitement bottled up for the rest of the day. But, as is always the way with me, it wasn’t easy to just drop everything and go.

You see, I had had planned for several weeks my next trip home – and it was to be yesterday, coming back on Wednesday. Fortunately, I have rearranged everything, at some expense, but it is well worth it. Fact is, I tried to buy Ed Sheeran tickets when the tour was released, but I wasn’t quick enough and missed out. So for the chance to come back around, when I was prepared to spend £35 in the past, then spending that amount on rearranging tickets doesn’t seem that much really.

I know it will be good, but the tricky aspect is that I will be getting home around 1am, and I have a train to catch for a five hour journey at 9am. So: very little sleep, pack bags, make packed lunch, and then go. Then I’m working on Tuesday all day, followed by a trip back home again on Wednesday. Just as well I’ve had a fairly peaceful afternoon and evening yesterday to relax, cos the next week is going to be a bit mad.

It makes a change to have something nice to do, and something to look forward to. It’s certainly brightened my mood up after how dark it has been lately, brooding over the desperation of wanting to have my own place, and a pretty rubbish summer…

So I’m feeling a bit positive at the moment, for the first time in a while. Just gotta try and keep up the momentum!