Picking up where I left off, I made the 4 hour journey to Manchester feeling horrible and wishing myself dead. Of course when I arrived at the hotel (the super nice Radisson Edwardian) I walked into the lobby and immediately saw Simon Le Bon standing there. Being the mature gal that I am, I actually hid from him so he wouldn't see me looking so rough. It's only fair seeing as, unlike Matt, he's only used to seeing me looking lovely (insert tongue firmly in cheek for that one).
Imagine my surprise when Paul informs me that I'll be putting my bags into the room and turning straight back around to go and watch the Chelsea v Arsenal football match.
"But I need a shower!" I plead, "Can't I meet you?"
"No, we're watching it in Simon's suite."
Suffice it to say I never got ready so fast in my life. Five minutes to go from hungover and CRAPPY to cute but not overdone. Didn't want to reek of "tried to hard" you know? :-)
When we got to Simon's room he answered the door and was as friendly as I've ever seen him with the "Lovely to see you again!" and all that. John Taylor was there too, as well as two girls Chloe and... I forget the other one. Sorry, other one. The girls didn't stay very long because they had to get ready for the concert so pretty soon it was just me, Paul, Simon and John. So freaking surreal.
I mean, I've met the guys plenty of times before but there's just a bit of a difference between being at a gig afterparty with someone and actually just hanging out in a casual situation in their room, watching football. Am I right? I'm not going to lie and say that I wasn't secretly freaking out, but I'm far too cool to show it. :-)
One of the first things the guys were talking about was how they were recently looking into the "accounting" regarding Notorious B.I.G's sampling of their song Notorious a few years ago. Simon was actually hilarious about Biggie in general, saying:
"His lyrics are rubbish! He's actually got a lyric that says (rapping) 'When I'm done I flip the mattress and change the sheet.' What I want to know is, what is the time frame of this? Is it a few minutes? An hour? The next day? When?"
He then proceeded to make up his own lyrics to the song and said "I just made that up just now. That was pretty good!" and laughed at himself. Brilliant.
Another funny Simon moment came during the match when he said "Arsenal has a thing for the Dutch. They have a lot of Dutch players."
John challenged him with "Who?" and the conversation continued like this:
Simon: "Well, Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Robben"
John: "Robben's Chelsea"
S: "No he isn't"
J: "Yes he is! He's right there, look!"
S: (pauses) "Oh... well... he's Dutch anyway! HA!!!"
My favourite moment of the day though, was sitting there and hearing Simon from behind me say "Marnie. Your hair is lovely!"
When I said thank you he said "No really, from the back! The way it is.. turn around, turn around! Look at it! The way it is, isn't it lovely?"
Is it sad that that was like a total life highlight for me? Yes, yes it is. All I can say is I'm glad I didn't get the haircut I was planning before this trip or else it may never have happened. I'm such a Duran tard. :-)
When the room service came, all Simon could do was marvel (or complain really) at how ridiculously creamy the soup was. He asked if I wanted any and I explained that I was hungover and that cream soup perhaps wasn't the best thing for me. He smiled and said "Oh... well do you want a bit of the drinky then?" :-)
I had a few interactions with John as well, which was nice because I always thought he was kind of aloof. On this trip he became one of my favourites. He was really personable and lovely. I was talking about going to a football match live and wondering how all 40,000 people know exactly what to chant at exactly the same time. John informed me that "It's not 40,000... it's 30. They're just REALLY loud." :-)
We were in there for quite a while so there's so much more. Chats about the setlist, Simon talking about how the aforementioned Chloe "makes him go all gooey" or how he was excited to see his "lovely wife" later that night. Or how every time he would get up he'd wink at me and hit my knee. You know, cool stuff like that... but I'll spare you any further details. I would have scrimped on all those details above, but this blog is sort of like a diary for me too, and these are the things I want to remember. Sue me. :-)
Obviously I don't have any pictures of any of this, but should anyone doubt the authenticity of these events, get in touch so I can give you Paul's contact details. He'll set you straight. :-)
After we left, Paul and I went and got some pizza and then quickly rushed to get ready for that night's show at the MEN Arena. We met Simon and John in the lobby at 7:15 and drove over to the arena together. That again lead to yet another moment that falls under probably the "Top 3 Most Surreal" of my life.
As we were pulling into the backstage area, John and Simon in the first car and Paul and I in the second, a huge group of insane girls starting jumping at the car and banging on the windows, screaming at the top of their lungs! I guess through the tinted windows I must have looked like Nick. :-) I have to admit it was pretty cool though. I felt like I was reliving Sing Blue Silver (you Duranies will know what I mean). I did say to Paul that having your car banged on by insane fans was something everyone should live through at least once.
I then got to meet Paul's parents, aunt, and brother, all of whom were absolutely lovely. It was an utter pleasure! I somehow doubt they'll be reading this, but perhaps you can pass the sentiment on, Paul. :-)
Once inside the venue we met up with two of Paul's friends with whom I took this funny picture:
At the last moment, I looked up at Christian for whatever reason and this photo was born.
The show itself, needless to say, was fantastic...
There's something to be said about watching a show knowing that you were totally just hanging out with two-fifths of the band only a few hours before. Hot. It was also great looking over at Paul's 80-year-old aunt, watching her bob her head along to the music. Classic!
After the show, we had a few drinks in the hotel bar before and hung out with John a little more. He normally doesn't come out after the shows too much because he doesn't drink but he said he was looking for a "little social intercourse". Again, I was just loving standing there with him while all the fans watched longingly. Sounds terrible, but I was on the outside looking in for so long that I think I deserve to feel that way! :-)
While we were there, Paul took this less-than-stunning pic of me with Al, of Duran security fame, and a fan named Stacy:
I think I at least owe it to Al to say that this is a wholly unflattering picture of him and that he's really far more attractive than this picture would have one believe. Sorry, Al!
After John had enough of the "social intercourse" and went back up to his room, we all headed to the Manchester Press Club, a completely unexplainable little "Members Only" place that kind of reminds you of a run-down reception hall in North Philly. Think La Salle University "bus party". (Those of you who know what that is will certainly be getting a mental image at this moment).
I'm glad I got to experience this place, but for God's sake, the stench stays with you for weeks!
After about 2 drinks we headed back to the hotel bar to find that it was closed. We also found another Al, known in the Duran community as "Cell Phone Al" (long story -- you can probably Google it) passed out, mouth agape on a chair at the bar. All of the fans were around him taking compromising pictures with him that no-doubt found their home on the web somewhere by the next day. Paul was lucky enough to capture this gem:
Sorry Al, but it had to be done!
The Next Day, Paul, Cell Phone Al and a friend of his all went to The Dutch Pancake House, which Paul had been raving about for months. I really enjoyed my pancake (which was more a crepe really) but for the fact that it came with a shot of some over-the-top liquor that I really shouldn't have poured over it. I almost felt a little tipsy afterwards!! After that, Al and friend went on their merry way, and Paul very kindly showed me around Manchester (his home town) which I have say is truly a lovely city. I've never really seen a city combine the old and the new in quite such a way and it really "works". It's really kind of hard to explain if you haven't been, but should you find yourself in England (or you live there, as many of you reading this do) then it's worth a trip! We even got my boot fixed so that I could wear it to the Coldplay show that evening!!
When we arrived at the Coldplay show, we went to the window, got our passes, and coincidentally met up with two more of Paul's friends Lisa and Andy who were both SO nice! Lisa had me laughing out loud for much of the evening. I have to say, Paul certainly surrounds himself with fantastic groups of people. Definitely something to be said for that. :-) (And no, I'm not referring to myself! I'm not THAT bad!).
Before the show, Paul snapped this shot of me and Lisa. Remember that spray tan I was telling you about? Well...
"Jaundice is the new black"
Note how much more normal Paul looks next to her:
Richard Ashcroft opened the show and Paul got this good shot:
Coldplay came on and were absolutely amazing...
Although I suppose some would disagree...
This guy was actually asleep at the show. It was truly a classic moment!
After the show, we headed back to the Friends and Family room backstage with the lovely Debs, a friend of Paul's. Oh yeah, and she happened to discover Coldplay too. I'm sure there are millions of people out there out there who'd like to give her a hug!
Like say, Lisa:
Paul was lucky enough to score this autographed program before the band hurried off...
Hopefully he holds onto it. I'll be watching out on Ebay, Paul!
Lisa spent most of the time backstage opening beers for people in assembly-line fashion. She's going to make some man very happy one day!
After that, we headed back to enjoy the veritable cornucopia of aromas that awaited us at, you guessed it, the Manchester Press Club.
When we couldn't take the scent any longer, we parted ways with Lisa and Andy, and Paul and I headed to the kebab shop. Just as we were nearing the door, we noticed a man coming from the other direction with no shoes and... no pants. He headed into the kebab shop too, where he waited in line for a minute or so. I think the flurry of "Where's your trousers, mate?" got to be too much for him and because he headed off before ordering. I wonder where that guy is now.
Either way, it seemed a perfect way to end the evening.
The next day, there were no shows or anything and I headed back to London while Paul stayed in Manchester to catch Little Britain Live at the MEN. John and Andy left for London that day as well, while the rest of the band had all left the night before. When I got back to London I checked into the hotel, walked around the area (Trafalgar Square) and went down to Oxford St. for some last minute shopping. Then I came home, had a bath in the gigantic hotel tub, watched TV (including Creature Comforts which, in my opinion, is one of the best shows ever) and went to bed. I can't tell you how nice it was to do that!!!
On Wednesday, I just did my own thing around London. I did a little more shopping and I made a few returns on some impulse buys that I'd got the night before. Then I got a sandwich and went and ate it on a bench in Hyde Park. The birds probably ended up eating most of it actually. It was really nice. It wasn't that sunny of a day or anything, but it wasn't raining and it wasn't even all that cold. It was just a really nice day.
Paul was taking a train from Manchester that day and his train was delayed after someone committed suicide by jumping onto the tracks. By the time he got to the hotel he pretty much had to head straight out to the venue. I hung out in the room for a little longer before getting ready and heading out. I actually wore legwarmers that night. I'm so trendy and glamorous. :-)
On my way into the venue I ran into Al (not security Al, but "Cell Phone Al") and we ran and got a few drinks at a nearby pub before heading in. I have to say, I really love Earl's Court. I mean, I know I'm biased because I have some really good memories there with Morrissey and all, but I just really like it and no one else seems to (except Nick Rhodes, which we'll get to later). I don't care what anyone says, it's a cool venue!
Once again, the show was to die for. This time I stood right up front to the side of the stage (like old times, only this time I didn't have to pay) :-) and the guys were as good as ever. Paul snapped a few great shots, including one of the flames during "Wild Boys" (which scared the shit out of most people, even if they were expecting it after previous nights!)
At the afterparty, I met a lot of really nice people. More friends of Paul's who were really nice and, strangely, Monica Lewinsky! Who knew she was a Duran Duran fan? I have to say, she's actually really sweet, and much more attractive in person than she's appeared on television and such. Paul jumped on the photo op:
After a while, I decided to head over to hang out with the kids. That is, Izzy, Andy's Taylor's 11-year old daughter and Elliot, Roger Taylor's 11-year old son, as well as Elliot's friend Zach. They were playing pool and happy to have me join them. They are really sweet and down-to-earth kids. I actually spent the majority of the evening with them and would happily do so again!
Elliot (left) and Zach
After that I snapped a pic with Roger (who is the drummer, for the non-Duranies) and headed over to say hello to Nick for the first time on the trip. He was lovely as always. He's so tiny in person. His daughter, Tatjana was asking him for a 20 pound note and when he said he didn't have it, Paul remarked that he's found that most rock stars never have any money. Tatjana replied with "He always gives me 50 pound notes but never 20 pound notes!" which I thought was odd (yes, I repeated it correctly) but to each his own, I suppose!
Little Drummer Boy
The party was winding down at that point. Simon's throat had been bothering him so he cut out early, and the rest of us were ready to leave as well. In Surreal Moment #4,378, Paul and I left with Nick and Udo or Uri or something, who was Davey the security guard's temporary replacement, . He was nice enough, but he was no Davey. I can't wait until he's back!
I was happy to get the opportunity to have a chat with Nick on the car ride to his house. Having been the love of my life for so many years (this is post-Rod Stewart, of course) I wanted to make sure I did so before the end of the trip. We talked about how we both love Earl's Court (so Boo to the naysayers!) and he asked me how Morrissey was when I saw him there. Then we talked about that night's show, and I mentioned how the flames during Wild Boys scared the shit out of everyone. He laughed and said "It scared the shit out of the girl's. I look out and see all the guys standing there grinning."
I don't really remember much else about that ride other than Nick's leather pants, and thinking that his legs were about as short as mine. I don't know if it's because it was short, or because ultimately I was wrapped up in the fact that I was squashed into a car next to my hero. Like I said, I've met him before, and it's been fantastic, but there's just something different about riding in the car to the house of your very favourite star in history. And you know what? It's f***ing cool. :-)
When we got to Nick's house, Paul commented "Well Marnie, there's Nick's house, but you'll never find it again," to which I responded, "Won't I?"
Paul underestimates me.
But don't worry Nick. I've had my fun. I won't be showing up at your doorstep. :-)
This, of course, is another crucial moment of which I wish I had photographic evidence, but it wasn't really the most opportune thing. I suppose it's just better to savour the memory in my mind forever!
When we got back to the hotel, we had a drink with Wendy Laister, who owns the band's management company, and a friend of hers visiting from France. We didn't stay too long. She mentioned an earlier run-in with Cell Phone Al (whom I have to go on record to say is a very cool guy and while his reputation precedes him, he's a good friend) and we pretty much called it a night.
The next day, which was Thursday, was my last full day in the country. As usual, I headed back to TopShop with some super last minute "what am I going to wear tonight" blues. Sad thing was, I'd practically memorised the inventory on all 4 floors, so I'm not quite sure what I was hoping to find there that I hadn't seen 100 times already on this trip. And for the record, I found nothing.
I got some lunch and then headed back to the hotel where I watched a little Happy Days and did some Sudoku. Again, Paul had to head to the venue early so we didn't go over together. I made plans with Cell Phone Al to meet up at the same pub from the night before and have a few more drinks before the show (makes a change, right?).
So I got ready surprisingly without hassle and wore something that I've owned for ages (actually, a year today since I bought it for last year's New Year's festivities). I threw a gold scarf around the waist to change things up a bit and away I went! All those last minute shopping woes for naught!
After Al and I had our drinks, along with a friend of his, we headed to the venue and... well, continued drinking. We then split up and did our own thing, which for me, meant just wandering around the venue chatting with different people. After the opening act was through, I went and sat in the sound booth and chatted with one of the security guards. He was really nice and we had a decent conversation. It was almost a shame when the band came on and I had to go to my spot at the front of the stage. Almost. :-)
Once again the boys rocked the house. About 5 songs in, the girl who was maniacally dancing next to me somehow managed to kick over about 5 beers that were lined up along the barrier, thus soaking the feet of everyone around her, including me. The puddle that formed was getting ridiculous (especially for me in the satin, open-back flats... yay!) so I decided to backstage and get some towels.
On my way back, I encountered Yasmin Le Bon, who gave me a friendly smile and nod, which I have to admit was cool. I always hear how cold she is but she didn't seem that way at all. She's stunning as well. Even more tall and thin than she looks in photos. Anyway, I eventually brought the towel out and saved the day.
After the show, I headed to the afterparty which was much bigger this time around. No Monica Lewinsky this time, but I did see British socialite and former Nick Rhodes girlfriend (thus, formal mortal enemy of mine) Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. Gela Nash, co-creator of Juicy Couture (and John's wife) was there too, and I have to say she looks fantastic, especially for her age. She's actually very tiny in person and, as expected, extremely stylish. There were so many people milling around that I could barely take it all in. I just walked around with my enormous plastic cup of wine (classy bird that I am) and smiled and chatted with people.
At one point, a young girl walked by me and I complimented her on her skirt. She said "Oh thanks! It's a dress actually!" and lifted her shirt to show me, at which point I realised it was Saffron Le Bon, Simon's 14 year old daughter. I got to chatting with her and her friends and they were absolutely adorable... some of the sweetest girls I ever met! Considering their lifestyle, particularly in Saffron's case, you wouldn't think it, but she was an absolute doll and I hope I see her again some day.
While we were chatting, she said of Simon, "He's so embarassing!" which only proves how EVERY 14 year old is embarassed by their dad, no matter who they are! :-)
When we posed together for a picture, and the lady who took it said "Geez! I don't have to give any of you any direction, do I? You just jump right to it!" Here is said photo, with me once again looking extremely fake tanned:
Moi, Saffron, and friends
When it was nearing time to go, I started to make my rounds to say goodbye to the band. I never actually encountered Andy or Roger, but thankfully I was able to see Simon, John, and Nick before I left.
I told John it was lovely watching the football with him and he was like "Oh that was FUN!" Ha. It sure was!
Nick was with Tara P-T and I didn't want to interrupt them too much so I said a quick goodbye with the perfunctory kiss on the cheek. Nick is so, so lovely, but I have to admit that on this trip, Simon and John quickly usurped Nick's position as my favourite... with Simon being slightly ahead. :-)
Speaking of Simon, his was definitely the warmest goodbye and I was really glad I got to see him before I went. He gave me a genuine hug and a kiss on each cheek and said he'd see me next tour. I hope so! Bring Saffron. :-)
On my way out, I ran into Paul Taylor, the band's merch guy who inadvertantly started this entire thing by giving Morgen a pass lo those many months ago. If only he knew. :-) Either way, I was glad to get to say goodbye to him as well!
As I exited, so ended my Duran adventures, but not my England adventures, as that night still held many hours of fun!
After the party, Paul and I headed to the local O'Neill's pub where we met up with some more of his really cool friends, including Ady, a friend whom I've met several times before. I ran into Ady briefly during the show but it's hard to talk when "Friends of Mine" is blaring out of the speakers 2 feet from your head.
We stayed at O'Neill's for a bit and got these shots:
With Nicky and Katie, who were awesome.
Nicky, Paul, and Moi
After that, the lot of us (and there were a lot!) headed over to the exclusive "Soho House" where we stayed until the wee hours of the morning. I spent most of the time there chatting with Mark, a friend of Paul's who not only shares my birthday, but also grew up in High Wycombe. One of those ~spooky~ things, don't you think?
When the lights came up, and we were ushered out, we headed back to the hotel where the bar was closed, much to Paul's dismay. The front desk girl got a slight 'tude with him as well which didn't help matters, but we decided to just suck it up and drink from the mini bar... despite the fact that you could do that or send your child to college one day -- your choice. I was done drinking anyway so it didn't much matter to me!
Up in the room, Nicky and Katie (but mostly Nicky) insisted on dancing to "Wham Rap" (yes, that's Wham... like George Michael Wham... rapping) which she just so happened to have on her Ipod. The still pics don't quite do it justice so I'll just skip them.
Mark then took this photo from a ridiculously unflattering angle, which finished my film for the evening and the trip as a whole.
Sleep then called. We bid our adieus and dispersed accordingly.
The next morning, I got up early so I could make one final return to Top Shop (which I'm sort of regretting because it was a beautiful top but I didn't wear it and I probably never would have so oh well). I pretty much packed my stuff and had to head out.
Unfortunately, my goodbye to Paul was sort of dampened by the fact that he had the hangover of all hangovers and could barely walk or talk. I've never seen anything like it, and I felt so bad for him! It was actually worse than the day after my night out with Matt! God Bless You, Paul!
And thus concludes my journey. You have to admit it was pretty amazing. I haven't really even gotten over it. I've been sick since I've been home and in between my bouts of nausea I've still been thinking about the whole thing. :-)
A huge thanks to Paul for everything, including putting up with me for extended periods of time amidst the Duran hysteria. Thanks for showing me around Manchester, and for putting up with me drinking very little on that first night. Thanks for introducing me to loads of cool people and for being such a cool person yourself. Thanks for letting me use a lot of your pics for this post. Thanks for everything. Just everything.
Thanks to Paul Taylor for giving Morgen that initial backstage pass, thus allowing all this to unfold. Even if you didn't know what you were doing, you did it. :-)
And thanks to Duran Duran for being the best band ever.
So I hope you all enjoyed my Epic last post of 2005. Even though it's going to go up beforehand, it's actually well after midnight now so Happy New Year to everyone! I have to admit I took a break from this to catch the last East Coast bit of Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, but more on that tomorrow. :-)
And I don't want to hear any crap about how pathetic I am for staying in and blogging for hours on New Year's Eve! I'm sick, damn it! :-)