Sunday, 18 June 2017

Sir Elton shows he still has what it takes

I mentioned in a blog late last year that I had bought some tickets to see Elton John at Portman Road, home of Ipswich Town FC.
At the time I was a little worried – would his voice hold up? Could he still knock out the old favourites with as much vigour as in the past?
Or was he going to be like his mate Paul McCartney, who, let’s admit it, has lost it.
Who can forget his shaky warbling at the London 2012 Olympics?
Well I needn’t have worried. The big day was yesterday (June 17) and Sir Elton was, put simply, quite magnificent.
As fans, we are obviously a little biased but even the usually cynical moi was very impressed.
The set lasted more than two hours and, apart from the occasional sip of water (?) and an admittedly laboured strut or two around the stage to whip up the EJ devotees at the front of the stage, he stayed at the piano the whole performance.
He may be 70 but he can still entertain a crowd.
I also mentioned last year that we had last seen him live on June 21, 1975 at the old Wembley Stadium at a concert that also had Joe Walsh and the Eagles and The Beach Boys on the bill.
We were at the Concert For Diana in in 2007 at the new Wembley Stadium when he was on the bill with many talented artistes, and Kanye West.
I mention that not as boast but because Sir Elton said at Portman Road yesterday that the home of Ipswich Town was only the third football stadium he had appeared at twice – the others being Watford and Wembley.
Wonder if he remembers spotting us in the crowd in 1975 and 2007 as well? I am sure he waved at me last night.

The sad passing of Sir Roger Moore last month had one positive moment for SWMBO and me.
We have been unsuccessful in attempts to get tickets for the New Year’s Day concert in Vienna for more than ten years. It’s a lottery and we have consistently missed out.
Yet each year, near the front, sat Sir Roger and his wife Kristina.
Do you think I can have their tickets?

Sunday, 28 May 2017

When a Smart meter is not a Smart meter
“Hello,” said the rather husky voice when I called my electricity supplier after our smart meter stopped working.
“You would need to contact our Smart team in regards to the Smart meters. This is their number: xxx-xxxxxx.” So I did.
Remarkably, I got through to another human being after only pressing a few numbers on my keypad. I explained that my Smart Meter hadn’t worked for a week.
I was told that the company was updating the software on all its Smart Meters and that it should have been completed overnight last week but was taking “longer than expected”. I was advised to try again in a day or so.
Five days on and tried again – and it’s still not working. Now I know that all technology has its problems so the fact that something technical had gone wrong did not worry, or upset me, unduly.
What does make me angry, however, is the way the company communicates with its customers.
I have received numerous emails from the company over the years, either confirming matters or advising me my contract is ending etc. etc.
So why no email to save me turning the wretched thing on and off for a week, moving it around the house in case it was the strength of the Wi-Fi signal wasn’t strong enough and then having to ring them?
They know who has Smart Meters fitted so there is no excuse. And they certainly know my email address. Muppets.

I still can’t believe that my footie team, the mighty Arsenal, beat Chelsea to win their record-breaking 13th FA Cup.
According to the pundits, Chelsea only had to turn up to give new manager Antonio Conte the English double in his first season in charge. Just goes to show what they know.
My family have been diehard Gooners for as long as I can remember. My uncle has two season tickets for the Emirates and my cousin, his son, has one.
My uncle very kindly lets me “borrow” his occasionally for my brother-in-law (another Gooner) and I to enjoy a day out.
Occasionally being the operative word. As we like to reimburse my uncle for one match (I know – we’re so kind) that works out at £52.50 a game (adult season tickets cost between £1,000 and £2,000).
Add onto that the cost of fuel from deepest Suffolk to a mainline station 30 minutes from Tottenham Hale, two return train tickets from that station to Finsbury Park, a few refreshments before and after and a programme and suddenly you are, collectively, £200 poorer.
Which makes going to watch a Premier League game these days a luxury. Not quite the working man’s sport it was, what?

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Spare a thought today for Kate and Gerry McCann
Whatever you are doing today please stop for a few seconds and spare a thought for Kate and Gerry McCann.
Ten years ago to the day their three-year old daughter Madeleine disappeared in the Algarve holiday resort of Praia da Luz. You may have heard about it. No, you have DEFINITELY heard about it.
Numerous theories abound about what happened to little Madeleine. She was snatched to order for a wealthy but childless couple. She woke up disorientated and wandered off, having been left alone with her siblings while her parents had dinner with friends a few hundred metres away, and fell into the sea.
She was picked up off the street by an opportunist and sold into white slavery. She was killed by her parents, who then spent ten years covering it up.
Whichever camp of belief you live in, the only thing we know for certain is that a family has been stripped of a loved daughter.
I speak with a little experience of the case as on May 3, 2007 I was Publishing Director of a weekly English language newspaper based in the Algarve.
I worked from my home office in the UK, visiting the Algarve every six weeks or so.
I happened to be watching ITV’s breakfast programme the following morning when a relative of Gerry McCann made a desperate appeal for the missing youngster.
My journalistic instinct kicked in and, after booking a flight to Faro, I contacted the office in the Algarve to warn of the media storm that would be approaching and that we must always stick to facts when reporting the case.
This meant we missed out on many copy sales over the ensuing years – but it also meant that our newspaper never had a legal issue with the McCanns or their team.
Unlike some newspapers, in particular some of the UK red tops, which published anything and everything, true or not, simply to boost cover sales.
Do I know what happened to Madeleine? No. I have views but will keep them to myself.
Do I think Kate and Gerry McCann were involved in some way? Yes, but only because they left their children alone in an apartment while they had a meal with friends.
A decision they will regret for the rest of their lives.
So, spare that thought and just remember they are parents who have lost a child. No-one deserves that.