Friday, 20 January 2017

Club Tropicana, when the drinks were not free

I was reading my Twitter feed (again), overwhelmed by all the tributes to George from fans and celebrities, when I spied the advert for the George Michael tribute night.
Club Tropicana was the venue, the London one, where the drinks definitely were not free. Despite this financial fact, I was pleased to hear all money for tickets, food and drink, would be donated to the charities George supported.
So I immediately requested tickets and invited friends.
A little crowd of us agreed we needed to celebrate the joy George had provided through his music, whilst donating money to charity and spending time together.
I can honesty say I have never experienced an atmosphere quite like it, and probably never will again.
As sad as his passing was, hundreds of people were determined to have a good night. Everyone sang their hearts out, personal favourites and massive hits.
Even in the ladies toilets they were blasting his voice, and I happened to be queuing when Last Christmas was played, and I and complete strangers placed our arms in the air and we all sang along, and to each other. I doubt very much I will ever, again, see complete strangers in such unity.
The owner of the club was a personal friend of George's and had arranged entertainment such as quizzes, singing contests, look alikes, and the post it note wall to be donated to charity. Plus the one minute's silence - it was eerie and touching in equal measures.
Reluctant to leave, but not wishing to miss our last train, and still buzzing with the memories, we left with Tropicana hats and glasses.
After posing for photographs, with the press (no idea if any have been printed anywhere, not noticed any yet!) and for personal use, we finally left.
As we were departing through the double doors, next to the fake palm tree, I noticed the owner saying his goodbyes to guests. As he turned to me I bid him farewell, gave his arm a little squeeze and said, "You done him proud tonight."
He looked at me and thanked me.
Then he smiled the saddest smile.

Friday, 13 January 2017

You have been loved

So I decided to visit George's house in London and make and take a card from myself, and on behalf of my friend Ann and some of his lovelies on Twitter. (His words not mine, 'my lovelies'.)
I asked Twitter to let me know what they wanted to say and about 15 fans did so and appreciated they could pay their respects this way. It made me feel better to be able to do this.
In fact, I walked away from his house as if a dark cloud had been lifted.
It's the green card with his pictures on. It was made that morning, thanks to pictures from his autobiography, glue and scissors. The book was a Christmas present a few years back, even features on this blog, and I never expected it to fulfill this purpose.
Bless Mark for driving Tommy and I to North London, I don't think every husband would be so keen to do so.
And bless Tommy for putting a smile on my face when he saw the wispa bar someone had placed on George's Range Rover, for he said excitedly, "Mummy there's chocolate on that car! Can I eat it?"
I didn't let him.
That would definitely have been careless.

I was blown away by so many flowers, cards, candles and presents. And still they keep coming. He really did touch so many people's lives.

Monday, 9 January 2017

The night the music died

I will never forget the moment I heard George Michael had died.
Christmas day 2016, 23:00 hours, my mobile beeped, it was my friend Jamie texting me: Oh
I was standing with a glass of Prosecco in one hand, wrapped in my Christmas bubble, with no idea my little bubble was soon to be well and truly burst.
Of course at the point of receiving this text, I didn't imagine in my darkest nightmares that it was to inform me of George's death.
I was concerned my friend may have experienced a drunken tumble, or perhaps a family fall out over who would carve the turkey, or a punch up with a pal who could no longer tolerate Cliff Richard singing about mistletoe and wine.
Nope, I did not for one dreadful second think his text would be followed by: I think you better put on the news Nikki. It's George, he's gone.
I may not be a rocket scientist, yet even I knew Jamie did not mean George had gone to Specsavers.
He'd gone from this world.
With shaking hands I googled his name and when I read the breaking news I just kept saying, "No, no, no, no, no."
It was the most awful end to a splendid day.
My phone continued to beep with other friend's asking if I had heard he had died peacefully in his sleep, and offering their condolences.
For 34 years he'd been my idol.
To be precise he was my brother's idol at first, and this soon rubbed off on me. My dear late brother even looked like George during the Careless Whisper days, and when he picked me up from a party once someone actually screamed, they thought George Michael had walked in the room!
All these precious memories came crashing down on me.
George had always been my happy place.
He was the most amazing and beautiful soundtrack of my life.
He'd entertained myself and friends on tonnes of joyous occasions.
I am fully aware he wasn't really a personal friend. I guess he was more of a virtual friend? Although I have met him in real life, what a day that was.
He once signed a record cover for me which I have learned he spoke about during a Holland interview, because he wrote, 'To Nikki, a very happy birthday, try not to loose your shoes, George Michael xxx' and it's not every fan he tells not to loose their shoes.
I have seen him perform live many times, watched and read more or less every interview (I'm now searching for that Holland interview) and tweeted him back more times than I care to admit.
He was also a kind and generous soul, some stories emerged during his life time, and many others since his death.
He donated goodness knows how much to charity, some via proceeds from records he didn't even make public knowledge at the time. He arranged a private free concert to the nurses who once cared for him. Plus he paid for IVF treatment for complete strangers after hearing on television they were trying to find the money, therefore a girl was brought into this world all because of him.
He was 53 years young.
Too young to be taken, so much still to give.
With a grieving family, friends and fan base on Christmas day 2016.
I don't think I slept a wink that night.

Friday, 30 December 2016

The December post

December, you stole my heart a long time ago.
Now every year I seem to love you more.
This year, the celebrations and expectations have been twined with the promise and excitement of Father Christmas.
And the elf. The mischievous elf who visits Father Christmas every night accompanied by reports of Tommy's good behaviour. Then he returns to our little cottage and climbs the Christmas tree, and other such fun places.
How could I not embrace you December, and the magic you sprinkle in our lives.

These are the best bits from our December:

A big Christmas tree this year, well bigger than the tree on top of the cupboard, as was the case in previous years. Can you spot the elf?

Cinderalla at local theatre, it was fabulous.

The day Tommy met Father Christmas. He went all shy.

Group picture. Tommy, daddy and granddad, with Father Christmas!

Christmas fair. I love a Christmas fair.

Handmade stalls. I felt the need to buy reindeer and Christmas tree pegs, and why not.

Tommy and the police car, at Christmas fair. He said it was his best bit of the day.

And the steam train.

Safe trip everyone!

I made Christmas cards for family, friends and my friend's tearoom.

Friend's tearoom, with the best cakes ever.

Tommy loves the rocky cake, and the toy box.

Every year I make the crackers and collect the tiny gifts.

Christmas Eve. Letter, milk and treats for Father Christmas. After the glittery reindeer food we scattered in the garden.

Christmas morning, checking out the snow from Father Christmas.

A very happy, excited boy on Christmas morning.

I hope you all had the best Christmas ever.

Brace yourself for the next post, things are about to get a whole lot sadder around here.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Flowers in a teapot

"And I don't want anyone mentioning my age!" warned my mother.
My mother's birthday was fast approaching, her 70th to be precise.
She didn't want a fuss, just a relaxing day spent with her loved ones.
So we all decided her day should be minimal preparation on her part, and maximum effort on ours. Each guest was requested to bring food for her dining room table.
Ham, pork pie, sausage rolls, trifle, just a few of the goodies which arrived with flowers and family. It was a feast of splendid things. Food made with love, for a woman fit to be our queen.
My mother's best friend arrived with partner and very tall grandson. Literally squeals of delight and lots of hugs when they, and other attendees, were greeted.
It all went to plan.
I had great fun beforehand, decorating the dining room with pretty paper plates, napkins and cups (decreased clearing up time for recyclable rubbish), with floral bunting and flowers in a teapot.
We even all sang Happy Birthday and toasted the celebration with a glass of champagne.
It was lovely to see everyone; God mother and auntie Wendy, with Jean and Brandon, auntie Helen with her famous chocolate cake, uncle John and uncle Jim, my cousin Sarah and her three kids, my cousin Sam with his new fiancee and beautiful baby, cousin Jack and his dance partner and girlfriend Jessica, and last but definitely not least, auntie Leslie.
And no-one mentioned her age.
How about that for a successful birthday tea party.
(Oh apart from the lover's tiff Mark and I experienced on the way home as we thought we'd lost the iPad, we hadn't, it was under the car seat. But we won't mention that.)
Happy Birthday mum. You're the best.
The most wonderful mum that I could have ever wished for.

Preparing the table.

Flowers in a teapot, how quaint.

Bunting up, and there's Mark on the beer. He regretted that later.

Cake time. I bought two finely decorated ones and made cupcakes with Tommy. It was fair to say, with Auntie Helen's baking as well, there was plenty of cake. As it should be.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

The one where I didn't miss my train home

I worked out (with no help from the elf on the shelf or anyone else whatsoever), that the last office Christmas party I attended was BT (before Tommy), with Mark (a time when we both owned a different sir name),and during a period in my life when my living arrangements featured a house by the pylon, with friend and big dog.
It was the one where Mark and I missed our last train, consequence being, we had to fork out for a very expensive cab journey home.
Then I lost the receipt to claim cab journey from HR.
Not that I was sure HR would have allowed me to claim money.
My argument for claim was based on; the coach driver waited too long for drunken people to leave party (I would like to add here, Mark and I left party on time to meet required scheduled coach departure), coach driver insisted on pleasing all drunken people and dropped them at places other than the designated train station, so Mark and I missed last train, from last designated train station.
I'm hoping I've now made a clearer picture - it most definitely was not our fault that we missed our last train.
Unfortunately, as stated above, I misplaced the cab receipt, in my drunken mood.
So I lost all hope of a fair trial.
What's worse, I will never know the outcome, due to misplacing my unexpected expenditure.
It will always be a mystery to me.
I've moaned about this for years (yes, really).
The year is now 2016.
I have decided to be mature and let bygones be bygones and attend the office Christmas party once again.
How about that for progress and forgiveness.
A round of applause please.
Or perhaps I just fancied a rare night out. With my great team.
One things for sure, this year I was safe in the knowledge, the office Christmas party was held at our London based head office.
Thus allowing me to be in charge of leaving the venue on time, and descending straight home via train only, thank you very much.
So I left Mark behind to look after Tommy. Not that this has anything to do with missing last trains, merely a reflection on life AT (after Tommy).
Okay, who agrees it's not a proper Christmas party until you've worn bright/weird wig and posed with prop for photograph?
It's one of my shinning memories of the night.
This was of course after a quick drink at pub beforehand, our welcome drink and mini burger (not enough food, my lame excuse), our drinks tokens and non drinking people's drinks tokens.
At least I didn't spend a fortune on a cab ride home!
Oh no, not this time!
Even if I did feel shockingly awful the next day and remembered another reason why I have avoided office Christmas party for the past four years.
Still, it was a cracking good night of beneficial bonding, starring a great bunch of colleagues.
Colleagues I feel lucky to work with and who don't mind wearing wigs and props.
The end.
I hope you liked my true story.

I love working with this one.

Here we are! Can you spot which one I am?

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Teacups and scones

Something rather good has arrived in the village.
It's definitely my sort of thing.
And my parents fully appreciate it too.
Although Mark would rather be playing football, or watching it on the telly.
I'm yet to take Tommy for fear of him breaking some valuables, but I did carry him in once, when Mark and I collected the green leather armchair my mother had purchased.
Yes folks, the antique barn and tearoom is finally open!
And I'm pretty pleased about it.
What a splendid way to spend an afternoon, admiring vintage books and floral tea sets. Then choosing which cake you fancy.
It's a great place for stocking up on presents. Not to mention treating yourself, if in need of some time out and chocolate fudge cake, on rose painted plates.
All within a ten minute walk from our cottage.
Not bad hey.

Here's the bad boy I've been harping on about.

Tearoom now open.

What treasures.

Love that vintage vibe.

This reminded me to stop off at the village shop, for our Saturday night wine bottle.

My dad was mighty impressed to find a book dating back to 1875.

I love a tearoom. Especially one is such sweet setting.

I also love tea and cake. The diet starts in the new year!