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 (alas, have not spotted any in print 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 fifteen 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 hero.
To be precise he was my brother's hero 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.