Tuesday, 3 October 2017


A Second Letter from Tony

Tony Intas and I were classmates and football teammates at Montreal’s Loyola High School. That was 40 years ago. We’ll meet again on Friday at our class reunion. In the meantime, meGeoff’s roving correspondent checks in from Barcelona, Spain. The football team played inside an empty stadium; the Rolling Stones didn’t.

Dear Geoff,

A wise (and by now absurdly rich) man one proclaimed, "You can't always get what you want. You get what you need".

I experienced first hand evidence of this last week in Barcelona, Spain.

An English ex-pat former work colleague of mine from the 1980s, with an otiose wanderlust the likes of which I have never seen, and I having been going to Rolling Stones concerts together since 1989. It is "tradition", it is "expected". He has a very understanding wife, who almost gave birth to their first child at a Stones concert in Paris over a decade ago, but had the courtesy to do so a few days later, thank you very much. His children, each born in different countries, have "interesting" passports and are leading perhaps equally interesting, definitely worldly lives, never having spent a day in school in England. They too understand that whenever "Uncle" Tony visits, he and Daddy will go somewhere to see the Rolling Stones  - if they are on tour. (Otherwise "Uncle" Tony will just act silly and leave).

When a tour is announced, Daddy and I decide where in the world we have yet to see them and if it is a place where he and his family currently reside, we see them there. If not, we pick a place where either neither of us has been to before, or where it would be really "cool" to see them (still waiting for the opportunity in Moscow or Beijing, just to observe the kayos and mayhem afterwards, as we are now both too old to be active participants in same). His understanding wife understands this as well, as do his children.

This "No Filter" tour, it was Barcelona. He had been to the city before, I had not, so this was technically within the parameters because he had not been there with yours truly. 80,000 of us piled into the former Olympic Stadium. As Daddy and I are older, although not necessarily wiser, we selected seats that had excellent vantage points AND padding. The washrooms and refreshment stand were mere meters away. Ours was a covered section of the open aired stadium, should it rain, which it did not. Perfect!! I needed that.

It had been a few years since we had seen the Glimmer Twins et al, and I was therefore very much in the mood to do so. Mick Jagger has lost a step or two and Keith Richards and Ron Wood now share the guitar solos. Nonetheless, it was a solid two hour show and they played all the favourites, some of which brought tears to my eyes, as they always do, because certain songs remind me of certain events in my life, both good and bad. All the times I have seen them, (8 and counting) I have yet to hear them play "my" song, "Can't You Hear Me Knocking". I have a live version of it on a CD and Jagger's harmonica solo is amazing and Ron Wood ends the song playing the guitar like I have never seen him do so. I really, really, really wanted to hear "my" song. Alas, it was not meant to be.

The people around Daddy and I, of the same approximately age and girth, were very respectful of one another when it came to sight lines and standing during the concert and frequent trips to the washrooms or refreshment stand. I needed that.

When the 80,000 of us left the stadium, it was as organized and tame a mass exodus as I have ever seen. No drunken hooliganism, no fist fights, no ambulances carting away the comatose (not like Wembley in the late 1990s, THAT was a mass exodus of multi generational Doc Marten wearing fans!!). Alas, I need that too, because I am older, was tired and just wanted to go to bed. When the mass exodus arrived in great numbers at the Metro Station closest to the stadium,  to find it had closed for the night 15 minutes before, there was a very organized and respectful queue for buses and/or taxis. Again, I needed that , as my  "Street Fighting Man" days are well, well behind me and I was even more tired and still wanted to go to bed.

So, in the end, I didn't get what I wanted, I got what I needed.

Thank you Mick and the boys for reminding me what it is all about.



Readers of this blog who find themselves in places where they don’t normally find themselves, actual or otherwise, are encouraged to write meGeoff a letter detailing their experiences and impressions. Get in touch with me. I’m on Facebook.

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