Meet-ti-i-ing… Big Big Curry 29/09/2017, Big Big Breakfast 30/09/2017, Big Big Farewell 01/10/2017

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Kwality Indian Restaurant, South Kensington.

Besides the music that we had all gathered to hear in London courtesy of Big Big Train, another highlight was the coming together of Passengers, those tasteful folk who follow the band and enjoy progressive rock music (in fact, enjoy most music). The chance to meet, in person, many of the Facebook Forum community I had come to know on-line over the past seven years was a tantalising prospect. There’s always, of course, that niggling feeling that folk won’t take to you…

No need to have worried, though. As we walked into the Kwality Indian Restaurant in South Kensington, looks of recognition darted this way and that across the room and moments later those looks were translated into handshakes, hugs and hearty how-do-you-do’s as the room quickly filled with a camaraderie I have seldom, if ever, witnessed.

There was Anne from the Gold Coast, almost certainly THE most travelled amongst us as she follows her passion for prog to all four corners of the globe. Seeing her in London was quite surreal having met her two or three times in Melbourne for the likes of Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson and Steve Hackett. So, too, seeing John from Melbourne contributed to making the world seem a much smaller place. My wife and daughter and I also will never forget being Paolo’d for the first time – Paolo, your middle name is surely gioia della vita!

In many ways, the stars of this particular show were the owners, chefs and staff of the restaurant who opened their doors especially for our group of sixty-odd (some might say very odd) people who hailed from all over the world, some from countries as exotic as that of our hosts. They did not miss a beat all afternoon, ensuring dishes were matched to those who had pre-ordered them and keeping the beer flowing. They were polite, courteous and wore smiles in the face of an endless cacophony of exuberant chatter with people criss-crossing the room to visit other tables (on reflection it must have come across as a crazy form of speed-dating!) and must have been wondering who King Crimson was and when he’d come to the throne, why we were so obsessed with intelligence quotients and so excited about a very large locomotive engine.  There were so many people I wanted to meet and introduce my wife and daughter to and yet so little time to have anything like the meaningful conversations I would have liked to have had.

But the room was bursting with all the qualities I had told my wife and daughter they would experience; love, warmth, humour, intelligence, humility – humanity! It felt like bucket list stuff, the fact that I could now say I had attended a BBT-related curry event…

I enjoyed my Lamb Rogan Josh and Kingfisher beers. I enjoyed the just-getting to-know-you banter around our table that was peopled with amongst others, Andrew and Janet from British Columbia and Buster from Virginia (forgive me for there were at least another three ladies at the table whose names escape me). At an adjacent table for a short while was Tobbe and his son Arvid before they were swept up by the many who wanted to meet these most welcome of Vikings. We got the chance to talk later, again not at great length unfortunately, but enough to spark something in me…

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Thank you to the Passenger who took this photograph  – Andrew should be well-pleased being in the picture three times!

It was also a pleasure to meet Roy Hunter for the first time here and to share a taxi with him afterwards, giving us a few extra minutes to talk and find out a bit more about one another – but still not even enough time to discuss Tangerine Dream! Next time, Roy, right now we’ve got a concert event to get to!

The following day got off to another cracking start with a Big Big Breakfast at The Minories and we were able to navigate our way there with the minimum of fuss. Again we were greeted by Passengers with familiar faces and others we had not met the previous day… and the full English breakfasts and the Guinness went down very well indeed.

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The Minories, quiet at the front, but it’s all happening down back as Passengers convene to talk about their impressions of the first of the Big Big Train concerts the previous evening. The conversations are bright and breezy considering most were late to bed and our heads are full of sounds and images and memories still being processed and there’s the need to take on sustenance because most of us are heading back for a second helping of Train fare in a few hours time…

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Sitting or standing, Spike I believe we are always going to see eye to eye about many things!

Breaking fast with more new-found friends of the highest order…

IMG_9574 Stephen Bowden, Paolo, Tobbe, Arvid and Graham

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Will and Roy…

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My girls Antonina and Carla with Spike, Glenn and Miles (I’m pretty sure that’s you, Miles?)

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Carol and Mike from Virginia – being quite reserved, I took this quick snap and ran off but thought to myself what an interesting-looking couple.  I got to know you a little better a couple of nights later…

Rachels’ stunning opening to the concert, the set list, the telescope, All Rise, the brass section, the venue, the merchandise, East Coast Racer, the film projections, the tears, the Interval meetings, the passion in the room, the band returning to the stage for the encore from the back of the hall and each wearing a mask, Tony Banks in the House… so much to digest!

Random meetings in the street, sightings of folk in Big Big Train apparel on the Tube, a first time meeting at the Their Mortal Remains Exhibition at the V&A based on recognition of a Facebook profile picture, breakfasts with fellow Passengers in the Côte Brasserie adjacent to our hotel – London quickly became a significantly smaller city.

My wife’s insistence after  the second concert that I get to the Box Office quick-smart to get myself a single ticket to the third and final show on the Sunday was eagerly accepted. At the time, there were two tickets remaining, diametrically across the floor and offering either a seat right at the rear on Dave’s side of the stage, or a seat at the front directly above the brass section and Andy. After some deliberation I chose the latter, taking the opportunity of seeing a band performing from a vantage point I had not previously experienced. It was a great decision, the view giving me a much better understanding of the interplay between Andy and Danny and seeing how the entire band worked together as a unit.IMG_9716

But, as always, things have to come to an end and this extraordinary weekend was no exception. Following the final concert it was inevitable that there had to be a wake of sorts and so… it was off to reconvene once again at The Antelope. And what an evening we had – there were more illuminating conversations, laughter and tears, lessons in the appreciation of whisky and the pronunciation of Glenfiddich, roast dinners and, sadly, partings until another time. One of my most profound experiences was my final farewell to Tobbe. A look and then an embrace which, try as I might I was reluctant to release myself from, firmly believing in that instant that I had known this man before in another time long ago.

Thank you to Big Big Train and thank you to EVERYONE that we met over the course of this most memorable of weekends. The memories will sustain me for life as will the friendships that previously existed virtually but now flourish as fully-fledged relationships. We will meet again. Until then, continue to treat your ears, hearts and minds to the best of what the arts have to offer…

Slàinte mhath.

 

8 thoughts on “Meet-ti-i-ing… Big Big Curry 29/09/2017, Big Big Breakfast 30/09/2017, Big Big Farewell 01/10/2017

    1. Thanks so much, Mike. We three were blessed to be there and we still talk about our experiences, keeping the flame alight until we can do something similar again… take care of yourself, pal and keep in touch.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Thanks for yet another stroll down memory lane! Funny how many of us had some of the same trepidations (will we really fit in and get on with these folks?) only to have them quickly laid to rest. So glad we got to know you and look forward to seeing you again perhaps in 2019 when they start touring!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Carol! Facebook allows me to be the easy-going, fun person that my character doesn’t always allow me to be in person… the feeling is mutual and I am so pleased to be in touch with you and look forward to the prospect of meeting up with you again at some point in the not too distant future. Take care of yourself and thanks for being you…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh, Harry, my dear friend! What an absolutely lovely text! Thanks for leading me down memory lane to that very very special weekend in London…alas, it’s almost four months…tempus fugit… I miss you lots and am always fantasizing about when we’ll meet again… And btw, it’s Mr Stephen Bowden on Paolo’s right in the pic from The Minories! Take care, lad and until next time! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Tobbe! And also for identifying Stephen… yes, we will meet again one sunny day, or a windy one, or a wet one, doesn’t really matter does it so long as we can have a drink and more time to talk? 🤗

      Like

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