Happily Ever After

Life in The Rural Retreat with a beautiful wife, memories of a much-missed moggie, three adventurous new cats, a camera, a computer and a garden filled with wildlife

Earlier posts can be found on Adventures of a Lone Bass Player, where this blog began life. Recent entries can be found here.


An Evening To Remember

by Russell Turner - 09:31 on 08 July 2017

An epic journey from Oxford to The Rural Retreat began at 7.30am yesterday and ended 561 miles (including an M6 Toll-related misdirection) and almost twelve hours later. The temperature gauge and fuel tank fell in sympathy along the long road north. A low of 11ºC was indicated around Dalwhinnie; at the same time the day before, Oxford had sweltered in the high twenties. And probably still was.

The Pride acted as though I’d never been away. Maybe it hadn’t noticed, food, drink and cuddles being supplied by Matchgirl. At least she looked a little more pleased to see me.

I’d arrived in Oxford on Wednesday, where my hosts Dianne and Cyril were uncertain what they’d let themselves in for, neither being overly familiar with the work of Rick Wakeman but keen to find out. A few hours later found us in Wavendon near Milton Keynes, home of The Stables, the venue established by jazz legends Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine, waiting for the great man to take the stage.

He was worth the wait – the music was superb, as was his skill as a joke and tale-teller. The bonus, after the gig, was the sign stating “Performer signing. Queue here” which I quickly joined and soon after was able to spend a few awestruck minutes with my jovial and very down-to-earth hero.

Dianne stepped forward with her iPhone to capture the moment. Of the four snaps she took, there was only one in which Rick’s eyes were open. Same with me. The fact that they were on different snaps was no problem for someone with my incredible Photoshop skills, and a quick head transplant (mine) produced the photographic souvenir above.

The hot news is that he confirmed more ARW gigs for the UK next year. In the meantime, the show was so good I’m considering seeing it again in Durham in October. Matchgirl thinks I’m mad.

My final day in Oxford saw Cyril and me stroll along the banks of the River Isis (that’s the bit of the Thames so posh it has a different name) in Mediterranean temperatures to meet Dianne for lunch and a wander around the Ashmolean Museum – much preferable to sightseeing in superheated streets packed with tourists and gangs of schoolkids and Chinese following placard-waving tour guides. The Pentax stayed unused.

So now I’m home, the grass still grows, Matchgirl still wears her security blanket and Willow has already brought home a vole and a siskin. (Matchgirl claims Willow does it for me because the hunter is allegedly much less bloodthirsty when I’m absent.) It’s as though I’ve never been away. And tonight City Limits is out again at another wedding, which will help pay for the trip and maybe a night out in Durham. It would spare the lives of more small game if nothing else.

The people who moan (and there are lots) complain that Rick plays a duff note at 1.50. The fact that he's unconcerned enough to put out the video despite that says a lot about him. Capturing the mood is more important than the right notes. That's always my excuse, anyway.

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