This is my second attempt at commencing today’s narrative. The hundred or so words I originally penned disappearing into an e-ether after, while hindered by having to wax lyrical on my mobile phone instead of laptop, inadvertently deleted the draft.

They say a bad workman blames his tools. However, in my case earlier, it was me being a tool that was the catalyst to brief ineptitude at my art. Not only with the command to delete the century of words, but also carelessly pressing yes at the onscreen confirmation request. A brain sneeze which, with the cumbersome writing aids at my disposal while venturing on the train back to Leeds, was deeply frustrating.

I’ve been away from my West Yorkshire home, visiting London for two nights. A sojourn to take in the weekend British Summer Time festival at Hyde Park, this weekend’s artists including within a cast of legends Stevie Wonder, Barbara Streisand and Lionel Richie.

Or as my wife Karen, who has a habitual quirk of incorrectly pronouncing celebrity monikers, knows them Stevie Wondered, Barbra Streisan and Lioneld Richie. I’m unsure what Stevie was intrigued about, but inquisitiveness is a good thing so I’d never knock him for that.

It’s an endearing habit my spouse possesses. However, as a consequence of these idiosyncratic misnomers, when she books tickets for gigs I’m frequently unsure whether it’s the genuine artists or a tribute band whose act I’m scheduled to witness.

Subsequently, in the past few years, on hearing Karen’d bought me tickets for John Legen, Emile Sandshoes, Caro Emirates, Danny Bakers-Dozen, Gregory Portacabin and Corinne Bailey Blu-Rae, until entering the venue I was uncertain if my entertainment was to be provided by the actual stars.

This weekend, though, I needn’t have worried. My missus had booked the real legends Stevie Wonder, Barbara Streisand and Lionel Richie, not three lookalikes who mimicked their acts.

Stevie and Lionel each tearing up Saturday evening in the royal park with soul/R&B anthems from their wealthy back catalogue of refrains. The 65,000 people who’d congregated in a small section of the 350 acre park imbibing the atmosphere generated as wantonly as their wine, beer and spirits which flowed as freely as water on the nearby Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain.

In the early evening, via the lyrics of one of his hit songs, Lionel urged the vast crowd to;-

Lose yourself in wild romance, we going to
Parti’, karamu’, fiesta, forever
Come on and sing along
We’re going to parti’, karamu’, fiesta, forever
Come on and sing along

All night long (all night), all night (all night)
All night long (all night), all night (all night)
All night long (all night), all night (all night)
All night long (all night), ooh yeah (all night)

A request the audience gleefully acquiesced to, not just during Lionel’s set but also Stevie’s two hours on stage…… Well, apart from a group of lasses singing/dancing close by Karen and me who refused to karamu’ until they’d received assurances what they were committing to!

I seen numerous A-list music artists live in concert during my rollercoaster existence, Amongst that performer royalty George Michael, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Chic, Billy Joel, Sting, Paul Simon, Elton John, Phil Collins and Oasis.

Entertainment demigods whose art has accompanied my generation through puberty, early adulthood, weddings, parenthood and early middle-age. Their songs evoking happy existential times of no responsibility, youthful exuberance and positivity which started to dwindle when no longer able to go through the night without requiring a pee.

Audio accompaniments to eras when maturity was a scarcely exhibited behavioural trait. However, in retrospect what we learned from those mistakes were as equally important life events as the good bits….. Probably more so from a comportment growth perspective.

The memories evoked this Saturday evening on hearing Stevie Wonder playing his 1980’s hit Master Blaster (Jammin) were those of a three night trip to London in 1981. A journey taken after I’d been invited to attend a training camp at cricketing HQ, Lords; a sporting odyssey on which I was accompanied by my cricket loving dad,

After departing home on that sunny north east Sunday morning, we drove past Low Fell’s Allerdene field, the shuttered up Spar and the local working mens club, before looping back onto the A1 motorway heading south.

As we joined the A1, I shoved a tape into the car’s cassette player. The tape in question was the Stevie Wonder album Hotter Than July, which I’d brought knowing my pater was fond of most of its tracks. Master Blaster (Jamming) just one of many great tunes on this cassette.

Image result for ford cassette player 1980

With the Ford Cortina’s speakers blasting out the song ‘I Ain’t Gonna Stand For It’, I offered to drive part of the 250 mile journey if my dad felt like a break anytime. As I’d not passed my driving test or even had a lesson yet, my dad sensibly declined my offer.

My father (Mally) is a very patient and understanding guy but, as I’d stupidly only brought one cassette (the Stevie Wonder album), when the third play of Hotter Than July commenced he was starting to look tense.

Little signs of disenchantment were being exhibited by the old man. These including the grinding of his teeth, gripping the wheel so tight it left finger nail marks and frequent enquiries of “Is this the only bloody tape you’ve brought, Gary?!”……. I may have been misreading these indicators, however to me they were giveaway signs all was not well with Malcolm Strachan.

After a few hours we arrived at our hotel in Victoria, London. After I’d crowbarred my dad’s nails from the steering wheel and he’d removing the batting pads (which he idiosyncratically chose to wear on the journey) we checked in.

Following a bite to eat and a drink in the hotel bar my dad seemed less tense. I toyed with putting Master Blaster (Jammin) on the jukebox but, concluding it might send Mally over the edge, thought better of it…… Strangely, I was unable to find any trace of the cassette for our return journey!