Friday, 30 December 2011

2011 in three words

Picture Source

I tweet - occasionally.

I vaguely understand hash tags (#) and trending. I don't usually see the point, but tonight #2011in3words is top of the pops.

It's really interesting to read what people have written. Here are just a few (of probably millions).

Another year blown.
I'm still alive.
Learnt from mistakes.
That was quick.
Worse than expected.
Post Potter depression.
Rest in Peace.
I'm still standing.
My life's complicated.

I've gone and depressed myself now!

Am I the only person who thought that 2011 absolutely rocked?

Some of mine would be:

Stood in trench.
Wore fairy wings.
Married in zoo.
I'm Mrs Pocock.
Champagne up Eiffel.
Coast to Coast.
Chasing a whale.
Stalking a Moose.
Crossed Checkpoint Charlie.
I've got Shingles.
Loved Duran Duran.
My Wonderful Life.

Bring on 2012!

How about you?

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Summary and the day after Boxing Day

If sitting on the sofa in your pyjamas at 5 o’clock in the afternoon clutching a bottle of Sudafed in one hand and a tube of Pringles in the other is the sign of a good Christmas, then I must have had one.

Did that really just happen?

I am pooped!

Catering for seven from a kitchen the size of a toilet cubicle with a borrowed double roaster is probably one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. Potty mouth chef Gordon Ramsey and I have more in common than I thought as I barked out orders and frightened my relatives. I may have covered Christmas Dinner in gravy – but I’m not convinced I covered myself in glory.

I suspect my helpers weren't taking things seriously.

I’m wondering whether a pair of ‘Cosy anklet socks’ with slip resistant grip, a fancy shower cap, a cushion with a tray on the top for TV dinners and a spinning optical illusion which makes body parts look bigger – are just the thin edge of the wedge when it comes to presents now that I’m a married woman? 

The frightening thing is that I'm actually really pleased with them - practical and stylish. It's the Holy Grail of gifts. 

It was really interesting to merge two families for the first time and to see how they interacted:

  • The charade players vs the TV watchers.
  • The rip off the wrapping paper speed present openers vs the carefully peel off the sellotape fold up and keep the wrapping paper for next year, take all afternoon present openers.
  • The brisk after dinner walkers vs the put your feet up and have a snooze-ers.

It took until Boxing Day to wrestle the TV remote control from my Dad who was glued to the News Channel, providing regular updates on the health of the Duke of Edinburgh. As usual we watched that Christmas comedy classic ‘Titanic’. As a tribute to Leonardo DiCaprio and his amazing acting eyebrows, we decided to change our door bell to play ‘My heart will go on.’ As usual I sat there willing the ship to miss the iceberg. Although I’ve seen the film at least 28 times before, I was optimistic. I thought “This time – maybe this time it’ll miss and Jack and Rose will live happily ever after.” Unfortunately it didn’t and it sank - again. I should know better by now really. I don’t think I’ll watch it next year, it’s all too upsetting. 

The undoubted Christmas star this year however was Charley Bucket, our naughty pussy cat who not only got under the silver foil and had a go at the turkey while it was resting, but was caught under the dining room table later in the day looking decidedly guilty with creamy whiskers – a corresponding cat’s face inprint could be clearly seen in the trifle. 

But, it was when Charley, splendid in his new diamante Christmas collar decided to get in on the Christmas gift giving act that things really kicked off. Strolling into the front room during The Queen’s speech with his present clenched between his jaws. Charley was very pleased with himself as the mouse’s tail which was sticking out from the corner of his mouth twitched pathetically. 

Before he could deposit his gift under the tree Charley found himself thrown back out into the yard with the cat flap firmly locked behind him. Having spurned his ‘Happy Christ-mouse’ present Charley sulked with us for the rest of the day.
Standing for The Queen's Speech.

So – as we’ve all had a lot on this last week, here is a summary of all last week’s blogs. If you get bored with Celebrity Mastermind and Christmas Animal’s do the Funniest Things – you can always play catch up.

On Monday we played Nigella Bingo.

And I apparently offended the entire North Korean nation with a Team America homage to deceased former leader Kim Jong Il. 

His Excellency Mr Ja Song Nam, the North Korean Ambassador to the UK left the following comment on my site:

“The Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea, the National Defence Commission of the DPRK, the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly and the Cabinet of the DPRK, party members, servicepersons and people of the DPRK wish to convey their deep upset at this disrespectful misrepresentation of our Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il”


As my Duran Duran gig review  from the previous week made it into my top five most viewed blogs, I received a much less scary comment from an anonymous reader:

"Great blog, Alison! You have just the right amount of spunk and flair to convey the Duran2 concert experience in a nutshell. You ROCK!"

I like to think it’s from Mr Le Bon himself!

Tuesday bought us Santa’s Crack and a Christmas ales quiz .

On Wednesday I went all poetic with words from 20 years ago found under a Womble

On Thursday we went back to New England for another instalment from our New England Road Trip – it was 9/11 and we were spanking the monkey on Cape Cod

There was also a re-worked old favourite with some weird and wonderful Christmas presents from years gone by. 

On Friday a bride’s plea to Santa not to look like a fat Umpa Lumpa on her wedding day with my weekly Brides Up North feature. 

Followed by my take on Christmas classic ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ after watching the last 10 minutes - first!

Christmas Eve arrived on Saturday with lots of last minute preparation, a proper summary of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, a really great film that’s skipped into my top 10, and competitive mince pie eating from Wookey Hole.

Christmas finally came down the chimney on Sunday and with a whole round of ‘Happy Christmases’ and kisses under the mistletoe, I shared something very precious – my present to my dad. A web site for all my very talented mum’s paintings

And with that we slumped into a haze of turkey sandwiches, Shrek and Last of the Summer Wine Christmas Special.

I hope your Christmas was every bit as good as you hoped – and that your cat didn’t end up wearing the trifle as a hat!

Sunday, 25 December 2011

A very special present (my mums paintings)

Happy Christmas Everyone  

Well here we finally are. I hope you all have a really fantastic day. I shall be cooking dinner for seven. Me and Tris, my dad, sister, in-laws and sister in-law. Actually I suppose it's eight if you count Charley Bucket, our naughty pussy cat.

There is however somebody missing at our table. My lovely mum. It's ten years this year since we had - in the words of Wham - our last Christmas. 

This year I've done something rather special for my Dad's Christmas present. Mum was a really good artist. In the years before she died she took up her brush and started painting again. During that time she did a few commissions, won some competitions and did a couple of exhibitions. But her paintings never really reached the audience that the internet now gives us the opportunity to reach.

When I was at my dad's at the beginning of the month, I bought back her portfolio's and since then I've been secretly been scanning them in. My mum - Janet Staples (not to be confused with an American artist with the same name) now has her own web site (

Happy Christmas Dad - Happy Christmas Mum - Happy Christmas everyone!

Please do visit mum's web site and enjoy her pictures (click here)

Friday, 23 December 2011

'It's a Wonderful Life' - A Christmas classic (the last 10 minutes)

Picture Source
I am probably an authors worst nightmare. When I buy a book I always read the last chapter first. I then spend the rest of the book trying to stay one step ahead of the author to work out how we are going to get to our conclusion.

I've just had a very similar cinematic experience.

Despite the name of my blog, would you believe that I've never actually seen the 1946 Christmas classic - 'It's a Wonderful Life'!

I'm quite ashamed.

So, I'm going to go right this minute and buy the DVD and watch it. However I've just watched the last 10 minutes on You Tube - so this is what I know so far:

  • Jimmy Stewart (George) is on a bridge in the snow shouting to someone called Clarance that he wants to live again.
  • We are in a place called Bedford Falls.
  • It's Christmas.
  • There's a reunion with his previous life (so it seems that Clarance came good).
  • There's an arrest warrant.
  • He has more children than the Von Trapp family - one of which is called Zu-Zu (?) who is apparently ginger.
  • People arrive and start throwing money at him.
  • Long lost brother Harry turns up and they all sing Auld Lang Syne.
  • There's a book with an inscription:
          "Dear George, Remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings! Love Clarance."

  • A bell rings on the Christmas tree.
  • The end - Hurrah!

Using my Sherlock Holmes powers of deduction I would say that George has probably been in the jungle on 'I'm a Celebrity'. The programme is so awful there is an arrest warrant out on him for crimes against entertainment. But he's won which is why people are throwing money at him. Clarance getting his wings is probably something to do with Russel Grant getting blasted out of a cannon.

Am I close?

I guess I'll just have to watch it from the beginning and find out........... (to be continued).

Published in 'Brides Up North'. Santa Baby

23rd December 2011

 What would be in your bridal letter to Santa?

This weeks Brides Up North guest blog takes a humorous look at a nervous bride-to-be's wish list.

Click on this link to read the article

Thursday, 22 December 2011

USA Today (13) – 9/11 and cod pieces on New England’s fist

Today it’s back to New England for another instalment from our road trip in the fall – aka our honeymoon.

Today is 9/11. Its ten years since I flew out of New York. I was in the air returning to the UK as the planes were flying into the twin towers. I missed it by a whisker (you can read about that amazing and ultimately traumatic trip in this previous blog). Today was Sunday – we’d be arriving in New York in two days time (Tuesday). Not ten years to the date, but ten years to the day since I left.

I knew I’d be having my New York moment in a couple of day’s time so I parked my emotions until then, because today we had different fish to fry. We were off to Cape Cod.

I’d forgotten what 6.30am looked like – but there it was yelling at me to get my backside out of bed. So I flung on some clothes, did my hair (hair straighteners – yippee) and got a lift with our Bostonian friends down to Alewife Station – possibly the best metro station name in the world. 

By now we were riding the T (metro) like locals, emerging like little meerkats at The Boston Aquarium. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and we were heading for The Provincetown Fast Ferry to Cape Cod.

I’m not quite sure why I bothered to do my hair, because once we got cracking on the ferry I insisted on sitting outside. It’s not called the fast ferry for nothing. It didn’t take long to bring back that ever so chic ‘dragged through a hedge backwards’ look. 

Boston harbour.

As we sailed out of the harbour, the view of the Boston waterfront was spectacular. But it really turned my stomach to see planes flying into Logan airport over the harbour in front of the sky scrapers. 9/11 was so much in everyone’s mind, it made you shudder to see them. Inside the ferry people were watching the 9/11 memorial service in silence on the TV – the name, age and home towns of the victims scrolling along the bottom of the screen while the former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani and President Obama spoke to the crowds. They were cut dead at 10.28am. The time flashed up on the huge screen at Ground Zero to commemorate the time that the North Tower collapsed. I’m not alone in remembering that moment as clearly now as ten years ago.

Ninety minutes after leaving Boston we arrived in Provincetown at the very end of Cape Cod. If you imagine the Cape as an arm sticking out from America’s east coast then Provincetown is the fist. I’d read in my guidebook that a rainbow flies over Provincetown – not in a Wizard of Oz way but in a gay friendly way. Yes, Provincetown, Cape Cod’s fist is probably the gayest place I’ve ever been to.
Picture Source

I pride myself on being broad minded but even I had to try not to stare at buff men in speedos walking hand in hand down the street past shops with names like ‘Spank the Monkey’ and ‘Burger Queen’!

We’d arranged to meet up with a friend – Tris’ old Scrabble adversary from his two years spent teaching in Zambia through Voluntary Service Overseas (2002-2004). Unlike Tris, she had got itchy feet again and was teaching in Cape Cod through an exchange programme. She’d swapped her house, job and car with a local teacher who had likewise stepped into our friend's life back in Scotland. 

So we had our tour guide for the day, driving us around all the sights which needed to be seen – historical theatres, cinemas, libraries – it was all very cultural. 

Cape Cod cinema.
We stopped at Barnstable Bay for lunch. It was my first chowder to the trip and it tasted amazing.

Our friend's ‘houseswap’ house was really cute and funky. A traditional one storey wooden clapboard house it was stuffed full of quaint and kitsch nic-nacs. All I could think was that it must have been a nightmare to dust, but that’s just the kind of gal I am!

Sadly we didn’t get our timing quite right, getting caught in a Boy Scout 9/11 parade on the way back to Provincetown. With only 40 minutes left to explore we bought presents, ice creams and then we were on the ferry back to Boston.

Almost got a picture of a Minke Whale!
Our voyage home wasn’t however without incident when we were almost boarded by a Minke Whale. One minute we were powering across the ocean, the next the proverbial anchors were slammed on as we performed a dramatic emergency stop. We clung to the railings as the ferry came to a halt and then dashed over to the side to see the whale breaching up into the air before diving back under the water. 

We arrived back in Boston and headed to Quincy Market where the British, for some reason were defending Wagamama’s . 

Very precious noodles.
I’m not sure who they were defending it against – possibly the entire Boston Fire Department who were letting off steam in the ‘Cheers’ bar further down? The sound of bag pipes was a tuneful? if not odd reminder to the Celtic origins of so many from this city.

Quincy market.
In honour of our trip on the ocean waves, we plumped for ‘The Salty Dog’ for dinner who served us with calamari, blue cheese salad, lobster linguine and October beer. As the white fairy lights entwined around the branches of the trees twinkled in the moonlight, Summer in Boston 2011 couldn’t have really been much better.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christmas Poet - words from 20 years ago

Picture Sourcce

21st December 2011
 It's 20 years since I first went abroad - the beginning of my lifetime love of travel. 

I was a late starter, it was September 1991 and I was 22 years old. I flew with my friend to Kenya. It was my present to me for working for a year in a proper job without getting sacked and with my degree in zoology and only a trip to Milford Haven to look at limpets under my belt I wanted to see big game. I wanted to see the animals and the ecosystems I'd learnt about in theory, red in tooth and claw for real.

It was an amazing trip. We stayed on the coast near Mombassa and visited  Tsavo and Amboseli national parks on safari. Driving around on the plains, with Mt Kilimanjaro as my backdrop surrounded by herds of absolutely everything, I was like a kid in a sweet shop.

Having said that, I was really disturbed by the vastness of the deserts we flew over to get there. 1991 was hot on the heels of Band Aid, Comic Relief had only been going for a few years and I had just studied Ecology and Biological Resource Use and Conservation as part of my degree.

The other day when I was searching in Narnia in my top room for my Duran Duran scrap book, I discovered my old trunk full of old stuff. Underneath a layer of old teddy's, a Womble and presents from old boyfriends was my Kenya scrap book. 

And inside my Kenya scrap book was a poem I'd written. I've no idea if it's any good or not but it's how I felt all those years ago. I'm not sure how much has changed over the last 20 years, but like the Womble, I think it deserves an airing. 

At at this time of hyper consumerism and consumption it's a chance for us to give a thought to those people living in that wasteland who will be having a very different Christmas to us. So here it is - I hope you like it.


Four hours to fly over a wasteland,
A desert, a nothing, a void,
No green trees or forests below me,
Just red sand with which man had toyed.

The vastness below really scares me
From high above in the sky,
A few minutes to cover the Channel,
A few hours the desert, so why?

Why this mass desolation?
Who caused it? Who can I blame?
The earth does have natural deserts,
But the size of this one is insane.

The people who live there are guilty
Of stripping the life from this place,
By grazing, by farming, by living,
By belonging to the Human Race.

The people who rule there are guilty
Of crushing the pride from this place,
Their greed and their lust and injustice
Cause poverty, starvation and hate.

The people who fly there are guilty,
Too quick to criticise and blame,
Returning to ‘safe’ little countries,
Closed minds ignoring their shame.

The shame of their self preservation,
Of selfish values and greed,
Of absent minded destruction,
Of classing all wildlife as ‘weeds’.

Any hope for your beautiful wasteland?
Any hope for my conscience and pride?
Who cares that your sands keep on growing?
Who cares that my country has died?

I will do my best to help you,
To help you grow and be green,
To be lush and fertile and fragrant,
Transforming your nightmare to dream.

But I must not neglect my surroundings,
So ‘fragrant’, ‘lush’, ‘fertile’ and ‘green’,
My country has so much in danger,
So much worth preserving, unseen.

And so I find strength in this wasteland
With its haunting elegance and charm,
River veins scar its complexion,
Like life lines upon my own palm.

                                                  Alison Staples (1991)


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas ales quiz

Source Picture Brewpublic
20th December 2011

Christmas eh - what a fine excuse for drinking too much and making merry. 

 It's the time when the marketing team down the brewery come into their creative own - the crazier the name for their festive ales the better.

My husband (what's he like) posted a lovely one on Facebook yesterday. I have to say, if Santa stood on my roof like this on Christmas Eve, he wouldn't be coming down my chimney - I'd be lighting the fire.

I've made up a story - see if you can recognise any of the ales. Billy bonus points if you can tell me the brewery. No prize - just for fun!

One Christmas eve, Tris went down the pub with his neighbours, known collectively as the 3 Wise Men, calling on the way for their bonkers friend the Mad Elf.

"Hoppy Newbeer" said the Festive Totty behind the bar. "which of our festive ales would you like?"

"Yule Do" said Tris to the bar maid, "you're a proper Christmas Cracker!"

"Anybody seen my Rednose Rainbeer?" asked Santa, sozzled in the corner of the room. "Mrs Clause is going to put my Rosey Nosey in a Nutcracker if she sees me like this."

"Dasher & Flasher! Donner & Blitzed! Come to Santa."

"Where can they be?"

"Anyone fancy going into town to see a Lap Prancer?" he slurred. 

"Nah" said Tris, we're off to church later for the evening service, we've got to go. It's a Critical Mass.

"You're no fun" said Santa. "Bah Humbug!"

How many did you get then?

Monday, 19 December 2011

If you only do one thing today - 'I'm so ronery'

Today the death of North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il was announced.

If you do nothing else today, watch this clip taken from the cult film 'Team America' of Kim Jong Il expressing his loneliness. I don't want to cause offence by making fun of a dead person - but it is a good clip.

Click here to watch the clip.

Monday Summary & Nigella bingo

19th December 2011

 Sorry for being a bit late with my usual summary of the week's adventures. I've been culinarily challenged and partied out.

What do you do when you offer to make (yes make, not buy) a dessert for a dinner party full of domestic goddesses? Well - you bring out the big guns. 

Nigella - a woman who can hold spaghetti and text at the same time.

Christmas Dinner with my girls in Sheffield came of age this year. Sixteen years young and still going strong. When it comes to planning my December diary, Girlie Christmas Dinner is non-negotiable.

I am however dealing with women who like to read cookery books for fun and can tell you which book your recipe came from faster .than you can say 'Jamie Oliver'!

Bearing in mind I needed to get my creation over the Snake Pass in one piece, I chose carefully. Something that wouldn't run, slop or melt.

Despite Sainsburys letting me down by not having the stipulated special black cherry spread - replaced with blueberry and made out it was done on purpose on the grounds of anti-oxidants - it was something of a triumph.

The best meal of the year (plus canapes - sorry Diana, forgot to take a picture).

I only own about three cookery books. Nigella's is by far and away the most fun. Primarily because it always comes out at dinner parties for a 'Nigella bingo and caption competition'. Only Nigella could display her food at breast height and match her sweater to her meal. 

See if you can match the caption to the photo (should make for some interesting google hits!).

1. Look at my lovely cups.
2. Spaghetti nipple tassels.
3. Mother's milk.
4. I've been having sex all night and I'm ravenous.
5. Imagine it's not herbs I'm holding ........
6. What a lovely cock.

I wrote in a previous blog about my favourite road - The Snake Pass, between Manchester and Sheffield. While it was a bit dicey on the way over the Pennines, on the way back it was treacherous. Amazingly beautiful but terrifying. By the time we dropped down into Glossop (15 mph and second gear all the way) the road had been closed to traffic coming the other way. I've never driven it in conditions like that before - it was glorious. 

Other than taking on the elements and a cheesecake - it's been a week of Christmas parties. Hosting our annual mulled wine and mince pie party, the Christmas Carol Service at our local church followed by Lad's (code for cheese - it's a long story - I'll explain it in another blog) and wine, gigs, cinema, shopping - and of course I've been 'on the blog' as it were, quite considerably.

So here is a summary of last weeks Christmassy blogs - so you can play catch up:

On Tuesday the blackberry vodka I've been brewing for months made it into it's festive bottles.

Thursday it was hankies at the ready for Christmas Hair (my cancer story through my barnet).

Friday was my top 5 Christmas weddings in Soap Land, for my regular Brides Up North gig.

On Saturday my review of the film 'Puss in Boots' was published by 'The Good Review'.

And finally, on Sunday - it was like sitting next to me at Friday's Duran Duran concert at the MEN Arena in Manchester. Give yourself a treat and check out 'All You Need is Now'.

Wowzers - what a brilliant week!

I hope you are having a good time in the run up to Christmas. Deep breath everyone, the end is in sight x

Sunday, 18 December 2011

All You Need is Now – Duran Duran gig review

18th December 2011
(MEN Arena – 16th December 2011)

I’m going to set out my stall. 


Usually when I go to gigs I feel like a bit of fraud. I probably know one or two of the more famous songs, but other than that I’m left there wishing I’d done my homework and bought the CD before the concert ticket.

Not so with Duran Duran. Hell – I’m an expert. I even know all the B-sides.

My Duran Duran collection including my scrap book and art homework, a mosaic of the Rio album cover. Got an A!

And so the evening dawned - the June 3rd concert that had to be postponed because Simon Le Bon got a throat infection. I could barely contain my excitement.

I did try to theme our entire evening by booking Tiger Tiger for dinner (track 8 – Seven and the Ragged Tiger), but was beaten to it by a Co-op Christmas party. Instead I settled on Cafe Rouge – with the intention of recreating the ‘View to a Kill’ video with Grace Jones on the Eiffel Tower.

I last saw the band in 2005 where we danced the night away just in front of the stage. The last six years have clearly taken its toll on Duranies – seating only these days. Well, none of us are getting any younger. I think the years have been kinder to Yasmin Le Bon, which is why I suspect Simon married her and not any of us.

Unlike the early days, there were a lot of men in the audience – probably on the promise of sex. There’s nothing like recapturing your youth to make you feel a bit frisky.

Shameless Duranies!
My co-Duranie in crime for the evening was my friend Cat, who it seems was living a parallel life to me in Norfolk during the ‘80’s. When we first met 10 years ago, we bonded over our Duran Duran scrap books, which we’d kept and the fact that we both loved drummer Roger Taylor (not the usual choice). 

It wasn’t always Roger though. Initially I loved Simon (I was 11 years old). I thought he looked like Irish Eurovision superstar Johnny Logan. I soon dumped Johnny for Simon, who I loved unconditionally until I read in the newspaper an interview where he claimed to have bedded thousands of women. I was devastated – I thought he was saving himself for me. I reviewed my options immediately and switched my allegiance to Roger.

While my friends and I were writing full length works of fiction featuring the fab five (my book was called ‘Five Delights in Dark Green Tights’, featuring Roger and his band of merry men), Cat and her friends were writing alternative lyrics to ‘Wild Boys’ – ‘Wild Bogs’! By far and away the best lines are as follows:

“The Wild Bogs are coming on their way back from the drain,
In Andrex toilet tissue the result of your gut pain.”

I’m sure if we ask her nicely she’ll treat us to this reworked classic in its entirety in the comments box below.

Duran Duran are brilliant live – and last night they didn’t disappoint. 

Highlights of the evening include:

  • Simon’s glittery trousers.

  • The four weird talking heads above the stage.

  • The ‘Twitter Break’ during ‘Tiger Tiger’ where you could tweet the band and have your message displayed on a big screen. Sadly I didn’t take my glasses so couldn’t read the text from where we were sitting. But it was a nice gesture and allowed at least half the audience the opportunity for a guilt free comfort break - pelvic floors aren’t what they used to be. I didn’t tweet them. I’d ‘Facebooked’ Roger earlier and he hadn’t replied so that was my toys thrown out of the pram!
  • The video of the supermodel superband for ‘Girl Panic’, featuring Naomi Campbell and various other of Yasmin’s beautiful friends.
  •  Shouting “I love you Roger”, then turning immediately to my husband “obviously not as much as you dear.”

  •  Recreating with, Cat synchronised saxophones (as in the Rio video) at the shows finale.

  •  The audience participation at the start of The Reflex.

  • Careless Memories – my absolute favourite Duran track, from their first album.
  •  Shutting my eyes and pretending I was 13 again.
    • Sticking my dignity in my hand bag – along with my shoes – and going f*cking mental to some of the best music ever made.

    The concert was being filmed so we really were Girls on Film for the evening. They didn’t actually play that one – but with a massive back catalogue and a great new album to promote they played 20 songs, a good mix of new tracks and old classics, and were on stage for close to two hours.

    So the set list went as follows:

    1. Before the Rain (exciting and very atmospheric opening).
    2. Planet Earth (crowd go berserk – shoes come off).

    3. View to a Kill (remembering James Bond, Grace Jones, Eiffel Tower and Simon Le Bon in a beret).
    4. All You Need is Now (how very true that is – shut eyes and tried to savour the moment).
    5. Blame the Machines
    6. Come Undone (always an emotional one).
    7. Safe (in the heat of the moment)
    8. The Reflex (‘Flex-flex-flex-flex-flex).

    9. The Man who Stole a Leopard (excellent sample from the BBC Newsroom).
    10. Girl Panic (supermodel superband – cannot get the bloody song out of my head).

    11. Is There Something I Should Know? (buying it on the day it was released – straight in at No. 1!)
    12. Tiger Tiger (tweet break).
    13. White Lines (something like a phenomenon).
    14. Careless Memories (my absolute favourite).
    15. Ordinary World (link arms and sway).

    16. Notorious (feeling funky).
    17. Hungry Like the Wolf (memories of Sri Lankan videos).

    18. Reach up for the Sunrise (the cardigan finally came off - remembered I really should have shaved arm pits).

    19. Wild Boys mashed with Frankie’s Relax (encore).
    20. Rio (the video that summed up the ‘80’s)

      All in all it was a great evening. The band sounded tight and Simon’s voice was as good as ever. It was so good to have them back. Having said that – after all that dancing, I can’t seem to get my knees to work today, but who cares!

      ‘All you need is now’ – my new philosophy on life.

      Thanks boys x