Day 1,351: High Flying Birds


So the last two weeks have not been particularly merry ones. But, on the bright side, I’ve been able to spend time with my dad (and… er… let him beat me at Trivial Pursuit) and I’ve been able see my friends and have a good mooch around my city. I was invited by my mate Steve to the annual Hollyoaks barbecue, Brian and I came third in the infamously difficult Fact Cinema Film Quiz (sample question: “Who Directed Caddyshack 2?”) and, let’s face it, the Paralympics were BRILLIANT.

Last Sunday morning, nice and early, I made my way down to the Big Smoke, London, or ‘Kings Landing’ as I’ve decided to call it from now on (a place awash with incest, vice and vile plots). I arrived in time to catch the end of the marathon and met up with Matt Eland and his mate Val for a few cheeky tinnies in the park. The weather was spectacular and the afternoon was as thoroughly pleasant as the one I spent doing pretty much exactly the same thing four weeks ago when I first arrived home.

I left Matt and Val in the capable hands of Hyde Park and met up with Lindsey, one of my top mates from back in the day. We joined up with fellow Liverpoolian Michelle for a night-time picnic on Hampstead Heath before heading back to watch the closing ceremony of the Paralympics on the telly.

Now I was in London for two reasons. One was to get myself a visa for India (no that’s not cheating, I could have got it just as easily in Sri Lanka if I was there) and the other was to try and find a nice new home for the broadcast of the post-Jan 2010 Odyssey Expedition tapes.

That’s a whole lotta tape.

…but that could all wait until tomorrow. For the moment, I had some athletes to oggle at. Today was the day of the London 2012 Olympic Victory Parade. I headed over to meet with Sam Morton, an old school chum of mine who works in the City of London. Being the spawny git you’ve all come to love and loathe, this meant I was at the very start of the parade. While others had to make do with shakycam iPhones held aloft as their favourite Olympians from Our Greatest Team whizzed past, I had the pleasure of getting some cracking footage of Jessica Ennis et al on my trusty old Sony A1 before the buses had even started moving.

That on its own would have been cool enough to freeze the Red Sea, but the best was yet to come. After the buses had rolled past and the cheering and hollering was done, Sam had to get back to work, so I met up with Matt Eland and Val and we jumped the Underground over to Trafalgar Square – the idea being that we could head ‘em off at the pass, so to speak. But as the train trundled through Embankment, we thought there’d be too many people there, so why don’t we try and gatecrash the ‘ticket only’ event on The Mall (the big road what runs up to Buckminsterfullerene Palace)? As things transpired, we didn’t need to bother: a bit of Scooby-Dooing later and we got a much better deal: Birdcage Walk.

You see, after all was said and all was done (Boris Johnson’s line about ‘The Final Tear-Stained Juddering Climax’ reminded me of… oh you don’t want to know), our Olympians and Paralympians would be (st)rolling down Birdcage Walk towards the coaches that were scheduled to take them to the after-show party.

In other words, if the Olympics were the Greatest Show On Earth, we found ourselves waiting at the stage door. And we pretty much had the place to ourselves!

Watch THIS:

Heeding my own advice there, Stan and I headed over to the pub and met up with Matt and Lindsey, who had become estranged from me in the melee. We toasted to the end of the Great British Summer of Sport, we toasted to The Queen and we toasted to evil! It was a good good day.

…and then Murray goes and wins the US Open! Fancy that!!

Tuesday began with a long walk from Lindsey’s flat in Kilburn Maida Vale to Victoria to put in my Indian visa application. While sitting in a nearby café, nursing my £1.50 mug of tea, I got a Facebook message from Russell out of The Zutons (who I used to go to primary school with) asking if I wanted to come see him play at The Roundhouse the next day. I said yeah and he put me down on the guestlist with a +1. It wouldn’t be until much later that day that I realised that Russell was now the bassist in Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Hey, I’ve been away, okay?!

Which means that in the few short weeks I’ve been home I’ve seen not only Blur but half of Oasis as well. For free! Did I mention how good Britain is to me? Lovely, lovely Britain. I love you. I know I was a bit harsh about Australia in my last post (and no doubt lost a good few subscribers) but still… Britain!

My friend Scott rang and told me he had arranged a meeting with a TV producer who is looking to do some work with Google (they what own YouTube). After my experience at the hands of mmm, mmm and mmm I’m not keen to go anywhere near another TV show, but I’d be very happy to let my adventure from January 2010 onwards be uploaded for all you watch online, anywhere in the world. So the meeting was set for the next day and there was a spring in my step as I skipped over to Islington (another good walk) to meet with Scott and his wife Louise for some after-work drinkies. We were joined by Matt The Mick and those few after-work drinkies turned into a few after-work drinkies too many.

I ended up kipping at Scott’s and in the morning we went to his workplace, The Creative Corporation in Islington. It’s a top design company with its offices in Britannia Row Studios – a building owned by Pink Floyd. So much awesome stuff has gone down in that building it’s insane – Animals and The Wall were recorded here, not to mention Blue Monday and Cool For Cats. After I calmed down from my awe-struckism with the musical heritage of the place, I met Scott’s boss Dave (who I’m now meeting up with in Madagascar, with any luck) and prepped for this meeting.

The meeting went well (it’s not what you know…) and I spent the rest of the day poring over the emerging details about The Hillsborough Disaster (and subsequent cover-up) and trying my best not to distract the flame-haired office apprentice, KC, from her work. I wasn’t so good at that. In the evening, KC and I headed to Kings Cross to meet with another flame-haired marvel, Dan “NME” Martin as well as Matt Eland. After a couple of drinks, Dan headed off to the gig he was supposed to be attending, Matt and I headed off to see Noel and Russell at The Roundhouse and KC headed off home (as I kicked myself for not having a +2).

The gig was brilliant, not as many Oasis songs as I would have liked, but still, how good is it to see a guy who you’ve known since you were 5, someone you used to chase around the toilets with Betty The Bog Brush, standing on stage, supplying the bass and harmonies for Noel freakin’ Gallagher? Russ, you rock my world!! Afterwards, as I raced back to Lindsey’s on the last train I looked back on what had been a great day for me personally, but also for my city of Liverpool.

If you’re not from the UK, you might not know much about the Hillsborough disaster, but in a nutshell, back in 1989 there was a football match and 95 Liverpool FC fans were crushed to death after the police shepherded people into the back of an already full standing terrace. Another fan, brain-dead and on life support, died a few years later.

Instead of taking responsibly for their mistakes, the police blamed the fans. And everybody – the media included – towed that party line.

It came out today that the police, the politicians, the media and the Football Association had been LYING THROUGH THEIR TEETH for over 23 years…

They say ‘read it and weep.’ Never has that expression been so apt.

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Lindsey

    Graham darling – it’s Maida Vale NOT Kilburn!


    1. Graham

      I wondered why it was such a walk from Kilburn station!!

  2. Em

    Fun fact for you: I’ve been a backing singer for NGHFB (in the choir at the Newcastle and Glasgow gigs). I actually prefer some of his new songs to most of the Oasis back catalogue. Anyway, good luck for continuing the Odyssey!

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