Live 8: Edinburgh 50,000 The Final Push

My word, my feet hurt! I’m not sure about whether last night was part of The Long Walk to Justice but it was certainly part of The Long STAND to Justice. But, you know, if our being there and adding our voices and presence to that of millions of others does persuade the G8 leaders to write off the debt of world’s poorest people then I’m happy to hurt! But enough of my moans, what of the evening?

Last night was my debut visit to Murrayfield, but what better way to be introduced to Murrayfield than with a free ticket, standing on the pitch in front of the north stand, and Scotland didn’t lose!

Where we were at Live 8 Edinburgh
The arrow shows roughly where Jane and I were standing at Live 8 last night at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. (Photo: BBC News; arrow by me)

We parked ourselves as close to the stage as we could manage (see the photo above), standing in front of the stage ‘pier’ and in clear view of the right-hand video screen and waited for 70 minutes for the concert to begin. My brother Eddie and his wife Rebecca had seats in the east stand. We kept in touch during the night via hand signals and mobile phone messages.

The concert began with a giant curtain dropping to the ground on the ‘pier’ stage, while (I guess) 50,000 balloons were released revealing Lenny Henry resplendent in an all-black, leather kilt outfit, with the most incredible, horned sporran I’ve ever seen. Fantastic!

During the first hour or so of the concert there were 2 or 3 Beatles songs sung, “All You Need Is Love” by Jamie Cullum and Natasha Bedingfield, and “With A Little Help From Your Friends” by Wet Wet Wet. I began to wonder if I’d not turned up to a Live 8 concert but a fundraising event for Michael Jackson (who owns the rights to the Beatles’ back-catalogue and presumably gets a royalty each time a song is performed)!

My highlights:

  • The Proclaimers kicked off the show with, one of Scotland’s unofficial national anthems, “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” which had the entire stadium bouncing and singing along.
  • 1 Giant Leap were a band that I’d never heard of before last night, but were, by far, my highlight of the night. Their music was eclectic, complex, intelligent and truly absorbing. A combination of African and Western rhythms and vocals, traditional instruments and modern. Wonderful, wonderful music.
  • Eddie Izzard playing piano while Midge Ure played guitar and sang an acoustic rendition of “Vienna”.
  • Lenny Henry’s comedy blues song, accompanied by a solo electric guitar. And guitarist.
  • Bob Geldof’s band performing “The Great Song of Indifference” and “Rat Trap”.
  • Wet Wet Wet – legends!
  • Bob Geldof’s speech.
  • The many passioned pleas to the G8 leaders to end poverty. All it will take is $50 billion — and given that the war on Iraq cost over $300 billion…!!

I did have some mischievous fun with the young people standing next to us.

Live 8 Presenter: “Ladies and gentlemen, Feeder!”
Me: “Who are Feeder?!”
Young person: “What?! What do you mean ‘who are Feeder?’ !!”
Me: “Are they like Motörhead?”
Young person: “NOOO!!”

When Ronan Keating came on stage, my brother Eddie later told me that he turned to his wife and said “At this moment, Gareth is at a Ronan Keating concert!” That gave him great amusement. I turned the young person beside me and said, “I do know who that is … he used to be in Backstreet Boys!” That gave me great amusement.

And what can I say about James Brown? Or ‘Jim Broon’, as I prefer to call him? The Godfather of Soul. Not much, my feet were hurting, my shoulders were hurting, my legs were hurting. I was hurting. When he asked the crowd, “Do you feel good?” I had to be honest and say, “No, Mr Brown, I don’t.” But he wasn’t interested in my petty complaints, seemingly the rest of the crowd did feel good and he agreed with them, and sang them a little song all about it; it transpired that he had also previously anticipated that he would be feeling good at this moment. I can’t help but feel that the situation was a little contrived. 😉

We walked home: The Long Walk to Bed. It was a great evening, so much energy, so much passion, such an eager desire to end this needless world poverty. Let’s just keep praying for the G8 leaders. We wait for Friday.

Back on my bike

I went out on my bike today, for the first time in nearly 2 months.

It’s pouring with rain, but the perfect weather for cycling in, wrapped up in my cycling gear: cycling longs, long-sleeved and necked wicking top, hooded top, and breatheable waterproof jacket. I was like a furnace, the summer rain a welcome coolant on my face. I was only out for 30 minutes — a quick jaunt from the top of Drum Brae to Crammond and back, via Davidson’s Mains and a busy Queensferry Road — but it was a good, gentle start.

I’ve missed cycling while being off sick. I’m beginning to recognise that if I don’t get out to do some regular physical exercise then I get down, down, deeper and down. And I also need to balance it with a healthy eating, sleeping and prayer routine. You know, I reckon the monks got it pretty well spot on.

Using Skype leads me to wish for Outlook feature

Last week I took Skype to the next level and bought €10-worth of call time for SkypeOut. This allows me to make calls, from my PC that is connected to the internet to landline telephones anywhere in the world for a fraction of the cost of a normal international call.

The reason the calls are cheaper is because the call is routed via the internet to a gateway near the destination call, and all that is paid for is the short hop from the internet, via the gateway, to the landline. Last week I called my cousin Zack Anderson in San Francisco; we chatted for 26 minutes, it cost me 31p.

The world has suddenly become a much smaller place, with such accessible communications now available. Last week I called family in California a couple of times, and my friend Andrew Bukenya in Japan once.

It was only while I was trying to work out what time it was in these far flung places of the globe that I realised that there seems to be no feature in Microsoft Outlook 2003 to determine what time it currently is in the countries of my contacts.

It seems odd that while I can enter my friends’ details into Contacts, and can assign which country they are currently living in, this Personal Information Manager will not then tell me what time it is in that country. It would seem logical that this information is displayed near their telephone numbers, allowing me to look up their telephone number and immediately determine how antisocial I wanted to be by calling them at 03:00!

Surely that kind of feature doesn’t seem beyond the realms of possibility. After all, Windows XP knows from settings in Control Panel which country I live in, it knows my time zone and it’s able to automatically syncronize with an internet time server, and Outlook knows which countries my contacts live in.

I’ve searched the web for a 3rd party plug-in but so far have uncovered nothing. I guess in the meantime I’ll have to continue to use my trust Psion 5mx or 7. Even my 3mx has a world clock feature!

Do you, the people of the Internet, know of any Outlook plug-ins that would offer this feature? Would you like to write one?

Guest bedroom

This August we have a number of guests staying over during the Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festival, including friend Steve Lawson, and his girlfriend. (Maybe I shouldn’t be writing that, just in case there is an onslaught of journalists and fans at the door every morning, like that scene from Notting Hill.)

This afternoon, Jane and I reorganised our guest bedroom. That’s right, it’s now “Morose budget.” (That’s an anagram of ‘guest bedroom’ if you’re not quite as quick witted as James ‘Conundrum’ Frost, who understood that immediately.)

I can’t believe how much space we now have. And the room now looks like it has a purpose, rather than simply a depository for random pieces of furniture. Here, have a look:

Guest Bedroom - double bed
We’ve moved the double bed from behind the door, in a dark corner, to be the focus of the room. We still need to paint the wall behind it.

Guest Bedroom - desk
A light and roomy … er, room. Wall-hugging furniture all round! The door leads to the water tank, in case you were wondering.

Guest Bedroom - single bed and computer
Count the beds. Single bed, and orange Ikea futon/sofa. And Jane’s PC. That’s the one I want to install Linux on to.

I hope that scary American lady from House Doctor isn’t reading this blog.