30 Aug 2000 - Johnny's Back

LIKE ARNIE… I'm back!

I would like to start by thanking the band, the office and the crew for the fantastic help and support they have given me over the last ten days due to the sad death of my Dad. I was a little overwhelmed by their fantastic caring attitude and the kindness and help the all showed me especially Robbie Price, Dickie Bell, Dave P and the 'Goose Gang'. They really all made me feel part of the maiden family and I will never, ever forget their kindness…. Nor will my dear old Mum. God bless you all.

It goes like this…. I was sitting in the Stage Deli in New York with my partner in crime …Man Mountain … when I got a call from home. It was Jan, my better half. She informed me my Dad had been rushed into hospital in a bad way. I was shell-shocked, as he had been all right when I left. She said that they had a problem as the doctors felt that if they moved him he would probably not make it. The same if they operated so the were just gonna wait a few hours.
I'm not really sure what I did for the next few hours but the next I knew I was in a cab with Dave P (top man from the office) and Coxie. The phone rang. Dad had died. I tried so hard not to lose it and was so grateful to see Wally open the door at the gig. I went straight to my web room and wept my eyes sore. I then went into the crowd and lost myself. I seemed to be gone forever.
Later on I remember Dickie Bell telling Wally and myself that we had to go and get some more passport photos for our trip to Mexico Brazil etc. I remember this grumpy old New Yorker shouting at me 'No smiling …look sad … passport photos must look stern ' Well no problem there then.

To tell the truth the rest of the night was a blur. I remember talking to Janick about going home … I wanted to stay and he thought I should leave there and then. I guess I was scared to go and didn't wanna face it because if I left for home it had to be true.

Madison gig was as far as I can remember NOISY. The crowd were great if not somewhat reserved compared to the manic reaction crowds of Europe.
The Gardens wanted over $30,000 bucks for me to film that night … complete nightmare. I didn't film but I took over 200 photos. I have loaded the first collection up and will be loading part 2 in a few days time. I don't know how I took such good shots that night. I could remember a bleeding thing until I looked at the shots nearly 10 days later. God was looking over me that night.
The crew were plagued all the time by union reps who wouldn't let them do this or that. The Madison workers kept stopping for breaks and our crew HAD to stop as well or they were breaking Union rules. Complete and utter bureaucratic bullshit.

It was like being drunk … I was there … I could hear everything … I could see everything but I just wasn't part of it all. I was mentally detached from the whole thing. Forgive me Madison but heart was somewhere else.

Coxie organised a flight home for me and Jim.. bless his heart… got up at 6.30am next morning to bundle me into a taxi and send me to Newark airport for my flight to Blighty. Harry and Nicko took all my cameras and computers off me and instructed Jim to take them on the Goose to prevent me doing any work when I got home.

I just really wanted to be on my own but got stuck between two of the biggest 'mamas' I have met. Little old me was squeezed between these moaning whinging monsters for 7.5 hours. It was a fricking continuation of the nightmare. I just couldn't wait to get off the plane. Eventually I got home and some sleep.

The next few days were hassle really. Dealing with English jobworths and bureaucracy really got me down. I had to wait 10 days for the funeral. Why… because the bloody gravediggers didn't work on a Tuesday, the Cemetery staff didn't work on a Monday, the priest was on holiday, the reception hall was fully booked blah blah blah . But…. If you offered any of these heartless sods more money you could be moved up the list. I was livid. I hated all this. I just wanted to get the funeral over for my Mum's sake as she was getting more and more calls every day.

I'll skip the next bit apart from to thank the band and office for the massive bouquet of flowers they sent to the funeral. I also want to thank all the 'Goose Gang' for the extra bouquet that they sent. Walking along all the flowers from all the relatives and friends and seeing a bunch with ' Love from the Goose Gang 'on it lightened my heart and gave my mum a giggle on that tough morning.

I got up at 6.30am next morning, the day of the Holmdel, New Jersey show. The plan was to fly out to Newark and meet up with the main party at the airport. My flight was 8hours but meant I got into Newark about 2pm USA time. This was about 10pm UK time, which meant I had already been on the go for 15 hours. I was shagged.
The flight over was okay. Once again I was on Continental. Whilst flying their staff go on and on about the awards they have won. Don't get it myself. Their staff were pretty sullen and the leg space and seats were very uncomfortable. I couldn't wait to meet up with the Goose Gang. I missed them so much over the last week you couldn't imagine.

I had literally just stepped off the plane when my phone rang…. Guess who! Right first time … Coxie! He welcomed me back and asked where I was. I was actually with the immigration people. I was lucky really. I had sneaked some Bisto powder for me old mate Nicko and 1000 fags for Man Mountain. Gawd I wish he would cut down but he is a law unto himself. Lucky for me there was a do gooder, lesbian vegan in front of me. When they searched her bag she had shed loads of dried carrots, prunes, apples, honey powder, jars of Bovril, bags of rice …in fact it was like a shopping list for 'Vegans R Us'. The immigration guy hammered her for importing food without permission. It was a good 20 minutes she held the queue up and had us all waiting. She argued about every single item and refused to pay any fees so they marched her off somewhere to hose her down and feed her some gruel. By the time I came up the poor guy had torn most of his hair out. He asked me if I had anything to declare. I said 'a few extra fags nothing really …oh and 14 kilos of spinach powder' he laughed and just waved me on.

I waited outside in the searing heat for the band bus to come past. Suddenly I see Man Mountain leaning out of a bus window. I rush to the bus and they swing the door open as they are crawling along in the traffic. I leapt into the bus with my bag of clothes … oh yes I still managed to remember to take my dirty washing home … and my bag of goodies for everyone.
It was like Christmas I had brought Wally fags, Coxie and Dave the weeks UK papers so they could read the sport, Nicko his bisto, Harry his DVD magazines and some top carp mags for Adrian. The lads were soon into the banter and telling me the stories of what had happened since I had been away. Within an hour I felt great. The lads were great, very supportive but not to over bearing. It really was great to be back and be treated as if I had never been away.

Soon we were on the way to the hotel. I didn't have a hotel room that day as I would be flying out with my beloved 'Goose Gang' that night. I went to the hotel and went and had a great 'catch up on the news' chat with Wally and a freshly brewed English cuppa with the tea bags I had just brought from the UK for Wally.

No sooner had I said 'More tea vicar ' than we were on our way to the gig. I wanted to get there early to see everyone and check to see if my beloved cameras were still in one piece. I shouldn't have worried. Our wardrobe lady Marion the 'Ironing Maiden' has stored them safely and Jim ' That will be 20 doubloons you landlubber' Silvia had carefully stored the rest in the back of his car.

It didn't seem no time at all before I was back with the programme. Grabbing camera lenses, running errands and fully back into the swing of the show. I was tired but so very happy. Soon after I had set up my gear I heard the familiar ' you did, did you Johnny B' sounding to my ears. It was Nicko with the rest of the gang. He was in great spirits and seemed to be high on life again. Soon after him I saw me old mucker Harry. We chatted for 3/4 hour about everything and anything though mainly our beloved hammers. That's something you will be hearing more about this tour and the SHAMEFUL treatment we have received from the crew and production staff due to a little early season hiccup. Bloody Villa who are they anyway!

Then our saw our dear captain Courageous Bruce. He was great and pulled me to one side and gave me a very heartfelt talking to about how to deal with the next few days and the times in the future when I would be on my own and sadness would just hit me. Top man Bruce. Top mate Nicko and Up the hammers Harry you ageing old has been rocker …ho ho (see previous Garry bushel bit)

The gig came around all too soon. By the time it started at 9.10pm I had been awake for nearly 22 hours. Gawd blimey guvunor I need a pep up. I went to catering and downed three bars of chocolate, which I swagged off a dear lady there, and 3 cans of coke. That should keep me flying for a few hours.

The show was great. Noisy, boisterous and the band were really tight. It was great really great to be back in the frame. I took shed loads of photos that night as once again the Union Demons struck and I wasn't allowed to film. Bleeding nightmare. 1st night back and I can't film. What's that all about New Jersey? This is year 2000 and you should open your minds. People want to relive these great memories and one way is to see footage and go to their mates ' hey watch this … I was at this concert it was fricking amazing'.

I was ready for my bed by the time I finished shooting the gig but as my Mum always says 'No rest for the wicked '. We all have had hardly any time to ourselves this tour and everyone from the band to the crew and insignificants like me are feeling the pinch. I reckon we all must have been part of Genghis Khan's Army of Darkness in a previous life.

We were doing a runner. Remember this is where the 'GooseGangers' don't go back to a hotel but … straight to an airport to fly to the next place. After a quick shower where I borrowed towels off Nicko and Shower gubbins off Harry (thanks chaps) we were all bundled into a car and off to the airport where Bruce had the 'Goose'.

What happened? Well we had another adventure. Where can you read about it … same time … same channel just another day.

Thanks again everyone for all your support. It's great to be back.

See you somewhere, with my cameras.
Johnny 'S.O.T.V' B

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