Goodnight, Sweet Prince.

Yesterday was one of the saddest days of my adult life.

Yesterday, Prince died.

prince in memoriam

I can’t even begin to explain in words what he meant to me growing up, so I don’t think i’m even going to attempt it,  But I feel that I need to say something as a dedication and tribute to, what was, the finest musician ever to grace this planet.

Firstly, I have to commend Las Vegas for their tributes to Prince yesterday.  A majority of the radio stations were playing his songs back to back, Fremont Street added a Prince tribute show to their famous Fremont Street Experience, and a few landmarks changed their lights to purple, including The Venetian hotel, The Palazzo hotel and The High Roller ferris wheel.

The Fremont Street Experience

The Venetian

The Venetian

The Palazzo

The Palazzo

The Linq

The High Roller

Thank you Vegas.

But for me, yesterday was both sad and contemplative.

As I drove home from work, listening to Prince on the radio and crying like a dove as I sang along with “Baby, I’m a star”, I started thinking about all the years I’ve loved his music and everything it has done for me.

One of the best things to have come out of my love for Prince was a friend who I met at college back in the UK.  We had a few things in common; we were both a bit nerdy, we both loved video-games, we both owned Commodore Amigas (showing my age now) and we both had a mutual love for Prince’s music.

That said, we were also very different.  He loved rock music – something I wouldn’t come to fully appreciate for another 10 years or so – and had enough face and ear piercings to warrant being cautious when walking past a fridge covered in magnets.

But Prince was the glue that held us together.  We even started calling each other ‘Cuz’ like Christopher Tracy (played by Prince) and Tricky (played by Jerome Benton) did in the film ‘Under The Cherry Moon’.  It was that ingrained in our lives.

In the 90’s, Prince opened a shop in Camden (Which is in London, in case you didn’t know), and my friend and I would visit regularly.

npg shopnpg shop opening

Usually we would drag girlfriends along with us, who were obviously as thrilled as we were to drool over any sort of crap that had the infamous ‘Symbol’ logo on it.

I can’t remember everything I bought from that shop, but I do still have my Tamboracca somewhere in a box labeled ‘Stuff For Las Vegas’.

I wasn’t leaving it behind in the UK.

No way.

When a Tambourine and a Maraca love each other very much

Over the years I bought every album, bootleg CD, bootleg video (VHS, don’t you know), magazine, book, cassette tape (look it up, kids), tambourine/maraca hybrid and whatever else I could lay my grubby little hands on.

It was an obsession.

Prince was a god amongst musicians and his music connected with me at a level I can’t possibly explain.  And this was without the use of any form of opiates or hallucinogens.

In your face, Pink Floyd.

And when I think about it, I can recall the exact moment when I discovered Prince’s music.  It wasn’t ‘Purple Rain’, nor ‘Sign ‘O’ The Times’.  No, my discovery of Prince was the most unlikely of Albums’; it was the ‘Batman’ album.

Seriously.

We were visiting family in Milan (Which is in Italy, in case you didn’t know), and my cousin was playing the Batman album on vinyl.  Straight away I asked her who it was.

As soon as we got back to England, I bought it for myself.

Back then I used to buy vinyl and then record it straight onto cassette tape so as to preserve the vinyl, not realising the loss of quality that involved.

I didn’t care.  This Prince dude was pretty awesome.

Soon after this, Prince released ‘Graffiti Bridge’ and it was monumentally different from the album I had listened to a thousand times, yet somehow, I still loved it.

What the hell?

This was the moment I realised I’d found something special.  Imagine my joy when I discovered there were ten albums before these!

But before I had a chance to go through the back catalogue, he released another album; something Prince did every year!

That next album was Diamonds and Pearls.  From that moment on, I was hooked.  What an album.  Still one of my favourites to this day.

So anyway, back to my story.

As with anything, life got in the way and in 2007 my friend and I went our separate ways.  I must admit that I often wondered how he was doing and what life had thrown at him.

Not magnets, hopefully.

So I bit the bullet and contacted one of my Facebook friends who I knew was still in contact with him and asked her if she would forward a message for me.

I wasn’t looking to reconnect or bring up old wounds, I had no hidden agenda or motive, I simply wanted to convey my condolences.  Even though we hadn’t spoken for almost 10 years, I wanted to reach out and make sure he was OK.

You see, to us, Prince was our friend.  He was the third person in our exclusive friendship. No matter what happened, he was always there, telling us how much he cared.

He was always in our hair.

And yesterday we both lost our friend.

He replied in no time to say he had been thinking of me too and reciprocated my condolences.  That was all I needed.  He was finding it as hard as I was and I only hope he gained some comfort from knowing he was in my thoughts.

And now, here we are.  It’s a day later and I still can’t believe Prince is gone.

No more concerts, no more albums, no more anything.

My only wish now is that Paisley Park makes the decision to release all the music and videos held in Prince’s infamous ‘vault’.

That would be the ultimate gift to the world.

Let us bathe in the Purple Rain, just one more time.

purple raindrops

 

 

Rest in peace Prince.

Thank you for everything.

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Sarcasm is a dish not found on the menu.

On Saturday night my wife and I attended the Purple Reign tribute act at The Westgate in Las Vegas.  It was awesome and definitely worth a visit, especially if you’re a Prince fan like me.

Anyway, beforehand we had booked a reservation at an Italian restaurant to make it a proper date night.

Upon arrival we were shown to our seats and handed the largest menus I think I’ve ever seen. These things were like windsurfing sails.  Looking around the restaurant I could see people struggling to keep their chairs in place as they fought against the air conditioning.

At one point I saw a crying child fly overhead.

After a few minutes the waitress came over to our table.

“Hi, my name is (I genuinely can’t remember); are you ready to order, or do you have any questions?”

I looked up at her with a wry grin and replied, “Yes actually, I do have a question; is it possible to get a larger menu?  This one isn’t quite big enough.”

She smiled back and said, “Yes, I know.  The print is just so small and difficult to read.  We really need to make the whole thing bigger, sorry about that.”

At last, someone that gets it!  She knew I was joking and ran with it, commenting on the size of the text on these huge, wobbling cardboard monstrosities.  At last I had found someone that picked up on the subtleties of my English humour and gave as good as she got.

I was so happy.

After she had left, my wife (seeing my smile of satisfaction) leaned in, and said “You realise she thought you were serious, right?”

Fuck.

HugeMenu

Are you being followed too?

319.

It’s following me.

I know, I know, I sound a bit crazy…but I’m serious, I see it everywhere.

It all started with the awesome song by Prince called….yep, you guessed it…. ‘319’.

I didn’t think anything of it (except for it being a great track) until I starting noticing the numbers popping up from time to time.

I’d say, “Ha, it’s like the Prince song”, but that was it; just a coincidence.  However, over time I noticed it more and more.

  • Often, when I look at the time it just happens to be 3:19pm.
  • A few times I’ve woken up in the night to pee and when I come back to bed my alarm clock says 3:19am.
  • I once took a walk into town during a late lunch break and wandered into a store that sold household furnishings. As I passed the section that sold clocks I noticed they ALL said 3:19pm (I could’ve walked past or looked up at 3:18pm or 3:20pm, but no)
  • Many times I’ve loaded up a video game from my last save and noticed I’ve had 319 coins, or 319 experience points, or 319 health, or 319 bullets left etc.
  • Usually when I visit the supermarket to pick up something specific like, I don’t know, a roast chicken or a cheese grater; the price will be £3.19. And it will be the ONLY item at that price.
  • Last night I was fast forwarding through an American football game (because I was only interested in the final score) and I needed to pee, so I pressed pause and the game clock was at 3:19.

I remember the time I first told my wife about this oddity. At the time she was still living in America (in Nevada to be precise) so the conversation was over Skype.  I was using my phone because the charger for my laptop had died.  There was a problem with the version of Skype on my phone which meant the video didn’t work so we were forced to speak the old fashioned way with just audio.

Just audio! Can you imagine?

What next? Drums and smoke signals?  Maybe we should just grunt and throw our poo at each other.

Anyway, as I was telling her about this number stalking me I could hear her tone of voice becoming that of someone slowly backing towards the door or reaching for pepper spray. I couldn’t blame her; I know how insane it sounds.

During this conversation I was also looking for my laptop because I needed to find out what the required voltage was so I could buy the correct replacement power cable.  It was then that I noticed the serial number on the back of my laptop.

It was something like HP759187564-319.

I was actually mid conversation about this number and there it was, as clear as day. I felt like Hurley in ‘Lost’.

(Oh, and by the way, Nevada is home to State Route 319).

600px-nevada_319_svg

Is it just me or do others have this weird thing with numbers?

Am I seeing it because I want to see it?

I mean, I work in travel, so should I be concerned about this?

a319 plane

Surely others see 319 everywhere too, but they just don’t pay attention to it because, well, they have a life?  I see lots of numbers every day but that doesn’t mean they’re stalking me.

Am I going crazy?

Should I be taking medication?

tramadol-hydrochloride

Earlier this year I decided to have 319 incorporated into an existing tattoo I have on my shoulder.

When I told my tattooist and long term friend about it he was understanding (at least that’s what he said from the doorway whilst holding pepper spray).  I recall going home later that day and then something happened with 319 that made him say “Bloody hell, you’re right!”, but annoyingly I can’t remember what it was!

He was a bit freaked out.

Anyway, here is what it looks like.

319 tattoo arm

I actually had it done on March the 19th (3/19) at 3:19pm exactly.  Of course!

So why am I telling you about this now?

Well, this is my 319th post.

Seemed fitting.