Taking the long way home (a 20yr old guide)

It was the 20th May 2017 and after checking in to our hotel in Paddington after a long trip from the South West we had a freshen up and it was time to see Roger. This would have been the second year in a row seeing him, only this time we would be 6 rows from the front of the stage at the Royal Albert Hall!

We took a walk through Hyde Park on the way to the venue and it couldn’t have been more perfect. The sky was blue and there was enough sunshine to see the glory of the Albert memorial opposite. A sign outside with Roger on it confirmed tonight was the night!

Many people crowded at the entrance but then we realised we weren’t entering from Arena F, we needed to walk round to Arena A! The entrance was eerily quiet but we managed to go straight in, oh my gosh this was exciting.

We bought a quick drink and navigated to our seats. The stage was set. A large drum kit at the back accompanied by synths and in the middle a beautiful Yamaha Grand Piano. Rogers acoustic guitars all stood proudly in front of them alongside his keyboard. To the right side of the stage there was a table of numerous brass instruments and gadgets and gizmos. The stage was lit in a calming blue and green shrubbery had been brought in especially as if to create a relaxed feeling.

The Royal Albert Hall seated over 5000 people that night, and the atmosphere was wonderful. The excitement built until they all graced the stage kicking off with “Take the long way home”

All of my friends have no idea who Roger Hodgson is and I have to explain he is the mastermind behind the popular group ‘Supertramp’. Normally a few songs being played from the album ‘Breakfast in America’ confirms to them that they know the group! As much as people should know who Roger is we like the fact that we get it and others don’t. Being in our 20s makes the music more special and sentimental to us.

The night was full of staggering music and a quick glance round the room showed me that the audience was buzzing and having just as much fun as the group on stage. I believe that the group who play with Roger are just as incredible as the man himself and all deserve great admiration for their musical abilities. We found much amusement to learn that some of his Canadian colleagues tried hard to practice some of the lyrics which are required to be sung in a British accent.

I am 29 years old and my girlfriend who is 22 both love Roger and have adored all of his music (yes all! Every album back to back). We don’t just love him because of his music alone. When you see him live he confirms to you what a good hearted man he is. I don’t believe it is possible to create such heartfelt lyrics as Roger does without knowing how to connect with people and he does that with ease.

Roger played some great tracks from In the Eye of the Storm, Breakfast in America, Crime of the Century and an exquisite performance of Fools Overture from ‘Even in the Quietest Moments’ on Grand Piano. There were countless other tracks but he picked some lovely lesser known tracks, well, at least lesser known to most people.

By the moment ‘Dreamer’ kicked in we both immediately stood up from our seats and started clapping and dancing for Roger. The people around us weren’t as quick and for a moment Roger was in direct eye contact. Roger looked directly at us and delivered that wonderful smile and a wink. Having that briefest of connections with Roger was a wonderful moment.

The room was now anything but still. Everyone in the audience felt commanded to stand up and have a dance. Song after song it got better. The happiness was in the air around us and you could feel it right through your soul. Roger made us both intensely happy that night and he deserves great thanks.

A well deserved encore brought more fun including most of the audience taking out their umbrellas and dancing to “Its raining again”. I didn’t want it to end. The bittersweet thing about seeing Roger perform is that it feels very fleeting because he takes you on such a journey through his own life with his wonderful music.

I have learnt that Roger does take requests so if we are lucky enough to see him perform again next year I will request my favourite song “Poor Boy” from the album ‘Crisis what Crisis’. I can imagine his accompanying vocalist doing a superb job of those crazy sounds at the beginning.

The show was now over and we loved every second of it. We stepped outside of the Royal Albert Hall confirmed that Hyde Park was locked for the night. Being unable to find a taxi we decided to “take the long way home” which seemed fitting.

Thanks for the giving us young folks a wonderful night Roger, you move us with your music and for that we are all eternally grateful.

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The Plus & Minus system

What is it that makes your best friends; your best friends? Is it their sense of humour? Possibly! Is it what you have in common? To an extent! What makes someone your best friend is down to nothing at all except for our belief in the concept of having best friends at all. You may have lots of friends that you meet over the years but only a few will make it into the special “best friends league”. Many people from my observations will either give no thought to this and will just have 500+ friends that they go partying with or they will have a select few individuals that met the passing criteria.

It is my belief that this criteria for finding true friends can fall down to a system I call “The Plus and Minus system”.

How it works – this system might sound a bit Marxist but it is useful to explore as a thought experiment. The concept is that every time you engage with someone they get a score which is hidden, you decide the score and every time they engage further with you the score changes.

If you meet someone for the first time they start at a neutral zero. Every time they do something positive they award points and anything negative you take away points. How you reward or take away points is up to you. Below is a typical system of awarding:

You receive a message on your Facebook wall to say happy birthday  (+1)

You receive a card with a preprinted message (+5)

You receive a hand written letter with a message tailored to you (+10)

The scoring system will go on in your own head, and you will remember some of the scores you gave. Alison at work when she always talks nonstop about grandchildren may be firmly in the negatives for a young teen but in the positive for a new mum as they can exchange notes.

If someone is deep in the negatives you must really hate them, but on the flip slide they would probably vote you as negative too so it’s equal scoring both ways. It is not to say that you or they are wrong for being in the negative it is just the way this subjective system works.

Scoring bias – We all know that person who scores someone way up in the dizzy heights for no reason. I have seen people in their 20s talk about their grandparents as “the best people in the world” and flood their Facebook with such claims. You meet them and you don’t understand all the fuss. Sometimes you will score high because you’re looking through rose tinted glasses. This shows that you can score in a warped way that could be later disproved to yourself. When you’re two and your gran bakes you cookies she is 300+ when you taste them again at 30 you realise how dry they are but you still love her for it and it becomes a 25+ instead.

Typical low scorers – If you apply this system you can learn what you value in people the most. If music is your passion; when someone cannot keep up with your conversation (because they don’t know who Paul Simon is) you sigh and mentally mark them down. After a few more attempts you realise that you have sufficiently kept them at their low score, and after possibly hundreds of attempts allowing them to redeem themselves; you realise this person is never going to be close to you. If you apply this system you will notice trends of particular things that award low scores such as people who use the word “Literally” in ever single sentence. You won’t always be right but sometimes just as much as overhearing a phrase will convince you this person is a low scorer before you’ve even spoken to them properly.

Why this system is bad for us – as demonstrated in the last section the scores will change as we change. There may be the intention to keep people deep in negatives for no good reason. Children at school make rash scoring choices, and unfortunately some children will be marked into deep negatives just because they have cheap school shoes.

As adults we are still making unfair sweeping judgements on people. What is important to you is what guides your score but we have to learn how to score in the correct way. Is the person decent? Yer okay you don’t watch gossip girl and your favourite band isn’t Girls Aloud, but does she listen to you and make an effort with other people? Does this girl act in an altruistic and virtuous way?

We must learn to be responsible for our scoring and take more notice of how we cast our votes. Remember that people are trying to be affable with the best qualities they have, even if they aren’t to your taste. We cannot expect people to be instinctively trying to impress us. If you listen to people and try hard to see who they really are you will always find goodness in others and then it won’t be so difficult to give good scores!