Quietly and with careful thought we decided to be "all in the same place at the same time".
A planning/press conference/photo session was put together and we successfully all met up yesterday for food, chat, photos, set planning and to welcome Marie Eve to the band. But this is The Tangent. And Fate wasn't just gonna sit back and let that happen without a fight.
We'll start with the minor problems. Be assured - the major one is coming.
They closed the M3 motorway which is the road that nearly all of us needed to take - leading to late arrivals and general frustration.
The train that I needed to take from Yorkshire to the South was interesting. The train BEFORE mine was late - therefore was still standing in the platform when I arrived to take my train. I mistakenly got onto the train. The guard of the train came to check tickets and told me that i was not on the right train. I explained that I thought this WAS my train, but this was not suffiicient to merit my journey continuing without the addition of 150 POUNDS to the 120 POUNDS I had already given to Richard Bransons Railway venture for the service. I said - "I'll get off and get on the right one which is following us down". No way would that work for the guard of the train. he kept my ticket so I could not even do that. While trying to extract more money out of me - the train stopped at Doncaster. I decided that I would as well and disappeared from his view. The train I should have been on arrived 5 minutes later and I had to continue without a ticket - hiding in toilets and sitting on the floor in the vestibules keeping my eyes open for the guard. Lovely. Treated like a criminal for making a little mistake.
Some good stuff too of course. Insideout had found us a nice place to work for the day near Basingstoke with a great photographer - in a nice hostelry where we could work and chat. it turned out to be 2 minutes drive from our friends Alison and Martin Reijman's home in the house they call Prog Cottage. We spent a great time lying on the grass looking up at the sky - why will become apparent - and we did interviews, photos and had a lot of fun seeing each other for the first time since the 2014 tour.
As usual - a lot of this was all made possible by our lifelong friendship with Ian Oakley. The fact that so much Tangent history has taken place either with him or in his home in Essex has led to many songs in the Tangent repertoire mentioning not just HIM but the places around where he lives. Basildon being one, Southend another, the Lost In London series. Basildon obviously appears in "Bat Out Of Basildon" our former drummer Tony Funkytoe Latham is based there - Southend is mentioned in a few songs and in fact they are BOTH mentioned in the new album along with Rayleigh (where Ian lives) and the Southend Arterial Road which connects these places and has been the scenes of many a Tangent adventure. The band has had speeding tickets, instances of being knocked unconscious by closing van doors, irreconcilable arguments causing the end of amorous relationships and a ridiculously large number of smaller stories from a place where none of us (Tony excepted) actually live.
This morning, to commemorate this unlikely relationship with a road in Essex and a Yorkshireman and a Swede who lives in Austria - Ian Oakley decided while he drove Jonas to the airport to take a photo of Jonas and myself by the huge Basildon sign on the Arterial Road. The photo included in this message is the one he took.. It's a nice photo. And yet within seconds of it being taken - the Southend Arterial Road took another shot at The Tangent.
Just seconds after the shutter was pressed Ian was on the floor. His leg was broken in two places. having slipped down the grassy bank. This was obviously an awful thing to happen to Ian - who as usual had acted beyond the call of duty driving us everywhere, having us as guests in his home and much much more. But added to that the fact that as we called the ambulance we had to become aware of the fact that Jonas had a plane to catch in an hour, I had a train to catch (which as you now realise from the previous anecdote is not that simple to change in the UK now) And neither Jonas or I can drive a car - and the guy who we were relying to get us there had parked a car just off the Arterial road and was lying with a broken leg - while we were sitting on a roundabout - both a long way from home.
The 999 (USA = 911) call was very frustrating as they wanted to know where we were. Even our patient was laughing though his pain as I was pleading with the lady on the phone to try and understand that we were in front of the structure you see in the picture. All she wanted was an address and a postcode. I had neither - just the most recognisable and iconic landmark in the area but this was simply not enough to do the tickbox procedure she was evidently forced to go through.
"OK GOOGLE" I remember saying to the phone "GET TAXI". The guy on the end of the Taxi phone said that taxis could not pick up from where we were and Jonas would have to go to the carpark of a nearby hotel to be picked up. His phone was not working and as Jonas took his leave and disappeared at the other side of the roundabout I wondered what his chances of getting home to Vienna would be. We'd planned to see him off at the airport giving us enough time to get me to the station.
After having battled with public services red tape tick boxes and bureaucracy for over 24 hours now - it was fantastic that the Ambulance crew arrived and were beyond fabulous. Ian was treated by the roadside for almost an hour by some of the most dedicated and professional people I have ever had the fortune to meet. Ian was heroically cheerful through the whole thing. Fabulously stoic and positively inspirational... my goodness but he knew some pain today.
Ian was, in my eyes, injured in the line of something that is not his duty - but which he does anyway. In all the discomfort and realisation of how this would affect the coming months - he never once thought to even suggest that "if he hadn't been so....." it wouldn't have happened. The Tangent was Ian's idea. Many years ago. He did not curse himself for that once. He was still worried about how we'd get home and concerned for us.
Ian's brother and wife got to us at Basildon Hospital where Ian will undergo an operation tomorrow - hes' now "comfortable" and said he was "enjoying the gas and air". I'm hoping that this thread will be full of messages of support for him by then!! Jonas is home - I have JUST got home after having spent another 300 mile journey avoiding the guard of the train - becuase this time the one I was supposed to be on was NOT following us!! 120 pounds to sit by the toilet in a vestibule in both directions. Pah!!
Now all this happened on a one day photoshoot. You can imagine what it's like being on tour with this band. As usual - we've managed to all get where we were supposed to be going - people have bent over backwards to help us out and the whole weekend requires our gratitude to Ian Oakley, his brother Neil and his wife Julie and son Steven Oakley - Martin & Alison, Freddy Palmer, Cliff 'Progzilla' Pearson and Sally Collyer. Ian of course will get into another song set - once again somewhere on the Southend Arterial - (the A127)
Theo, Luke, Jonas, and Marie-Eve - was FANTASTIC to see you all again. Long may our adventures continue and to everyone out there... thanks for being with us on this 15 year ride. Love ya Ian!!! Thanks for the opportunities you gave us all.