06.08.2023 | “It’s No Life if You’re Forgetting to Live”

Lyrics: “Just For Tonight” ~ Operation Mincemeat: A New Musical, 2023

I’ve lived plenty these past three days. But I didn’t get enough sleep and thus this post might be a bit rambly, as my mind feels rather tired. “Ordering the wrong kind of pizza” kind of tired. I’m not kidding. I don’t usually check the pizza box when I pick up the pizza, because they usually don’t make mistakes. When I opened it tonight at home I thought this was the first time I need to complain. I checked the order again just to make sure. Nope, it was me who messed up the order. It was still vegetarian and I still ate half of it, because I needed some food and I didn’t have anything left at home. Still…. Ugh! OH SO TIRED!

But I know that the next few days I won’t find or take the time to gather my thoughts and share a few photos, so rambly post it is. For some reason the RAW images of the gig photos I took last night unfortunately all look a bit grainy and not that good. The JPGs look fine or at least better. So there must be a way to turn the grainy RAWs into sharper images (because the camera itself obviously did it and it can’t be magic). Something to look into at some point.

Road tunnels in Brussels and a voice in my head | The drive to Brussels Midi Train station on Thursday went fine all in all. I’ve done this drive a few times now and every time I still at least once miss a turn. Brussels street system is something to get used to and I obviously haven’t yet, as I once again missed to take the “right” left lane to get into the road tunnel I need to drive through. There usually are ways to get into the tunnel later, but it takes time (traffic lights, cross-roads and such) on the surface roads. Then there also are forks in the road tunnels, which are just as tricky to navigate. On every other trip on the way out of the city centre I usually miss one and have to drive in circles for a bit.

The first time this happened on my first rather impromptu drive to catch the Eurostar in 2018 it was one of the many travel anecdotes I told my mum about after I’ve returned home. She thought it was quite funny, because apparently in 1980 (!!!) when we came back from a family trip to the UK we also passed through Brussels (at night) and my dad got lost in the road tunnel system as well for a bit. I don’t remember any of it, because I must have been asleep in the backseat. But my mum was very clear in her memory of what happened. I do recall her telling me that anecdote every time I drive through the tunnels in Brussels since then. When I loose my way in the tunnels (usually on the way back) I remember it twice. These days, when I’m not able to hear my mum’s voice for real any more it’s a bitter sweet, but still fond memory.

“The voice in my head” is a quite poor segue to

Operation Mincemeat (Again) | On the drive to Brussels I listened to a podcast / interview cast member Jak Malone did a few days ago. He mentioned that the one line in his tear-jerker “Dear Bill” with the biggest risk to  make him tear up a bit as well is

But it’s good to hear you even just in my head

“Dear Bill” – Operation Mincemeat

It reminds Jak of the moments when he hears his late Nan’s voice in his head. When he talked about the “Finding Hester” campaign I also welled up a bit, which is not the best thing to do on a Belgian motorway.

Picture shows the Fortune Theatre in London. The signs are lit in yellow. The front of the theatre has huge display of the Operation Mincemeat musical logo. Hitlers hair and below a smaller sign which looks like a suitcase: it says Operation Mincemeat a new musical
New look for the Fortune Theatre
Picture shows three women, two men on stage before a black background. They are all wearing black trousers and white shirts. They are jumping up to various degrees
Operation Mincemeat “post show” jump

I had such a good time seeing this show again; this time from the 4th row, which is the closest to the stage I’ve ever been (yet). You’d think after having seen the West End version 3 times already and previous versions multiple times as well, I’d know the dialogues and actions on stage by heart. And in a way I do (thanks to the soundtrack) but in other ways: I so don’t! It’s amazing that even this 4th time there are tiny details I noticed for the first time. Themes sung in the background. Props I hadn’t noticed before. It’s amazing.

Just as it had happened in June, Ewan Monatgu was played by the understudy Holly Sumpton. And while she is good, I did miss “my” Tash Hodgson in that role. I guess I do have to come back to the see the show once (or twice) again in 2024. They have extended once more till the end of February, so there is plenty of time to plan. The friend with whom I’ve met up to see the show had bought the CD (for yet another friend) and got it signed by the cast at the stage door. Getting something signed is always a good occasion to talk to them. And once again they’ve all been lovely and gracious with their time and some have been quite chatty as well. I just love those guys. As you can tell from the amount of words I’ve written about them in the past few years. 

Back to Belgium | Saturday morning – after not enough sleep – I left London again to head back to the continent. I will share a few more stories and photos of the one day in London later this week, I hope. The Eurostar Terminal at St Pancras was super busy yesterday morning, mostly with people taking the Paris route it seemed. I was quite early for my 9 AM train to Brussels and was told to come back in 20 minutes. I showed up after 10 (as I’m wont to do) and was then directed to the queue for the 9 AM to Brussels. The queue went ALL the way down the concourse and even around the corner. I mean WTF? I could have been somewhere in the middle of the queue already. It all worked fine for me in the end – obviously -, but I was a bit pissed at that staffer anyway. The train ride a such went without further incidents. For some reason the mass of passengers in the queue and later on the full train made me put on a mask again for the first time in ages. I didn’t wear one on the ride over. I didn’t wear one in sold out theatre. It’s psychological, I guess. As so much else. But kind of interesting to notice in a way. 

For the night of the 2nd part of fangirling this weekend – Frank Turner at Brakrock Festival in Duffel – I had booked a hotel near Brussels airport, because there wasn’t anything suitable left near Duffel. It’s a 25 minutes drive from the airport and I was fine with that. The drive from the train station to hotel went more or less ok. See “fork in road tunnels” and also some of my SatNav’s directions on the motorway were a bit unclear to me. Maybe I was just too tired. When I checked in the receptionist asked me if I was in town for the concert. I was pretty sure he didn’t mean the festival 25 minutes away, but I told him about that anyway. “No”, he said. “Rammstein are playing their third show here tonight.” Ehm, Nope! Thank you very much. 

I was able to check in earlier than expected, so lay down for some rest, after checking the weather forecast. There was supposed to be a lull in the rain around 5-ish, so that’s when I headed out to see… 

Frank Turner @ Brakrock Festival | I found the city and parking easily and walked over to the festival site. I think it’s about time to confess I’m not the festival type. I like my gigs to focus on the band I want to see. I often don’t know or don’t care about 75% of the bands at a festival. I like my indoor plumbing and solid ground beneath my feet. I admit also preferably a roof above my head. 

Blue hiking boots with a lot of mud on them
My boots after 6 hours at a the festival site

Alas, Frank was only playing festival slots in Europe this summer, so if I wanted to see them at some point I had to go to one. And Brakrock in Belgium it was. It’s on the small side, I’d guess up to 3.000 people at the same time, at 3 stages around a castle ruin in the woods. Quite lovely setting in fact. The other band I wanted to see that evening was BadCop/BadCop and they were on at 20:10. After finding my bearing re: toilets and such and after getting something to eat I then decided to go get another drink around 19:00. I recalled the empty bar at the start of the festival site, so I turned around to go there. Guess who comes walking towards me in that exact spot and that exact moment? Frank Turner himself. We looked at each other and I think for a millisecond we both were a bit startled to run into each other. And it actually really was just a quick Hey & Bye: a hug, pleasantries, moaning about the rain. But seriously, what were the odds? I admit I kept grinning for quite a bit after.

I watched BadCop/BadCop and liked them as I knew I would from their music I’ve listened to so far. By the end of their set the rain started to fall more heavily so I put on the rain poncho I brought and the baseball cap to keep the rain from my glasses . And I didn’t take neither off till I got back to my car after Frank’s set. Because it kept raining. A lot! For Frank’s set I managed to get a spot at the barrier (not on my usual side, but that was fine) and at least kept standing on a solid metal surface for a while. Lo and behold, the rain turned into a mere drizzle shortly before Frank started playing. Until the last two songs, when it started to pour heavily again. 

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls on stage. The lighting is pink / violet
Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls
Frank solo playing a new song
Frank Turner playing a red/brown electric guitar. Green/yellow lighting in the background
Frank playing a guitar solo
Photo of a stage. Frank Turner with just a mic, drummer Callum, on keys Matt and bass player Tarrant in the background. Heavy rain visible in the right side of the photo
The rain came back for “Four Simple Words”

But enough about the weather. I had the best of times regardless. It’s Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls playing songs I love to sing along to. Songs I love to move around to. Some songs with some words that mean so much to me. Being able to scream along to those words in a crowd full of like minded people while seeing the man who wrote these words sing them to me (well all of us) always does wonders for my mental health. And it’s definitely been to long since I had the chance last (October 2022). 

Sleep is another thing which helps with my mental health, so I’m trying to head to bed early-ish today. As mentioned above more about London (my run in the park and along the canal, the Postal Museum) another time…


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *