Thursday 7th October
Clothes... check... Car keys... check... Cat... erm dammit! After retrieving my cat Ziggy from her hiding place I was ready for the off finally! Not too bad considering I was up packing until 5am! So off down the M4 to go and stay at my parent's house for the weekend in London - very handy having free accommodation sometimes! All this waiting and hoping and now it was time to go - I was so looking forward to the 2 day long Bowie Fest!
Friday 8th October
Had zero sleep because of all the excitement! I had a lovely welcoming phone call from Spaceface last night to check on final arrangements for the party, all the planning and wondering if we thought of everything! Oh well - too late now! I popped into the chat room briefly last night on Dad's phone bill eeek and had my last chat with people that I was to meet the next day - chat would never be the same again!
After a rather fraught and convoluted journey which I spent the entire time looking at my watch and panicking I arrived in Hammersmith - at least I know my way round London and didn't have to worry about getting lost! I rushed over to Edward's and checked that everything was sorted for the party - which it was thank goodness! Then I began to make my way over to the Riverside Studios where I would meet the other BowieNetters for the first time! I rounded the corner in a real flap feeling all hot and bothered to see a crowd of people gathered across the road from the studios, I kept my eyes peeled for familiar faces from the Database (what a godsend that site is!).
I first spied Carl aka Brit Boy lurking outside Cedric's Cafe and headed on over - he looked terrified! After giving the poor startled lad one of my now infamous rib crushing hugs - which virtually everyone was subjected to countless times over the weekend - we set about meeting the other BNetters and keeping our eyes peeled for the arrival of Bowie.
There were people waiting outside with their entire vinyl collections for Bowie to sign! After a brief sighting of Bowie's band heading across the road, the rest of the BNet Chat troops began arriving. Next on the scene were RaMOANa, AMan and their friend Annette, I spotted them from down the road but I could see Ram looking and looking and thinking and then she accuses me of having the wrong colour hair lol!!! Next on the scene was Spaceface - my partner in crime of Bowie Party organising, ringing me on the mobile so she could walk towards me in the street and find me! Then into the queue and the anticipation began to build and we spied Mark Plati and accosted him - much to his surprise and requested to see his cycling legs!!!
We were then let in and headed straight for - you guessed it - the bar! lol We then met up with Spidey and Helen2 inside and we all waited to be let into the studio. The crowd were very determined and it was a real push and shove into the studio when it opened! Elbows out head down type job lol! I don't think the floor crew had quite anticipated the fervour of all the Bowie fans who were there for just one thing and not too bothered about the rest of the show!
Amongst the throng I spied Paul Kinder (Rednik) and we waved at each other over a sea of people. After much resoluteness we managed to stake out a good pitch for Bowie's appearance and eagerly awaited him. In the ad break they brought on these scantily clad dancers and I have never ever seen such a quiet and unresponsive audience in my life, all the blokes just stood in silence waiting for the man! The TFI crew were very bemused by it all. Then he appeared and we needed no cue from the floor manager to cheer!! The crowd suddenly erupted into life and the jostling began. We all craned our necks to see David telling his stories on the monitors. Then eventually the door to the bar opened and out he came - the crowd went bonkers and he made his way to stage through a forest of grabbing hands and shouts of "David" and "Sailor!" from the BNet Chatters lol you can't take us lot anywhere! We stood - crushed to bits - transfixed to be so close to David as he performed Survive, Rebel Rebel and a somewhat impromptu encore of China Girl. It was a totally amazing experience being so close to David performing it totally took my breath away and I treasured every last second of it. At the end David came over to shake Paul's hand and I also managed to get my hand shaken!!!!! What a moment!!!
We then all trooped out back into the bar overcome with excitement and extremely hot but grinning like Cheshire cats and hugging each other to bits in disbelief of the performance we had just witnessed! It was really wonderful to be able to experience this with the lovely people from the chatroom whom I have got to know but never met before. It made it a completely amazing experience and it was so special to be able to share it together.
Then it was off to Edward's for some well needed food and more beer for myself, RaMOANa, Carl, AMan and Annette. We must have looked rather bedraggled and phased when we arrived as we were still reeling but some food and beer enabled me to get myself together for the role of co-hostess for the party. Everything had been arranged to perfection except the give-aways didn't arrive which was a real shame but we didn't let that spoil our party. The Rednik clan arrived shortly after followed by Spidey and Don and then my co-host Spaceface arrived and we set about preparing for the arrival of all the other guests. The room quickly filled up and to the sound of Bowie we all set about having a damn good time! We upped the tempo on the music and everyone was up and dancing. We had no complaints about music funnily enough ;) it was Bowie, Bowie and more Bowie!!! Normally you're lucky to get one or two Bowie tracks at a party but this was brilliant! I also got to meet Susans who was the first person I "met" on BowieNet in the 3D chatroom who I tracked down to persuade her to come to the party! Halfway through the evening I had a sheepish Paul ask me if they could all stay with me at my parents house as they had run into accommodation problems! Fortunately the answer from the folks was "yes" and my poor Dad was assigned the task of making up 4 beds!
The party ended all too quickly, even with the extended license, as some people had to leave earlier to get their trains home - including RaMOANa, AMan and Carl (but the best thing was that the core contingent minus, very sadly, Spidey, Don and Helen2, were all going to meet up again the next day for NetAid!!!! So after some very sad and tearful farewells we stumbled off into the darkness in search of the Rednikmobile. After walking what seemed miles we got to the car and I had the delightful task of having to navigate back home through London when I could barely even make out the road signs! Paul did a great job of interpreting my drunken arm signals and vague pointing and muttering about the A316 and got us back to my folks place with no mishaps!
First things first - COFFEE!! I started on the first round of what seemed endless cups of coffee - now I knew what the extent of "BRB Coffee" actually meant lolol The two Steve's crawled into their beds, and me, Paul and Dawn sat up till all hours chattering and watching TFI on video pointing ourselves out and reliving the experiences of the day.
Saturday 9th October
Ugh... Grunt... Blear... morning. I woke up unfeasibly early at 7:30 by Ziggy biting my feet and was forced out of bed to go and feed her. I then had to go and tell mum and dad about the events of the day and explain who the four strangers were who had slept in their house overnight! The four "sleeping beauties" were eventually prized out of bed only to consume record amounts of coffee and much to Paul's amusement he was greeted by my Dad as 'Manchester Paul' lol. After a sufficient supply of caffeine we all piled back in the car and headed off to Wembley and fortunately my navigation instructions were a little clearer this time!
We got to The Greyhound pub on time and met up with the chatters again as well as a strong contingent of other Bowie fans from the party and proceeded to nurse our hangovers with a 'hair of the dog' or two! Spaceface had brought our banner with her with 'Hello Sailor' resplendent in giant red letters on it for us to wave at the concert much to amusement of the others - but it was to be a special thing for Spaceface and myself!
Although we all went into Wembley in small groups determined by our tickets we somehow managed to locate each other again admist the 90,000 or so people and we took our seats and waited for Bowie. With a few wry comments from Paul about spotting Bowie to the side of the stage and setting everyone frantically peering at figures only to discover they were being teased! Very brave really considering he was sat in front of RaMOANa ;) But unfortunately Paul's scheduled BowieWonderworld leaflet drop from the airship was not to be ;)
When it was time for Bowie, Spaceface and I headed out into the throng to get a good view and wave our banner! Our efforts were to be well rewarded with a change of lyrics to 'Life On Mars' where Bowie sang "Oh man look at those Sailor's go" instead of 'cavemen'!!!! Karen and I were ecstatic!!! We received a lot of curious looks at our poster as they wondered what on earth it meant! We both sang our little hearts out in the crowd, fortunately no one could actually hear my singing but then again if they had it may have made a nice clearing in the crowd! lol Raptured and enthralled we revelled in every moment of it drinking it all in as the climax to a very special weekend. We headed quickly back to the seats after Bowie to say goodbye to the Rednik Clan as they set off back to Manchester for their Dublin trip the next day - the lucky things. The realisation began to dawn that it was all over but the high from seeing Bowie two days running and from meeting everyone managed to keep us going. I felt rather lost as we left the stadium and headed back outside into reality, what were we to do now? It was all over. But casting this aside we made the most of our last few moments together and took yet more photos of us all and still more rounds of hugging and smiles. We eventually parted and drifted off into the London night to our various tube and train journeys. I sat on the train home grinning furiously with Bowie's voice still buzzing in my ears and a wonderful glow of the warmth and kindness of all the BNetters that I had the pleasure of meeting. I sat on the station on my own singing away as I waited to change trains - Lord knows what the guards will make of the station security video of me on the platform that night!
So back to reality - well sort of anyway! I eventually arrived back at my parent's house to find it all in darkness, I missed having the others to talk to about the concert who understood who I felt about it all, so I rang Spaceface to check she got back to her hotel safely. We just talked and talked for ages and couldn't quite believe that it was all over but we were so happy how well it had all gone after the months of planning and worrying about it all.
It was a weekend that I will never forget, getting to hold Bowie's hand, seeing him perform that close to me and the hugeness and awe of NetAid and the lyric change!! I also know that the BowieNetters that I met that weekend will be friends for life and are all very special to me. This wouldn't have been possible without Bowie and also now without his developing BowieNet and encouragement of the sense of community that we have in the chatroom. BowieNet is a very special place and I will be eternally grateful for the people which have been brought into my life as a result. So thank you David and Ultrastar and thank you BowieNetters for being such special people.
By Steph - (Electric Blue)
10th October 1999.