I was standing in the jungle, I was feeling all right…. Journey to Europe – part 2

The above quote is from the ELO song “Jungle”.  Yesterday’s quote was from “Mr. Blue Sky”.

I had missed out on three Electric Light Orchestra concerts, all within a 30 year span each ten years apart from each other. What if something went awry? Granted, I figured that since this wasn’t a year ending in ‘one’ I should be okay, but I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t going to take any chances.

I only told a small number of people. I’m superstitious that way. I also only told one person of my ELO track record. I was afraid that if I told too many people it would happen again. Three people knew about the concert, including my brother. It was his turn to be envious. He reminded me that his concert had no violins or cellos. They were all on keyboards. I was going to see the full concert the way he had expected and I had always hoped to see it: Jeff with a full string section. I had always thought it would have been fantastic for him to perform with a full orchestra. Imagine the sound. It would have been fantastic. Here Jeff wasn’t going to play with a full orchestra, but it was the BBC concert orchestra, and that was close enough for me.

The planning of the rest of my trip took some thinking. I didn’t want to do a quick fly in and fly out. I suffer from motion sickness and don’t like to stack my flights together. Dramamine always made travel easier for me, but I still preferred to stagger the flights. So I had to decide whether I wanted to stay in the UK and head to Wales as I always wanted to do, or go somewhere else.

I tried to get tickets to one of Kate Bush’s concerts in London, but those were much more difficult and more expensive to obtain. Her tickets sold out in 15 minutes, which as a record. If I had lucked out I could have gotten them for that Saturday, September 13, but it was impossible. Fortunately, she announced she was releasing a DVD of the performance. I was satisfied with that.

I had always wanted to go to the Herge Museum in Brussles, so I thought about taking the train from London and spending a few days there. Then I decided to make it more enticing by including a few days in Paris. Train rides are much easier and less expensive. So after much thought I decided to fly into London on Friday night, spend Saturday sightseeing with Pat and attend the concert on Sunday, then take a train to Paris on Monday. That would give me two-and-a-half days in Paris. Then on Thursday I would take a train to Brussels and spend another two-and-a-half days before flying out on Sunday. That sounded like plan. I booked the hotels. It felt good.


Let me explain. I usually do not like to cram things into a vacation. I am all about taking my time while seeing as much as I can. I don’t like to rush. But here I was planning to get up the next morning after a concert the night before to hop on a train to Paris. Was I crazy?

I kept reassuring myself that it would work. After all the concert was going to end at 9pm, not midnight. And the train was at 10am. Then try to see as much as I could of Paris and Brussels in less than 3 days each. Could I do it?

I felt determined to try.

So I booked everything, and started to plan what I would need to take to the concert. My big dilemma was that I had never been to a concert quite like this before. I had gone to a couple of general admission shows, but nothing of this magnitude. I wasn’t sure if we were going to have to stand for eight hours or would we be able to sit down. The photographs from last year’s show made it seem like everyone was pretty crammed up against the barriers.

Would I be able to see anything?

That was the big, most important question. You see, I’m five-foot-two and am often at a disadvantage in crowds. Either I cannot see anything or I get jostled because no one sees me or both. It’s not a pleasant experience. Many times even trying to see a stage while sitting in a theatre can be challenging as well.

Yes there would be jumbotrons. Yes, I could watch the concert on the big screen. But I wasn’t flying out to London to see ELO on a TV screen. I wanted to see them in the flesh. Otherwise it would be no different than watching them on TV at home. Yes, I would still hear them live, but it wasn’t the same without the full experience.

I didn’t want to get too close to the stage. So I had to ponder what to do. How do I ensure I see the stage? A box? Film and TV productions often used ‘apple boxes’ to add height. They are not very heavy, but they are very sturdy. Sometimes actors stand on them in a shot to sometimes appear taller and other times for the director to create a certain mood or effect as needed.

I needed an apple box.

Sadly, they were very expensive. I needed a cheaper option. A book?

Maybe, but did I want to lug a thick, heavy hardback book onto the plane (or an apple box if I had gotten one)? It would have to be something I could toss after the concert, as I did not want it taking up space in my luggage when I went to Paris and Brussels and especially on the way home.

What else? Platform shoes?

Platform shoes.

High heels would have been impossible in the grass unless they were wedges, and I wasn’t sure if they would give me the right height. So I decided to go with platform shoes. I have never worn them. I prefer flats, which is interesting considering my height issue in general, but while I can wear heels and have, I prefer flat shoes. I was never one for 3-inch heels or platforms (or even wedges for that matter), but needs must.

So I went to the local shoe store and hunted down the ideal platform shoe. I found two pairs. One was more ideal than the other one as far as comfort was concerned. They were both sandals, but the ideal one had a strap in the back to prevent me from falling out of them. The other did not. It also would have been more comfortable at the toe, but the other shoe, the one with the open back and the thong at the toe had an advantage of the other. It had a thicker soul and a slightly higher heel.

They were also $10.

So I decided I would buy the less comfortable platform wedges, wear them once, suffer the pain while I enjoyed seeing the stage and then toss them when I was done.



I still had the concern about falling out of them. I never liked shoes without a back strap like slides or clogs, because when I walked I’d kick them off. I didn’t want that to happen at the concert. Then I remembered I had some ribbon. I tossed those and a pair of shoelaces as backup. I wasn’t going to style or appearance. I was looking for practicality, functionality and to see the stage. In any event I knew the brown ribbon would look nicer than shoelaces, so I hoped they would work.

I no longer had the concert T-shirt my brother got for me.  I wasn’t sure if I should wear an ELO shirt, but I had one made just in case.  I didn’t bring a photo of the ELO logo to the T-shirt place, which was a mistake as their internet was down, but we went with the scripted initials on the front and song lyrics on the back.  I figured I’d decide on the day if I wanted to wear it or not.  The lyrics i chose were from the song ‘Jungle’.  I thought they were appropriate:

“Wondrous is our great blue ship
That sails around the mighty sun
And joy to everyone that rides along.”

shirt back

So I was all packed, all set with my shoes and other items I would need for the trip. Pat was going to bring a blanket and food for the concert. All was set to go. I booked tickets to the Herge Museum and mapped out my itinerary. I couldn’t wait until September 12th.


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