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bt/ub40 8th April 2010 12:24 AM

A excerpt from 'Labour Of Love The story Of UB40'
Thought you might like to read short excerpt from the a book Ive been working on........page 25 - 32 part one


Its not long before Emirates flight EK 404 is boarding at gate 21. We take our seats, its early morning 3:25 am, most of the passengers are sleeping, our lot are watching movies, I can see their faces lit up in the dark. I choose the new Kevin Costner movie; ‘ Mr. Brooks ‘ his conscience is played by William Hurt, the premise being that he is an addict, addicted to killing people. He is very clever, cleaning up the crime scene so well that the cops can’t catch him. Anyway I wont tell you the rest, I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you, plus the fact I didn’t actually make it to the end and that’s about all I saw before I fell fast asleep.
I’m awoken by the announcement that we are about to land in Singapore for a one hour stop over, we have to de-plane with all our hand luggage, take the mile and a half walk in tropical temperatures from the air bridge down the full length of the concourse and then line up again back at the same gate and security point to be re-searched and then re-boarded onto the aircraft. While all this has taken place they have cleaned the plane and made it smell fresh, its wasn’t that bad where we were but its good for the economy passengers who are packed in like sardines, it also gives everyone a chance to stretch their legs, and do a little deep vein thrombosis prevention. Its now 2:30 am Singapore time, I haven’t a clue what time it is in the UK, I’m now under the control of what ever time I’m told it is. The Singapore security is incredibly thorough, they search everything and of course this takes ages, Singapore is famous for its zero policy on drugs, if you were caught smuggling even a single joint of marijuana, purely for your own consumption the penalty is death by hanging, its not a joke. Our guys have learnt from past experience never smuggle anything through airports and any way, as soon as we land the smokers amongst us will be inundated with care packages from our many friends in New Zealand but more of that famous South Pacific hospitality later.
Back on board settled into my seat I give ‘Mr. Brooks’ another go, its no good I’m soon back in the land of nod. The seats in first class have certainly come on since we started touring all those years ago, back then they were like posh deck chairs whereas they are now electronic massage, press button luxurious flat beds with wide screen plasma monitors pumping out music, games and hundreds of movies to watch on stereo noise canceling head phones, you can even make international phone calls from the seat on the built in phone. Even little mini bars built into the seat divide. Admittedly in the old days we were always in economy but as young guys barely out of our teens we didn’t care, you could smoke in those days, it must have been hell for non smokers, all seventeen of us would sit round playing cards, telling crappy jokes only we would laugh at, smoking, drinking and generally being loud and obnoxious for the twenty eight hours it would take to get to Australia and New Zealand. I cant believe we didn’t get more complaints, of course we got our fair share but I suppose we just didn’t care or take it on, we would get drunk and sober three times on a journey down under, we would sneak a quick joint in the toilets, it was a different time no one cared, although we did make an effort to be courteous, always helped pregnant women and old lady’s with their luggage. Of course as the years went on and we moved onto bigger gigs, the standard of travel was also raised exponentially, when Richard Branson started Virgin Atlantic we would have the whole of the upstairs bubble on the jumbo 747’s to ourselves, it was like a party at the playboy mansion with Hugh Hefner minus the bunnies...Boo Hoo ! The seats all around the edge of the bubble, Bar in the middle very rock’n’roll Led Zeppelin style. There were no rules really, we would get all our road crew up there smoke a joint and drink champagne and laugh all the way to New York, of course the Virgin crew didn’t know what we were up to, they just left us alone and probably turned a blind eye. Those were the days. It’s all changed now, you cant even congregate for a chat during a flight, regulations have been tightened to the point of (related in American security speak)
“ Return to your seat Sir, Step away from the carbon based life form (Robin) Now…. or we will have you arrested. You will be imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay and have your hair messed up every morning by the prison bully. Am I making myself clear Sir? “
911 changed air travel forever.
I’m awoken by the Singaporean stewardess and a plate of chicken noodles, just right as I’m unexplainably starving, I don’t know why, all I’ve done all day is eat. The noodles are delicious, the stewardess is very giggly and excited, she wants to talk about UB40, and Paul Hunter has given her a signed photo of the band, which she is asking me to dedicate to her. She tells me her Mom came to see us in the late eighties; she was too young to go. She’s making me feel very old all of a sudden. We toured all through the far east in those days multiple times, but only went to Singapore once, she says every Sunday we had a disco in the garden and UB40 was always on as it was the DJ’s (her Moms) favorite band, I’m flattered she feels comfortable enough to tell me about her family.
Thinking she is a bit of a fan I say “ I suppose you have heard about Ali then? ”
She says, “ Who’s Ali? “ Rather than explain I point to his seat a few rows in front where he is fast asleep, snoring, she takes a look and says “ is he in the band? “
I’m not joking, Martin and me kill ourselves laughing, what can you say? There are no words for moments like that, at times like these.
Its only a six hour flight to Melbourne then we have a stop over for six hours Paul tells me he has booked us Hotel rooms so we can clean up. As we come in to land the captain says over the intercom “ the time in Melbourne is 12:15 am “ its now February 1st, we lost the 31st of January somewhere between here and Dubai. Australian Customs and immigration can take a long time but its pretty smooth, the immigration officers are good guys, joking with us, one said I thought The Specials split up years ago, I reminded him we reformed after England beat Australia in the Rugby world cup, remember Johnny Wilkinson’s right foot? Remember our version of Swing Low? The tune that played every time they scored?
“I really hated that tune,” one of them say’s.
They are a good-humored people the Australians and love a joke, they don’t take themselves too seriously and don’t mind having their legs pulled.
By 2 :00 a.m. we are done and proceed to check into the airport Hilton as its now five hours before our connection to Auckland. Of course our bags have been booked all the way through so I get a razor from the hotel, get to my room shower, shave and try to grab a couple of hours real sleep in a bed. I drift off thinking about all the good times we have had down here over the past 28 years. (continued in next post)

bt/ub40 8th April 2010 12:24 AM

continued....part 2...

New Zealand is a place that holds many dear memories for us and our lives have been richer for coming here. On our first trip we were welcomed by and looked after, shown the ropes ‘down under’ if you like by a native band called The Herbs. They are now long defunct, Charley Tumahi the lead singer passed away before his time, we miss him, but Dilworth Karaka, Tom the horn player and the guys still come and say Hi, they are very active within the Maori community and have done lots in an attempt to right some of the wrongs that were committed against their people in the past. Maori culture is an incredibly powerful expression with its own very defined laws and ways to treat people, Hospitality and respect for their elders and ancestors being very high on their agenda, Im always humbled by how well we get treated on our visits to the land of the long white cloud. Many years ago back in the mid 90’s we were invited to The Meeting of the Pacific Peoples, a fifty thousand person gathering of all the South Pacific islanders at a Maori meeting house just outside Auckland, a beautifully carved building with Tiki carvings in the Kotiate wood support pillars, we were honored with a Greetings Haka from a genuine expert handler of the Taiaha, a Maori spear, we were told to pick up a branch laid on the ground to show humility and accept his gift. As he hovered ready to strike, absolute focus and fearless concentration in his eyes. It was incredible to witness and unforgettable to have such an honor bestowed on us in fact our greatest honor to date. I can imagine how they put the fear of god into the European sailors of the seventeenth century. But on this day at the end of the initiation the fifty thousand strong crowd sang to us, humbled is one way to put our state of being at that moment, I believe during this book you will see us humbled more than once. We have made many great friends down here, Sam Masters and Fish two big guys that looked after us on a far eastern tour around Thailand, Indonesia, Bali, Singapore, Kuala Lumpa, Malaysia and Hong Kong back in the late 80’s still come and say Hi and make sure we are OK, they have remained very dear to us for all these years. I believe New Zealand is a place where you make friends for life. As I start to fall asleep the TV in the background is still on, I was trying to catch up any news. The late night Australian sport newscaster makes me laugh he says
” Beckham hasn’t been picked by Fabio Capella for the England game against Switzerland. That’ll get the Pommie’s wingeing, he says, infact thats probably enough to justify a full on Winge fest. Let’s get the wingeing pomme alert sent out. no time to lose. ” I genuinely love that Ozzie sense of humour. And that’s the last thing I remember before falling into a deep sleep that was only broken by the sound of Hell coming out of my telephone, the loudest most scary wake up call I've ever heard. Lucifer screaming “ get out of bed you Pommie Bastard! “ It worked all right; I’m up on my feet instantly and in the shower within thirty seconds. I’m down in the lobby for 7 am and we are trooping off to the gate for our Auckland flight Emirates EK 406. Take off is 8:20 am so we hit the Emirates lounge for coffee and toast . Well most of us hit the coffee and toast one of us hits the champagne.
It’s a beautiful Melbourne morning; the first unadulterated sunshine I have seen for a while and it feels really good. Since leaving the UK we have been in perpetual darkness flying away from the setting sun. Once on board we take our seats and routine kicks in, the weather is great, beautiful blue skies and as we approach New Zealand on the three and half hour flight the clouds really do start to get very long and white. Finally we land in Auckland and head for the luggage belt, we all collect our bags except Astro, his are lost somewhere between here and Dubai. Its a total drag for him but he knows they will be located and delivered to his room as soon as possible, although after flying for nearly two days all you want to do is shower and change your clothes when you get to your hotel. We head out to the bus which will now take us on the final part of our journey the three and half hour ride to Rotorua, the same time it took us to fly across the Tasman Sea from Australia. There was a flight but that would mean waiting for five hours, we opt for the bus. Outside the airport we are greeted as usual by some old mates, Will ‘ILoLahia a huge Tongan guy a good friend for at least 25 years, never fails to come and see us, infact he played a big part in getting us to Tonga in 2005 for our first gig on the island, what a experience that was, Tongan Hospitality like all the definable but inseparable Pacific island cultures is a thing to experience. Lloyd Latimer another old mate from the Mauri community is wielding a very professional looking camera, he came to Tonga in 2005 and shot loads of stuff which he tells me has turned into a DVD one of which he will give me as soon as he has had the covers printed. The guys have all their kids, grandkids wives, sister’s with them; it’s a lovely and particularly poignant South Pacific scene. The kids all want their hats and shirts autographed and the girls want their handbags done, we are finally here in New Zealand and everything feels all right. The bus pulls out but soon has to stop again at the local supermarket as the bus company didn’t stock the fridge up, Paul and Robin hit the ice cold beer department and are soon back on board along with a couple of boxes of Magnum ice creams. New Zealand has the most beautiful country side, very green with the Pohutacawa pine trees growing everywhere, the pace of life out here is a little slower but thats not a bad thing in fact it shows a certain sense of character, not in too much of a rush to become an homogenized pseudo American based culture like the rest of the world, although the ubiquitous baseball cap and hoodie is everywhere and trousers tend to finish just below the knee just like in Brooklyn and of course the Macky D’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Dunkin Donuts shops don’t help . But all in all New Zealand has something going on, I get the feeling that as we march into the twenty first century the southern hemisphere will become the first world leaving the northern hemisphere to choke on its pollution. It’s not long before we are crossed eyed with jet lag and nodding off. The drivers phone goes off continually with the loudest, cheesiest ring known to man, which wakes us all every time with a jump. Good job he’s only driving us to the hotel, I have the distinct feeling anymore and that phone would meet with an accident, the kind of accident that entails accidentally being chucked out of a moving vehicle. We finally arrive at the Novotel Rotorua on the banks of Lake Rotoruahana. This, one of the many center’s of Maori culture, a place with hot springs, lava flows, sulphur, geysers and steam blowing out of the earth, this is all big stuff in Pacific culture, Pele the volcano goddess being the big boss, The Don, She who must be obeyed. There’s an overwhelming smell of bad eggs or to put it a little more bluntly like someone has farted, its the sulphur of course but you soon get used to it. Before the bags are even off the bus I smell even above the sulphuric fumes that familiar aroma of N.Z. weed, the guys down here grow the best stuff in the Pacific and our guys cant wait any longer and jump into the care package that had been delivered to the bus by the Maori Red Cross rock’n’roll division. I don’t smoke anymore, it’s a health thing for me but it’s at times like this I could easily pick it back up. This place is so beautiful, incredible scenery, in the old days we would be planning boats trips on our day off. Although we are excited to be back on the road I can feel a certain inevitability is weighing on us all, the idea that this is the last time we do this with this line up is hard to take in. Paul hands out the room keys and tells us “ sound check in one hour “ surprisingly everyone is up for it, its the only chance we will get as the gig is tomorrow and there are other bands to get on stage. Maybe playing some music will lift our spirits and after all its summer down here in the southern hemisphere, that should help.

(For those of you reading for the first time..there are book excerpts posted in this post on pages 1,26,27,60,102,159,160,168,222 , 223 , 319,373,476,494,4 98 , 602 , 709 , 711 )

dutchy 8th April 2010 12:26 AM

Are you also writing a dutch version?

San Diego 8th April 2010 12:28 AM

Great read, thank you so much for sharing....

dutchy 8th April 2010 12:30 AM

Singapore is terrible yes, i didn't like the law attitude when i was there in 1997

dutchy 8th April 2010 12:33 AM

mr brooks, is that the one with demi moore in it?

Kodiak 8th April 2010 12:40 AM

Thanks BT, excellent read. You have a talent for describing the surroundings, ambiance and history of each particular place to the point that the reader feels like they are right there with you. Definitely hope there's more to come, and that you actually decide to publish it one day. :)

dutchy 8th April 2010 12:47 AM

Nice read Brian, it took me a while, but it was worth it

j59 8th April 2010 12:58 AM

Step away from the carbon based life form, Robin, haha...love it! (sorry RBC).

Enjoyed that Bri. look forward to some more, sometime? :grin:

love jx

dutchy 8th April 2010 12:59 AM


Originally Posted by j59 (Post 1464967)
Step away from the carbon based life form, Robin, haha...love it! (sorry RBC).

Enjoyed that Bri. look forward to some more, sometime? :grin:

love jx

He's writing now ;)

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