Tag Archives: Bruce Springsteen

The Intervention

For husband and father Tom Hughes, last Sunday morning began like any other. Hot Tea and warm toast to the ready, I sauntered into the lounge looking forward to a double helping of Broadchurch on catch up only to discover my dear wife Sarah and my teenage daughters Hannah and Emily sat in wait. Wearing a benevolent, concerned expression on her face, Sarah gently relieved me of my steaming mug and buttered Hovis, sat me down and said,

“Tom, What we are about to say is said out of love and concern, nothing else.”
Then I realised what was happening, it was a family intervention! But an intervention about what? Was my customary Friday night pint of mild down the Paraffin Lamp getting out of hand? Was my chocolate habit becoming a cause for concern? What could it be? I decided to confront the issue head on.
“Listen, if anyone is wondering why all the cream eggs keep disappearing, I want you all to know that from now on I promise to share the value pack with everyone else.
A confused silence descended. My three precious girls all stared at each other. Chocolate Eggs it seemed, were not the issue. Sarah pressed on.
“We are gathered here today Tom to tell you that, well, you are a bit of a scruff.”
“A what?”
Next to pipe up was Hannah.
“Yes Dad, look at that jumper, look at those jeans?”
“What’s wrong with them? ”
“Dad, who wears hiking socks, walking shoes and a snood to the gym?
“Yes Tom, the girls are embarrassed. Their friends are talking. You need a new wardrobe, urgently.” Said Sarah.
“Well ok, I’ll go through my stuff and – ”
“Too late we’ve done it for you.” Then, to my dismay, Sarah produced a black bin liner full of my precious old clothes. My sweatshirts, my jeans and – horror of horrors- my Bruce Springsteen 2005 tour t-shirt.
“Not the Boss ! Please?”
“No Tom this lot is off to the charity shop in the precinct. Now, grab your coat and let’s go shopping! Er, on second thoughts, leave the coat, let’s just go.”
In the vast Outlet clothes store I wandered aimlessly around, fingering the rails without a clue what I was doing. Eventually I held up a pair of jeans with the pleasing price tag of £24.99.
“Sarah, what about them?”
Sarah examined my choice suspiciously.
“You haven’t just grabbed the cheapest have you?”
“Not at all I-”
“Right put them back and go try on these.”
I examined the pair picked by Sarah. To my untrained eye, they looked identical to the jeans I had just chosen. Identical that is, except for the price. Sarah’s were fifty pounds dearer .
“Why would I pay seventy-five pounds for something I can get for twenty-five, I don’t- ”
Grabbing the seat of the expensive jeans, Sarah pointed to a yellow logo stitched onto the rear pocket.
“Look! That’s why. They are designer!”
“So, they sew a little squiggle onto the pocket and they charge you treble the price? Are you being serious?”
The look from Sarah told me that yes, she was indeed being deadly serious. She picked out a second pair from the rack, handed both of them over and pointed in the direction of the changing rooms. I sloped away to the curtained off area where a glum-faced child gave me an orange circle on which was printed the number two.
I battled with the first pair for what seemed like an age. Eventually I gave up, deciding that, in the words of my Auntie Joyce they “wouldn’t go near me.” The second pair I actually managed to heave myself into. And a more uncomfortable pair of pants I couldn’t imagine. Baggy round the crotch and barely covering my posterior – clearly this particular “Designer”, in his hurry to stitch on the magic money squiggle had stamped them with the wrong size.
Outside I informed Sarah of the manufacturer’s error.
Sarah shook her head in defeat and flung back at me the cheap pair I had originally chosen. I tried them on. Of course, they fitted perfectly.
The next day Sarah arriving home from work, found me sat in my new jeans and sporting another, different purchase.
“Tom! What are you doing wearing that tatty old Bruce Springsteen t shirt? I thought I gave that away?”
“It’s very simple darling, yesterday afternoon, decided to go and do my bit for cancer research…”


Chapter XII

Encores over, the concert finished. We entered the concourse and weaved through the milling crowds. We broke momentarily and in an instant Sarah was gone. I turned 360 degrees but she had vanished into the throng. I rang her, but the network was busy. I reckoned the best way to retrieve her would be to stay put. After what seemed like an age she emerged from the dissipating fans carrying something.
‘Where did you go?
“I got you a present. If we ever go to another show you’re not wearing that tatty thing
She held out her hand. She had bought me a brand new tour t shirt. And she got one for herself too.
After a quick visit to the ladies she emerged as Britain’s newest fan.
We emerged into the crepuscular sky different people. I have never held onto someone’s hand so tightly, guiding her through the crowds, glaring at any idiot who stepped into her path. She was now mine, no one was going to take her away. We got into the car and waited for the traffic to clear. It didn’t matter.
We kissed – over forties inappropriate snog alert! But it was appropriate. It was the most appropriate thing ever.
The drive home was muted, it was like the coach ride back to the airport after a holiday romance. Reality rushed in through the windows like a neap tide. We arrived at her car. It was time to say goodbye.
“My mum’s with the kids so she will be expecting me back.
“Ok where did you say you’d been?
“Oh just out with a friend
“Well you didn’t lie then
“I did
“Why? Am I not your friend?
“Of course, but I don’t want you as a friend. I want…
Her voice trailed off. One last kiss and she was gone. I drove home alone. We texted each other until late. I fell asleep listening to Our Song on repeat.

I wanna build me a house, on higher ground
I wanna find me a world, where love’s the only sound
High above this road, filled with shadow and doubt
I want to shoulder my load, and figure it all out
With Leah

I walk this road, with a hammer and a fiery lantern
With this hand I’ve built, and with this I’ve burned
I wanna live in the same house, beneath the same roof
Sleep in the same bed, search for the same proof
As Leah

I got somethin’ in my heart, I been waitin’ to give
I got a life I wanna start, one I been waitin’ to live
No more waitin’, tonight I feel the light I say the prayer
I open the door, I climb the stairs…

I woke up on Saturday morning to 9 missed calls. Sarah’s bloody keen I thought. Then I looked at the call list. My kids and the ex. And the texts were not the ones I had been used to.
“Tom. I’ve got 2 kids here waiting for you. Hello?!”

Chapter XI

WARNING: First Proper Kiss Alert. The following posts contain graphic scenes of romance that some cynics may find distressing.

It was one of those balmy early summer evenings, when the convertibles are pulled out of the garage and motorbikes roar along shimmering tarmac.
The venue was in a different city. There was no point us going in two cars so we met at a pre -arranged spot near the M6 She was already there. She got out. She looked amazing. Her hair was up and she had on heels and a short sleeve blouse. She was stood in front of her motor in the dimming sunlight as the cars sped past. She pulled whisps of hair from across her face as the summer wind wipped up dust.. I smiled back, she had really made the effort. I got out and went to her. As I kissed her cheek her face changed. She leaned back and stared down.
“Tom? How old is that t shirt?
“Er let me see, Tunnel of Love Tour, so that’s… 1988 .
“This is our first date and your wearing a seventeen year old tatty t shirt?
“Why, what’s up with it? You’re lucky, my Born in the Usa t shirt from 1985 has disintegrated.
“ I’ll drive shall I?
“I don’t mind I’ll drive if you want.
“Wont you want a drink?
“I never drink at a Bruce concert, it impairs my concentration.
Sarah blew out her cheeks. We set off. Then it hit me. This was the first time I d ever been alone with her. As in just her and me with no one else around. We started talking. And, like spies who have been set loose by their handlers, we began to talk freely. She told me about her job as a counsellor, how she listened to some pretty awful stories. She told me about one lady from last year who was on the verge of suicide because of some unspeakable things that had happened to her. She talked about how she had been trained, how stressful it could be and how frustrating people are when the answer is staring them in the face.
I came out with all the usual ignorant platitudes about how I couldn’t do it and I admired anyone who had the patience to listen to another person’s plight unconditionally. I said she was very altruistic. She replied that there was no such thing as altruism. That set off a discussion about what it means to be good and why people behave (or misbehave) like they do.
I started to talk about stuff that had happened in my life and as I talked I got the feeling, for probably the first time ever, that Sarah was actually listening to me, without any agenda of her own. Try it. try and listen to another person without your own opinions and emotions getting in the way. It’s not easy.

Then we got off the light-hearted subject of the meaning of human existence and onto the far more serious matter of the concert. I rambled on about how I got into Bruce when I was a student . How I spent the summer of 1985 following him around Canada and America, and what I thought of the new album.
“I I think this is his best solo album since Nebraska. Some of the songs are excellent.
“Yeah, but don’t you think Ghost of Tom Joad is right up there with the others?
“Ghost of Tom Joad? How do you know abut that album?
“Because I like it, that’s all.
“When have you listened to that?
“On this. Its an Mp3 player. I bought it last week
“Have you got the new album on that thing?
“What other Bruce albums are on there?
“All of them.
I was struck dumb. Sarah looked out of the window.
“Turn in by that Marshall, we’re here.
The demographic of Springsteen fans has changed over the years. The callow youths with mullets and drainpipe jeans are now middle aged and balding middle manager types who now take their sons and daughters with them. The arena was hot with anticipation. I bought a couple of drinks and we stood in the concourse talking. Ex’s, kids, work, mortgages, friends. Then we realised we had something in common. Something that is endlessly fascinating if you are a people person (i.e. nosey). We both were avid people watchers.
“Don’t tell me she’s with him?”
“Shush, don’t look now, but, you see these two behind us, they’re in the middle of a proper domestic.
“These two aren’t married to each other.
“How can you tell?
“Inappropriate snogging over the age of forty.
“Maybe they’re just in love?
I had a pain in my face that started to worry me. Like I’d just been the dentist. Then it hit me. I hadn’t stopped smiling for ages.
“So what is your favourite song on the new album?
“You’re the expert, you tell me
“I asked first.
“Well if he plays it I’ll let you know,
“Ok, I will too
“Anyway Tom , we will be buggered if it’s the first song,
“He’s come on stage!
In twenty years of seeing Bruce I had never ever missed him walking out onto the stage. But then again, I had never met anyone like Sarah.
We rushed through the dark auditorium and edged past angry fans to our seat. We were twenty rows back in the middle. We sat as Bruce finished his first number. I looked down. We were holding hands.
Bruce was his usual charismatic self. Not many people can stand alone on a stage and hold three thousand souls in the palm of his hand. But I wasn’t really interested in the Boss. I couldn’t stop looking at Sarah.
I made excuses to interrupt her.
“What do you think?
“Isn’t he brilliant?
“Tom, let’s listen.
“Ok. “
To be honest, Bruce could have been playing Tiger Feet, I wasn’t really interested. That is until he played the next song.
The first bars rang out. This was my favourite track. I was at a Springsteen concert with a beautiful girl. I have never taken drugs, but I guess this is what it must feel like. No, that’s wrong, I don’t think the strongest drug cooked up in any lab could have replicated that feeling.
We mouthed the following exchange to each over the music….
“This is my favourite!

“Is it? it’s mine too.
“Why are you crying?
“Because you are.
Then I closed my eyes and moved forward into the space in front of me where my kiss met Sarah’s. I thought my chest would explode. A warm soft dizzy kiss. A kiss that made you glad to be alive.
“You’re really beautiful you know.
Reply there was none. Just a smile, a slight colouring, and yet another delicious, heart stopping goose bumping, angel calling…..kiss.
Oh the song?
This is the song. Our song.

version recorded in Italy a week after our concert.

Chapter X

We were stood outside the bar, ready to go home. It was now time to play my ace card. The tickets had Ben burning a hole in my pocket all night. I said,
“So, I thought we could start our affair by going to see him.”
She looked at the ticket. You know that little facial tic people have when they look distinctly underwhelmed? A tic that they immediately try and hide so as not to cause offence. Well Sarah did that.
Bruce Springsteen?
Yes. Bruce Springsteen
Oh right, er…
At this point I was getting wound up. I’d just handed a her a that I had queued all night to secure and Sarah and a face on her like she’s just missed the last bus home.
“Look, if you don’t want to go there are plenty of people I know who –
Sarah threw her face into reverse
No! I mean no, I’d love to come really. I’d really like to come. I don’t really know any of his songs. Oh apart from that one, er what is it? Born to run in the USA?
“Born to run in the USA?
“Is it not called that?
“Have you seen him before?
“Erm… yes.
“Something clicked in Sarah, and her weirdo antenna started flashing, He eyes narrowed
“How many times?
You’ve been to see Bruce Springsteen 28 times?
“Yes, what of it?
“Why would anyone want to see someone 28 times? What’s so good about him?
“Because he writes about the big stuff, love, hate, death, injustice, what it means to be alive. What it means to die. His songs are lyrical, cinematic, heartfelt. He sings about ordinary lives in an extraordinary way that resonates deep inside here, inside your heart. He is serious passionate and committed, when you go see him you feel part of something very, very special.
This tour is different, its just him and his guitar. Forget all that x factor nonsense, if you want to see real stage presence an artist that makes you want to clap cheer shout if you want to experience a show that will move you to tears, if you want to stand with a whole bunch of strangers and feel as though everyone of them is your buddy –
“Tom why have you started talking like an American? You’re not American.
“Ok then, who do you like?
“Robbie Williams
“Really? And why do you like Robbie Williams?
“I dunno. Because…. he’s got a cheeky face?”
Like I say, the grease that turns the flywheel…..

It was time to say goodbye leave the Travis bar and go our separate ways. I didn’t want to leave and I don’t think she did either, but the impatient texts about being picked up and taken back home were flashing through at an ever greater pace.
Now I always think a parting kiss between two people whose relationship is in what John Motson would call, “The corridor of uncertainty” (for a full explanation, please refer to your various H2b’s is usually a variation of a playground game. But instead of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” it’s “Cheek, Mouth, Tongues”. Get it right and it’s heaven, get it wrong and its Cringe City, Ohio.
We stood to go and I kid you not, to anyone watching it looked like we were rehearsing the Tiger Feet dance..
Cue the video to 1.09 for our dance

Eventually, we agreed to a peck on the cheek.
And that was that. It was bye bye Merseyside, we were airborne……