I’m back and feeling better after ten exhausting days. All the travelling caused one nasty cold, but I think I’ll reminisce on the last week or so as one of the best times of my life. Visiting Paris for the first time with my girlfriend – squeezing in a pilgrimage to Rousseau’s house in Montmorency (more later) before popping down to Versailles – was wonderful. Paris is not as exciting as New York, and London is more magical in all its diversity. But the French capital rivals both for beauty. The feel of that nation’s culture is really something to cherish.
And to see Springsteen again, and this time twice in five days as I followed him from Hyde Park to Dublin, confirmed what I suspected: the otherwise solid law of diminishing returns has no meaning in Boss land. Each and every song on the E Street Band’s sprawling set list took me to new places and heights. I heard Thunder Road, acoustic, as the sun shone on the trees lining Park Lane. I heard the roaring guitars of Badlands as Springsteen, barely ten meters away, stared entranced across the crowd at what felt like me and me alone. And I saw Bruce jam with Paul Mc-fucking-Cartney, before witnessing a totally revamped, Darkness-driven setlist in Ireland days later.
I trust you will have heard about the blasted curfew from some news source by now. They pulled the plug on Bruce and a Beatle just after 10.30pm to satisfy the batshit crazy Mayfair billionaires who allegedly moan about such music. Guy Stagg trolls for The Telegraph, insisting the equal application of the law here makes him proud to be British. Okay, yes, he’s right, of course. The citizen in me knows it was the correct call to apply the curfew once it was planned. But if you can adopt the perspective of ‘citizen’ for much longer than a second on this topic, you’re essentially soulless. I was bopping to Twist and Shout at half ten on a Saturday night with Springsteen and McCartney. Give me a break.
I’ll shut up about Bruce now, and just repost in a minute what I wrote after Manchester instead. But I really can’t convey the intensity of the emotions he can oh so easily stir. If it meant seeing him play one final time, I’d happily, without hesitation, cut a few years off my life.
I also, rather embarrassingly, discovered Tom Morello for the first time at Hard Rock Calling:
Talk about attitude. Wiki informs me the guy’s got Italian, Irish and Kenyan blood. Quite a boiling pot, and when he plays live the steam really shows.
Oh, and finally – some home news: I learnt just before I left for Paris that I managed to get First class honours in my undergraduate degree. I say ‘managed’ because I mean it: it was tight, tight, tight. You need at least two papers over 70 and an average of 68 or more. I got just the two over 70 (one of them was exactly 70), and the rest were only good enough for a 2i. It was a shocking thesis mark that saved me: a score of 84 which pushed my average over the edge. I vastly under-performed in the actual, timed exams, scoring as low as 60 in Theory of Politics. But I guess the detail is for the history books. And that thesis mark was enough to secure me the Elizabeth Anscombe Award for best undergraduate philosophy thesis across the whole university this year. That fills me with deep pride. If you’re curious, I’ve made the thesis available here.