England: The Rest

Went to the O2 Arena to see the special New Year’s Eve programme (excerpts shown on NBC with Carson here in the USA via tape delay) which was broadcast live on ITV1.

The O2 is an amazing arena. It’s been — since it opened — voted the best arena in the WORLD by Pollstar and I must agree. I’ve been there when it was the Millennium Dome, but this was my first visit there since it became the O2 in 2007. I’ve stolen some facts from their website:

  • The O2 has an overall diameter of 365 metres, an internal diameter of 320 metres, a circumference of a kilometre, and is 50 metres high at its central point
  • The twelve steel masts are 100 metres high
  • If you turned The O2 upside down, it would take Niagara Falls 15 minutes to fill it
  • Alternatively, you could fill it with 3.8 billion pints of beer or the contents of 1100 Olympic-sized swimming pools
  • The volume of The O2 is equal to thirteen Albert Halls, ten St Paul’s Cathedrals, or two old Wembley Stadiums
  • 18,000 double-decker buses could fit into The O2
  • The Eiffel Tower could fit inside The O2 lying on its side
  • 12 football (soccer) pitches or 72 tennis courts could fit in The O2

We got to the O2 early to eat and spent nearly an hour in queue to sit down at Pizza Express as it was the shortest queue there.

Anyway, SeaLife was the opening act at 820pm and we missed most of it whilst waiting in queue as the doors open at 8pm and you go through airport style security. SeaLife were followed by the Overtures who were a fantastic oldies cover band. Next up was Alexandra Burke, who just won X-Factory (UK American Idol type show) and wow, what a voice. She blew everyone away. Each interval was accompanied by a DJ from The Heart 106.2 radio station. Elton came on around 1030ish and did his Red Piano show. Will Young (first winner of Pop Idol — American Idol for the Brits) came out and dueted with him on Daniel. Then at 1155pm GMT he stopped and some ITV lady came out alone and we did the countdown with live video from Big Ben at Westminster. Then the concert resumed after Elton banged out Auld Lang Syne. Much hugging and kissing among strangers (no thanks).

The show was over around 1245pm and we ran like hell to the tube station. What a clusterfuck with nearly a two hour wait to get back towards our end of town. But, clever me, I know the tube, so we popped on the Jubilee (the only line calling at North Greenwich) and went to West Ham (not an area for the faint of heart) and then took the District from way the hell out there back — against traffic most of the way — towards our end of town. You should have seen the crowds and our train was empty until Monument. Westminster and Embankment were flat out closed with no trains stopping. We were only jammed from Monument to South Kensington. I was in bed by 240am. I was up at 645am thanks to the noisy Italians next door. And we arrived at Heathrow without any trouble to find a broken bag conveyor, so the queue was jammed. Happily, we were travelling Virgin Upper Class and bypassed the other lines and were boarded on time. A quick trip back to the gate when the APU failed (remember that Evan?). The trip home was uneventful. Here I am. Tired as hell.

More later.

PS: Congratulations to Terry Pratchett for getting an OBE.

Leave a Reply