A CHANCE ENCOUNTER ...
It was a warm summer day here in Manchester, England, Monday July 4th, 2011, America would be celebrating American Independence Day, I could imagine the scenes, parades, and pomp and razzmatazz, fireworks exploding in summer skies, among the laughter and joy that such events bring, and yet, one of their favourite sons would not be there to join in the celebrations, an occasion where he has featured heavily over the years, and why, because Neil Diamond was in Manchester, England, as part of his world tour.
My partner and I were attending the show in the evening, we had planned the day in advance, we would travel into the city mid-afternoon, and have tea in one of Manchester’s many eateries, and generally take in the sense of occasion that always seems to be prevalent when Neil comes to town,
And so it proved, as we entered a public house near the arena, Neil’s finest were belting out from the jukebox, in another bar, coroners were giving renditions of Neil Diamond songs, all in all it was a happy and pleasant day in Manchester.
After enjoying a couple of drinks we felt it was time to eat, it would be around 5:30pm, we decided on the Mitre Hotel, which is a mere stone’s throw from the arena, looking around there were many excited folk, who I assumed would also be attending the show, we settled on a nice cheeseburger and fries for tea, something substantial to see us through the evening, having eaten, we decided to take a stroll through the gardens leading to the arena, as we walked, four men approached us, chatting together, and enjoying what Manchester had to offer, just a normal sight, I didn’t pay particular attention at that moment, as they neared, I looked up as one does, and instantly recognised them as members of Neil Diamond’s band, as they passed I remarked to my partner who they were, they must have heard and stopped, and I approached them, "Hello", I said, you guys are members of Neil Diamond’s band, and shook hands with a tall greying man, Alan Lindgren, keyboardist extraordinnaire, I again said hello, and welcomed them to Manchester, I introduced Jacky to them, there was Alan Lindgren, (keyboards) Hadley Hockensmith, (Acoustic Guitar) Don Markese, and Larry Klimas (Horn Section), they asked whether we were attending the show, we remarked we were, Hadley asked did we have good seats, I think so, I replied, they weren’t the best, given that I booked later than usual, but I wasn’t looking for favour, Larry asked if we were from Manchester, and could we recommend anywhere for a bite to eat, I remarked we had eaten in the Mitre Hotel, which was fine, but if you are looking for privacy, and a little quiet, Waxy O’Connor’s Irish bar has private booths, it is just across the road, and I pointed directly at it, “Fantastic” they said in unison, they thanked us, and wished us an enjoyable evening,
I never did mention how great a fan I was of Neil, or for some obscure reason ask for a picture, it never crossed my mind, maybe I was in awe of being in the presence of these uber talented men, it was a wonderful moment, and one that rarely happens, it was to all intents, a totally chance encounter.