Tento blog je preventivním opatřením proti 1) smazání pevného disku, 2) spláchnutí flashky do záchodu, 3) krádeži, ztrátě nebo požáru, při němž by došlo ke zničení jedinečného šanonu s poznámkami a texty, 4) kombinaci všech předchozích katastrof. Vychází bez jakéhokoli žánrového omezení, a to zcela nevypočitatelně buď v češtině nebo v angličtině.

neděle 25. dubna 2010

Oliver in the Royal Albert Hall: A Sentimental Diary of the Fan Who Drove - Part I.

You've already heard countless stories of people whose lives got all changed and turned upside down by the Icelanding volcano eruption? Check out this one. Warning 1: It's loong and will be supplied in three parts. Warning 2: I refuse to answer any questions about whether this actually happened. The truth is, though, that I am indeed a great fan of Oliver Dragojević.

When Oliver Dragojević asked me what was it, that made me discover his music, I lied. – I said it came together with my many holidays in Pelješac, where Cesarica reigns over the local radios. What really happened, however, was this: I haven’t quite noticed Oliver’s music at all until my last Croatian summer, when in a few weeks’ time, I managed to fall in love with a man I believed was gorgeous, and then obviously got my heart broken into bits and pieces. Nisam ja za te was our song. What a lovely romantic tune, - I thought, watching sunset over Mljet and imagining the rest of my life in the arms of the gorgeous man, fishing and drinking Plavac Mali.
Only when tears were flowing down my cheeks on the way back to Prague, I put the volume up and finally appreciated the lyrics, too. I was grateful to – what on earth was the singer’s name? – for being there, for not letting me drive home completely alone.
I had to take the CD out and check: the name was Oliver Dragojević.
Galeb i ja took me from Trpanj to Metkovic, Magdalena accompanied me all the way to Split, where Nevera took over. By Zagreb I’d have already known Tko sam ja da te sudim by heart, still sobbing, but cheering up with Nadalina as I drove across Slovenia. Lipi andjel flew above me at night on the Austrian highways. Crossing the border into Czech Republic, I knew that I would never possibly forget Cesarica again, as I played it for about thirty times in a row.
Heavy and dark Czech winter was not really the perfect cure for a broken heart. Moreover, nobody wanted my screenplays, so it seemed that I would reach the bottom of my savings very soon and my free-lance writing career would come to an end. After I ran out of my Plavac reserves, I started wondering about what could keep my Croatian nostalgia in a steady flow. Maybe that Oliver guy will have a concert somewhere in Pelješac next year, - I thought, clicking on his website. Huh: “Oliver u Royal Albert Hall” – said the front banner. Tickets seemed affordable. And if I booked a flight to London well in advance, it would be even cheaper than driving all the way to Split or wherever he normally has his concerts.
Royal Albert Hall sent me my ticket by the end of January. I stack it to my fridge and survived the rest of cruel winter, excited about 19th of April quickly approaching. Who knows? Maybe Mr. Gorgeous will be there, too. Maybe…Ah. Never mind.
On 12th of April, ash-cloud from Iceland started to spoil my lovely travel plans to London. I stayed zen, though, positive that until the 17th, all will be clear and cool.
Three days later, it was only clear that there will be no flights at all. In the meantime, I went through stages of: persistence, panic, despair, renewed enthusiasm, manic depression, self-pity, immense hatred towards Icelandic volcanoes, several double shots of travarica and the conclusion that I’ll go on facing life even though it is so unfair.  In the morning of the 17th April, depressed, I glanced at the concert ticket on the fridge and opened the news. “Oliver just started a 24 hours’ bus trip from Zagreb to London,” I learned.
It must have been a moment of total lunacy. Even now, weeks later, I can’t quite explain it. Maybe I suddenly transformed pity for myself into being sorry for poor Oliver, who is suffering on a bus across half of Europe, while Royal Albert Hall will be half empty, because of stupid Icelandic volcano cancelling everybody’s flights. Or – well – more likely, I just didn’t want to lose the long awaited chance for reliving last summer and its emotional echo. In twenty minutes, I had my bag packed and was on the phone to a friend, who used to travel to England every month:  man, tell me - how long does it take to drive to London?
Friend said, it normally took him 12 hours, plus the ferry over La Manche. 12 hours! Perfect! That’s even less than to Dubrovnik. Piece of cake.
Now: My car is an old convertible. It’s charming. It’s great for Pelješac, but it’s absolutely not suited for German highways. It’s in fact complete craziness to take it out for a trip like this.
However, for the first ten hours, I was happy, singing along Nadalina and bodysurfing on the tsunami of foolish excitement, rolling across all the immense traffic of Europe, ignoring the costs of gas, which by then have amounted to about three times of the whole damned low-cost flight.
At half past one at night, I gave up, concluding, that my friend probably drives a Masseratti, if it takes him just 12 hours from Prague to London. I had to stop and sleep over, somewhere (clearly, one can’t sleep inside a convertible, because the seats don’t bend down and you freeze to death under the very thin textile roof). I started a painful inner dialogue with the more reasonable section of my brains: Why? Why on earth am I undergoing all this? For whom? Oliver? (No.) Mr. Gorgeous? (Oh Christ. Yes!) You are nuts! (Affirmative. So what?) What will you live on when you come back home? Air and inspiration? (Could be. Haven’t really given it enough thought yet. Good night!)
One more: Why does a screenwriter have to live her stories first, when she could quite easily imagine them? (Silence.)
Trag u beskraju in my ipod put me to sleep in a surprisingly expensive hotel in Aachen. Aach..
Next day was warm, sunny and it was a continuous traffic jam from Aachen to Calais. Belgians apparently decided to start fixing hundreds of kilometres of their highways, while all the passengers of the cancelled flights to London started pouring into the reduced one-line-only route to France. In the middle of the jam, I took my roof down, put my sunglasses on and turned the volume up, passionately singing along Kad mi dojdes ti. Suddenly, a Czech voice shouted at me from somewhere above: “Isn’t it still a bit cold to put your roof down, young lady?” It was a truck driver from Pilsen, that was now overtaking me at 15 km/h. “What’s that for a music?” he asked. “It’s Oliver,” I shouted back. “I am really surprised you don’t know him. You should get his CD. I am by the way just heading for his concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London.” Truck driver looked impressed. He said he was going to get the CD as soon as he gets off the car.
A bunch of German guys in a convertible appeared next to me, pounding Seven Nations Army into the air. But Cesarica, volume 44, beat White Stripes off within seconds. “Was fur eine Musik ist das?” they wondered. “Du wirklich kennst es nicht?” – I replied and spelled out “Dragojević” to them. Brilliant. I’ve turned into a mobile advertisement of Oliver’s music all over European highways! I wished he knew.
The French lady at the counter in Calais ferry station assured me that she was absolutely not joking: one way ticket to Dover for one driver and one car costs at the moment 320 euros, merci very much beaucoup.
Good heaven. What now? Do I have the choice of going back at all?
I parked my car at the vast parking lot in front of the ferry terminal, making sure with the busy police officer, that it was safe there. “Bien sûre, mademoiselle,” he sang into the air, thinking about women legs and seafood appetizers. Under normal circumstances, this would immediately worry me and I would put the car elsewhere. But I was in a hurry, so I gave my brave little car a quick emotional farewell and jumped onto the ferry, for only 80 euros for one-way passenger ticket.
I wonder if Oliver is about to make it from Zagreb, - I thought on board of the ferry. He better does! It is for sure by now, though, that Mr. Gorgeous will not be there.  Which is perfectly fine by me, - I went on reassuring myself. I’ll meet loads of fantastic new people at the concert! What time exactly does it start, anyway? – I wondered. I sank my hand into the bag in order to locate ticket and check the time. But. Holy Jesus. I searched the guts of my bag inside out. Once again. Took all the stuff out twice. No luck. The ticket was missing! Near tears, I stepped out of the ferry. Yes, I could probably buy a new ticket on the spot. But will there be any left when the show is sold out? Besides, I can’t afford another 50 pounds. I was so sure I did put it into the bag, though. Bloody vicious ticket!
At least it was sunny in England, which, according to meteorologists, was the result of volcanic ash-cloud. Thanks to the sunny weather, probably, British rail has quadrupled its prices, though: a one-way trip to London was thirty one pounds.
For several minutes, I was again trying to figure out the meaning of all this mad adventure, contemplating on that maybe I was in fact destined to only make it to Dover and live the rest of my life here. “Sorry, I really can’t afford this,” I replied to the lady behind the counter and turned towards the door with a vague idea of hitchhiking to London. I’ve got time until tomorrow evening, after all.
Suddenly two Hindu men stopped me: “Excuse me,” said one of them in a funny accent, “would you be so kind and form a family with us?” I produced a grimace that I hoped would scare them off and went on, heading for the door. “Wait, we are serious!” said the other man, with a Californian accent. That infuriated me. “Who the hell do you think you are?” I spitted out.
The Californian stared at me and said shyly: “We just thought you could get in for the family pack ticket with us. It’ll cost us only nine pounds each.”
Apparently, moj lipi andjel yet once again pogledal u mene: I apologized. We bought the ticket together and got on the train.
“So. What do you do?” asked the Californian.
“I am a failed Czech screenwriter and a lunatic who just drove across half Europe for a concert of Oliver Dragojević, which I will unfortunately not see, because I just lost my ticket. Very bad story. Don’t worry about it at all. Just disregard me, in fact. What do you do?”
“I am a film producer from Hollywood,” the man smiled. “And your story sounds interesting to me. In fact, what kind of stuff do you write?” 
After zillions of ignored emails to agents and producers, after countless unsuccessful entries into screenwriting competitions, I suddenly had a living producer face to face and for the next two hours of a stupid train trip to London, he was all mine. Hallelujah! Maybe this was the one and only purpose of going to London, who knows.
“Do send me your script,” said the producer at London-Victoria, sticking a glamorous business card into my palm. “And good luck with the concert tomorrow. I'm sure you'll get in somehow. And you should try to meet that guy. I bet he’ll be shocked to see someone travelling this far for him.”
Well. A good piece of advice. Only - how does one meet Oliver Dragojević?
The bloody vicious ticket was in my toiletries bag, stuck between lipstick and toothpaste, bearing stains of both. I refused to come up with an explanation. Instead, I considered that a sign.
Just before crushing to bed at a suspicious bed-and-breakfast place, I looked up a general inquiries’ email of Ictinus Grupa, the producer of the concert. It was the info@ kind of address, i.e. the one from which nobody ever replies, and if they do, it takes months. I wrote that I’m sure there are many fans willing to meet and hug the poor singer, but pointed out the unique circumstances of my case, dah, dah, dah. Delete. How pathetic! Of course I will not meet Oliver Dragojević. And I will not even ask for it, full stop. He’s busy. He’s tired. I ended up asking just for a signature, if possible, many thanks, good night.

Wanna know how the story continued? See here: https://bit.ly/3esXMon

3 komentáře:

  1. I love that story!!!

    1. Thanks! If you have any idea where they might like to publish it, please let me know. There will be a Croatian version soon, but that will only come out in the Balkans and, obviously, some of the parts are challenging to translate, so the original is surely better.

  2. I haven't read something in a long time that made me laugh out loud. Thank you. It was enjoyble, but also unusually inspiring. I am Slovak and live in Canada. I look forward to reading more of your writing.