It’s been 30 years since I sailed around the world aboard Drum in the Whitbread Round the World Race. I was a baby faced 28 year old with long blond hair, a puka bead necklace and not a care in the world. I was looking for adventure and found it one night very deep in the Southern Ocean. We were caught with too much sail up as a front approached and the boat was careening down the face of a massive breaker.
There was a yell from the helmsman and the rest of our watch bolted forward to drag in the headsail for a sail change. The foredeck was awash and the water freezing cold. The fabric on the mylar headsail seemed to be made of plywood as numb hands gripped at it trying to wrestled the beast down. Then all of a sudden there was a shadow next to me, someone grabbing at the sail as if his life depended on it, and a minute or two later we had things under control.
Fast forward three decades and I am backstage at a concert at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts. I have some friends with me and we have been invited to meet the star performer of the concert that we were attending. Most of my friends were ladies and most of them had, in one way or another, been “married” to the rock star. There was plenty of excitement in the air because meeting the lead singer of one of the most successful bands of the last four decades is quite a thrill.
Thrilling for me too, by the way. You see I was thinking about that night in the Southern Ocean halfway between New Zealand and Cape Horn, and how surprised I was to see one of the owners of the boat rush the foredeck to help get thing under control. I was only surprised because in a situation like that the owner, the one who pays the bills, is more often than not happy to stay aft and watch how things turn out. But this was no ordinary boat owner. He was a young rock star, the same age as myself, looking to put some perspective on an incredibly quick and successful rise to stardom.
In fact at the end of the race he was asked to sum up his feeling about the whole experience. “I have a measuring stick now,” he said. “I have something very simple, very strait forward and very honest by which I can compare other things in my life.”
How true that is. Unless you know what it’s like to be poor it’s hard for you to appreciate how lucky you are to be rich. Many of us just take it all for granted. I have some perspective. I have been poor, cold, wet and rich and they have all given me some perspective, but that’s not what I was thinking about backstage. I was wondering if the rock star would recognize me, after all it had been 30 years and in all the publicity photos I had seen of him he seemed ageless.
But then the door opened and Simon LeBon, lead singer of Duran Duran strode out toward us. I have to say that I was very happy that he recognized me and also quite pleased to see that life on the road as a working musician had taken some toll on him as well. Not as much as me, but then again I don’t have a stylist.
So there you have it. A chance meeting three decades later with one of the nicest and also one of the most successful rock stars of the last four decades. I pointed to my lapel pin that was our logo on Drum and I could tell that of all the memories that Simon must have accumulated in the far flung parts of the world, that his time aboard Drum was one he treasured. He must have treasured it otherwise why would he have bothered to make some time for me and some ladies who now have a memory that they can cherish for the rest of their lives.
Title thanks to XTC