Navy spouse Fiona Phillips wrote a beautiful letter of love about her husband, Max, when she entered the Hard Rock Calling “Why My Spouse Rocks” contest. The judges loved her words of praise for her veteran hero. Months later, Max loved the chance to live like a rock star during three incredible days in London. Here is his essay describing what this VIP experience was really like…
“Honey, I won a contest!” my wife said grinning from ear to ear.
“Congratulations,” I said, “what did you win?”
“Two tickets to a big concert,” she beamed.
“Fantastic, who’s playing?” I asked.
“We get VIP badges to the backstage area!” Now she has this cat-who-ate-the canary look.
“That’s great” I said, “Where’s the concert. Who’s playing?” She’s really having fun not telling me.
“Airfare and hotel are included” she sings. Now my curiosity is piqued.
“Where’s the concert? Who’s playing?”
“The headliner is Bruce Springsteen…in London, England!!”
“What?” was all that came out of my mouth.
Here’s the thing: There’s only two tickets. We both know our pre-schooler won’t enjoy transatlantic flights. And we’re not going to take a four-year-old to a rock concert. That’s when she says it:
“Why don’t you take a friend with you and enjoy the concert, we’ll stay here.”
“You’re the best wife ever,” I said, then quickly added this: “I love you.”
I got on the phone to my friend Brian-a drummer in a band-and asked if he wanted to go see Bruce Springsteen in London with me. “Let me check,” he said. (We know who he had to check with,) Twenty minutes later, he called: “I’m in. Let’s do this!”
So, we’re in London (neither of us had been here before) and we’re all over the city. London is totally unlike any big city I’ve ever been in-never heard police or ambulance sirens; people were generally nice and polite to each other and there were so many events going on in the area:, the Hard Rock Calling concert, Wimbledon, the Glastonbury festival, British track and field events and more. Here’s what we did:
All day at The British Museum (recommended by our hotel staff) and we still didn’t see everything there! Stopped at a pub on Museum Street for dinner-an experience all unto itself.
More sightseeing around London, then headed over to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the first day of the concert. Huge crowd, so we gladly left the arena area for the VIP area. Keely Ward from Hard Rock was there to greet us. “The rules here are simple,” she said. “You see something you want, just ask for it and it will be brought to you. Any questions?”
“I don’t think I’ll have to write that down,” I said. We found a really nice table with huge, cushioned chairs over by the barbeque area. Time for a side of ribs and a beer. I’d never been a VIP before, but I could definitely get used to it. We sat and watched the biggest widescreen TV of the stage (which we were right behind), hearing the bands and thoroughly enjoying it all. On the way out of the VIP area, we were given two tickets for a fancy double-decker bus tour of London, which we put to good use. Thanks again, Keely!
Back into central London. We started at Picadilly Circus and just walked. At one point I thought we were in Hyde Park. Suddenly we’re approached by a man in a really nice “Beefeater” uniform and discovered we were in St. James Park, in front of Buckingham Palace, just in time to watch the changing of the Guard! What a great country!!
Then it was back to the VIP area, eating Hard Rock’s “Legendary” burger and the “Texan” while we wait for the Boss to go on. Everybody took great care of us-Hard Rock Cafes all over the world select their best servers to come to the Hard Rock Calling concert event, and they were great. Just then, we see Steven Van Zant is walking around the VIP area shaking hands and doing photos with people.
The crowd in the arena is bigger than the day before. We get to see Bruce Springsteen just before he steps onto the stage – and the place explodes in pandemonium!
While I was in the Navy I traveled to 19 different countries, been in combat on three different occasions and saw a lot of things. But seeing 50,000 drunk Brits sing “Born in the USA” with Springsteen ranks right up there near the top of the “you won’t believe this” list! It was a truly amazing show and experience.
Now I’m back home and where I belong. This prize was a whirlwind experience and one I will never forget. Thanks so very much to Hard Rock Calling and Military Spouse magazine, and especially to my wife!