Metal T-shirt. Metal Box. Metal Friend.

Ruud, Enes and Sharon at Manchester Academy

2011 was the most intense year I ever lived. From revolution to fatherhood, my emotions could not have endured much more.  As the year drew closer to an end, I struck lucky twice in an oddly remarkable way. I was preparing to return to Libya in December, after being away for over a decade. My time in the UK was not particularly lucrative. Nonetheless, buying gifts for old friends was among my greatest priorities.

I sent a message to several friends in Libya in which I asked if there was anything specific that I could get them. The majority insisted on me not getting them anything and took the opportunity to wish me a safe journey back. Barely a handful asked for the simplest bits and pieces that were generally unavailable in Libya. Notably, one of my dearest friends, Ali, asked for a T-shirt. He sent me a link to a site that it was available at. The T-shirt was for ‘The Unforgiving’ album by ‘Within Temptation’, one of his favourite bands.

A couple of days later I caught the end of a competition advert on Scuzz TV. Coincidentally, the competition was about Within Temptation. However, I only caught the advert’s ending so I was not aware of what the actual prize would be. The question was straightforward enough for me to answer instantly. I was no stranger to Scuzz TV competitions. I had entered so many over the years, although I never won anything. My entry on this occasion was different; it was for a friend.

A couple of weeks later I got a call. It was Alex, from Scuzz. It was surreal. I had always wished for such a call when I entered their competitions but I had become accustomed to not hearing back. It took a moment to for the call to sink in, to say the least.

Scuzz explained that an original winner was drawn who just so happened to be abroad at the time so they could not claim the prize. I got second dibs but it was all I needed.

I told Scuzz about my friend and going back to Libya and everything that was going in my surprised mind. They expressed their delight at the fact that the prize was going to a genuine fan. Scuzz seemed inundated by people that enter competitions just to sell-on and profit from whatever they win.

Until then I remained unaware of what Within Temptation related prize had actually been won. Alex kindly went on to state what the prize was. I heard the words “two tickets to a live show”. At that point I thought to myself “great, I can buy my friend a T-shirt from merch stall at the gig” but Scuzz’s prizes did not end at that. Tickets were followed by T-Shirts, CDs and a Guitar signed by the band. Oh yes!

The gig at one point

The prize arrived the morning after

The show was spectacular. It was my first night out in almost a year. Seeing thousands of people enjoy themselves made me feel quite emotional. Perhaps the minor chords stirred the year’s memories; all too much for my state of mind at the time. These emotions may have come across when I met the band after the show. They were very polite and down to earth. It really was a great pleasure to meet them. I could not help but yap away about Libya. Nevertheless, they asked if I would share my story on camera; which I did.

Seeing my good friend after all these years couldn’t have been complemented by a sweeter twist of fate.
Ali and his son Refik get hold of the goods

Looking the biz in his new top
A very proud fan

Another Libyan friend, and former band mate, Tarik, asked for an Audio Interface earlier that year. He was keen on recording at home. As it happens, I also entered competitions held by a Pro-Audio retailer called Digital Village. I had been a costumer for several years and always entered competitions advertised in their e-newsletter, although I never won. The prize this time was an Audio Interface; an Avid Mbox 3 to be precise. I entered the competition as usual but this time the prize was not intended for me.

I had spoken to Digital Village staff over the phone several times beforehand. I would call customer services about deliveries or student discounts. However, on this occasion they called to tell me that I had won. My friend got the audio interface he asked for.

I cannot say enough thanks to Scuzz, Within Temptation, Avid and Digital Village.

I cannot wish enough good fortune and happiness to my friends.

The mighty Mbox!
Tarik jamming with Pro Tools Mbox 3

 Ste 'the dude', my metal pal and +1 at the gig


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