On The Road With: Aled Jones on bomb scares, bullet trains and seeing sharks

Aled Jones, singer, TV Presenter and author talks about being treated like a Beatle in Japan, a disastrous kebab in Turkey and very close shaves with a kangaroo and a shark in Australia.

What’s your favourite on-the-road moment?

A couple of years ago there was an opportunity for my son, Lucas, to come with me for a whole month on a 20-date tour of Australia. It was a really fantastic bonding experience. In Sydney we did the Harbour Bridge climb.

He was a bit nervous but afterwards felt like he’d really achieved something. We also went swimming in Byron Bay. Lucas asked if we might see any sharks and I told him not to be silly.

I’m up to my waist in the water when I hear someone shouting, ‘Get out of the water!’

I look around and there’s this shark. It had been washed in by the current and was trying to swim away. I saw its fin and got out of the sea very quickly indeed.

What keeps you sane on the road?

I tend to just have a laugh. I do love listening to 1980s pop because that was my era.

The only thing that kept me sane as a teenager, when I used to take the train from North Wales to London, was listening to pop music on my Sony Walkman.

When have you been most frightened while travelling?

We once had a bomb scare on a flight. I was going to Italy to sing with Leonard Bernstein.

Somebody had rung the airport saying there was a bomb on board. We were all petrified because at the time we didn’t know it was a hoax.

Another dramatic moment was in Australia with Lucas. We had a two-and-a-half hour trip back to our hotel one evening after a gig in a church.

The dean said to us, ‘You’re going to hit a kangaroo tonight. It’s unavoidable.’ For the whole journey we were looking out at these eyes staring back from the sides of the road.

Just as we were pulling into the next town, a kangaroo ran across the road. We must have missed it by about three millimetres.

All we saw was this kangaroo looking back at us as if to say, ‘Ha, you missed me!’ Lucas was gripping the seat, going, ‘Oh my God!’ If you hit a kangaroo, the car is a write-off.

What’s the best souvenir you’ve come home with?

On my first trip to Australia a fan presented me with a money pouch made out of kangaroo testicles. I never used it but I keep it in my office.

I don’t really think it’s a good talking point when you’re going to pay the bill to pull a kangaroo’s testicle out of your trouser pocket.

What’s been your most life-changing experience while travelling?

Going to Japan as a kid was amazing. At that time most of my fans were grannies but when I got off the plane in Japan it was almost like being one of The Beatles.

The fans were screaming girls who were waiting at the airport for me. I was only 16.

I took the bullet train to Kyoto. I’d never been on a two-layered train before. I’d never seen anything like Kyoto.

One minute you’re in Tokyo, the next you’re among all these shrines. That was a very spiritual experience.

What is the worst meal abroad?

I went backpacking with a girlfriend when I was still in college. When we were in Istanbul, Turkey, I ate a kebab from a street vendor’s stall and was ill for two weeks.

I later discovered they’d been using all kinds of meat such as yak and cat. God knows what I’d eaten.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve spent the night?

I once sang at Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight and ended up sleeping in a monastery with the monks.

That was a bit weird because they were listening to a recording of me singing, so I was in bed listening to myself!

Where will you go next?

I’m going to Canada for Christmas. My daughter, Emilia, is filming over there for Netflix’s Locke & Key.

She’s in Toronto, a city I love. She was there last year so I went every three weeks for six months. I’ve got quite a lot of air miles with Air Canada.

Aled Jones’s new album, Blessings (BMG), and new book, Everyday Blessings (Hodder and Stoughton), are released on November 6. Aled tours from May 2021. officialaledjones.com

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