Sunday, 26 April 2009

You’re Not Worthing.

An Accusation one could level at any place other than this - with the exclusion, of course, of any other location that might go by exactly the same name.

Arrived here from Crystal Palace in what seemed liked a blink of an eye, and pulled up outside our Travelodge hotel with almost three hours to go before the official check-in time of 3 p.m. Travelodge have a policy that gives you the opportunity for an early check-in - this incurs an extra £10 charge; this is what we all opted for. For another £10 you can have a late check-out the next day - 3 p.m. instead of 12 noon. I’m convinced soon there’ll be a coin slot by the bathroom door.

The more I think about it, with all these extra charges, Travelodge must be to the hotel industry what Ryanair is to the airline business. By the time you’ve added everything up, including breakfast, surely we could’ve stayed at the Hilton!

I’m often scratching my head in wonderment on this ever perpetual cycle of vacating one hotel room only to occupy another. I have a curious mind, I search for explanations, so when there’s a wash basin tucked away neatly into a tight corner of the bathroom, leaving only one option of accessing it from the side, I wonder - why?

When a deep shelf is placed over a wash basin, often one of these smaller ones, at a measured height so that when rinsing the face, one’s hands either strike the shelf from underneath, or the head strikes it from above, I wonder - why?

When a shower creates the kind of vacuum that leaves you ‘shrink wrapped’ by curtain, I wonder - why?

When the only supplier to hotels of TV remote controls cannot come up with a better way of keeping the batteries in other than using sticking tape, I wonder - why?

There’s an ingenious new door closing system I’ve encountered recently at all the newer Travelodges; as you let go of it, it creeps back to it’s closed position in the most controlled, steady, mega-slow fashion imaginable, like it will take forever to shut, and then with about an inch and a half to go, it’s as though it says, “oh, fuck it”, picks up incredible speed and smashes against the strike plate . What kind of mind comes up with this sort of thing?

Night Nine. Thursday 23rd April. The Assembly Hall, Worthing.
A sell out show tonight (capacity 930). We’ve been getting good crowds so far; I know there’s a recession on, but so far I haven’t seen much evidence of it effecting audience numbers. I do like what I’ve seen of Worthing; it wasn’t all that long ago when I was here with Phil Cool, only it was the Pavilion we played that night, on the pier.

The Assembly Hall is quite an old theatre, quite ‘Art Deco’ I’d say; the acoustics are notable in that when we sound-checked, the onstage sound was remarkably clear, more so to my ears than any past venue on this tour; when the hall was full, it was the complete opposite. I do know from the response that this was a good show, yet it was one of the quieter audiences.

I have to admit, my playing was pretty rough tonight - definitely below standard. My performance was summed up by a complete lapse in presence of mind as the band launched into They Called Her Babylon. Just before this, I tuned my low E (6th) string down a full tone for the song Lovely On The Water, but had forgotten to re-tune. So Liam counted in Babylon, and I hit my F# minor chord with force - at which point everyone began looking at each other; I looked at Pete (bass player Pete) then it dawned on me what was happening.
I sang the first two lines of the song with my guitar sound muted, and at the same time had one eye on the tuner at my feet on the pedalboard below as I corrected the situation. Who says that men can’t multi-task? I never heard the last of it from the other guys.

Night Ten. Friday 24th April. The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham.
The prospect of spending two days in Cheltenham is a welcome one, I’m ready for another break; of course we still have tonight’s show to think about. The hotel sits on the outskirts of the town, and two days here means I can think about doing my laundry; this is because of the drying time that’s sometimes needed. It’s a glamorous life style this you know! My preferred technique is to put all the laundry into the bath, add the water and then the Travel Wash. Next, the shoes and socks are removed and you walk around the over the laundry for approximately ten minutes before leaving everything to soak for a good while. A couple of rinses, wring out each garment, hang in any available area of hotel room, and - job done.

Managed to grab a half hour of hypnotic induction with the iPod before travelling into Cheltenham with Maddy in a taxi. The concert hall seems very old and ornate, not what you’d expect from the style of building that greets you at the stage door area; it’s as though they’ve built the new onto the old. All the staff were extremely friendly and helpful; maybe that that sounds a somewhat inane or banal statement, but it’s not always like that, and it can be striking when one observes others making a real effort. They were especially polite with us at the end of the night; I imagine one of the most difficult parts of theatre management is waiting for bands to vacate the building after a show - as they drink and socialise, and generally feel they can just ‘hang out’ for as long as they wish. It’s as though there are two very different realities; the ‘normal’ day-to-day reality of the worker that ‘has a home to go to’, and then there’re these other people in a bubble - on another planet basically.

The audience was quite superb tonight, and they sang the chorus on ‘Hat’ as well and as loud as I’ve heard it sung. I believe that much has to do with, not only the size of audience, but much with the shape of a theatre. I’ve noticed that in the longer, deeper venues, a sense of distance, albeit an unconscious one, is felt. In many of these older theatres, everything seems closer, with two or even three sets of balconies; the audience is near, and around, and above, rather than stretching away into the distance. There’s just a greater feeling of intimacy and interaction.

Saturday 25th April. Day off.
A laundry drying, blog writing, sight seeing, football watching, Indian food eating, day.

Took a walk around Cheltenham after breakfast at T.G.I. Friday’s. This place (Cheltenham) is ‘up there’ amongst the places I could most definitely live.

I went on a search for a pub to watch the Birmingham v Preston North End match in.
But there is a problem; ten minutes after the start of this Championship match on Sky Sports, another begins on Setanta - a big ‘title chasing’ Premiership one: Manchester United v Tottenham. So most places, bars and pubs can only show one match at a time, and I, with my viewing preferences, am very much in the minority.

I must have walked a good four miles, and was nearing the hotel with thoughts of maybe trying to watch it on one of these illegal Chinese internet sites in my hotel room; or I could just listen to the radio commentary? Or, what the hell, I might just get a train up to Birmingham, and actually go to the ground?
A visit to revealed that Birmingham was only 39.76 miles or 63.98 Km away. And then I stumbled upon a pub, the last one on my route, that could, and would show both matches simultaneously. Fantastic.

The match began at 5:20 p.m. and I was there to see the kick-off. North End won 1-2; I won’t bother with the match report, but it was one of the most exciting Preston matches I’ve seen. They could even make the play-offs if next Sunday’s matches work out in their favour.

Peter (K) and Liam turned up at the pub at half time, then after the match we found an Indian take-away. If you really want to know - I had a Chicken Jalfrezi.

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