Friday, 11 December 2009

A Back Nine In All Things

Monday 30th November. The Playhouse, Epsom.

Accommodation: Holiday Inn Express, Langley Vale Rd, Epsom.


Pete Zorn said to me in bus, “Ken, have you ever played Epsom before?” At almost the exact same time I was asking myself, ‘have I ever played in Epsom before?’.
These days it’s not that often you end up anywhere you haven’t visited a good few times. 

The square in the town centre looked somewhat recognisable, but then a lot of these quaint town centres in this part of the world are not dissimilar.

The hotel was located in an interesting spot - and area that leaves you with no doubt as to what this place is famous for - the racing track actually running right along side my room, room number 054. 

This is a very pretty, and a very prosperous area - reminds me of Lambourn, the cosy little Buckinghamshire village where my ex manager Tony Gordon used to live back in the seventies. Lambourn is another horse training and racing area; maybe there’s just a very distinct similarity of character that runs through all of these equestrian type of places.

I pay a certain amount of attention to various sports; I’m pretty interested of course in footy, for example, and I do keep an eye on what’s happening in the cricket world - not so much county cricket though. 

Even boxing is becoming more interesting to me - for all kinds of reasons, reasons that I won’t address just now, or I’d be here forever. 
But I’m far from what you’d describe as sports mad, I just view it all with a moderately keen eye. There are some sports, however, that I absolutely cannot get a handle on, and horse racing is one of them. 
I know, it’s probably a bit, or a lot like golf - in so far as until you know what it’s like to hold a golf club in your own hands, and to strike a ball with it, you have no connection - no comprehension, no feel for the sport.

The other element, of course, is gambling. Many are drawn to the sport solely because of this.
Again I struggle to understand. 

I do have a friend that studies the horses; he’ll tell you not just which ones have won which races, or where they were placed in the field, but also the horses that run better either clockwise or anti-clockwise, or on firm or soft ground, and so on. OK, now it’s beginning to get a little more interesting - but only a little.

I have tried; I thought that by placing some bets on a Saturday afternoon, and then watching my horses run on TV that I’d start to discover what it was all about. This was something Carol and I tried about five years ago, I went online and subscribed to the bookies Ladbrokes. I transferred all of £30 into the account, and then we placed bets, a pound each way on this or that horse; the horses on which we bet were determined through a thoroughly scientific process, using such criteria as - whether we liked its name or not.

As you’d expect we lost more than we won, and five years later there is still something like £20 of the original 30 sitting in that account accruing interest for Ladbrokes.

The show was another good one, and the theatre staff were so friendly and complimentary about the band’s performance. 
Snooker player John Virgo came tonight with his partner Ruth. I met him backstage, and I can tell you what an incredibly decent chap he seems to be.
Pete (Knight) and some of the crew went for a curry with John later on; I declined though - it was just a little too late for me.

Tuesday 1st December. The Stables, Wavendon, Milton Keynes. 
Accommodation: Moore Place Hotel, Aspley Guise.


Changed both sets again today. Maddy, last night, said she needed to give her voice a little less work to do for one or two shows, so we reinstated the songs ‘Cold Hailey Windy Night’ and ‘The Three Sisters’, sung by Rick, and myself respectively.

It’s good to have two days at the same venue, it means there’s no equipment to worry about after the show tonight.

Wednesday 2nd December. The Stables, Wavendon, Milton Keynes. 
Accommodation: As yesterday.


Thursday 3rd December. The Regents Theatre, Christchurch.

Accommodation: The Kings Hotel, Christchurch.


I’m on the back nine now; for those who don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s a golfing analogy - one of many that can be used - but ‘the back nine’ is the one I’m thinking about just now.

It’s not like there are nine shows to go, or anything, it’s just that tonight we’re past the halfway point. I can’t see the clubhouse as yet, but even when actually playing golf it’s often not usual to see the clubhouse until you’re on the last hole - so that’s not a very good analogy really.

I compare walking onto tenth hole–the first of the back nine–with the idea of reincarnation; it’s a chance to redeem yourself after the complete rubbish that aptly describes the standard of how you played the first nine. Conversely, it’s also an opportunity to ruin a potentially great round, after having played, as they say - ‘out of your skin’. 

This is one of the most incredible features of a back nine, almost as though it’s there for you to maintain the status quo; to push the score up, or down, so as to make sure that normal service, one way or another is resumed. Or, and this is a big - OR, it’s there to allow you the opportunity to finally raise yourself, not just to that next level of sporting ability, but to a place where you seize the control and coherence that’s just waiting for that right moment - to step out of what I think they call the ‘comfort zone’.

It’s not just a tour that has a ‘back nine’, there’s one every night; it’s called ‘the second set’. And now that I think about it, there’s more than one each night; there’s a back nine in every song.

What a distinctive place the Regents theatre is; very ‘art-deco’, and very ‘looked after’ by the looks of things. It was a full house tonight.

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