Tuesday, 5 January 2010

It's Behind Me

Thursday 10th December. The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury.
Accommodation: The Bell Hotel, Tewkesbury.

As with last night’s theatre, it’s a little unusual to be playing only one night here. 
Once again, and as with so many of the halls on this winter tour, it’s my second visit to the Roses within a year (see: Third Night Nerves. Monday 2nd February).

Touring at any other time of year, there would most probably be a tendency, to some extent, to forget which month one was in. But as we move further along through the duration of these December days, the reminders are both more frequent and harder to ignore.
Tonight it’s the pantomime, and the first of many I’m certain. This means that we can’t use our usual dressing rooms due to the number of Widow Twankey, Ugly Sister or Mother Goose outfits which occupy all available space. Instead we are all (excluding Maddy) upstairs in the Eric Morecambe Suite - Oh yes we are!

Friday 11th December. De Montfort Hall, Leicester. 

Accommodation: The Sky Plaza Hotel.


I've had a soft spot for the De Montfort Hall and for Leicester ever since I’d travel here as a guitar-picking nineteen year old to see June, my girlfriend, back in 1970/71. 

She was an exceptional person who got involved with an exceptionally mixed up person. Yes, that was me.

We met in Preston, the first part of our relationship being very problematic on account of her protective, middle-class and somewhat–as I recall–snobbish Father expressing profound disapproval towards me. Some might say he was very perceptive!
But he actually tried to force us not to see each other, which was rather ambitious seeing we were both in our late teens.

June moved down to Leicester to study Psychology at the university, and I would sometimes catch the bus, sometimes hitch-hike, down there for a weekend, sometimes longer.
Later I’d be travelling ‘up’ to Leicester from London. This was after Christmas 1970 when I took the plunge, and decided to seek fame, fortune and disillusionment in the big smoke.

Every visit to Leicester was special back then. Along with the bands we’d see and other events we’d go to, I even loved being inside that cupboard sized room of hers at the halls of residence in the suburb of Oadby. There’s so much more I could write about our last few months together, but I’ll save that for the autobiography.

One thing's for sure though, the peaceful setting of a pleasant and middle-class Oadby is a million miles from the surroundings I find myself in today at the Sky Plaza Hotel. It’s a decidedly dodgy hotel in a decidedly dodgy area. God knows how we got booked into this place.
I keep telling myself that it will soon be over, and then I’ll be wending my way home for two - yes, ‘two’ whole days off.

Saturday 12th & Sunday 13th December. Days off.

Accommodation: Home.

Ritual And Regalia

It has been a long year. And yet, the year’s end seems to have arrived swiftly; a contradiction? Not really; it all depends which part of you is doing the talking

The light at the end of the tunnel is almost blinding, but for some reason the last few steps always feel the longest. I suspect I’m way too busy trying to get things over with - too preoccupied with the idea of the ‘result’ rather than the ‘journey’. The key, I believe, is to enjoy the journey, whether it be a tour, or maybe one’s journey through life. I’m working on that one.

Before I know it I’ll be at home, sat there wondering when the next day off is. To make the transition a little easier I’ll get a ‘do not disturb’ - ‘clean my room now’ sign for the bedroom door - oh, and a telephone in there too so I can call down for room service. It might be difficult though finding someone to clean, vacuum, slam doors and talk loudly in the hallway outside at 8 a.m.

I don’t actually mind Christmas too much; but I absolutely loathe–what I typically think of as–the alcohol fuelled over-sentimentality of New Year. Rituals of any kind raise some kind of question mark for me; obviously we humans seem to need them - otherwise we’d not have so many, but I can’t help but wonder why. I have seen no evidence that ritual and regalia does anything to influence what is or isn’t already in the heart. And it may even serve as a distraction. Perhaps that’s the point?

How many sing about remembering old acquaintance, only to–once having sobered up–can’t even remember where they were the night before? How many–for any longer than the duration of the song–as they tearfully link hands, really do care about those around them? 
Look, if you actually care about people you don’t need to do this. 
I think the same about the ceremony of marriage also, but I’m sure it’ll come as some relief when I say that I’ll leave that topic alone for the time being.

Wednesday 9th December. The Borough Theatre, Abergavenny. 

Accommodation: The Kings Arms, Abergavenny. 


Not one of the larger venues, and one that on previous encounters we’ve played twice in consecutive nights. It seats something like 350, sits above a market, and has, as the title perhaps suggests, a municipal feel to it. If I’m making it sound a bit ‘cold’, that’s not at all the intention; when inside the hall it’s warm, and friendly - as the general population here seem to be from my experience.

It’s difficult to get lost here in the town centre, it’s quaint and similarly small - falling somewhere in between the prosperous, and the typically austere nature of what one finds in quite a lot of Welsh towns - usually due to their dependence on obsolete industries such as coal. 
Each time I come here it looks slightly trendier - now there’s even a newly opened CafĂ© Nero - maybe the new measure of a growing economy?
All-in-all a very fine evening I’d say, and with only only one small blemish, which was when the theatre manager walked into Maddy’s dressing room at a very inopportune moment. I don’t know the details, all I heard were the screams.