Friday 18th December. Travel Day (to Hove).
Accommodation: The De Vere Grand Hotel.
More snow and ice than I can remember. Do I like all these extreme winter conditions? No, not really. The wintery weather is OK as long as it’s all viewed through a window from within a warm and cosy house, and preferably a house you know you’ll be staying in for more than one night at a time. As moderate luck has it, we’ll be staying in the Grand Hotel for two nights, so I’ll count my moderate blessings.
The hotel is superb; very comfortable, and as stated on the tin - very ‘grand’. Outside it’s a skating ring, or to be grammatically correct - skating rink (English, what a strange language?). They both amount to exactly the same thing: you need to tread very carefully; but treading is exactly what you can’t do, instead you sort-of shuffle using very tight, short movements of the feet, and then every so often, feet together, you slide a little. It takes constant concentration, and is, in an accumulative way, quite exhausting.
The danger after periods of successful negotiation is becoming momentarily just that little bit too self-confident, and —just to see if it works—making the decision to revert back, almost, to your normal style of walking. So you widen your step, and no sooner is it widened than the arms and body go into an instinctive series of self-corrective motions, your confidence replaced by a surge of adrenaline and a sudden increase in heart rate; yes, you were doing it right in the first place!
I discovered a couple of decent looking Indian restaurants in the afternoon, both within sliding distance of the hotel; so considering that I was under no obligation this evening to present myself to the world, or Brighton, in the guise of a performer, I committed myself to an evening of relative insularity - just me and my Eastern cuisine. I later discovered that in my pursuit of solitude that I missed out on ‘the Band meal’.
You know, I wouldn’t describe myself as out-and-out anti-social, but I would normally, given the choice, opt for a quiet time alone, or a one-to-one situation, than an evening around a big table, listening to lots of banter, waiting for waiter or waitress to arrive, then for the food to be served, and having my choice of restaurant and evenings schedule determined to a greater or lesser degree by the whims of a collective force.
I spend enough time on tour already, being taken places - towns; theatres; hotels; journeys; departure times; arrival times; people; all things that I have had to surrender, or rather - suspend, any desire to self-determine.
I enjoyed the Indian, and I enjoyed my room.
Jackie said I could claim the price of my meal back (everyone else had theirs paid for), but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it; it was ‘my’ food, and ‘I’ paid for it. And for one night it was ‘I’ who was in control.
Saturday 19th December. The Hove Centre, Hove Town Hall.
Accommodation: As last night.
There’s a distinct accompanying feeling when arriving at an unlit venue on a freezing cold winter’s night; a venue that appears empty and completely locked on all sides.
There will most likely be people in there; the PA will have arrived well before us. But it’s a sense of - ‘how long are we going to have to wait, banging on the windows and doors, before someone appears from along these dark inner corridors, to either tell us —using the combination of hand waving and mouth movements—that we are on the wrong side of the building, or perhaps if we’re lucky, allow us in to relative warmth?’
Here, today, there was something desolate about what was in front of me, and my mind’s eye flashed back to Arizona in the 1970’s when I passed through the ghost town of Jerome; a feeling that fused together two locations that couldn’t have been more different.
Big match on tonight: Nottingham Forest v Preston North End. Looking to grab whatever brief piece of commentary and live match excitement I could - pre-gig and interval, I was ready and prepared with laptop and mobile internet dongle, I just had to find an area of the building that provided me with an adequate signal. I walked the corridors, went from top floor to basement, from east wing to west wing, and alas, such an area could not be found.
It is interesting how quickly the frustration of not being able to follow the match was replaced with a feeling best described as indifference, on learning that Forest won 3-0.