Drove the opposite way through France from last week, took a nice stroll and had dinner in Dreux near where Eric used to live, then camped at Baie de Somme, a services we know well as it's the first one from after Calais. Just as we parked and were going to sleep, some crazy wind and rain moved in and the van was shaken and rattled around like a tin can back when there were tin cans. That made sleeping difficult but catching the ferry easy because I couldn't wait to get out of there in the morning.
Spent the first part of our drive north to Scotland going through the papers and realizing that the Pope's visit was eerily following our tour routing: Glasgow, Edinburgh and Birmingham (though he stuck a London date in between there, ours isn't until this Friday Sept. 24 at The Lexington).
We were supposed to check into a Premier Inn near Newcastle and do a phone interview and have a rest but the van broke down. We sat on the side of the A1 waiting for help for almost two hours. The phone ran out of credit while we were trying to give our coordinates to the assistance people but we were able to text our friend Lindsay in Scotland to buy us a top-up. While all this was going on the Scottish interviewer called.
"Cannae you talk now?" Another truck screams past. How many times have Eric and I, separately or together, been here? You know somehow the situation will resolve but it's not fun. Never were able to do that interview but it made for a sweet article.
Arrived in papal-free Edinburgh (he'd already moved on) and played at Citrus Club. Somebody told us they'd seen the pope going by on a street where there was no one, Benedict desperately looking around trying to catch somebody's, anybody's eye. The show was fun and like the last venue we played in Edinburgh was immediately adjacent to a Chinese restaurant. Knew we were really moving up in the world because it was possible to play without blasts of hot greasy air like last time.
Next night was Glasgow. I realized I'm truly a musician now, when my first words to the soundwoman after hello were "That load-in is a bastard." Yes! I have finally become a complaining git.
It's a nice club though, Stereo, and even though we played for almost two hours it felt like it was all over too fast. Then there was a club night coming in so we had to do the loading out super fast, with some help from our Scottish friends. Got back to Lindsay's realizing we hadn't eaten since midday - that is the reality of playing in some of the best cities in the world: you're so busy working you don't have time to enjoy the place, cause once you're packed up and out of the club where do you put the vehicle with all your equipment so you can sit down in a restaurant in the middle of a bustling city centre? Especially if you've recently had a car stolen - taking no chances we had classic cheese on toast back at Lindsay's and sat around catching up.
Wish we could've hung around in Scotland - in between Glasgow or Edinburgh, two of my favorite cities. Instead we had to head on down to Hyde. The promoter called and said the pub had been broken into the night before. He jokingly said maybe that would bring more people out, so they could get a look at the crime scene. We should have known right there it was going to be a tough night. From the barbed wire and old tires around the junkyard entrance next door, to the dogshit scattered across the astro-turfed pub "garden", to the load-in up a wet metal fire escape because the police were busy dusting the inside stairs for fingerprints, to the leftover scraps of astroturf covering the surface of the stage, to the panicky soundman, to the greasy yet sticky surface of everything in the place - it was hard not to feel depressed. You know you're in trouble when you look to the resident heckler for affirmation.
But next night was wonderful, Kitchen Garden Cafe in Birmingham - like being in a weird aunt's living room. Odd garden furniture, slate on the floor and a relaxed feeling. We'd played there once before and saw familiar faces this time. It felt like everyone was on our side. The only thing that had changed was that the copy of Tim Rice's autobiography, a massive tome I'd used as a keyboard bench booster seat last time, was missing from the bookshelf. I had to make do with a hardback copy of Beach Music.
Now we're in the Norfolk countryside, taking a rest until Brighton, London and Manchester - tomorrow, Friday and Saturday (and Winchester on Tuesday). I often feel like Bonnie and Clyde where they hole up at CW Moss's dad's place when we stop for a few days out on the road. A couple of steps ahead of the law, somewhere on the sliding scale between doomed and most wanted.