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PAARD on me. 26 January. The Hague.

Photo by Glen Monks

It took little persuading to get me to check out. We give the gaff a filthy look on the way out.
I was feeling funky. I missed breakfast but we have only an hour and a half to get to our last hotel of this leg.
I spent the journey writing and cursing myself for committing to this blog. Eyes down on a phone is a modern malaise. We shall all evolve into hunch backs with muscular thumbs like Uma Thurman in ‘Even Cowgirls Get The Blues’.
I need to detox from little screens and look at a big fuck-off one.
This last hotel is a pleasure. The staff charming and warm, the bed large, and our time here, unfortunately short.
I have seen nothing of the places we have visited.
Hotel. Car. Backstages and repeat. I have not walked any distance for 2 weeks.
I looked up to see a windmill this morning and the view from my room in Berlin was executive privilege for sure, but that’s the reliable sum of it.
In my dotage I shall tour my eyes. If they’re still cooperating.
We had two hours in our rooms before we had to head out for the venue. I spent them quickly and had nothing to show for it.
We are staying near to Schiphol airport to convenience tomorrow morning’s flight and drive back to The Hague.
As with many a lazy tourist, I have visited Amsterdam often-times for its obvious charms, but The Hague and I have barely nodded.
In a rare and fleeting head-up moment as we seek out our destination, I see a place of character and beauty and determine that I shall find more time here one day.
At the venue and now nearly 4pm we drive into a loading bay and I have soup on my mind. Racy.
Upstairs it is warm. I’ve a good space for the purpose of jigging cases but there is no food on.
Dougie says it’s being brought in at 5.
I sort my stuff and use this earlier arrival time to put in some curlers.
I’m called to the stage and obey having decided that neither my beanie or a jumper draped make my roller-ed head look any less ridiculous, so I take my place summoning my Hilda Ogden with a confident ‘it’s a good look’ nonchalance about me.
No one bats an eye.
They are used to me not making an effort.
Keep expectations low and you never have to have a bad hair day. 
Fact.
It’s an attractive space. Boxy and tall. A standing venue boasting a floor and three tiered balconies which run both sides and back.
Back. Red. Metal.
That’s my memory of it which could be entirely wrong.
No matter. I will forget that memory if I ever return.
I am that bird in the film who wakes up every morning forgetting everything of each day before and reintroducing myself. Except not so sunny.
I rarely get bored though. 
James says the sound will be good to work with tonight and that’s enough. I feel scratchy and determine to keep a tight rein on my sardonic tongue, knowing it will sound spikier than is meant and then it will be worse for me because I will worry I have offended someone.
Being both, dry and sensitive is not a useful set of characteristics to pair. 
I sound check grudgingly. I’ve not eaten today and didn’t get coffee and my mind is elsewhere.
The food has been brought in. It is wholesome good stuff.
I eat lightly but put some salad in my emergency Tupperware box for midnight. Make a change from the ubiquitous cheese’n’ham. 

Photo by Alison Moyet

In my room I share my kit between two cases fairly like sweets to kids, sign all the CD sleeves left here as yet undone and Sean comes by to discuss the set list for the Tears For Fears gigs, our set time being half of what it is on my stand-alone shows. Satisfied we have a decent balance of hits and now, I get dressed. 
Stage time set for 8 is delayed to 8:10 as some few hundred people are still outside navigating security.

Photo by Alison Moyet

Sean and I have warmed up but we seem to have mislaid Paul.
That’s unusual.
Transpired he was sleeping on the bus and broke the deal he had made with his alarm.
What’s the time, he asks Sean who calls him on the phone.
8:10
Shit! Poor sod must have dressed quicker than a punter in a raid.
He comes up at speed, blinking and mortified.
We go on at 8:20, but no one is punishing us for it.
The venue is packed. I have lots of people I have connected with in tonight.
People who travel all over to see me. Faithful beauties. One fellow has come from Venezuela. I can’t even fathom it. It’s thrilling.
People I notice coming multiple times every tour.
I’d like to hail all.
The fact that I recognise them is remarkable enough to please me.
I think I have that condition. 

It takes me a couple and more songs to settle. 
The sound is very workable.
I can hear myself almost too well. Rattled at sound check I asked James to rack up the middle. I hear to judge more clearly when my mix is trebly.
James is already aware of this and no doubt already had the measure of it. The dialled down reverb and bass that I like to hear in my earphones leaves me without embellishment. I can hear any stale note and imagine more. I believe Dave has another analogue desk. I’m gathering then that there is no pre dialled in levels and effects so he will be chasing levels throughout.
If I felt too clean to begin with, the sound settled. Maybe it was out-front that did it. Maybe it was James overriding my diktat.
Either way we came to the good place. 
The audience are attentive, and eager, and responsive. Still the applause is brief however emphatic. I think Nick is right. The Dutch don’t over-egg the pudding. 
We had a delightful moment around catering where we were reading up on the different ways different nationalities swear. I can remember what the German version was, but the English are all about sex and holes. The Dutch base theirs around diseases. Tuberculosis seems popular. They combine heinous diseases with what are considered mild retorts in England and the results are to be envied. Disease swears would trigger the American and English activists.
I’m going to learn lots of Dutch swears and just avoid people that work in health charities. Until I get tuberculosis, obvs. And then I’m going single issue politics as is fashion.
N.B. The French I know love to throw in a sex worker a whore house, especially if it belongs to God. Though they are not adverse to a bum hole.
Come to think of it. They are not too dissimilar to the British, only having lived longer as socialists, they make the business more responsible than the sinner. 
That’s equitable.
My dad sounded beautiful delivering a full on verse of expletives. My mum, mitigating for her untethered husband, said it’s not as rude when the French swear, when I asked why it was ok for him?
She always said lying was bad too. 
Parents, eh? 
So I swear adeptly albeit mostly in accepting company. Now I am to be a student of the Dutch school.

I like all kinds of words
#BadLanguageMattersToo

I notice both that Paul drums in bare feet, and that his feet are nicely proportioned. Well formed.
I think to myself, yes, I can understand that when playing drums standing up, a bare foot would be better placed to control the dynamics. 
More sensitive to the weight of the pedal.
This occurs in my head when I am singing.
I pull in focus again.
It’s a dangerous thing to allow your mind to rest on a thought that is not ‘my next line is…’
I always am thinking of the next line as I sing the current one. Sometimes your mind goes blank and your panic rises only for your mouth muscles to fall into line automatically and you can steal back the word from yesterday and thank goodness. 

My sister is here tonight. I am aware when I am speaking of my mother in explaining the story behind ‘The English U’, I am speaking too of hers and hope it doesn’t hurt so very badly.
We are very close, she and I.
Sometimes when people find out we are siblings they ask if she still sees me.
How very peculiar.
Not all singers are lost up their colon and not every sister sells stories and wonder why they are now person non-gratis.
The idea of not needing the love of family, just cos you shout into a microphone, is preposterous and asking a stranger how their sister or indeed wife are without ever seeking to know the condition of the person you are talking at, is crass in the extreme.
There.
That’s what happens when someone disses my family by omission.
Yes. We still see each other and more, we want to. 

Tonight is the first where I don’t leave from stage.
Tonight ends this brief German/Dutch tour of 8 shows?
Tomorrow I go home and will gladly, gladly stay there until the off with TFFs some 4 days away. 

Tonight my sister and brother-in-law and four of their best friends, all long friends of mine, will come back and sit with me. 
I will gather my untouched gin and gig sambuca to fortify them against the cold. Dave very kindly gives me a couple of crew bottles of wine to host them with. I protest but he says the bus is replete and bursting with rider and no one will go near without. 

I am very happy to see them.

They leave with the curfew and the contents of my fridge.
You’d never escape one of our French relatives home’s, having visited, without receiving a gift of mushrooms, local alcohol, a bucket of morning caught crayfish or a rabbit.
So here I empty my fridge into recycled laundry bags and send them off laden. 
They are a jolly party. 

The crew are leaving. 
Time for us too.
Packed, Nick, Caitlin and I make for the car and our extremely comfortable hotel rooms.
In my bed I pull up my rucksack and retrieve my Tupperware.

Bugger me. 
That’s lovely.

Ps. It is universally agreed back-stage that Stuttgart is the winner. 

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