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Birmingham. Symphony Hall. 9th Nov.

November 11, 2017

Having been jolted awake by the fire alarm, trying to sleep further was futile.
The gulls that have their apartments on the roof above me, were going about their business of the day, shouting out like market boys organising a tea run.
So be it.
I tidied my room and prepared for our drive to Birmingham.
With an hour to spare, I walked the town a little.
Being home, and yet not, sets me thinking of my first weeks at nursery.
The Barnet Centre in Basildon’s Butneys held mine.
Between our back gate and it, there was a square of some low maintenance, now occupied by a doctors surgery, I believe.
I could see the back of my house from the community centre’s door.
One day I made my escape.
I took off across the road (cars were still few then) and threw myself kicking and shoving at our tall, unyielding wooden gate.
At once, and what seemed like at length, I was dragged back and away and into that dark hall, and it felt like the worse betrayal.

I get that feeling of abandonment now when I go to a place that was once mine and I have no more claim on.
I stand and stare and can’t believe it has forgotten me, when I had kept it as though a precious thing.

Once I pressed myself against the community centre doors in Ballard’s Walk.
Adult me.
Looking hard for a shape that had furnished my memories, as though to make them walk again.

A group of kids spotted my unkempt form, me in my reverie, and a small one shouted
‘Look at her. She’s fucking mad!

Short arse interlopers.

How could they know I was born with this town, that some dust of mine must still be floating in the motes in there, as in turn, these threads are tight in the weft of me.

Brighton won’t forget me.
I won’t leave.
I intend to forget it first.

But I do leave, if only this time for a few hours.
Back at the hotel, Vinny is waiting at the car parked outside.
A lucky Brighton parking space that had availed itself just as we drove back here last night.
He had gotten hold of a skeleton key from front desk and had collected my packed bags from my highest loft room.
That was a welcome surprise.

We drove to Birmingham, straight to the venue as tomorrow I have a day off and tonight, and the next, I will sleep in my own house.

Another back stage that is known to me.
Friendly staff.
A lift.
A sofa in a room whose window looks out into a shopping mall.

I close the blinds.

The Symphony hall boasts a fine, fine tall auditorium.
Stalls and three full tiers, the highest of which would test anyone’s slight vertigo.

Our sound check reveals no hint of trouble.
After dinner, I enjoy the quiet of my comfortable room.

I have a new audiobook on the go. Weaveworld by Clive Barker.
I read it years ago and remember only that I loved it and The Fugue within.

I am revisiting it to see if it remembers me.

We have Hannah Peel back with us.
She has been getting much interest and is picking up fans every time she plays.
I do love a woman who is cognisant of Technology, and she doesn’t have a still mind from the small insights I garner.

Tonight the room is packed tower high.
Sean offered up a suggestion as to how we might reorder the set.
It is a tricky balance. Pace. Emotion. Tempo. Challenge and reward.
Tonight we made the main set shorter and more thought provoking, and the encore longer and upbeat.
I think that may be the way forward.
We shall reconvene in Southend and feel out the crew for their take on it.

Tonight’s audience were very thoughtful.
They listened attentively and were all up on their feet for the last segment
I lost myself to the song a number of times.
Coatsie, my digital manager, who comes many times to watch, this time with our friend Simon and his mum, said it had been my best sing.
The room is certainly a beauty to play to.
For some reason, it was Stutter Moyet that took the stage.
I tumbled over my tongue.
Where in Brighton my words of explanation flowed as though without question, here I jumbled them and tripped and second guessed.
Nonetheless, the audience were tender and generous throughout.

I changed into my civvies and gathered my things and then Vinny lead me to the car where we made our three-something hour drive home.
I had gin in my flask, and ice and limes in paper cups. Cheese and pickle on whole meal, and a day of my own ahead.

My baby-fat Brighton gull bird daemon.


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