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Ipswich. Regent Theatre. Nov 4th.

November 5, 2017

We are staying in a modern build chain hotel on the underskirts of town.
The type of which, without its solid logo thrown high for all to see, could be an out-patient’s clinic, or house a bath showroom on its lowest floor.
We, who pass as quick through cities as a dose of salts, can be all too quick to make judgement based on ring roads or civic rooms and municipal blocks and grey skies, that set grim every concrete slab as though stained and gritted teeth.
A walk out on this drizzled noon, and turn a corner to find buildings as fine as to be seen anywhere, which welcome you forward to have revealed, the next, equally compelling.

The town is a palm you enter by its fingers.
You can feel the hub that it is.
The unhurried market stalls that are given air.
Spires to find yourself by, and branches of medieval lanes that curl out of sight.

I would be glad to wander further here, but my bath calls, as does another shitting case to pack.

In my room, again, I could be anywhere.

I bathe.
I listen to my book.
I organise, and I leave to meet Vinny for soundcheck.

The hotel is close to the venue, and consequently, coincidently, every time I have used the small lift, I have shared it pressed close to a seeming gig goer.

The first, entering with her friend was singing lustily.
She spotted me, and eyed me in the way I recognise a penny dropped.
In the way no one does a stranger in a lift.
Too often.
Too long.
Too searching.

I kept my eyes lowered to avoid the ‘It is, isn’t it?’ opportunity.
There is no way to answer that question without sounding smugly expecting, or apologetic, and either will be followed by a dribble of my stuttering nonsense, which will shame me for the rest of day and beyond.

So I watch my feet like a little maid from school, looking more like the dinner lady.

See you later, says a younger woman, with vermillion hair and burgundy wine, as she stops and squares to address me
Ok. I say, smiling, and hurry out wishing I looked better, and had set my beanie hat less like a pat of butter sliding off the side of a hot potato.

I recognise the venue as always by catering.
Driven into the little yard, one car wide, our lovely chefs, Alison and Sarah, are cutting and wrapping load-out sandwiches on a trestle table, set out on a concrete siding outside in the chill.
Behind them, their tiny, open make-shift gallery kitchen, and up a steep, shallow flight of stairs, are the two aged rooms where provisions and tables have been laid out.
It is a hard job they do.
Providing breakfast and lunch for the crew, and supper for us all.
Shopping early in each town, and loading and unloading their equipment into the trucks, day after day.
Sleeping over night on tiered bunks in the bus, they provide us all comfort and cheer and place to rest.
And always with a warm welcome and no complaint.
They are splendid women infused with resource.
They smile as we pass by.

Behind a rough door is the mean corridor to the stage.
Cold and black and sparing.
Upstairs there are two rooms, I know.
One will be used by John and Sean.
The other, I am guessing, is Hannah’s.
Our timing means we live in different shifts, she and I.
I eat as she sound checks.
She eats as I make-up.
She plays as I warm up.
I play as she packs up.
I hope she is ok.
She is not short of gift in any event.
She has nothing to doubt in herself.

My room, the first on the right, is dark and worn and short of space, but I have a bench and a small sofa.
There is an electric heater to warm the air and a toilet.
This is plenty enough.
My blue tooth speaker sounds my audio book loud and I am content.

Dinner is curry tonight. Lovely, but I eat lightly.
Show time from now on is set earlier.
8:30pm.
I can’t sing full.

We warm up.

I am so gratified that my regime is paying dividends.
2 months on the road and I have had no fear as yet (touch wood) that my voice would fail me.
That has never been the case in 35 years of headlining.
Here I am in my late 50’s, finally owning my job.
Experience has value in every walk of life.

We go on.
I like the stage.
I like the sound.
I like the layout.
The audience are more reserved than we are lately accustomed to.
Safe highs are not received as lustily as they are elsewhere.
Applause is warm, but sparing.
They seem more inhibited, and I try not to let this unsettle me.
I wonder if they were hoping for a different Moyet.
She of another age.

Maybe they all are, everywhere.

I can’t be made unsure by that.
If I call myself Artist, I must not be moved.
I must accept confusion. Ambivalence.

I don’t know it was that.
It was just tonight’s hive vibe.

They were quieter.
That is not in my gift.
I mustn’t lose my grip
Or doubt my journey.

I do feel, however, that some unknowns, were landing well.

They were not closed to different.

I sang with no less conviction.

During the quiet, still intimacy of the title track ‘Other’, I heard from the higher balcony, a woman getting lairy.
Loud.
Shrill.
Arguing without inhibition.

Fucking arsehole.

Forgetting that I am distracted by it, what a disrespect to those around her.

If you don’t like something, be noble and fuck off.

If you want to booze, shit off up the boozer.

If you’re a harpy, go and find the sodding Golden Fleece.

Eat the blind man’s dinner.

Have a wank.

Don’t come round here.

You don’t even do that in the cinema on a two-for-one.

After I finish the song, I ask the audience if I have heard right.
Yes. They call out.

It’s ok, a fellow bellows from the back.
I sorted it.

Good man.

We have your corner, cries another.

Love ’em.

I do a shot of sambucca to illustrate that alcohol doesn’t make me shout.

Lightweights everywhere.

I have a good natured Essex sound off.
They laugh their agreement.
The ice breaks.
I know they have been with me all along.

They rise only at the last song of the set, but I am sure now they had been listening.

They welcome me back.
We encore.
I feel connected.

Straight to my car I have treats.
I have a flask of soup.
A ham sandwich.
I have gin in my drinks flask.
A bottle of chilled soda.
A plastic cup of ice and some lime slices.

I shall lock myself away and sigh another day done

At the hotel, the car park is full.

We off-load into the street, and I totter over grass verges in my high heels and stage wear.
Sweaty and laden with baggage and plastic cups and too much melting make-up.

What they must make of me
In the hotel, I have no clue.

That old bird has been disco-ing or is on the crack-cocaine.
Either way.
She looks like she needs a good wash.

10:30pm and in my room.

Rock and Ham Roll.

Post Script.

Arrived in Reading I am brought up to date.

Apparently the woman that I could hear, was in fact taking to task 2 other women who had been talking constantly. What transpired was a hissy fight between two groups of people.

Those talking without a care for their neighbours, by all reports, enjoyed a midlife flush of testosterone and revelled in a show of chin jut, and the others. who were tired of the ladies mid-gig social, rebelled against it at an even higher volume.

All this while I was sing my song of sorrow. Bless.

All were removed to the street, where one woman exited and got fist happy.

The poor security man was one of those on the receiving end.

The police were called but those revolting the gig gabbers had already left giggling.

It sounds like they all had the kind of night they came for.

Barking.

Dougie, who works with heavy metal bands say they never have a hint of grief. Lovely greebos.

Seeing me, and probably Sonia, is a health hazard.

You have been warned

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