October 17, 2017
I took a walk looking for breakfast.
I see verdant.
I walk against a clear river that passes me at a trotting pace.
It seams hectares of neat, shorn grassland, and is lined with weeping willows and other trees and cascading foliage I cannot name.
The air is good.
Opposite, large flowering plants, running all the spectre of red, grace every school and office block alike.
Heavyset mock gothic buildings are stone clad and have a Dutch air.
Their shapes are familiar but not quite.
Others are lego precise. Looking flat pack quick, yet immaculately finished.
Everywhere film-set clean and there is no litter.
I don’t many people.
The ones I do are mostly running.
How to make me feel super-lardy.
Bastard fit youths.
I soon come to a small cafe, named for the river, or its industries.
I don’t remember.
I order tea and a cook-em-up, and sit in a shed like lean-to which is warm and pleasant.
A cat has its own cushioned, surface-high stool.
A notice requests that you are not wake him up if he is sleeping.
My girl would be cooing.
A woman arrives and sits at his table without registering him.
Her breakfast arrives.
She reads a paper and his head rests on the table watching her bacon.
They don’t talk.
I am not long.
I bathed and then was met, in the hotel lobby, by my old school chum, Shirley and her partner Carole, who have already bought tickets to tonight’s show.
Shirley and I were best friends for a term or 2 when we were 11, in that flighty way that comes and passes for no particular reason when we explore a school new environment.
We have not seen one another in over 40 years.
She is instantly recognisable
The hour that we have together, before I leave to pack for soundcheck, flies happily.
We still have friends in common and our Basildon heritage finds us not at all dissimilar or other minded.
Her Glasgow love too makes normal a home of my obscenities.
This is good.
We all promise to meet again and mean it.
It is delightful.
The venue is cold.
It is cold outside.
A temperature we would expect at home but not one I am here prepared for.
They have laid out a finely dressed communal dining table in one of the bare and functional spaces, and bring us pre-ordered dinner from a local restaurant.
I had chosen soup and chicken.
It arrived hot and well made.
The people working here are thoughtful and attentive, and we are made welcome.
Tonight’s stage again faces 3 tiers of seats, but this time they all but abut the stage.
I have the intimacy I best enjoy.
I make up and get ready to the strains of another audio book. Lamentations by C.J. Sansom.
I have read all his Shardlake books.
I fucking love the bastard Tudors.
I have listened before, but familiarity is comforting.
We warm up.
Everything goes pear shaped.
John and I fight.
Without warning or to my knowledge, precursor,
and we don’t know what to do with it.
It has never happened before.
10 years connected.
Sean looks stricken and tries to be normal.
The air is thick with disquiet and we can’t look at one another.
We go on silent.
I am in my own box.
I guess they are in theirs.
I feel alone.
I can’t speak for them.
I focus on the audience.
I try to stay focussed and not think outside the song.
Mostly that works.
I have a couple of minutes.
My mind wanders, but I pull myself back.
I drink more sambucca.
I am in the minute again.
It comes to when I introduce them, and seeing his face still dark, my mind blanks.
I worry that seems deliberate.
All my efforts elsewhere occupied.
Other than twice when I restart songs, not willing to allow any to pass knowing I have made a mistake, we do well, and the audience, whilst forced to stay seated by the configuration of the room, are warm and responsive and listen intently.
No one in my hearing disputes my set list and I was glad to be sharing with them.
To focus on them.
To make them Team.
Albeit not in their knowledge.
Offstage I need a drink.
I am in 2 places.
I am delighted I have finished this six weeks, promo and 20 shows without a compromised voice – other than in that one US morning live radio session. I
I am proud I have not been an idiot and partied myself out of my own self respect.
Evolution accepted or not, I have sung well and committed myself to my performance every night.
I am not fragile in any of that.
But now my boys and me, who should have been together celebrating legs well met, are in separate rooms, feeling bad and all wishing it had been otherwise.
G goes out to check the lay of the land.
She returns unflustered.
Little is said, but we all know language has been our downfall. Timing and tenet.
I meet with Hollie Smith and her stage partner Malika.
Our fine opening act.
I ask them to my space
We drink and talk.
I wish we had had more time to hang.
I meet John in the corridor.
He offers me his Malbec.
I offer him my Pinot Noir.
We are tired and a long way from home, and we miss our beloveds.
Touring is both wonderful and hard on the psyche.
Hotel life strips us of our personalities.
Who else can we offload our losses upon, or indeed our celebrations?
There is care and in care, upsets happen.
After the show there are drinks to be found in the hotel bar.
I have told Mark, our lighting man in Australia and New Zealand, how grateful I am for his fine work.
He has been a great tour member and has fitted with us very well indeed.
It is hard to discover an act while on the job, but this is how it has to be for a marginal act like myself.
He did very well indeed, learned our show and needs quickly and has been a joy to travel with. We have been lucky indeed.
Encouraged as we were to vacate the building, the idea was to meet in the bar at the hotel.
It is late and I have a 7:30am check out, packing to do and 40 hours of travel to begin with the morning.
I opt out with two months more of touring before my old bones rest and time enough to toast our goodbyes, albeit that we today bid Mikey goodbye.
We shall see him in a social in Cardiff or Bristol.
Still I am not asleep before 2 am but at last I Succumb.
In the morning my alarm shouts at me, 7am.
We travel now, just G and me, home, with the UK tour impending,
I want to see my man.
40 hours and my Brighton claims me.
I click my heels.
No place like home.
I have internet on the plane.
Fucking Tomorrow’s World.
It won’t upload my photos.
I’ll have to do it later.
Techie progress still to be made.
Blade Runner we are not.
Less radiation though.
That’s a fair exchange.