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Muziekgebouw but who’s listening? 25 January. Eindhoven

Packed the night before and having taken my bath at midnight, I am ready to leave quickly. My stage dresses freshly laundered were returned to my room last night.

Still not nailing that sleeping business, my eyes are darkly shadowed.

I check out and go for breakfast.
I spread out some stuff on my plate but it’s not begging me to love it.
Nick joins me briefly and then we are gone.
The car park throws up its last challenge which we win.

Fuck you, Mole Hole.

Now some protracted driving occurs.

We stop to get petrol.

There’s no burgers here, says nick. 
Will they have a loo? I ask?
Yes but you’ll need 70 cents.
Oh, ok.
We call it Poo tax, he says.

It has to be said though that the toilets here are very well provisioned.
Seats cleaned automatically after every single use.
There’s hand sanitiser as well as soap.
I only need a wee but I sit on the toilet longer than I need to and feel I’ve had my money’s worth.

They give you a 50c credit note for the cafe for using this facility.
Empty then fill up again.
It’s a petrol station USP.
I don’t redeem it.
That’s privilege for you.

I sent off yesterday’s blog and pictures to Steve Coats-Dennis, my man of the Ethernet, so that he might post them up for me and give the heads-up to anyone currently tuned-in, that the latest instalment is available.

The Italian fans won’t like you mentioning Spag Bol again, he texts me.

Why? I reply, confused.

Because they say it’s not real Italian food.
Every time you mention it.

I never said Italian Spaghetti Bolognese, I reason.
I don’t think it anymore Italian than my fries as French!
I suppose.
Maybe I do, to be fair, 
but no one moans about the American version of ‘French Dressing’ and that’s an abomination.

It’s what I ate.
That’s why I said it.

Universal pasta based products.
Let’s come together, people. 🙂

It took me nearly three hours in the back of the car to write yesterday’s episode on my phone, with my single right-hand thumb.
Now I can look out of the window.

I didn’t see anything of Stuttgart.
Nick and Dougie, who did walk out, says it seems to be a massive building project.
Lots of regeneration.

These motorways look much like motorways.

More driving.

We get a Maccy D and Soup, Nick and I respectively, in a service station and set off again quickly.

Photo by Alison Moyet

My sister, brother-in-law and some mates are coming for a jolly to The Hague gig that is the show after this Eindhoven one we are playing tonight.
No doubt holiday was due have started for them on the ferry last night.
I saw her post on FB this morning that she had taken the wrong passport to the port.
The perilous travails of a dual national still yet in Europe.
She waved goodbye to her party and had to sad-sod-off back home to replan.
She will catch up, I am sure.
She’s intrepid, my sister.

The sat nav is a pernicious shit.
It lies like Trump and back-tracks just as often.
Fake Travel News.

We see a little more of the motorway than is strictly required.

My youngest daughter has come to join us for the last two gigs.
She is in my dressing room when I arrive, looking every inch like home and smiling wide.

I seem to be ahead of myself.

I have more time to play with.
How come I’m still on the hour when the hour comes?
Sean is with me.
We talk about missing our partners and how difficult it is to be separated and how hard the dynamic of having to be ‘On’ all the time of a tour’s run is.
Paul joins us.
We both admit to feeling a little bit fuggy.
Poor us.
Fuck off.
We’re as entitled to self-pity as you.

Tonight was the least well sold gig of the tour.
We were at 50 percent last time I asked.
That’s a low number for us of late.
Dougie says we have suddenly sold another 400 tickets taking us up to 1400 of a 1600 capacity.
I wonder if the promoters here have a lot of mates in.
The venue is a theatre proper.

Photo by Alison Moyet

It is set with a standing area on the floor and tiered seating behind and around.
The onstage sound at soundcheck is as good as I have had on this run.
It’s reassuring.
I am up for a sing although anxiety tonight is running high in me.
Dinner was ready at five for me alone.
I will make-up while the boys are at their leisure.
A plain canteen fare and plenty of it.
I have to persuade our protesting host that Pork and Chicken and Fish with rice and potatoes, vegetables, Soups and salad and god knows what manner of desert is too much for a singer on a gig night. That only a light meal is required.
She looks at me as though though I am feeble as I tried to retreat protesting for no additions to the already piled tray that is removed to my room.

I found bullet hard dried peas that my here referred to daughter in her infancy had weekly banked in the fire place behind the mirror, me certain I had successfully equipped her with her ‘five a day’.
There is no fireplace here and I have no peas.
I eat little though I was hungry, and leave the rest baldly in plain sight.
I make ready for tonight.

When we go on, the theatre appears well populated.
They are polite and attentive but the applause is relatively scant compared with all our other dates on this tour so far.
It is warm but fleeting.
This is no issue for my ego.
I have learned that I must give regardless of return, and pride
Is to be found in that.
It’s kind of Christian thinking for an agnostic.
Either way, the briefness of it causes me a problem.
I use those moments to reboot and settle my lungs normally. 
To calm my breathing before we proceed.
This scenario forces me to move more rapidly onto the next track and frequently I find myself still puffed as I begin a new song.
There are lots of big sings in a row and not enough ‘Only You’s’ to reboot too,
The dancing has to give somewhat or I’ll find Myself gasping like Fat Bastard in Austin Powers.
If I have to choose between the gym or gratuitous applause to pace myself, I’d plump for the curtsy every time.
I’m silently glad in truth to have indeed upped my stamina of late.
The hall is good. The clarity of sound up here, close to optimum.
I sing well I think.
These are the things I can close -as-dammit know.

There was a couple standing a few rows forward from of me in the crowd.
He with curly brown 
hair, a dark beard and a sky blue shirt. Linen maybe.
She with long auburn hair and a scarf. Perhaps in tangerine.
She is occupying her space. 
He is delighting in her.
They were connected together and were apparently absorbed for every minute of the performance.
I feed on them.
They are here to play together.
They throw shapes and they mouth the words and they show pleasure without inhibition through out the set. 
New and old. 
I thank the ether for them.

I shan’t look left to the geezer more intent on the stanchions who gifts me his notice only at Only You.

I may have thrown him a dead-eye or two. 

His disinterest is allowed.
So is my arsehole. 

I think I spy James The Weaver from Scotland near the front to the left of me. He has sent me backstage a beautiful handwoven pencil case.
We made a connection some while back. When I can I shall go to his workshop to play. How thrilling.
I’m not sure why it was more muted here.
Could be it was the only majority sit down venue. 
The rake of the stalls exposes people more than they might be comfortable.
Nick says Dutch audiences are more polite.
They did get good-rude in Amsterdam though.
I prefer to watch sitting down.
I prefer to see standing up.
I leave stage passed my blank faced crew and cohort and Dougie takes me to the car when Nick and Caitlin are waiting.
I am cold in my wet dress. 
15 minutes later we are at the hotel and it is grim.
An unappealing brute of a building on the outskirts with a plain face that could be tribute act for a medical clinic, or a prefab office block, or indeed a ring road motel. 
4*? Nah, mate. That’s like proper lies.
Nick was to go and check us in while we were sound checking but it was confirmed as already done. The keys would be ready.
We walk in to an unusual scene at 10pm. Families were sat on the floor in groups mildly squabbling. Small kids on their bellies looking bored.
Some people milled around a bar. It seemed like 5 am
In an airport lounge where EasyJet had double -sold again. 
The reception is unmanned.
I look around for anyone who might seem employed here and saw no one.
‘HELLO!’ I project as effectively as a big lunged singer might. Still in my ruined stage finery.
De nada.
Even the floor dwellers are unsurprised.
I walk behind reception to a door marked ‘Private’ but in Dutch. 
‘Muuum’ Caitlin drawls with suppressed anxiety like a kid does when a parent is about to shame them with a scene.
‘Bollocks’ I say ‘It’s not on’.
I rap loudly.
After a minute a woman comes out and without smile or small courtesy takes up behind the desk.
We are here. You are expecting us. Nick informs her politely, providing her our names.
She asks for passports.
He reminds her again that the check-in process has been completed and she will find the keys ready as arranged.
She reaches into a draw. Hands them over points to a lift and disappears immediately back into her room.
Did she mention breakfast hours?
We try to follow the ghost memory of her pointing finger and eventually find the lift.
Mine has a bath and a decent bed and a kettle.
That’ll do. 
I’m covered.

After my bath I find BBC 2.
‘Awe increases with age’ says Mary Beard. 
I think that true in all senses. 
I am awed by Mary Beard in her age and of her age.
My age and in my age increases my awe of her.

Wonderful creature that she is.

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