JUNE | AUGUST >>
U L Y 2 0 0 6
I have to
be honest about it...after Dirks birthday bash last
night and the consequent level of alcohol he put in
his system, I was sort of expecting him to be a few
minutes late for our Phantom Winger rendezvous at
10am. I was little prepared for a huge crash on
the M6, which would divert the rest of us off the
motorway at Leyland. So it was us who were a
little late. Dirk was either bluffing, or he had
made a spectacular recovery from the alcohol...he
seemed in fine fettle. Of course.... he
was giving it "Zzzzzz's" by Lancaster!
It was a glorious day all the way up the motorway
until about 10 miles out of Glasgow, when the sky
became overcast and the windscreen wipers came into
play. This is just what you don't need for an
With it's sideshows rivaling those from Craggy Island,
the East End Arts festival was just kicking off as we
arrived. The weather had played it's part in
keeping a lot of people away I suspect, but as the day
wore on and the sun made a brief appearance, more
bodies started to arrive. Just as we were about
to take the stage, there was another downpour, and we
could see the brollies being put up from our dressing
cabin's vantage point.
The performance itself was OK from our point of view.
We had our own on-stage sound which was fine, but it
was evident that there were some issues with the front
of house. Dave struggled to get the vocals
through the PA in the early stages of the set, and it
completely went off at one point. In spite of it
all, we had a good gig and went down well with the
punters who braved the rain to stand and watch.
After noticing some heavy road works south-bound on
the M74, we cleverly decided to come off the motorway
and travel 13 miles on the parallel A road, thus
missing all the congestion and saving us about 45
minutes on the journey. Very pleased with
ourselves, our smugness was overturned as we hit a
half hour tailback just before Blackpool.
sees the British Open Golf Tournament take place over
the water at Hoylake. Seems like a good time to
roll out the stories about our brushes with the Golf
stars at the Johnny Walker Golf Classic in Taiwan in
1999. The band played 5 consecutive
nights to all the top Golf Stars including Tiger
Woods, in the most ridiculously ostentatious marquee
we have ever seen. It was the perfect time to
take up drinking Scotch Whisky, as just about every conceivable
malt and blend was on offer. I am more of a sour
mash bourbon drinker myself, but I was more than happy
to sample the rarest of Johnny Walkers distilled
I have some pictures from this trip which I will post
up when I get a new power adapter for my scanner.
EDIT:: I was just thinking......if there are any
prospective Corporate Clients out there reading
this....I'd just like to say, that we don't make a
habit of getting sozzled on your expense
account...despite evidence to the contrary.
Ta Shee Resort, Taipei ::
We all got on best with Sandy Lyle,
and we became
drinking buddies over the week. Sandy was was very
interested in the band and asked a lot of questions.
I walked 36 holes with Sandy and his caddie, and got some swing tips from the US Masters
winner. It was an incredible experience to have one of
the greats of the game, explaining every shot.
He still has one of the longest drives in the
sport. Roy taught him to play Dance With The Devil on
drums prior to our last show.
Ta Shee Resort, Taipei ::
VJ and his Missus loved the band and
wanted us to play his New Year party in Florida.
In spite of him coming back to our dressing room on a
few occasions, we never did tie up the gig, but it was
still a buzz to have him pay us so much attention.
Ta Shee Resort, Taipei ::
Didn't get on with this fella at all!!
I can't recall the details because I think we were all
a bit drunk, but I do remember some sort of
altercation in the bar one night. Perhaps we
were singing that old Spitting Image song..........
"No...I never met
a nice South African,
and that's not bloody surprising man,
cos we're a bunch of ignorant arseholes,
with no sense of humour"
Ta Shee Resort, Taipei ::
Now we didn't really have
much to do with Nick, but we did seem to be constantly
bumping into him in the hotel lift, and he always
seemed to be eating in the restaurant at the same time
as us. He was a really patient fellow who had all his meals
disturbed by Taiwanese autograph hunters.
this more or less sussed now! Set off early-ish
to beat the midlands rush hour traffic, and park ourselves
at Oxford Services until 5.30 when we can be fairly
confident of hitting Park Lane at 6.45. Oxford
is the preferred service area because it has a
"water feature"...and that's ....pretty!
Dirk and I are settled at a corner table, enjoying the
afternoon sunshine, when I say "look out!....here
comes Count Dracula" Roy is walking toward
us along the decking under the shade of the long
canopy next to the main building. The instant he
feels the suns rays, he turns on his heel and marches
off back to the air conditioned safety of the service
building, without so much as a word. This is not
Roy's season to be jolly.
Tonight in The Great Room, 2000 Texans are entertained
by a speech from Her Majesty, and quite a ballsy set
from The Cavern Beatles. These Americans prove
to be yet another fantastic audience for us, and we
receive a standing ovation at the end.
7th July 1940
arrival at The Grosvenor was a little earlier than
usual (Sunday y'see...no congestion charge) Dirk
was feeling a bit tired, so I suggested a walk round
the park for some fresh air. Unbelievably, I've
never walked round Hyde Park. As we strolled
round the edge of the Serpentine, I was nonchalantly
on the lookout for the spot where, Jeff Daniels fell
in on his bike in 101 Dalmatians. Didn't look
too hard, as it probably wasn't even filmed
here. I did get the chance to indulge my latest
hobby of photographing ducks at close quarters
though! Had we have had a bit more time, I would
probably have liked to skipper a pedalo round the
lake. But I'm sure that Dirk, with his nautical
experience, would've pulled rank and I'd've been left
with the less satisfying duty of First Lookout.
It's a good job England haven't qualified for the
World Cup Final, with the match kicking off at the
same time we are due to go on stage, I suspect it
would have been torture. It's been a very
disappointing World Cup for me, I've enjoyed few
A slightly smaller group of Americans from the Great
Lakes area are our audience for tonight, but there is
still about 1400 of them. Once again the band
goes down very well and there is possibly even more
noise from the crowd at the end of the set.
Sports Ground, Burnham on Sea.
all, this turned out to be quite an odd day.
Normally on these types of outdoor gigs, we would not
sound check. Our back-line was going to be
there, and so was our monitoring system, there really
shouldn't have been any need. We'd had
information that a sound check was essential and it
was to be at 4 o'clock, so we dutifully set off early
for the trek down the M5 to Burnham, just past Weston
Super Mare. (The home town of John Cleese, for any
Pythonophiles - a word which, to my knowledge,
doesn't exist!, but that has never stopped me
Progress, in spite of unusually heavy Saturday
traffic, was unhindered and we were making very good
time. Enough time in fact, to enjoy a leisurely
stop at Strensham Services, which happened to be as
chaotically packed as Bickerstaff during Tractor
Fest. I was going to take some photographs of
the queue for the Ladies Toilet, but thought that
might seem a bit pervy.....all those crossed legs and
Eddie, Dirk and I gabbed outside over 3
Lattes, a toastie and a muffin, and Roy, mindful of
the temperature, stayed indoors and thumbed through
Norwegian Holiday brochures.
Back in the car, and we scuttle down to the gig, to
arrive at 3.30.
We get over the fact that there is actually no sound
check, and 4 o 'clock was basically a bit of a ploy to
get us there early. A specific arrival time would have
been OK and we'd have agreed to that, but maybe we do
need to be treated like kids sometimes.*
We utilised the time to check the monitors. Dirk
was convinced they were EAW ones (feckin' Dutch to
me...but apparently they're really good!), so elected
to use them, rather than Spectrums to save cluttering
up the stage and making the change round more
What after that?.... ...
well there was;
the incident with Dirk and the burger wagon;
the incident with Eddie's realisation that the fella
he thought looked like Roger Daltrey, could in fact, possibly be part of the group who were appearing later
that night called "My Generation---- A
tribute to the WHO" !!;
the incident where three of us return to the dressing
room to find our drummer in a faetal position
under a chair.....whose first words were.....
"I was....till you fuckers came in"
So basically... I'm not moaning about having to
get there so early....we had some fun.
On gigs like these we can all get on each others tits,
but we can all laugh, with, about and at each
other...and that makes "going to
work"........not so bad!
"playing" bit of the day....The bit that
we've come here to do....was a bit odd. By the
middle 8 of I Saw Her Standing There, Dirk was
now convinced that the monitors were not EAW, but
copies of the said acoustically superb speakers. As
his voice got higher in pitch, the flaws in the
speakers became apparent and he was struggling to hear
himself. I think we played and performed quite
well, but never really got the audience whipped into a
frenzy. It is never easy to do that with
daylight still in evidence. As the light began
to fade and there was more effect from the stage
lighting, things stated to get a little better.
When night finally fell and we were hitting the later
songs, there was much more reaction from the
audience. I am not trying to be totally unkind
about the whole thing, as we did see many faces who
were really into it throughout the set.
A hundred miles or so away from Burnham, lies Reading
Services on the M4, and this was our camp for the
night. We noticed that Jeff Parfrey was the General
Manager here. We all remember Jeff as General Manager
of Chievley Services at the junction of the
A34/M4 (see September 2004), but at least now
his photo does not look like it has been lifted from a
book of photo-fits.
Oh yeah.... the beds were dry!
* After saying that, come Monday morning, the
promoters telephoned to thank us personally and say
they really enjoyed the show. I was very
impressed with this, as I've not known that happen
very often before.
Not a bad day at the office! Well
actually, it looked like it was going to be fuckin
horrendous. Everything was going swimmingly
until we got to Knightsbridge, and then the traffic
just seemed to stop. The journey from Harrods to
The Grosvenor House, took us 2 hours, you walk it easy
in 15 minutes. It seemed that half of Park Lane
had been barriered off by the Police to facilitate a
vintage car rally. This was awful, we were going
to be late, and we'd already been informed that there
was no acceptable excuse for lateness on these
jobs. As we had set off in plenty of time from
Reading anyway, we were probably running about 45
minutes behind when we finally pulled up outside the
Dirk & Eddie set off for Pret a Manger, while Roy
and I decided to assist with the set up of the gear to
make things quicker. We got everything set in
time and I set off for the park to find Dirk and
Eddie. Eddie was recovering from a near major embarrassment,
having not realised that the edge of The Serpentine
was quite so slippy, he was saved from falling in the
lake by Dirk reaching out to grab him just in time.
The gig was another major success, this time to the
smallest party yet of about 1200 from the central strip
of the United States. They seemed quite please
that we finished the set with Kansas City.
in between gigs
experiment really to see how this will work.
These are some photographs I took at Las Dallias Market in
to admit, I was quite looking forward to today.
Spending a few hours on a racecourse is not a bad way
to pass the time. I've been to most of the
racecourses in the country. As a child, my Uncle
Bob used to take me all over the place, it was his
great love. He actually died at Preston Dog
Track, very fitting. Anyway, this course is one
of the finest, and with the weather being so
spectacularly warm, it looked like being a good day.
The three of us arrived for the sound check at bang on
2 o'clock. Dirk had actually got his directions
hideously wrong and had ended up nearer Beverley
Racecourse, about 30 miles away. There was
little chance that we would get a full band check in
before our curfew, so we just line checked everything
and made sure the drums were ok.
There were 6 races on the card, starting at 6pm.
This was the first time in 35 years that York had
hosted an evening meeting. Oh...bloody hell!...
I'm off on one!...I'll be giving you all the form in a
We were to start out performance straight after the
last horse had past the post in the final race and the
results had been declared. The organisers idea
was, that some of the 60,000 crowd would stay behind
after the racing to enjoy us and stick a few more bob
into the tills of the bars scattered around the
Apart from quite a few crackles coming from the
monitors, presumably caused by interference from the
lighting system, we had a great gig. A large
crowd had stayed behind and all the balconies in the
posh parts of the stands were still full, as well as a
huge contingent in the "tats". We'd
guess at 10 - 15,000. (by that I mean 10,000
to 15,000.... not just 10...that would be taking the
It might have been outdoors, but it was still
incredibly hot. We all came off stage completely
saturated. This was a shame, because it now
means that my shirt will have to washed again.
It was fresh on after me mum had washed it for me last
week while I was on holiday. The whole band had
commented that they had never seen me look so well
turned out. I'm sorry....but I'm just no good
with me "whites"!
Big thanks to Penny Ballard for looking after us and
making the event go smoothly.
seem to have quite a nice time here in
Hunstanton. This is the 3rd or 4th time we have
been here, but probably the first when it hasn't been
pissing rain. Clare, Jean & Barbara, had
made their annual pilgrimage to the local cliffs and
had been playing about on the beach all day (see first
photo). After barely adequate fish and chips,
Dirk and I made our way to the barely adequate sound
check, where we decided it would be a good idea to run
through "Let It Be", which was a contractual
obligation of tomorrows gig.
Dirk was suffering from a cold, which as I type this,
I believe has passed on to me - my sleeves have taken
on that unusual silver appearance. In spite of
the theatre being air conditioned, it was incredibly
hot on stage. Eddie hates the heat, and was
struggling for breath at times. We were drenched
before we had played a note, and there was some talk
of having to throw the odd shirt out when we came
off. It was a good show nevertheless and very
Our real troubles started after the show when we
decided to break the back of the journey to
Birchington. Bishops Stortford Days Inn was
full...and at £75 a room, I for one was a little relieved.
They are real thieving bastards those Days Inn
people. Pressing on down the M11 and onto the
M25 and after a detour trying to find Brentwood
Travelodge, we came to the old favourite - Thurrock
Services, with their massive Travelodge. Once
again we struck a blank. The very helpful guy on
reception said, that there were no Travelodge rooms
available anywhere in the area, but gave us the number
of the local Campanile. I phoned them, they had
rooms. I put the gentleman at the hotel on
speakerphone, to see if anyone else in the group could
make head or tail of the directions he was giving
me. No one was able to decipher his dialect, so
we resorted to asking at a garage for
directions. After about 45 minutes, we sussed
out, that this place was actually on the other side of
the Dartford Crossing.
The Campanile was at least clean and cheap, but
serviced by the rudest staff imaginable. The
beds were very comfortable, but it was a torrid
night...I sincerely hope the maids turned the mattresses
in the morning! Yuuuckkk!
We were a
little unprepared for this gig. We knew it was
outdoors, we knew we were on stage early, but we
thought that it was a Caravan Park and it was going to
be one of those summer outdoor shows that we would
rather forget about. It turned out to be rather
Roy and I had breakfasted at the Campanile and it was
a rather harrowing experience, which brought out Roys
diplomacy skills learnt at Priory Carpets.
Breakfast officially finished at 11am and we had shown
our faces at 10.59 and 50 seconds. There was a
lot of muttering from the French staff, but I'm sure I
heard the word "merde" mentioned.
We gobbled as much as we could from the buffet and sat
patiently awaiting the arrival of our cooked
breakfast. When we politely asked "ou est
nous fookin petit déjeuner s'il vous plait?", we
were greeted with blank expressions and finally an
explanation that breakfast finished at 11am. It
was beginning to look like this was going to get
ugly. Roy marched off to see the manager and
negotiated a reduction in our bill to the tune of 50%.
No such worries for Dirk and Eddie. The Little Thief
on the A2 got their custom of the legendary 4.99 BIG
breakfast. We all ordered coffee. We all
sent the coffee back.
"wots wrong wiv it?"... she quibbled.
" It doesn't taste like coffee, and as such
qualifies us for a full refund under your "no
quibble" guarantee of satisfaction!"
We are nightmare consumers.
Quex Park has a really splendid old house turned into
a museum. We never really found out exactly what
type of museum, but there were a lot of old cannons
lying around the place, which really interested Dirk,
who is very keen on this type of thing.
It was a bit of a douzy of a stage that was housing
the National Symphony Orchestra when we arrived.
56 top musicians all making a mighty din is quite an
experience. Stage Manager Mike, had the
unenviable task of keeping this whole show on schedule
and did his job with great efficiency. The
Orchestra were sound checking for what seemed like an
eternity and they began to eat into our allotted time.
hastily began to pack up the violinists chairs to make
a space 24' x 12' for us to shake our stuff, Roy was
back at the house giving the NSO's percussionist,
Nigel a grilling:
"I really liked what you were doing in the
Thunderbirds theme" oozed Roy.
"Oh...thanks very much" said Nigel,
""Actually, I played on the original TV
Roy and I were really excited by this. We both
have a deep affection for 60's TV themes and the Barry
Gray Thunderbirds tune is one of our favourites...of
course. We enthused to Nigel that the original
music used in the TV show was so much better than the
re-recordings that have since come out on those
compilation TV soundtrack records. Nigel
agreed. Although we were slightly disappointed
that he hadn't performed on the UFO soundtrack, Nigel
placated us with his credit on Fireball XL5.
Our PA channel listings had been sent through for this
event months ago, but it seems that a few tantrums and
extra symphony requirements had not be taken into
consideration. The nett result was that there
were not enough channels left on the mixing desk to
facilitate our little group. Fortunately, having
come straight from another show, all our outboard was
on the truck. Ade and Simon worked like ferrets
(or some other animal more especially known for their
industry) to get everything rigged in time for us to
perform on schedule. Unfortunately, there was
going to no time for a sound check.
Our set had been pre-requested by the booker, and was
not what we would have chosen for this type of show,
but we got on with it and finished bang on time.
Please Please Me, From Me To You, I Want To Hold
Your Hand, She Loves You, All My Loving, Michelle, Day
Tripper, Can't Buy Me Love, In My Life, Here Comes The
Sun, Paperback Writer, Let It Be and Hey
Jude. The later two songs required that
we use the services of Michel de Faraway, a
pianist of some repute, whose real name cannot be
reproduced for fear of contractual reprisals and
Of course, Hey Jude received a tumultuous reception,
and much flag waving. Mr. Elgar's similarly
stirring tune would have it's work cut out to match
it. We would have loved to have stuck around to
find out.....but it was a very long drive home.