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Friday 5th May 06                                                                                                                                                

Private Party, Halesowen.

Taking no chances with the Friday afternoon traffic, we set off a little early for the West Midlands.  We find that the traffic is surprisingly light for a Friday, so we have the luxury of about an hour spent at the pleasant lakeside setting at Stafford Services. Sixteen quid for 4 coffees and a tiny salad is the price to pay for this small delight.

This was a surprise 50th birthday party for Janet in small private members club.  Husband Dave had gone to great lengths to make this a special day for her...and I think he succeeded! 
Despite the fact that Dave bottled out of making a speech before we came on, I think it was all fairly evident how much he thinks of Janet.  Bugger the speech....his actions spoke volumes.  I guess they are pretty lucky to have each other.  For our part, it was nice to be involved in making some ones day.

With Dave (Bryan) off sunning himself in his secret Caribbean retreat, Ade has enrolled the services of the "lovely" Steve Marsh, to assist with the gear.  A pleasant shock to see Steve...part of the Cavern legend.

94p a litre is now the cheapest I can find petrol!   
(OK....93.9p .......but the 10th of a penny "is just price rhetoric" - Partridge)

It's THAT shirt again! The "lovely" Steve Marsh

Sunday 7th May 06                                                                                                                                              

Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury.

2003 was the last time we came here, back in the days before the blog.  I remembered the outside of the venue, I remembered the dressing rooms, but the rest of it is just a blank.  I'd even forgotten, until embarrassingly reminded by Rhian a few months ago, that this place has quite a significance to those who fondly remember Eric Morecambe.  It was in the wings of this theatre that one of our best loved comedians, died of a heart attack on 28 May 1984.

Friday 12th May 06                                                                                                                                              

Nailcote Hall, Berkswell.

It seems so rare that we can set off for a gig as late as 7pm these days, but here we are belting down the M6 in the post rush hour traffic.  Roy is not feeling too clever after almost a week of stomach pains and a visit to the hospital, but had felt OK enough to tackle the gig.  Understandably though, he opted out of a visit to the Chinese take-away in Berkswell village, where I sampled the delights of the Special Chow Mein, and Eddie went for his favourite Singapore Fried Rice.  I'll come back to the Fried Rice later.

I've noticed that the motorway petrol stations appear now to be in a bit of a quandary.  With normal pump prices up another penny this week to 94.9p, the rip offs on the motorway who are normally a good 8p a litre more expensive, have decided to keep their prices at just under a quid.  Either they haven't got enough numbers in their cupboards, or they fear their sales will be markedly down once the public see the price go over a pound.  We have never seen a good reason why these places charge so much, other than they can because people don't particularly want to come off the motorway to fill up.  It's an outrage I tell you.

We are playing in the Lant Suite at Nailcote, always a difficult stage, especially for Dirk and I...we keep banging into each other, and often I have to get to the mic. via the dance floor.  It's quite a good gig and we have a full dance floor for pretty much the whole set...if you don't count my Carl Perkins tune!!  About three quarters of the way through the set, there appears to be an altercation on the dance floor between a lady and her male dance partner.  From what we can make out, she appears to be accusing him of "opening his lunch box".  She is holding her nose and giving him the evil eye.  He continues to dance with his arms outstretched, seeming to gesticulate "It ain't me luv!"
On the far side of the stage, Eddie is trying to conceal an evil grin.  Not usually known for trouble-making flatulence, he confesses to us later that it was indeed he who released his dinner during No Reply.
The band sounded great...but they don't half pong!

Roy got though the gig on adrenaline, but didn't look well as we got back in the car for the journey home.

Saturday 13th May 06                                                                                                                                         

The Robin 2, Bilston.

We thought Roy might have been OK for this gig today, but at 12 o'clock I get a phone call saying he is feeling much worse and is going back to the hospital.  It's a bit touch and go, but I manage to get hold of Dave, the drummer form Beatlemania who travels down from Northumberland to do the gig with us.

Worries about Roy's health, the gig tonight without him, and some very sloppy defending by Liverpool, tend to spoil the first half of the FA Cup Final.  As the second half kicks off, I have to leave to pick Eddie up.  The streets of Liverpool are very quiet this afternoon as everyone is watching the match.  I have to content myself with listening to a very poor MW signal provided by Radio 5.  At Knutsford, we think the game is all over as we enter injury time with West Ham 3-2 up.  Steve Gerrard's 91st minute cracker of an equaliser prolongs the game until Hilton Park, where we simply have to pull in and watch the penalty shoot out.

With pre-sales for the Robin at just short of 600, it looks like this is going to be another sell out in Bilston.  We are thankful that we have not had to cancel the show and very grateful to Dave for making the long journey to take up sticks with us.  Fortunately he was familiar with most of our show and we were only going to have to change about half a dozen numbers.  I speak to Roy at about 7pm who tells me the hospital had given him wrong medication last Tuesday and this is causing his problems.

When the Robin is full like this, it is the most fantastic's hot and sweaty, but we love it.  In a perverse reversal of last nights situation, this is the first time we've ever smelt farts coming from an audience member... but I swear that someone very close to the stage had bad guts...and no one in the band was owning up!

9. Tony Robinson
|| Metropole NEC, Birmingham  :: January 2002
Thought we had a tramp in our dressing room at first, but quickly realised Tony was giving a speech as Baldrick at this corporate.



Sunday 21st May 06                                                                                                                                            

Plaza, Stockport.

Not much chat on the way to this show...very local for us, just a 35 minute drive.

This is some venue!  Built in 1930, very deco style, as one of those "super cinemas", it has seen some changes in its history.  In its heyday, this must have been awesome. 1200 seats and a giant screen, watching King Kong here when it came out must have been some experience.  Sadly, like with most of these places up and down the country, the late 60's brought tough times and it was taken over and used as a bingo hall.  Thankfully, an enthusiastic group of volunteers are trying to restore the Plaza to it's former glory, and they are now putting on shows and more cinema.

It was quite a small audience for the size of the venue, that saw us tonight, but they were fantastic and made us feel very welcome.  Had the place been full, the atmosphere would have been electric.

Our PA stacks are dwarfed by the size of these huge curtains

Saturday 27th May 06                                                                                                                                         

Cox's Yard, Stratford-on-Avon.

Before setting off for Stratford, I had the car washed by the Merseyside Fire Brigade.  They were doing a charity car wash event in aid of the Linda McCartney Breast Cancer Centre.  Roy commented that they hadn't done a very good job.  This was sadly true, but it was half washed for a good cause.  However, I hope for better service next week when I attend the Roy Castle topless massage event in Tesco's car park.

We pick Dirk up at our secret rendezvous on the road to Holmes Chapel.  A grumpy man asks him to move his car up an extra eighteen inches, and I don't blame him.  You see, I can quite easily see myself falling into the "grumpy old man" category before too long...I have already started practicing.  My current gripe is connected with the looming World Cup Finals in Germany.  Don't get me wrong, I am really looking forward to the competition, and although I have an unreasonable dislike of our national teams manager, the ludicrously coiffured Sven Goran Eriksson, I sincerely hope that England will make it all the way and bring back the cup. problem is nothing to do with bloody football in that sense.  It's these bastard flags that people have hooked onto their car's windows.  Why do they annoy me so much?  Why do I want to snap them all off?  I'm clearly going to have to have a long think about it and come up with a good reason.  I'll get back to you.

Cox's Yard is a very small venue in a beautiful location on the banks of the River Avon.  When we arrive, Ade & Dave have got all the necessary gear in the venue but are still setting up.  There is no room to put our PA in the venue, so we have to use the house system.  We don't much care for doing this under normal circumstances, there are few PA systems better than Spectrums, so why should we want to use less?
Without seeming snobby, the in house system in Cox's ain't a patch on Spectrums EAW rig, but there is no real option.  At the sound check, we are not totally happy with the sound, but we run out of time and we have about 15 minutes to get on stage.

The gig itself is quite good, Dirk & Roy really enjoyed it, Eddie didn't like the heat at all, and for me it was a bit of a Curates Egg...I enjoyed the atmosphere and the generosity of the audience, but didn't feel I had a particularly "good one".

"What is it with you?....always takin' pictures of water birds"

Tuesday 30th May 06                                                                                                                                          

Four Seasons Hotel, Dogmersfield.

Corporate gig for a party of jet-lagged Canadians in the magnificent setting of the Four Seasons Hotel in Dogmersfield.  I've never even heard of this place, but it is tucked away about 6 miles off the M3 near Hook.  The mixing desk is hidden away behind an attractive floral display, and a bottle of Bud will set you back eight nicker.  Eddie is very quiet, and I have to endure Dirks taunts about my decision to wear a denim shirt.  Tracy Jacobs is in the bad books for giving us false information about the M25 being "free-flowing" counter-clockwise on a Tuesday tea-time.  Roy has pruned himself for the summer months, and Dave had to run away from Derek.  Ade could be seen poking out from behind the hyacinths during the set, randomly checking the front of house, or was it the dancing girls in the go-go boots that drew his attention? 


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