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S E P T E M B E R   2 0 0 6 

Friday 1st September 06                                                                                                                                    

Opera House, Buxton.

Firstly this month, a big thank you to the dozens of readers who have sent me those rolling bead seat covers, tubes of "Firey Jack" and vouchers for sessions with chiropractors and Swedish masseuses.  Much appreciated!
With Roy and Dirk making their own way over the Pennines to this wonderful Derbyshire spa town, it is just me, Eddie and Adam in the car today.  It is years since I've been here, the last time being to buy a Greyhound, and I have to confess to not noticing what a beautiful town it is.  Fifty-five miles from Liverpool, but it may as well be a different world...I really like it.
The Theatre itself is magnificent with great acoustics, making the sound check something of a joy.  We are in plenty of time for me to change guitar strings and still enjoy a relaxed coffee over the road with Dirk.

It's quite a good house tonight, not full, but certainly enough to make this a concert.  We perform very well and are wonderfully received.

3 videos uploaded to YouTube by Robbo

Saturday 2nd September 06                                                                                                                             

Saddlers Club, Walsall.

Tonight we are playing at a wedding function.  We don't play a lot of weddings these days and this is our first for 12 months.
The Saddlers Club is sited in the grounds of the Bescot Stadium, home of Walsall Football Club.  If I had a penny for every time we have passed this placed on the M6, I'd probably have enough for the all day breakfast at Keele Services.  It always used to confuse Paul Acky when he drove past it.  He would see the turn off for Wednesbury, then the football ground, and then think he was in Sheffield.  No Paul, we would say, that football club is Sheffield Wednesday.  An easy mistake to make I guess and I shouldn't laugh, an ex girlfriend of mine used to think that Sheffield Wednesday was a Bank Holiday.

We played a longer than normal "wedding" set.  We always feel that the principles of marginal utility come into practice on such occasions. However, I think tonight, the response to the later part of the set was better than whatever "buzz" was created by the initial reaction to our appearance.  We did a good show.

Thursday 7th September 06                                                                                                                             

Pavilion Theatre, Weymouth.

I must have mentioned at some point, that due to Motorway Services now charging stupid fees to leave a car in their car parks for more than 2 hours, we now rendezvous with Derek at a location off the M6.  It seems that now we have upset the locals at this location.  As Dirk parks his car in a side road, the residents are out, complaining. "You can't leave your car there, you know".  Well actually missus, we can.  We are not causing an obstruction and there are no yellow lines or other parking restrictions, this is totally legal.  However, as Roy points out, can we be bothered with the grief?  Dirk moves the car round the corner.

The conversations all the way down to our Strensham Services stop, are all of a personal nature.  Spending so much time together travelling, we have got to know the ins and outs of each other and how we feel about all sorts of stuff, it's like Kilroy sometimes.  We are all at least a bit dysfunctional, and we recognise it in ourselves and in each other, which is probably why we get on so well.

After our coffees, a couple handing out cards for a Lucozade promotion, point us at an odd looking trailer in one corner of the car park.  We have the chance to win free stuff..."Just ask the pretty girl".....well I'm game.  The girl was indeed very pretty, and invited me to put a pair of goggles on and step inside the Perspex sided trailer.  I was told to pick up as many polystyrene balls as possible.  Ok... sounds simple enough.  A fan is turned on and its like a shite version of the Crystal Maze, with all these balls flying around in the air.  After 30 seconds inside, I dump my collection of balls into a bucket.  This wins me 2 scratch cards, and from those 2 cards, I win a Lucozade road map and a bottle of Apple Lucozade.  The whole promotion was a load of old bollocks, but at least I've told YOU about it, and you are now aware that Lucozade is now available in Apple flavour....and it's very nice!

The season is over in Weymouth, kids are back at school and the beach is pretty deserted.  This will be the last of our 5 shows at The Pavilion and as nice as it has been, I think we will all be grateful that we don't have to make this journey every week.

As well as being an "arse canary", Roy also has other supernatural powers.  He is the bands very own Derek Accorah. Roy actually lives round the corner from this TV paranormal charlatan, so perhaps they are on a lay line or something.  Anyway...during the interval, Roy states that the Theatre is haunted.  He can tell this because he got shivers during the first set and he could smell perfume (a sure sign of paranormal activity).  I asked the stage manager about it, and he told me that the drum riser was over the very spot where the body of the workman, who accidentally set fire to and burned down the original theatre, was found.  Spooky or what?  Personally, I think someone had just left a door open and Eddie had slightly over-done the Lynx, but I'm very cynical about such things.  I can just imagine Roy putting his drumsticks down at the beginning of Act Naturally, placing his fingers on his temples and announcing to the audience..."I'm getting a name, I'm getting a name".  If this ever happens, we will just have to increase the ticket price.

It's quite a good show tonight and the audience are enthusiastic.

School For Scoundrels socks!!

Saturday 16th September 06                                                                                                                            

Aztec West Hotel, Bristol.

A gig on the outskirts of Bristol.

At the end of our performance, the DJ at the event said something like....."Let's hear it for The Caverndish Beatles"...Marvellous!

Tuesday 19th September 06                                                                                                                             

The Lowry Centre, Manchester.

I quite like these pictures from tonight, they sort of storyboard the evening quite nicely.  So, I think I'll just describe them individually......might make a nice change, eh.... readers?

1 & 2. Outside The Lowry:  I've just walked up to the front of the building to show Derek where to park.  I've been here once before, last February to see Sparks.  I think it's beautiful.

3 & 4. The Quays:  Derek has driven through the lowered bollards to the parking area.  I've told him I will be with him in a minute to show him where the dressing room is, but in the meantime, I snap away around the quay desperately trying to get the auto-focus to work on the camera.  Then an occurrence that has become part of modern life.... Derek who is probably about 30 yards away and just out of ear-shot, phones my mobile to ask where to go.  I'm not criticising this...well actually I am, but I do it myself.  I've phoned Adam before now, to tell him a TV programme is starting...and he is only upstairs.  How disgracefully lazy is that?

5. Fluffing:  If we were very much more successful....I wonder if we could hire some fluffers?  An all important part of the routine is the fluffing of the wigs.  We all go about it in a different way.  Dirk, as you can see, sort of teasels the piece; I am rather more vigourous with mine; Roy treats his like a pet rabbit, with gentle strokes; Eddie on the other hand, becomes Andrew Collinge.

6. Aiming to Please!  ...............and the first blog appearance of my annual haircut.

7. Run Very Fast!!...This Way!  I can't think what inspired me to take this shot!

8. The food trolley arrives: Surprisingly little pushing and shoving going on here.  Everyone just takes a plate without looking underneath to see which one has the most meat.

9 & 10.  The Lowry is a no smoking building.....and you get the idea that they really mean it!  Unlike other venues, where perhaps Eddie and I have hung out of a window or sat in some grubby stairwell to have our pre gig fag.  Tonight, Eddie and I, almost psychically understand that it is time to go outside, it's just a nod to each other that prequels our silent ascent up the staircase to nicotine heaven.  We don't say much, just stand there, tugging on cigarettes and enjoying the calmness of the water on the quay.

11. The Players Tunnel: Here we wait for what always seems like an eternity, but is more likely about five minutes...shuffling about.....probably making 'League of Gentlemen' references.  I hate this picture....I feel like Peter Crouch (stand up straight Dirk!!), but this is very typical of corporate events.

12 -15 The Gig:  The Compass Room is not that enormous, but 50% of the wall area is glass...thus very sound reflective, and if we had played too loud it would have just been a noise. We play 45 minutes or so of mainly hits and it is very well and politely received, with the dance floor full for most of the set.  The audience are predominantly German I think.

16.  The Stage Door:  The blurry image, is Eddie, travelling too fast for the camera shutter, finally coming out to the car.  I've been sitting for 10 minutes with the engine running, Dirk has already left, and Roy has got lost round the front of the building.

Thursday 21st September 06                                                                                                                           

Assembly Rooms, Tamworth.

This is our fourth visit to this venue...and something had to change.  Domino's do a very nice 9" pizza for 10, but at 6.99 for a 16", one has to say that Papa G's was by far the better buy.

So...what's my big gripe today?  What can I have a real moan about?  Oh I know...signage on the A5.  Tamworth is 18 miles from the M6.  If you look at the map, the obvious way to go is along the A5, it's a direct run.  All the signs to Tamworth from the A5 will try to get you to go on the M6 Toll road and spend 3.50 when you don't really need to.  OK, the journey would be a little quicker, but they don't give you directions for the alternative and that, I feel, is fundamentally wrong. It's like a NHS GP suggesting a private consultation with a specialist without informing you that you could get the same treatment for free.....if you are prepared to wait 6 months.  Just give us all the information you bastards, and let us make our own decisions.

Things were going rather well during the gig until the end of Day Tripper.  At this point, Roy's bass drum beater went straight through the drum skin....thus no bass drum.  As a consequence, the following song, Paperback Writer, was interesting to say the least.  Fortunately, we were at the part of the show where the solo spots come in.  We carry a spare drum heads, but the condition of the spare bass head was somewhat second hand.  The theatre staff came to the rescue with a nearly new 22" skin, and we are deeply indebted.  Ade did a great job of getting the replacement skin on the bass drum during the solo spots, which were augmented by Eddies first ad hoc performance of Across The Universe.  I unfortunately, let a bit of professionalism slip, by stopping halfway through my song to ask that the squeaking from the drum kit cease as it was putting me off.  The mics on the kit were still on, and the noise from the pedal and the keys around the drum was coming through the speakers.

Saturday 23rd September 06                                                                                                                            

Borough Theatre, Abergavenny.

In spite of its totally annoying TV advertising campaign about the quality of its food, it has to be said that Marks & Spencer offer, by far and away, the best value comestibles on the motorway these days.  An early stop at Knutsford, gives us the opportunity to do some food shopping and load Dirks stuff into my car.  This way we won't have to hang around at our usual rendezvous and draw attention from the locals who don't like Derek parking outside their house.

The show is a sell out, and this, as always gives us all a bit of a lift.  I'm really having quite a nice time of it.... until it gets to my solo spot.  Eddie has just left the stage after his fab rendition of Norwegian Wood. On this song he uses an alternative tuning on the acoustic guitar and he usually puts it back before he leaves the stage.  Tonight, he forgets. Halfway through the first verse of Here Comes The Sun, I realise that the E string is tuned down and I start to panic.  Trying to concentrate on the words and the performance, whilst at the same time thinking ahead to the middle 8 and where I am going to have to reposition my fingers so it doesn't sound an almighty fucking mess, is a bit much for me.  All too quickly the middle 8 arrives, and the balls I have been juggling with start to collapse in a very untidy mess.  I laugh, out of sheer embarrassment, really rattled now, and decide to skip forward to the last verse, dearly wishing I wasn't there.  I don't think I got away with it!
With the entire audience on their feet for the encore numbers, the show came to as much of a rocking close as ever.....we all enjoyed that.

Afterwards, with the bar closed, I go outside to try to find Martyn, a fella I've met on an internet message board who has come to the show with his wife and some friends.  Amazing thing this internet malarky. Unfortunately we didn't have much time to chat, as they were all too pissed and had to get off home, and we had to make tracks towards Swindon, which was our camp for the night.

The Holiday Inn Express chain is a much preferred alternative to Travelodge and all the other similar motel style accommodation available these days.  Newer, cleaner, better facilities, breakfast included and cheaper (at least for now, and if one books three days in advance).  It has taken us just under 90 minutes to get to the Swindon Express and we arrive before midnight.  Booking on the internet is supposed to make things easier and problem free.  It took the guy at reception 30 minutes, a lot of head scratching, putting glasses on and off and the eventual summoning of the manager, to find our reservation.  When we did get the rooms, they were the wrong ones, double beds and a pull out, instead of the twins that were booked.
Dirk went straight off to bed suffering from ear-ache (literally, not metaphorically), and the rest of us decided to see if the night porter was more efficient at pulling pints than using a computer terminal.  I am delighted to report that this was the case, and so we settled our selves in the bar area, drank lager, smoked and ear-wigged a few conversations from other guests who were a bit further down the road to inebriation than we were.
After about an hour, the three of us were starting to wonder what had become of Dave & Ade.  They should have arrived by now!  I phoned Ade, to find out that they were stuck at a service area, having had a high speed blow out on the M4.  Apparently, the air-line at the services was broken and they needed to inflate the spare tyre.  A good Samaritan, took their tyre over to the other side of the motorway to get it inflated and they were able to get on their way.  The pair of them were grateful for a couple of pints after their ordeal.

At 4am, Roy and I had had enough and went to bed.  Imagine our surprise to find one of the other guests that had been in the bar earlier, asleep on the floor outside our room.  We weren't sure if he had got lost, or had been thrown out of his room after an altercation with one of the pissed ladies in the bar,  but he was certainly in no condition to operate heavy machinery.  The picture on the bottom right, shows the view of this unfortunate through the spy hole in our room door.

I was awoken from my sleep at 5am by Eddie crashing into our room and laughing like Mutley. Roy and Eddie continued laughing for about five minutes and I tried to ignore it all and get back to sleep.  The last thing I heard was: "It's fuckin' ace, ale, init?"


Sunday 24th September 06                                                                                                                              

Wyllyotts Centre, Potters Bar.

Breakfast finishes at 10.30, and Roy and I get downstairs in plenty of time to make the most of the continental style fayre.
We are joined by Derek, about 5 minutes before the staff begin hiding the cornflakes and switch off the toaster.  Dirk doesn't look well.  His left ear is still giving him gyp, and there seems to be nowhere were we will be able to get any Earex, he will have to fill himself with paracetamol.

Either bored with our company or expecting a telling off, Eddie decides to travel the 100 miles to Potters Bar in the van with Dave & Ade. A misunderstanding over where we are going to stop for coffee, puts the two vehicles 20 miles apart on the M4.  We have gone for Reading services where there is an M&S.  A light hearted argument breaks out between Roy and I, over whether one of the other discerning travellers happens to be Daisy Donovan.  Roy is convinced that it is, and I'm not so sure that it is the same TV presenter of the 11 O'Clock Show who held a lift door open for us at London Studios a few years back.  
I decide to bow to Roys opinion, as he is, by his own admission, "Bloody good at faces" and exceptionally proficient at Guess Who?

Arriving at The Wyllyotts four hours before the show gives us plenty of time to do flap all.  I wander around the high street, noticing a high proportion of charity shops and pizza outlets.  Eddie tries to get some sleep.  Roy fiddles with his drum set, and Dirk doesn't seem to know what to do with himself.  He's bored and in pain.  I return from my wander to find him catching the late September sun, it's really hot for this time of year.
Ade shows us the tyre that blew out last's terrifying!

It's by no means a full house here tonight, but we do a great show I think.  None of us could work out why the audience laughed when I said it was nice to be back in Potters Bar.  At first we thought we had got it wrong and we were actually somewhere else....if anyone reads this who knows why it caused such a reaction, we would love to know.
Dirk was very apprehensive about the show, as he was completely deaf in one ear.  He found the whole experience very odd, but seemed to enjoy it.  The tablets had kicked in and relieved the pain, but had obviously had no effect on the deafness.  I took the opportunity to tease him and stand on his foot during the first half, which amused both of us and caused some laughter spillage on the mic.
Eddie came up with a new one at the beginning of the second half, he walked on the stage but had left his guitar in the dressing room.  This caused a bit of pregnant pause while he ran back for it, as Twist & Shout works a lot better with someone doing the Lennon part.

When Dirk came off stage at the end and headed for the sandwich tray, he was dismayed to discover they were all cheese. Cheese, with cucumber; cheese with tomato; and cheese with something else I can't remember...but all cheese!  We teased Dirk that Dave & Ade had polished off the smoked salmon.


A Vauxhall Victor - From Mars

14. Daisy Donovan
|| London Studios, London  :: March 2002
To this, you can add September 2006, Roy was in no doubt, so that's good enough for me.
We were performing at the wrap party for Hat Trick's, Time Gentlemen Please.  As the lift doors opened and we scruffily struggled out with guitars and bags, Daisy held the door open for us and smiled sweetly.  There was no conversation.... but her hair looked great!

15. Al Murray
|| London Studios, London  :: March 2002
As a consequence of playing the party mentioned above, we got to meet Al Murray.  Personally, I think the programme is shit, but apart from shoving Eddie off the microphone to make an announcement, (had he not been a bit tiddly and it not have been his party, I think Eddie should've gobbed him!) Al was a pleasant fellow.  I wanted to say hello to Rebecca Front, who was dancing during the set, but by the time we had de-rugged, she had buggered off.

Saturday 30th September 06                                                                                                                            

Customs House, South Shields.

Heading back towards the A1 at 10.45, Roy said "Well there's not much to put in the blog about this one"
I guess he was right....not much had happened at all, we'd had a good, but pretty uneventful gig in a part of the world we always enjoy coming to. was also suggested that I would not write about my shameful bout of wind that plagued me, and more especially the others on the journey north.  I apologise fellas.

Then, a series of events that were rather like the film Sliding Doors...but without the sex, the deceit, the humour and music from Aimee Mann.

We stop off at Washington Services to grab a bite, but the burger bar is closed and by the time we reach the petrol station, the attendant has locked the door and we can't get in to choose a pastie.  

If we had not have crossed over the bridge to discover the closed Burger King, we would have been in time.

If we had not stopped at all, we would probably have not been stationary on the A1 for 30 minutes because the accident less than a mile ahead would have happened after we had passed Scotch Corner.

Without that delay on the A1, it is probable that the police car that tailed us for 5 miles on the A685 and eventually pulled us over just short of the M6, would not have been in a position to be "looking out for cars that were not local".  That is the reason I was given for being stopped!  The officers were really friendly and all, but it doesn't sit right I'm afraid.  They had clearly radioed the car reg. through, found that the car was registered in Liverpool and decided to have a closer look.  They were going to ask me to produce my documents at my local police station.  I politely argued that this was wrong, as I was not guilty of any offence, I had shown them my driving licence and the police computer would have told them that the car is insured and that it is taxed and MOT'd.  Why should I be inconvenienced any further?  They decide just to take my details for their report, and allowed us on our way.

Without the delay caused by the police, I would not have had to swerve out of the way of an accident that had just happened on the M6 near Kendal... a white estate, with its arse in the central barrier at right angles to the carriageway.  I expect this is closest we have ever (knowingly) come to death on the road.  Had there been more time to think instead of just react, I would have been terrified. 



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