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Thursday 1st March 07                                                                                                                                      

Who buys these things?

Monged out on the couch last night watching TV, I became fascinated with the advert for "Build The Bismarck".  A magazine which every week includes parts to build your very own 1:200 scale model of the most famous German battleship.  It looked fantastic, and I thought...ooh Roy would really like that!  The first issue is only 50p, but subsequent issues are £4.99 and there are 140 of them.  Hang on!...  that's just short of £700!!  Are Hachette Partworks, the people who publish this, serious?  I wonder if any of these things ever get built to completion, or if most people just get cheesed off after a few weeks and the ones who persevere find that the magazine run ends before they get their final pieces.


Friday 9th March 07                                                                                                                                            

A big thank you...... to you!

I've just noticed that this blog has slipped quietly, and unceremoniously, into it's 4th year...and I'm quite amazed.  Firstly because I can't believe how fast time seems to be accelerating, and also that I have managed to keep it up without any gaps.  The amount of time it takes to maintain this bullshit is quite staggering, and I have become obsessively disciplined about doing it.  Editing the pictures takes hours for each entry, and sometimes the text is very difficult to write.  I know that there are about twelve or thirteen regular readers of this nonsense, some of whom have been with me since the beginning, and it's you lot that keep me going.  

So....  I just wanted to say a "thank you" to all of know who you are...for the words of encouragement and support you have offered over the last three years.  It is most appreciated, and I hope you continue to get as much enjoyment out of it as I have had doing it.
Special thanks to Derek, Roy, Eddie, Ade and Dave, for the subject matter, and not being too pissed off when I write something they don't like.......this is only one interpretation of events!

Saturday 10th March 07                                                                                                                                     

Theatre Royal, Wakefield.

We'd known for some time that this concert would not be performed with the regular troop, as Dirk was going to be away for most of the month.  Fortunately, there are a few other people knocking round, who enjoy dressing up and posing on a stage in front of a paying audience.  One such enthusiastic egotist is, multi-instrumental, actor, singer, entrepreneurial beret wearing, ambidextrous, Scouse pedestrian, Karl Lornie.  It was he who would join us on our thrill ride over the pennies to Wakefield Theatre Royal today.  I've know Karl for a few years now, since we met in Hamburg, both standing in for an American Beatle production called All You Need Is Love at the St.Pauli Theatre.  We got on like the embers of a house that had been burned to the ground in a malicious arson attack, and have stayed firm nodding acquaintances ever since.

We've played here twice before, the last time being the day of Live8, and we have always managed to get lost about 200 yards from the venue.  This time there was no such problem, and my memory was working on full efficiency to get us straight to the Theatre car park without any hesitation.
Arriving earlier than usual, so that we could run a few numbers with potential ambiguities, it was all very relaxed at the sound check and no one seemed to have their routine upset.  Roy found the largest dressing room, which he claimed for himself, so that he could spread his gear over the largest area, having at least three feet between each item.  Eddie found a room with a shower and tried to make sure no one knew where it was assuring himself of his privacy.  Karl and I squeezed into the dressing room nearest the stage, but conveniently, the one containing the rider.

I can't really remember that much about the first half, except that we all enjoyed ourselves and we came off thinking that we hadn't had any issues.  During the interval, I went to open a bottle of Pepsi and the top of the bottle sheared and cut deeply into the middle finger of my right hand.  Not really a problem playing wise, but blood was spewing out and making a bit of a mess.  Apparently if you put a plaster/band aid over a cut, it helps stop the that's what I did and the crisis was over!  I stopped crying in time to make it on stage for the second half.

Act 2 seemed to go by very quickly, and it was a buzz to see the packed out theatre all on their feet for the last few songs.  We all congratulated Karl at the end of the show and he retorted by pointing out that when Roy de-rugged, he looked like a Panto Villain. Even Roy had to agree, and is expecting a call from Bill Kenwright to play the part of Abanazar in his forthcoming production of Aladdin.

Pic: Dave Bryan Pic: Dave Bryan
Pic: Dave Bryan Pic: Dave Bryan Pic: Dave Bryan Pic: Dave Bryan

Sunday 11th March 07                                                                                                                                       

The Castle, Wellingborough.

I like Chris O'Neil.... he's at least a scruffy as me, and although not as tall, he will still wear his coat in the car when no one else can understand how this is possible.  Maybe I'm not so unusual after all!  
No stranger to this kind of musical prostitution, Chris, you may recall stepped in to help us out on a couple of shows last year.  It was a pleasure to have him with us again, there were lots of laughs on the journey south.

I got a bit of a shock arriving at the venue.  In the first place, this wasn't the venue I thought it was, although I do remember playing here before. No, the thing concerning me was a brief glance into the cabin of the Spectrum vehicle.......They have mascots on the dashboard!  On the passenger side is a teddy bear, and on the drivers side is Wile E. Coyote. Wile E. Coyote!! know the chap...cute, loveable rogue; often seen looking for food; spends many hours chasing a blue, long legged bird that really pisses him off; always gets himself stuck in sinking sand, falls off cliffs, but always comes back next week to try again.  
Fellas....  I like it !!  :)

An unusual onstage sound hampers the overall enjoyment of the gig, but we did have fun up there and we always like playing Nowhere Man and If I Needed Someone.  I did find myself getting a little rattled at that part of the set, as the guitar changes had not been planned particularly well, and four consecutive changes had me scurrying about the stage like a nutter.

Pic: Dave Bryan Pic: Dave Bryan Pic: Dave Bryan Pic: Dave Bryan
Pic: Dave Bryan Pic: Dave Bryan Pic: Dave Bryan

Friday 16th March 07                                                                                                                                          

Crowne Plaza, Glasgow.

Having rather cleverly avoided the traffic chaos just outside Glasgow at the end of the M74, we find ourselves with a fairly easy run on the "bottom" road past Parkhead towards the SEC.  It's bleak.  The light from the overcast sky seems to pick out no colour, and this most vibrant of cities appears to be nothing but grey and foreboding. For the first time since Carlisle, the corners of Roy's mouth turn slightly upward, in a half expression of contentment.

We think we are playing at the Moat House Hotel, but several phone calls between interested parties reveal that it has actually been re-badged as the Crowne Plaza between five months and two years ago, depending upon whose history you believe.

As Eddie and I are having a fag outside the main entrance, we catch sight of Dave Peterson furiously and inaudibly banging on the thick double glazing of the hotel lobby screaming "Dan!.....  Dan!....  DAAAN!" (Partridge).  It's four o'clock, and Dave has just arrived by public transport from Wallsend with a Hofner Violin bass over his shoulder and an invoice in his pocket.  Dave is now the third consecutive Macca Mercenary in row to stand in with us this month.  Like a Black Widow, after we had used them we should have murdered them all, and thus reduced the competition from other Beatle tributes.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Reasonably content with the sound check, we all start to wonder what we are going to do for the next five or six hours before we are to take the stage.
There is a very acceptable lasagne on offer, but that only kills 20 minutes.  Eddie went for a lie down, Roy, Dave & Ade crashed on the floor in the ante room behind the stage, and the other Dave and I braved the cold and went for a wander round the quay.
Some of you may remember that it is in the lobby of this hotel, were we met Ed Bishop.  Roy and I will probably always recall the incident, as we were both at exactly the right age to be impressed by his performance as Commander Straker in UFO and Captain Blue in Captain Scarlet.

Our set was delayed by about 45 minutes as the charity auction was in full swing.  From behind the stage we could hear vast sums of money being raised in the ballroom for children with cerebral palsy.  Finally getting on stage from behind a white draped "reveal", we are quite dismayed to find that the sound bore no resemblance to the sound check.  From where we were, it was all a noise.  My monitor wasn't working, in fact, I had the wrong microphone and nothing was even coming out of front of house.  Dave got that sorted, but the monitor was still atrocious.  We battled through to a quite indifferent reaction from the guests, who in the main were really quite content just to get up and dance to our jukebox set of hits.  The performers didn't enjoy it much.  The thing that really hurts is that we have turned up 7 hours early to make sure that this doesn't happen.


Monday 19th March 07                                                                                                                                       

Felt it in your mouth?

I've always been a bit of a fan of the 1984 Handmade Film, A Private Function.  I've had it on video for years, but I recently bought the re-mastered version of DVD, and last night, felt like giving it a viewing.
I'm not going to bother with a synopsis, if you are remotely interested, there are plenty available on the internet and the link above takes you to the IMDB page for the film.
My point for posting this, is that I came across something I had never noticed before.  A subsequent trawl of the net, leads me to believe that no one else has noticed this:
The last chapter of the film, where the actual Private Function takes place, depicts a shot of the pigs head with a Granny Smith apple in its mouth.  The Granny Smith is the type of apple used as the Apple Corps. trademark logo, and I am absolutely sure that this is no accident!  As the camera pulls back, you can quite clearly hear the voice of George Harrison say:
"Felt it in your mouth"
I can only speculate as to the implication of this reference, but I really like these obscure little things that people put in movies.....I've put quite a few in this blog as it has gone along.


Saturday 24th March 07                                                                                                                                     

Nailcote Hall, Berkswell.

I've never given you a proper description of a gig at Nailcote.  Probably because we have played here so many times before I started writing the blog, they all seem to have blended into one.  So here’s the tour.......

We always leave a bit earlier than we really have to for Nailcote.  Even though it's a fair bet that traffic will be as light as it ever gets on a Saturday evening, we can never forget the time we nearly missed the gig after being stuck in a jam.
As we drive into Berkswell, we are well early, so we stop off for something to eat at the chippy.  Roy disappears over the road to the Spar shop (or whatever convenience store it is) and comes back to the chippy with something small. (actually... a bottle of cherry coke, a pork pie, a Kit-Kat and a bag of prawn cocktail crisps.............£2.57)   
I think Eddie and I must be slightly stupid!  Every time we come to this chip shop we say...."These chips are 'orrible".  This is not a good chippy!
Roy has some of our chips, and suggests hanging round the shop for a while because it is still a bit early to arrive at Nailcote......where time seems to ...somehow take a bit longer.
Not really fancying loitering like a middle-aged hoodie, in the strange compelling glow of a florescent tube, I declare a desire for a piss, and we set off.

There is the little game in the car park when we arrive.  We always look to see if Dirk has managed to find the optimum parking space....and deduct points for each space further away from the front door.  The one of us whose guess is furthest away, has to carry the heaviest bags from the parking space that we will find somewhere near the back of the car park.

There are two places that we play here; either in a marquee round the back of the hotel or in the Lant Suite, which is downstairs in Rick’s Bar.  Tonight we are down in the Lant Suite, so we shuffle along to the Boardroom/Snooker room with all our bags and guitars.  Finding the room locked, we realise that we must have been allocated the Business centre to get changed in, so we make our way round there in our little convoy, the one in front holding the doors for the ones behind.

Once within the confines of the tiny business centre, we see Ade, Paul and our prodigal McCartney, Derek all sitting with the expression on their faces that indicates sheer boredom.  They may have been here for some time!
Ade is actually quite pleased.  It seems that when he arrived for this most difficult and unpleasant of load-ins, bar manager Scanda was not around.  This enabled him to set up without being told every five minutes to move some item of equipment.  Normally we have no room at all on the stage, but tonight, Ade reports that we should be fine.  Ade is here with Paul, as Dave is doing a PA for “Elvis” in Nuneaton (or somewhere fairly close…I should’ve listened more).

You’d think, wouldn’t you, that after not seeing Dirk for a month, it’d be all hugs and kisses from the three of us.  Well it isn’t!  We’re all quite pleased to be together again, but we aren’t going “over the top”.
When we travel independently, the usual greeting for Dirk and I, is for me to ask him if he intends to have a shave.  His ritual usually involves shaving at the gig, because his manly growth would be showing through if he shaved before he left home.  Today, the roles are reversed and it is me who hasn’t clipped me whiskers, Dirk clearly delights in pointing it out.  We all know that it is unacceptable to take to the stage with a shadow, and we know that when we ask the others “Do I need a shave?”, the answer is always “yes”.  Except Eddie, who we speculate has never displayed any coarse hair in his life.

There seems to be a bit of situation over food.  Ade and Paul have been here for hours and have not eaten.  Nailcote usually provides the crew with a meal, but it hasn’t arrived and time is getting on.  Ade asks me about driving him into Berkswell for the chippy, which I am about to do, when a plate of sarnies turn up.  Closer examination of the contents of this fare, shows some evidence that these sandwiches may have been standing for some time and are not particularly appetising. Fortunately, they are followed up by a few plates of chicken in a white wine sauce, boiled potatoes and a floret of broccoli.

I think I know why we are always a bit twitchy about this gig...if we are here too early, we all have to hang about in the same small area...none of us like it.... we will all find something to do to leave the room for a bit.
My cause to leave the room was to go off for a shave and re-discover why I much prefer to get the horrid business done before leaving home.  There will always be some problem with having a shave at a gig.  There is either no hot water or there will be the dilemma now facing me.  The choice between shaving in a public toilet in a line of basins, with gentlemen looking at me funny while they put their old fella away; or the privacy of the disabled toilet, with its teensy tiny wash basin.  I choose the latter, and try to figure out a way of getting more water on my face than on the floor.  It’s difficult, as the sink really only has enough room to get one hand in at a time, let alone a face.  The water is piping hot though, so I manage quite well, in spite of leaving a slipping hazard for the next user.  As long as the next wheelchair in here is not running on slick tyres…they should be alright!

I never take many pictures here, so I thought I’d busy myself putting that to rights.  Sophie became all shy and didn’t want me taking pictures of her, but it was OK because I’d already got the shot I was after when she wasn’t looking.
Dirk surprised us all with his tale from his long haul flight.  Evidently, he had the emergency exit seat with all the leg room, encroachment onto the seat next to him, the stewardesses seat for his legs and feet, 2 blankets, four pillows, complimentary padded goggles and a lovely nights there's a change!

And so to the point of us being here…the performance.
This is most certainly not the best stage for us to do whatever it is that we do.  In spite of Ade getting us a bit more room, it is still quite claustrophobic and we still feel boxed in.  We try to play as quietly as possible, but it is a noisy room.  The thing is, these considerations make it difficult for us to enjoy the gig for its own sake, and so we often rely on something happening to give us a lift and a bit of fun that will hopefully come across to the audience.
Roy is trying to tell me something about an attractive woman in the audience.  I can't hear him over the drums and I'm screwing my face up in an attempt to get my ears working better (like you do). Fed up with my aural inadequacy, Roy shrieks..."ME EX-WIFE"
I realise instantly what he's trying to tell me.  His ex, who he hasn't seen for 17 years is in the audience!!
NOOO....this can't be so!  Roy has perfect eyesight and a canny knack at recognising faces, this MUST be her.  I'm in hysterics and can't play the tune we are on.  I have no idea what must have been going through Roy's mind for the duration of the must have really freaked him out.
At the end of our 90 minute set, which incidentally included "I'll Cry Instead" for the first time this century, we scurried back to the dressing room, where I wanted some answers.  Roy still wasn't sure if it was her or not, but seemed to be talking himself out of it by saying things like..."Oh well actually this woman seemed taller".  I guess we'll never really know for sure now!

We do, however, know that Roy bought that cherry coke by mistake!  The bottles should be more clearly marked, I mean... no ones likes that they?


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