Where did we get up to. I think it was Leiden in The Netherlands. Well, De Burcht is a little medieval tower on a hill, next to it is a bar and performance space, like an arts centre or something. There was a big wedding going on in the church next door and a mobile disco was arriving as I returned from my wander around the town. If you ever visit Leiden you should visit Leiden. It’s a pretty place. The calmness of the Dutch is somewhat disconcerting, but you’ll get used to it. Thank you Vincent Klinkenberg for being so hospitable.
Vincent kindly put me on a train the next day to Rotterdam. A stark contrast, a mess of skyscrapers and construction work. Luckily, De Machinist, is in an area where you have to pass through some genuinely old streets. It is an impressive cultural centre built out of an old warehouse/factory. The guys who put on the show had an idea for a kind of show…introduced by a song about the nights proceedings, then an interview on stage with the performers before they played their sets and a tombola, prizes of dubious quality swiped from their own flat. Two guys from Poland had come simply to see one of the support acts: Buddha Machine 2.0 – which was a buddha machine played through the PA for half an hour. So I sometimes see if support acts will join me in my set a little. Buddha Machine 2.0 agreed (which was nice since I’d separated from mine in Lille).
In the evening following the show I endured a Eurovision Song Contest party, it happened to be where I was staying, so I had no choice really. The apartment was infested with mice and reeked of stale cigarettes. Every room was filled with ashtrays brimming with butts, even the loos. “I’m running, I’m scared of Breathing”. They were sweet kids though.
My next stop, after sneaking out of Rotterdam, was Ghent. I arrive in the evening and leave first thing in the morning to get the Eurostar from Brussels, so I don’t see Ghent/Gent, which is apparently a shame (but I wouldn’t know). But what a challenge playing in such close company is. I enjoy it though. See this. Kris Bauwens is definately who you should go to if you need to play in Gent. What a gent.
Eurochunnelling back to London.
My first show back in the (not so) United Kingdom is in Reading. What a great show, venue and staff. Liz Janes was really good, I only caught one song because I was busy in the dressing room….dressing of course. I also peeped out for a song of Wild Swimmers, which I enjoyed. My new favourite prop is the ice cube. And downing two litres of water during the set. Adds new meaning to the term ‘the wee hours’ when I get back to London.
Brighton next: I am tired and on my own and it is starting to catch up with me. Sarabeth Tuceck plays, I listen. She scoots away, I play, some people listen. I stuff my own face into a pint glass of water. The people at Shhh promotions will cook some nice food for you.I get back to London in the wee hours.
Liverpool Sound City. I arrive to find an empty bar with Al Highton and Liz Janes sitting happily waiting for something to happen. The show is a pleasant and quiet affair – Liz and Al have to play their beautiful hushed sets to the sound of fat scouse men walking right in front of them, creaking the wooden floor, loudly. I would like to hope that when I cam on I did make those fatties listen. After my show I go for a nightcap with Luke Drozd and Graham Pilling, yes, the poster dudes from Leeds (well Luke’s in London now) and after yawning through Yuck we opted for pizza and bed.
I go for my train when I wake, a coffee and pastry from Upper Crust before going (the cheaper way to train from Liverpool to London) via Birmingham – you get to walk through central Birmingham to go to what I consider the nicest little station: Birmingham Moor Street. I treated myself to a latte and baked potato in the cafe in Moor Street, sit down, admire the old GWR map on the wall, eat, then go to board my train to London.
So to London. Flippin’ London. Big Ol’ London. I have enough time to get back to where I’m staying and have a shower before getting up to Kings Place, the new place…by Kings Cross…where the Guardian now have their offices. Oh, near Farringdon? No they moved. Despite some confusion as to where the dressing room was, initially being crammed in with a clump of classical musicians eating neat sandwiches, we prepare for a show with Howard on drums and Johnny on bass. Two Wings are checking. And Liz Janes comes to play again. T’was nice to see the old colleagues from work, and other familiar faces. Two litres of water drunk again. Bursting at the end I was.
London was over. Hastings was next. Well, St Leonards on Sea. This one came about simply because I share a sir-name with someone. Challenged him to put on a show, and a show he did put on. This was one of the nicest. They were real kind and all their friends lovely. Despite some characters in the crowd I think I came out on top.
I was given a house of my own, in the morning I cooked some eggs. The house was on the side of the old town, up by the funicular, where it gets illuminated by the evening sun. I had to run off to the station
Wales was, well read this. It turned out OK and I discovered genuine decent people in the forms of Joe Coleman, The Gentle Good and Meilir:
I have some Lunch, A Welsh Rarebit (cheese on toast with mustard, to you and I), and a wander with Meilir. If you are in Cardiff and want to feel like you are from Cardiff go to this wonderful exhibition, at the old library, you’ll reaise that Cardiff is a real place after all. A regular Stagecoach, single deck, bus, with no toilet, hired by Megabus, takes me back to London.
There is a break of a few days before I play again…