Tuesday, 23rd August 2005 in August 2005.
The eastern road to Edinburgh is not good. But it is quite beautiful. Suddenly there are heather-covered hills, stunted wind blown trees and pretty stone built villages and views over the rocks to the sea so that if you had days to spare this would be a good way to spend it . If you are in a hurry -well there is nothing to do but relax and know you can’t overtake and you will get there when you do and not before. Arrive later than we thought and go straight to the gig which is The Famous Spiegeltent in St Georges Square. The whole area is really buzzing and we load the gear in over some iron railings and into a small canvas tent where it can be stored till soundcheck. We are staying at the Pollock Halls– actually part of the university, making quite a packet by letting the student’s digs out during the long summer breaks. We have an hour before we have to go back so while the band rests, I wander through the gardens trying to remember the botanical names of the amazing collection of plants around the buildings. Since I began to organise the tours etc etc I have forgotten many plant names from my long and almost forgotten years as a garden designer, so it was good to look and remember – a sort of planting Sudoku.
Got back to the Speigeltent for a brief soundcheck and it really is brief. Usually the band have the luxury of an hour or two, but in the Spiegeltent- 20 minutes to half- an-hour is all the time they have. Luckily the sound guys and gals are brilliant so it is all possible. As the doors opened the place fills up – it is a sell-out and the audience are great, laughing in all the right places and joining in when coerced by Neil, Tom or JJ. At the end they descend en- masse to the merchandising table and I think we sold about 50 CDs and 12 t-shirts etc etc. Neil came out to sign as I went back to pack away his stuff to find Tom and Ken had already done most of it.
Tom and Neil – apologies for quality. My camera is very sensitive to movement and even though I was leaning hard against a pillar and supporting the thing, the pictures are still blurred. Because I try to avoid using the flash whenever I can, I have to increase the shutter speed as well as increasing the aperture to get enough light and I haven’t sussed exactly how much of each to use. Looking forward to achieving it but you get the picture. (sorry)
So pack away the gear and go to the Spiegel garden to meet Doug, Ros and their three children Felix, Lily and Jelly. Doug has helped Neil for years arranging his New Zealand and Australian Tours. The family have just come back from a holiday in the north of Scotland and it is good to see them. They actually live in Suffolk a few miles away from us but we are all busy with different things, so at home it is difficult to make time to see each other. So chat and then go for something to eat ending up in a few ‘wrong’ places but finally fetching up somewhere vaguely Mexican where I seem to remember ordering a jug of Pear Drop cocktail. Only Tom is up for it so he and I do our best to get through it leaving the red wine etc to Neil ken and JJ. Later that night……… No all is fine but we decide to call it a night as the clock strikes 2.30 apart, obviously, from Tom who wandered back to the Pollock Halls around 6am. In fact I had only just got going by 2.30 and really could have gone on all night. As a result I do try to sleep but give up after a couple of hours, dress and sit in one of the flowery courtyards to work out a few Sudokus before dawn.