And my ………ieth !!!! birthday. Neil wakes me up with a cup of coffee, and croissant and a present – a sparkly pink bag which, I have to say, I love. Also a pretty card. There are messages from Luke and friends in England on email so feel loved and in a thoroughly happy mood. (Slightly worried about my desire for all things pink and sparkly but best not to go too deeply into this one I think- I’m sure it is just a phase and I’ll grow out of it.) Anyway first thing we have to do is to go to Weehaken to pick up a van big enough to transport Tom’s bass and JJ’s drums plus a hired piano. Before that we check Tom and JJ out of one hotel and into another further downtown. Then taxi to the ferry across the Hudson, then taxi to SSI rentals.


Worry that I might have hired a truck – but find a big black SUV awaiting us with loads of room for us and gear. Neil and Tom are the only ones who remembered to bring their driving licences. Then back through the Lincoln Tunnel to SIR rentals for the piano, then to Dillons to pick up the rest of the instruments. Neil drives us out of the city and soon we are over the George Washington Bridge and into the countryside.


We stop to look across the Hudson a couple of times and arrive in Piermont around 1.30pm. What a lovely place. There is a festival going on and stalls in the main street, a band playing near the river and generally a good feeling, open air, absence of car horns, broken pavements etc etc. Also I notice some interesting little shops which I intend to explore while still in birthday mood. We reach The Turning Point where the guys are playing tonight and sit on the verandah for some lunch.


It is when we decide to unload that there is a sudden and unexpected hitch in the smooth running of the day so far. In order to hold the bass and stop the drums and piano from sliding, JJ has tied the seat belts together at the back. But the more you try and undo tied seat belts the harder they hold together and we can not undo them to unload the gear.


There is always someone with the right tools for any job and sure enough he comes along and deals with it but JJ is a little depressed. The rest of us find it quite funny – mainly, I think because we are early and that guy with the right tool happened to be passing. Anyway the gear is unloaded and set up on the tiniest stage we have yet seen. Tom has to play in front of the stage because the bass is too tall. He thinks about playing it on the floor-maybe not.


The owner, John McAvoy, and his staff are helpful, warm and friendly. The sound check goes smoothly and while Tom JJ and I variously explore the town, Neil has his customary forty winks on one of the three big sofas in the dressing room. I remember the auspicious day it is when JJ buys me some really pretty silver sparkly earings and later I get a bath-foam thingy in the shape of a cake (bathday cake!!!)from Tom. Lovely guys. Food and drinks are provided whenever we ask. The good feeling passes on to the audience and the show is a huge success. This is how to run a venue. Be nice to your artists having first done everything you can to advertise the gig.


One last bit of birthday bliss. The guys play and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ for me and then play the Rutles ‘I Love You’. After that everyone comes up to wish me a happy birthday and the barman gives me a couple of free Tequila Sunrises. I feel hugely blessed as we drive off into the night back over the George Washington Bridge and into the city again. It is around 1am and the centre of New York is alive and almost as light as day. We drop Tom and JJ off at their hotel and then park the van and walk back to ours. Wanted us all to have cake and champagne but maybe that would be too much of a good thing.