Wednesday, 23rd March 2005 in Road Trip U.K. 2005.
Woke next day to find the van hemmed in. Luckily the car which is doing the damage can be bumped away and we finally get on the road about 12pm.
An easy ride and we get to Southend with enough time to get to the sea and have lunch – a luxury on a tour like this. The guys picked the sea-front café with the prettiest line in fronds and frills. There follows a series of photos which speak for themselves!
Neil and I pass on the desserts and much later JJ and Tom wish they had passed on them too. Then a wander on the beach.
Still with an hour to spare before sound check so we look for some fun and find it courtesy of Crazy Golf.
We get completely carried away and go round again to the accompaniment of recorded crickets, lions, elephants and assorted jungle noises. Five o’clock and late for the sound-check. We jump into the van and drive at break-neck speed to the gig at the Palace Theatre. Another old but lovely space, definitely in danger of closing but with a huge list of supporters. This is another theatre where the rider has been crossed out , but the manager is a good guy and has coffee and drinks up in the dressing room within minutes. The crew manage to get a decent sound. The stage is slightly worrying in that it slopes downwards towards the audience so the plectrums and capots slide off the piano. JJ puts some double-sided tape on the piano and sticks the bits to it, which makes it slightly more difficult when he needs to use them, but as usual he manages to talk his way through things. There are many avid collectors of all things ‘Neil’ here – so good to speak to these people, they are so committed to fairplay and to seeing that Neil finally gets his fair dues re. the Rutles etc. If it was left to them there would be no problem, but unfortunately it is left to unmusical lawyers and people who spend their lives making sure they are OK and to hell with the artists. Moan over, only I won’t rest till Neil is victorious, and these gigs make me realise the huge amount of support he has.
Tonight there is no small hop to the hotel and bed. We have to be in Rhyl (North Wales) tomorrow night so we drive about 150 miles to Northampton stopping in some remote services for coffee and cream cake – although I have to say – Neil is a changed man since he watched ‘Supersize Me’. He has a small piece of apple cake and eats it slowly. In the van JJ puts on the CD of the ‘Concert for George’ and we are all silenced by the sheer beauty of the melodies and the love for George in the playing. As we pull into the Express by Holiday Inn, Ringo sings ‘Photograph’ and all we can do is dance, as much as the van will allow, with disco lights provided by Tom’s mobile.
We sit in the bar quite close to a formally dressed group of guys and gals. We chat and sip and suddenly Tom, who is facing the group, goes silent. We look round and are faced with several bare bottoms as these ‘business men’ let their hair down and moon for the girls each letting his trousers drop more than the next. We are dumbstruck. These are exactly the sort of people who will mutter unfriendly things when nice Tom with the dreadlocks wanders by. People who put up a pretence of sophistication but underneath are really with the apes – no, that is doing a disservice to the apes. But don’t get me wrong, I have nothing in principle against mooning, and we really ache from laughing. Night night.
Neil’s thought for the day ‘You can lead a horse to water, but then what?’
Tom’s poem – Hope. ‘I hope you think about me, When you have your tea, Or maybe, While having a pee. If you think about me, The, Way I think of you that would be, Complimentary.’