Neil and I wake late , miss breakfast and feel our way downstairs to meet JJ sitting reading a book having had breakfast and a walk and looking fresh as a flower. We can just about manage a coffee. I walk outside to take photographs and the full freshness of the Scottish lowlands washes over and around me and suddenly I feel Ok. Same thing happens as Neil and then Tom stagger out into the sunshine. An easy ride across Scotland from east to on the west. Fantastic scenery. We sit gazing at the hills Neil doing the crossword, JJ driving, chatting gently amongst ourselves and find we have passed the hotel where we are staying for the gig at Irvine. We pass and repass trying to find the way in from the motorway. It is a semi -circular new red brick building with an ‘olde’eastern theme- mosaic tiles, arches etc around the reception and then the usual beige washed walls once through the ‘guest’ doors. It was only 1.30 now so we think there is time for a quick lunch and a few hours sleep before the sound check. Neil particularly is exhausted especially after a walk of at least ten minutes with heavy cases, through several set of fire doors and up flights of stairs to our room about as far away from the main hotel as it could be Then lunch took so long to arrive that we had ½ an hour before having to set off for the Magnum Theatre. We pile into the van again and drive out of town to the gig.This did not look promising. A huge metal and brick sports complex stuck in the middle of a wasteland. Inside, however, it was a dream – a huge ice rink, swimming pools really good theatre, fantastic technicians.

The band use the sound check time to run through a couple of numbers they might play. I have been trying to get them to do ‘Charlie Big Potatoes’ without success so far and Neil has been working on ‘Disillusioned’ so both might be there by then end of the tour. These first few gigs are always good for finding the best ways to do things. The audiences at the last few gigs have the better deal in one way in that they get a more polished show although maybe its is just as good to be there seeing the glitches – always funny. Neil makes a point of saying ‘I have never done a slick show and I don’t intend to start now’. The gig goes really well – fantastic sing-a-long audience buying lots of CDs and T-shirts. I spend most of the show watching ice hockey on the ice rink below the theatre – most exciting sport I have ever seen. Children as young as nine tearing round the rink with all the confidence of a speed boat. After the gig we stop at a supermarket for a whole list of little things like pens, shaving stuff, face cream etc and in the cold first hours of a snowy morning get carried away and buy cheeses, and nuts and cracker and grapes to eat as a sort of midnight feast back at the hotel. Once there we could do nothing but sleep so this night’s supper becomes tomorrows lunch.

Neil’s thought for the day

‘i have always been led to believe that ice hockey was an organ recital where a fight breaks out’