Wednesday, 9th March 2005 in Road Trip U.K. 2005.
This is one of those silly journeys when we have to go back up to the south Midlands to come down to the south coast again the day after. So with heavy hearts and a couple of heavy heads, we get into the van once more. Funny how there is never any argument over who is driving. Apart from trying not to let Neil do too much the three of us seem to take turns without thinking about it. Today no one particularly wants to drive and I feet like driving, so I get us out of Paignton using as many gears as we have and more as the van baulks at the hills. It is amazing on motorways – fast and smooth -but it really hates hills. To add to the problem, the gears are stiff in the morning, so I feel my way through them hoping that JJ isn’t listening and grinding his teeth in the back. We reach Tewkesbury around 1pm so there is lots of time to go shopping for those little essentials you can’t do without, like the bright yellow red and purple shellsuit bought by Tom at a charity shop. Neil sleeps all afternoon and then we find the gig, literally five hundred yards along the road. Notice again how run down things are. You can always tell when a village is in trouble by the number of charity and saver shops. Tewkesbury is a beautiful old town with a river and beamed cottages but when superstores are built outside these towns drawing all the trade, the shops can’t compete and close, and you are left with almost a ghost town. Our hotel is a few hundred years old with mullioned windows and low beams. Neil and I are again at the top up three flights of stairs, through fire doors etc etc but the room is lovely once you get there.
Anyway, arrive at the theatre where a super efficient team have been waiting since 2pm – an early soundcheck our agency hadn’t told us about. The atmosphere was a bit tense as we walked in – not helped by me pushing one of Neil’s large cases across the black floor. Steve the head guy barked at me saying he would have to paint the whole stage again. I apologised but crept away to do some sorting out in the dressing room. Much later Steve bought me a drink and said that he always barked at people. It was his way. It was what he did and the two bar attendants nodded frenzied agreement. Clearly not a man to cross. But soooo efficient. His team worked beautifully and the sound and lighting was the best it has been. The theatre is modern and my table is set up by the entrance. There have been a lot of pre-sales so I think the merchandise sales will go well. However it becomes apparent that some of the audience have come on spec.- not knowing what Neil does. So not only do they not buy anything, but they also ignore me when I try to tell them about the CDs etc. The audience is slightly responsive but mainly reserved though many stay to meet Neil afterwards but in spite of the brilliant crew it was not a gig to remember. By now into the tenth back-to-back gig Neil is exhausted. There is nowhere to sit and chat back at the hotel so we say goodnight to Tom and JJ and sleep.