is a Wicked Month" according to Irish feminist
writer, Edna O'Brien. I'm sure she was talking
about sex, and that's a lot more interesting than
sitting in a fucking car for ten hours every time you
have a gig to do. We are going to cover many
many miles in the next 30 days. There will no
doubt be much wickedness within the band. Sex,
on the other hand and contrary to popular belief, will
be left to those with "proper" jobs and those
not suffering from "car sores".
NB. Dirk has started to bring a cushion on the long
So what do we know about Ilfracombe? Well...it's
a very beautiful, very hilly seaside town tucked away
on the North Devon coast. We take the
picturesque road into the town via Combe Martin, home
of Damien Hirst, and avoid the traffic in Barnstaple.
The views are quite simply stunning. They say
that the calf muscles of this towns inhabitants are
among the best developed in the United Kingdom.
Indeed, one of the first things that Dirk and I
discover on our initial reccy, is a mosaic artwork
memorial to World Record breaking Triple Jumper,
Jonathan Edwards. Apparently he lived here for a
while, and his parents visited the town in 2002... all
the kids had the day off school. As if this
wasn't enough excitement, I have since learned that
famous Cavern Beatles fan, Joan Collins, went to
school in Ilfracombe. Given the towns penchant
for celebrating its famous, one would have least
expected to have seen an obelisk.
have arrived here in plenty of time, because we
managed to squeeze in a fish dinner. Dirk and
Eddie went for the cod and I sampled the
haddock. For once, I'd made the right decision
as I was still in possession of it by curtain
up. Great chips though.
*Recent evidence gathered, suggests it may have
been the peas!!*
After last weeks accommodation debacle, I had taken
the precaution of booking the whole entourage into the
Collingwood Hotel on the seafront. I was able to
bargain the landlady down in price on the phone, by
assuring her that at least 2 of the company would
probably not make it down for breakfast.
Like its sister Theatre had done in Barnstaple last January,
The Landmark had sold out, save for a handful of
obstructed view seats. We were looking forward
to the show even though we were unable to get a sound
that we were totally happy with at the sound
check. It was definitely my turn for the
time-share of a cold that Dirk had introduced to the
group last week. I was feeling wretched, but
fortunately, that is not too serious for the amount of
vocals I have to do. In fact it is a positive
bonus for the Please Please Me songs.
It is a cracking show tonight, as it usually is with a
full house. The majority of the audience is on
their feet for the last few numbers and we are having
a hoot. We left the stage to a standing ovation.
I decide to give the post gig drink a miss back at the
Hotel and retired to bed feeling quite sick. The
room I'm sharing with Roy has three beds. The
first one I try, in the tiny annex room is
ridiculously uncomfortable, slanting sideways at a 45
degree angle and is full of lumps.....I move to the
other, which is slightly better. Rather how I
imagine a bed would be in a Turkish gaol. The
sheets are tucked in so tight, I have to struggle to
loosen them enough to slip inside, but at least I
won't fall out. I was amazed that candlewick
bedspreads are still used in the 21st century.
The others are down in the bar enjoying the
Guinness. Evidently, Edward enjoyed it the most,
and could still be heard at 4am shouting "Drink,
feck, and arse" across the promenade.
Day Off, Ilfracombe/Weymouth.
and I'm wide awake.
I always think that curtains should have a dual
function. Firstly, to prevent Mrs. Slapcabbage
across the street from seeing ones bollocks as you
stroll to the en-suite. And secondly, to prevent
the light from flooding into the room and waking you
up with sound of the first morning seagull. The
Collingwood has crap curtains.
I go off to the high street to find an ATM for money
with which to pay the bill, (cards and cheques are not
acceptable at the Collingwood, but good old fashioned
cash, green stamps and Danegeld are most welcome.)
leaving Roy to shower and thrill the occupants of the
Sea Haven Guest House.
We'd asked yesterday what time breakfast was served
"Breakfast is at 9" was the curt reply.
"Oh.. 9, until what time?"
"No... breakfast is AT 9"
I come back from the bank at 8.50 to find Roy sitting
in the dining room, I join him "at table".
"What are your names?" we are asked by the
rather hoity breakfastess.
We coyly reply and are told:
"Well that's not you....you are over
here.....number 8....breakfast is at 9 you know......tish!"
Dave & Ade walk in and join us. We all sit
for a moment and contemplate the piece of diagonally
cut French bread sitting on the plates to our left,
when Roy notices a congregation gathering outside the
dining room. At 9 o'clock, as if an imaginary
whistle has been blown, about 20 people file into the
dinning room and move to their clearly rehearsed
places. The room is filled with
The first wave of silver teapots begin to be placed at
the relevant tables.
Our waitress hovers, and asks.. "What would
"Breakfast" was the unison reply.
"Right...that's four full bre......where are the
"Oh I think they are still in bed"
The girl nods to a thin looking man in a maroon jacket
with black lapels. "76" she says.
But surely, that is Dirk and Eddies room number!
The man has clearly been dispatched to blow reveille
on bass and rhythm guitar.
The breakfast was really quite acceptable, but both
Ade & Dave found it a little early in the day to
be eating bubble and squeak, and so both left a green
splodge on the side of their plate.
Later on that day, Eddie was quizzed by us about how
he had slept.
"Yeah... fine, until some twat was knocking on
the door at nine o'clock. I told him to do
With it unlikely that Dirk and Ed would rise much
before chucking out time, the four of us set out to
explore. We climbed a hill and had a spectacular
view of last nights venue. On top of this hill,
we found a statue of girl who had tragically fallen to
her death on the rocks below in 2002. It was
definitely one of those..."it's not funny....but
it is" ...things.
Once up and out of the Hotel, Derek endured a micro waved
breakfast at the cafe over the road. I liked the
waitress, and Dirk dubbed me a suck 'ole for tidying
all the dirty plates into a convenient pile for
Time to go to Weymouth.
like a good idea to suss out where the venue was
first. This wasn't difficult as it could be seen
as soon as we came along the promenade.
We had no rooms booked here so we asked at the Theatre
if they could recommend anywhere. We were told just to
try the plethora of B&B's on the front. We declined
the kind offer to go to see Syd Little's show that
night and began our search.
This was going to be harder than we first
thought. Weymouth was full of NO VACANCIES
signs. It became apparent that we would really
struggle getting everyone accommodated in the same
place. A twin and two singles sorted out
Spectrum, Roy and Eddie in The Clarence and Dirk
squeezed into the last available single in the
Anchorage. I went for a walk, remembering that I
have slept in the car before now, but was sure that it
wouldn't come to that.....I could feel it in my water.
Still drawing a blank after a nearly an hour, I met up
with Dirk for dinner at the harbour. My
uninspiring burger made my jaw ache a bit, but Dirk
enjoyed his chicken caesar salad.....Right...off to
We found The Dorothy Inn on the seafront, which looked
like a good place to get oiled for the night, live
music et al. Having arranged to meet Eddie, a bit
further down the road, Dirk stayed outside to keep
lookout, while I went in to order the Guinness.
I noticed that the pub did B&B, so I asked the
lovely girl behind the bar if they had any
vacancies. Yes they did..and it was within our
budget....result! As the negotiation was taking
place, I received a text from Eddie.
I sort of said I wouldn't put this on the blog but it
made me howl with laughter!
EDDIES TEXT MESSAGE:
"B with you in a sec rick. just avin a shite."
The barmaid wondered what I was laughing
at...so I showed her the text. When Eddie
came in the pub she said:
"'ere....I 'ope you've washed yor 'ands!"
The evening was filled with Guinness and
sods law, that the room I had got at the Dorothy had 7
beds in it, that's enough for a netball team. We
could've all stayed together, saved some money, and
had one mighty pillow fight. arh well!
I've already mentioned my beef with thin hotel curtains,
they seem to be across the board. No
establishment really wants you sleeping in too
late. I was wondering, though, why no reviews of
seaside B&B's and hotels, ever mention what I call
the "Seagull Factor", or SF.
Let's say you are staying in a B&B tucked away up
the back streets, maybe a few hundred yards from a
beach. You may expect an SF of say 2 to 3 -
denoting mild noise around dawn which would only
arouse the lightest of sleepers.
Now, if you decide to stay at somewhere
like...say....The Dorothy Inn, right on the seafront,
and you choose to sleep in the bed right next to the
open window. You will get a SF of 10. As sure as
eggs is eggs, one big, fat, muthafucking Seabastard
will be squawking down your ear hole at first
light. This particular creature, really had it
in for me, and no amount of covering my head with
pillows was going to alleviate my suffering.
Fantastic breakfast though......available 8 to 11. ;)
Dirk was booted out of his B&B at 10 and came over
to meet me. After a quick Costa coffee, we went
over to the theatre, where Dave & Ade had already
set up the back-line. I did a radio interview
with Wessex FM and then tried to get a bit more sleep
in our dressing room's Parker Knoll, so that I'd be
alert for the long drive home after the show.
We have 5 shows here in Weymouth over the next 6
weeks, but I guess this will be the longest day of
them all. Dirk and I catch the last of the late
afternoon sun back at the Costa coffee shop and muse
over how, although being in this band has been loads
of fun over the years, it's really fucked up our lives
in a lot of ways. We are beginning to get some
Announcements made on the promenade tannoys throughout
the day, did relatively little to swell our pre-sales
on the show. It's a big theatre and hard to
fill. The audience we did get, were
enthusiastic, but we do need more numbers to create a
really buzzing atmosphere. It doesn't seem to
make sense that we can do so very well in one seaside
town two days earlier, and then in a place with loads
more people the sales are not as good. There is
no logic in this game.
Roy had been in a mischievous mood since the sound
check, gaffaing Jane McDonald flyers to my amp and
dressing room mirror. The final straw was when we came
out for the second half and somehow he had gotten a
flyer on the stage floor right in front of me.
Eddie had begun to suffer badly during the gig.
His throat was swollen and he was having a real
problem singing. He was definitely coming down
with the same virus that has now plagued the whole
band, but it seemed worse in his case. As I
write this, I now know that Ed has been diagnosed with
laryngitis, and it will wipe him out of Saturdays show
in Great Yarmouth. We have had no alternative
but to cancel.
Pier, Great Yarmouth.
But thanks to Message Board member, Pattie........
here are some images of the show that never was!
I think it
was Steve Coogan who was responsible for me missing
the turn off at the Taunton junction of the M5.
Roy and I were gabbing about "The Man Who Thinks
He's It" and we just sailed on past towards
Exeter, adding several miles to an already long and
Weymouth looks quite different today. The heat wave
is over and the sands are relatively empty. We hope
that this will mean that the theatre will be better
subscribed than last week.
Eddie is feeling a lot better, but he still hasn't
There are quite a few more bodies in the the theatre
this week, though still a long way off a full
house. Those that are there make up a fab
audience, and we put on a good show which seems to be
really appreciated by them. For the second time
in as many months, there is a cock up over the
encore. As we left the stage after Get Back, the
house lights come on almost immediately and the
audience begin to file out of the theatre. We
are left waiting in the wings, realising that we would
look quite foolish if we walk back on to the stage for
our final numbers. So it's back to the dressing
room to sort out our saturated clothing into as small
a space as possible for tomorrows fly-out to Northern
Once again drawing blanks at the accommodation on the
M5 services, we are steered to the Holiday Inn Express
Fleadh Cheoil, Belfast.
grim television broadcast tells of the arrest of the
terrorist bombers in London and Birmingham. No
one has been hurt, but the inconvenience that this
development will cause will be felt for a long
time. Has the government only just realised that
nitro-glycerin is capable of blowing a hole in an
aircraft? Now that you have to take your shoes
off and have them x-rayed at the departure screening,
I'm sure any attempts at aircraft bombing will
be thwarted. Things have to be seen to be being
done, I guess. Car keys with electronic fobs,
like mine, now have to be checked into luggage in the
hold. With 30% of bags currently going missing,
this is a bit of a worry.
arrive at Belfast City Airport NOT to be met by
Seamus, who is waiting for us at Belfast
International, 25 miles away. This is entirely
my fault. I have told Seamus that our flight is
coming into Belfast International. I had
realised my mistake in Birmingham, but because no
mobile phones are allowed on your person after
check-in, I have not been able to contact him.
We rely so much on our portable technology these days,
I even had to read the instructions on the payphone at
the airport when I tried to find his number from
So it is a taxi that takes us the short journey to our
Hotel on Botanic Avenue.
picks us up to take us to the gig in North
Belfast. The site of the Ardoyne Fleadh is
actually a school yard. Derek and I fall out for
about two minutes at the sound check, but it takes us
about 30 seconds to reconcile... we both know why we
are so agitated and it was nowt to do with obstruction
from one of the PA crew.
The picture on the right was taken from the stage on
my phone's camera , I couldn't be bothered with the hassle
of checking the proper camera into a guitar case or
one of the bags.
turnout for this, the first night of the Fleadh was a
bit disappointing, but we took to the stage with
plenty of professional gusto to entertain those that
were there. Having decided to take the Epiphone
Casino with me rather than the Gretsch, I was having a
tough time. I don't know whether the neck had
suffered during the flight, but it was behaving like a
bitch. The open strings were in tune, but that
was about all, all the chords seemed slightly out and
there was nothing I could do about it. The
hospitality from the folk at Ardoyne was much
appreciated, but before we knew it, we were being
whisked off back to the hotel in a black VW Passat.
Robin 2 ,
of us make breakfast this morning, but not all at the
same time. It has rather more to do with
Madisons relaxed times than any early rising from
And so the waiting round begins.
We've all reached a nadir at different times over the
last couple of days. Sometimes one of us will
wander off on our own with our own thoughts. At
other times a couple of us will get together and try
to work out the way we feel about different
stuff. It's not been the happiest of times since
we set off down the motorway on Thursday morning and
as we lounge around in the airport for a couple of
hours prior to our flight back to Birmingham, we are
all relieved that we are on the "home" leg.
Coming through security, all cigarettes are
confiscated except one, which each passenger is
allowed to keep. This isn't really too serious,
because Belfast City Airport has one of those horrid
12 foot square smoking rooms, to keep all us addicts
out of harms way. It's not the most pleasant of
environments and these places always make me consider
packing in...perhaps that is the idea.
The drive from Birmingham airport to Bilston gets us
to the Robin just as Ade and Dave are finishing
setting up. No one has any enthusiasm for a
sound check, but we run through I've Got A Feeling,
cos we feel like chucking that in the set tonight.
After some food, it was good to meet up with Sam and
Nick from Blondie Tribute Into The Bleach,
who were here for our show. I haven't seen Sam
in ages and it was good to catch up even for the short
time we had. The trouble with having mates in
other bands is that you rarely get a chance to meet up
because of clashing gigs. Invariably you will only
meet up at one or others gigs and there is so little
time to have a proper bitch!
Getting into the suits and wigs was a pretty laboured
affair for everyone. I don't think any of us was
looking forward to going on stage.
If there is one cure for that feeling, then it is The
Robin itself. I say this every time we play
here, but the crowd is just fantastic. Within a
few moments of the band striking up, you forget all
the shit and just enjoy playing. This place is
the apotheosis of why anyone would want to get on a
stage in the first place. We play for 2 and a
quarter hours and the crowd make the gig an
Thank You all !!
over already? We are halfway through August,
it's certainly got cooler and it's pissing down!
In spite of having to change a punctured tyre on the
way to his rendezvous, Roy is in a very good
mood......this is his kind of day. To
celebrate the change, Roy has brought along his new
set of comedy dentures. Friends and even casual acquaintances
of our skin basher will no doubt be aware that Roy has
several passions in life: Any type of engine,
aeroplanes, rockumentaries (if you will), Charlotte
Church, inclement weather, Marilyn Manson and false
teeth...although not necessarily in that order.
Eddie has made a suggestion, that I have taken
up.... from now on, Roy will only appear in blog
photographs in black & white, in much the same way
as John Major was presented in Spitting Image.
On arrival at the Pavilion, Dirk and I set off in
search of food.
Having settled on the Dorothy's menu, Dirk decides to
have Ham, egg and chips @ £4.75. Sounds good to
me, I love egg and chips. I don't really want
the ham though. I ask if I can just have egg and
chips. Now this is where the problems
start. The modern cash register does not have an
option for just egg and chips, nor does it have an
option for ham, egg and chips without the ham.
It's starting to get confusing. The chef is
called and asked if he can prepare ham, egg and chips
without the ham. Yes he can (how cool is
that?), and how much will this repast set me
"but that is the same price as ham, egg and
chips"... I decline the food and settle for being
a spectator as Dirk tucks into his dinner.
This happens a lot these days haven't you
noticed? Humans are no longer allowed to make
even the most trivial of decisions. If there is
no option for your requirements an a flat panel
screen....you are well and truly fucked. My next
food encounter 20 minutes later will probably point to
the reason why....
I want a 99, (for the non-Brits amongst the
readership, that is a soft ice-cream cone with a
'Cadbury' chocolate flake stuck in it) the little
kiosk on the seafront sells them......they are £1.20.
I give the man a £2 coin and a 50p piece, explaining
that I would like a £1 coin in my change. (for the
theatre vending machine and my half time orange
drink) You would think that I had asked him to
perform some advanced calculus they way he screwed his
face up, looked inside the till and looked back at me
"The pound coin, and 30p" I offered.
His relief was evident.
Dirk and I went back to the theatre...me splattered
with ice-cream. I must have got some bad karma
as the wafer cone was imperfect and the ice-cream
leaked out all down the front of my "clean
on" top. No one was about, so Dirk did some
crooning on the mic, whilst I photographed.
The poor weather may well have been responsible for us
having a few more in the house tonight...and I do mean
Frankly the show was a bit of a struggle for us and we
found it quite hard work. This was not
particularly related to electronic issues with the
potentiometer on the acoustic guitar, but that didn't
help. During the interval, Adrian did a splendid
job, stripping the guitar down and applying some
repairs to the pots. As though this could have
been our problem all along, the second half was much
better, and this time, the audience even stayed for
been raining at West Park since 8am.
Dave called me at 3.30 to say that the M6 was at a
standstill due to an accident in the bad weather and
it was going to delay their arranged 4pm arrival at
the park with our gear.
Once we arrived on site at 6pm, there was already a
sizable crowd sporting umbrellas and waterproof
clothing, hell bent on not allowing the British summer
to fuck up their good time.
Last time we played at this Park, we had had some
difficulty gaining access. It was not quite as
bad this year, but we did have to resort to a spanner
to undo a section of herras fencing. We were
drenched as we struggled through the back stage area
with guitars and costume bags. Dirk did have his
brolly with him, which is probably the least
"rock n roll" item imaginable but
nevertheless, a shrewd move.
The stage was not big enough to get all the groups
drum kits and back line on at the same time. The
organisers wanted a very short turn-around
between the acts, and so the ABBA band kindly allowed
the other groups to use their drum kit, which was
already set at the back of the stage. Our
back-line was put in position at the start of the show
and the 80's band who would later turn out to be
"Bleach", worked around our amplifiers.
In the short break between the 80's band coming off
stage and us going on, Dave and Ade worked furiously
to get things ready. A tricky job, as their
monitor desk had become somewhat waterlogged. As
we took to the stage, I turned to see Roy.... low down
on the 5 tom-tom kit. This is not Roy's usual
position at all, he found it amusing and coped
exceptionally well under the circumstance.
Of greater concern to me was the rain. I've been
electrocuted twice on stage in the past, once knocking
me off my feet and pulling muscles in my chest.
It is not funny. As we went into Twist and
Shout, the arm on my guitar was actually wet, and my
fingers were sliding all over it. Eddie was
getting it even worse, as the wind was blowing the
rain across the stage from his side. The old
instruments we have, really do not like being wet, and
we were plagued with tuning problems. I found it
very difficult to concentrate and I have never been
more frightened for my, and the bands safety on
stage. I just hoped that everything was earthed
With all this going on, I was pretty oblivious to the
crowds reaction or how well we were going down.
Roy commented later, that we had been very well
received. I'm slightly ashamed to say, that I
was only really concerned with getting off the stage
in one piece. I don't believe that this
performance would rank as one we would really care to
remember....we are a much, much better group than
I have to say that when "Bleach" went on,
about 15 minutes after us, they didn't seem to be
having the same sorts of problems, but I don't know, I
never spoke to them about it. They were very
professional about the whole thing and were a really
tight band who sounded as good as was possible in that
Sou'westers off to them....they really impressed me
and I'm a huge Blondie fan.
2 videos uploaded to YouTube
spent most of yesterday in agony. Getting out of
bed I discover that my back has gone and I can barely
stand up-right. I've had this a few times over
the years, but never this bad. Maybe it's a
trapped nerve, maybe I just slept awkwardly, or maybe
it's a sign that autumn is coming...I'm being metaphoric!
Yes, it's hilarious isn't it lads? I shuffle
into the motorway services looking for all the world
like I've shit my pants, but I can't stand
upright. The last thing I need is to be stuck in
a car all day.
After arriving in Weymouth and getting out of the car,
it took me about half an hour to become erect, but
then I was fine...ish. The Ibuprofen (or
whatever recognised anti-inflammatory it was) had
kicked in and I was feeling altogether more
comfortable. A bit of a walk round the prom for my
customary ice cream did wonders for my stiffness.
Roy had set up a changing station for me at the side
of the stage so I wouldn't have to go up and down the
stairs to the dressing rooms.
The show itself was pretty much business as
usual. We seem to have settled on a regular
audience in terms of numbers, but from what I'm
hearing, ticket sales for the seaside venue are generally
down and we shouldn't be too disappointed.
Pepper show 1.30 promoting Buxton Opera House. 104.5, 95.3, 96 FM