NOVEMBER | JANUARY
E C E M B E R 2 0 0 6
has passed, and I have to admit I'm glad to be back with
something to write to you about.
The webstats tell me that, you've missed us...the page
views were very down in November and you can't all
have been on holiday. Actually, I'm quite pleased
that these blog pages now get by far the most hits on
the website....well it's organic innit....and not always
the same old shite.
It feels to me, exactly like the end of the school
holidays. On the one hand filled with dread at
starting a new term, but on the other, relief that I can
get on with a bit of normality.
For the sake of routine, a stop was required in Balsall
for either a Chinese or a chippy. The chippy won,
but we complained that the chips weren't cooked
properly. Arh...it's like we've never been away.
You'd be amazed how many people think that there is a
"Minstrel" inside a bag of
"Revels"! I say..no....the chocolate
disc in the Revels selection does not have a candy crisp
shell, and therefore does not qualify as a
Minstrel...more a Galaxy Counter. I go into the
off licence to buy some chocolate, and have the
discussion with the assistant. The assistant is
also convinced that there is a Minstrel contained
therein, but refuses my offer of a £10 wager.
Being an arsehole, I have to buy a small bag of Revels
to prove my point.
The Library dressing room at Nailcote is all too
familiar. I've always thought it odd that it should be
called a library, as the room contains no books.
It does, however, have a peaceful ambiance which allows
Ade to sleep, not only prior to the gig, but during
it as well.
"Gettin' back on the 'orse" felt remarkably
comfortable, once I had realised what song we were
opening with. I'd actually forgotten to look at
the set list, and my autopilot just assumed it was I Saw
Her Standing There. Everyone else seemed to know
what it was, but I was momentarily jaunted
(obscure Tomorrow People reference for those of a
certain age who will smile at the recollection....you
know who you are!) back to the day when I was dragged up
in front of the whole school assembly by the
headmistress, and made to look a twat for wearing long
trousers. They just don't know the damage they
Anyway.....this was probably the most enjoyable gig that
anyone can recall doing at Nailcote. We had a
During Please Please Me,
Dirk had been outraged by,
presumably, the uncooked part of my fish supper.
It really is quite horrid when you have to sing in that
environment....ask anyone who's had to do it. He
was nudging me and saying......."do it to Roy, do
it to Roy....he hates it!" (like anyone's
gonna relish it!!)
I could never be that mean, to deliberately deliver a
shot across an innocents bows, but fate was to deal a
cruel blow to the Arse Canary, and leave the rest of us
practically doubled over.
I mean, when you're just about to start a song and you
hear your drummer say:
"Is that solid I can smell?" .....it is very
difficult to keep a straight face.
When Roy loses control and starts laughing.....he
sort've can't stop. Now it is not desirable to
have Roy's laugh come over the PA. If you've not
heard Roy laugh, then you won't understand what I
mean..... but let me tell you.......it can get
quite....shrill! To prevent this, he
attempted to play two verses of a song with one hand
whilst covering his mouth with the
Some people have asked us from time to time, what we are
laughing at on stage. It's often things like
this...as childish and stupid as it is.....but laughing
feels good, so I don't think it requires an
apology. We try not to make it too obvious what is
really going on.
Yeah this was a fun gig.
near Rickmansworth was that old rarity, a wedding!
We were supposed to be on stage at 10.30, so we were in
plenty of time arriving at 9.30. Of course, things
seldom run to plan, and they wanted us on as soon as
possible. Eddie didn't even have time for a fag,
and at 11.30 we were back in the car, on the way home. A
45 minute set works really well at these
functions. All the hits, keep the dance floor
full, and everyone's happy.
As I've said
many times on these pages, we are all big movie
fans. I thought it might be a good idea to post some
of the films we have watched and enjoyed recently...some old, some new and
some plain strange. Here are our November selections:
13 Conversations About One Thing
The Titfield Thunderbolt
Sons Of The Desert
I think we
came to be playing this gig because the original, larger
venue in Houghton le Spring had put the tickets on sale
too late and therefore had not sold particularly
well. So here we are in what I guess you could
describe as a social club.
Dave and Ade have already set up when we arrive at the
venue, and are playing their new game. Presumably
bored with having to set up with standard gear, they
decide not to load the flight case containing all the
mic stands on the van. We find them furiously
trying to improvise the stands with whatever pieces of
piping and tubing they can find lying around the
place. Less than ideal, but they make adequate
substitutes and as long as Eddie doesn't knock into his,
it should last the course.
We have a pretty good gig, with a surprisingly good on
stage sound and the audience are very responsive at the
end of the show.
questions were asked tonight, some were answered, some
What are the fundamental principles of a two-stroke
How can you tear a wig?
Why do AC30's only seem to have intermitent faults?
Does a Gretsch sound really shite when D.I.'d through a
Do you play "I Just Called To Say I Love You"?
fabulous day began by taking the back off the dickie
AC30 and prodding around the faulty switch. It is
usually strong coffee that will get me going these days,
but 230 volts shooting up my arm had a similar
effect. I decided that I would leave this for John
Gee to sort out.
An hour covered in soot from a broken central heating
boiler had me in no mood to drive down to Nailcote, so
An unremarkable gig was topped off by Ade getting the
van stuck on the grass, and Roy, Eddie and I spending an
hour trying to push it back onto the drive.
Dave and Ade are considering swapping the van for a
This is the
third year in a row we have played The Robin on
Christmas Eve and I believe we all really look forward
With the restaurant packed to capacity tonight, the
kitchen staff just don't have the time or resources to
feed us, so we are given a "buy out" to make
our own arrangements. The chippy across the road
from the venue is a bit crappy, but we all tuck into the
portions of fish and chips hungrily and without too much
I'm keen to see how well my sewing holds up in my wig (I
mentioned I tore my rug at Nailcote Hall a couple of
weeks ago and I had to get the needle and cotton to work
to stitch it back together). It could turn out to
be a major embarrassment if it falls apart mid-set, but
thankfully it appears to be fine.
why I am driving the Spectrum van at 8.15am this morning
is a long story, that I needn't trouble you to
read. Suffice to say, that the crew on the last
gig of 2006 is myself, Adam and Dave. We
rendezvous with Dave (taking a break from his holiday
retreat in Llandudno) at Lymn Truck Stop near the
junction of the M56/M6 and after a quick McBreakfast,
Dave takes the wheel for the drive south at 9.15.
I know, I know.....I shouldn't subscribe to McDonalds,
but they have a habit of popping up when you need
something to eat and there is no alternative.
The drive down to London is like taking a step back in
time to about 1980. The roads are eerily clear,
few people hogging inappropriate lanes, and Dave's foot
never comes off the accelerator until we hit the slip
road at the bottom of the M1. We pull up at
Cricklewood Broadway at 11.45, which is something of a
By one o'clock we are pretty much set up. People
have already been coming into the venue since 12 and
have their dabbers at the ready to begin the serious
bingo business at 2pm. We have been given vouchers
to obtain yet another Christmas dinner, but this time,
the turkey appears to have been made out of something
other than turkey. Probably an ingredient known only to
Mr. Bernard Matthews and his close confidantes! I can't
say that the food was particularly enjoyable, but it
filled a hole. Later in the day, we would sample a
more acceptable chicken and chips, the bones provided
evidence of less tampering.
A walk on Cricklewood Broadway, browsing a multitude of
ethnic eating establishments from Ethiopian to Bangladeshi,
killed an hour before returning to our 10' x 8' dressing
room to relax for the 7 hours to go before the
show. We tried sleeping on the floor, watching a
Harrison Ford movie on a lap-top, reading, and in one
case, revising for GCSE's. All riveting
Beacon Bingo Hall is evidently the largest Bingo Hall in
the world and not unused to taking £750,000..... a
day! The monotony of hearing ... Four AND eight,
forTY eight; six AND seven, sixTY seven, was driving us
slightly mad..... but, to each his own.
From a crew point of view, having been here so long, the
band members became bastards, twats and other
obscenities at about 4.30. By the time Dirk,
Roy and Eddie arrive at the club at 10pm, they are
despised characters who are just here to moan and make
the dressing room unpleasantly overcrowded. Eddie
has subconsciously realised this and hides himself away
in the toilet until it is time to go on stage.
One has to remember, that the people are really here for
the thrill of winning money and not for a late night
Beatle cabaret, so it is uncertain how many of the
nearly 2000 punters will stay for the show. As it
turned out, about half of the punters did stay.
Amongst the revellers, were a couple of blokes who
danced like chickens for the first half hour, until
their wings got tired. This bizarre dance was to
the detriment of Dirks vocal performance, as he guffawed
through most of the early songs. At three minutes
to midnight and during "Revolution", the stage
was invaded by the Bingo staff, who came out to set off
expensive looking party-poppers and scream "Happy
New Year" to the audience. Dirk led us in a
couple of chorus's of a hastily botched version of Auld
Lang Syne before we finally put our set to bed at 12.15.
By 1.30am, Adam, Dave and I had the van loaded up, and I
was making the drive north up to the M1 and to a bed
that was going to seem especially comfortable 22 hours
after getting out of it.
Happy New Year readers!!