this month, a big thank you to the dozens of readers
who have sent me those rolling bead seat covers, tubes
of "Firey Jack" and vouchers for sessions
with chiropractors and Swedish masseuses. Much
With Roy and Dirk making their own way over the
Pennines to this wonderful Derbyshire spa town, it is
just me, Eddie and Adam in the car today. It is
years since I've been here, the last time being to buy
a Greyhound, and I have to confess to not noticing
what a beautiful town it is. Fifty-five miles
from Liverpool, but it may as well be a different
world...I really like it.
The Theatre itself is magnificent with great
acoustics, making the sound check something of a
joy. We are in plenty of time for me to change
guitar strings and still enjoy a relaxed coffee over
the road with Dirk.
It's quite a good house tonight, not full, but certainly
enough to make this a concert. We perform very
well and are wonderfully received.
3 videos uploaded to YouTube
are playing at a wedding function. We don't play
a lot of weddings these days and this is our first for
The Saddlers Club is sited in the grounds of the
Bescot Stadium, home of Walsall Football Club.
If I had a penny for every time we have passed this
placed on the M6, I'd probably have enough for the all
day breakfast at Keele Services. It always used
to confuse Paul Acky when he drove past it. He
would see the turn off for Wednesbury, then the
football ground, and then think he was in
Sheffield. No Paul, we would say, that football
club is Sheffield Wednesday. An easy
mistake to make I guess and I shouldn't laugh, an ex
girlfriend of mine used to think that Sheffield
Wednesday was a Bank Holiday.
We played a longer than normal "wedding"
set. We always feel that the principles of
marginal utility come into practice on such occasions.
However, I think tonight, the response to the later
part of the set was better than whatever
"buzz" was created by the initial reaction
to our appearance. We did a good show.
have mentioned at some point, that due to Motorway
Services now charging stupid fees to leave a car in
their car parks for more than 2 hours, we now
rendezvous with Derek at a location off the M6.
It seems that now we have upset the locals at this
location. As Dirk parks his car in a side road,
the residents are out, complaining. "You can't
leave your car there, you know". Well
actually missus, we can. We are not causing an
obstruction and there are no yellow lines or other
parking restrictions, this is totally legal.
However, as Roy points out, can we be bothered with
the grief? Dirk moves the car round the corner.
The conversations all the way down to our Strensham
Services stop, are all of a personal nature.
Spending so much time together travelling, we have got
to know the ins and outs of each other and how we feel
about all sorts of stuff, it's like Kilroy
sometimes. We are all at least a bit
dysfunctional, and we recognise it in ourselves and in
each other, which is probably why we get on so well.
After our coffees, a couple handing out cards for a
Lucozade promotion, point us at an odd looking trailer
in one corner of the car park. We have the
chance to win free stuff..."Just ask the pretty
girl".....well I'm game. The girl was
indeed very pretty, and invited me to put a pair of
goggles on and step inside the Perspex sided
trailer. I was told to pick up as many
polystyrene balls as possible. Ok... sounds
simple enough. A fan is turned on and its like a
shite version of the Crystal Maze, with all these
balls flying around in the air. After 30 seconds
inside, I dump my collection of balls into a bucket.
This wins me 2 scratch cards, and from those 2 cards,
I win a Lucozade road map and a bottle of Apple
Lucozade. The whole promotion was a load of old
bollocks, but at least I've told YOU about it, and you
are now aware that Lucozade is now available in Apple
flavour....and it's very nice!
The season is over in Weymouth, kids are back at
school and the beach is pretty deserted. This
will be the last of our 5 shows at The Pavilion and as
nice as it has been, I think we will all be grateful
that we don't have to make this journey every week.
As well as being an "arse canary", Roy also
has other supernatural powers. He is the bands
very own Derek Accorah. Roy actually lives round the
corner from this TV paranormal charlatan, so perhaps
they are on a lay line or something.
Anyway...during the interval, Roy states that the
Theatre is haunted. He can tell this because he
got shivers during the first set and he could smell
perfume (a sure sign of paranormal activity). I
asked the stage manager about it, and he told me that
the drum riser was over the very spot where the body
of the workman, who accidentally set fire to and
burned down the original theatre, was found.
Spooky or what? Personally, I think someone had
just left a door open and Eddie had slightly over-done
the Lynx, but I'm very cynical about such
things. I can just imagine Roy putting his
drumsticks down at the beginning of Act Naturally,
placing his fingers on his temples and announcing to
the audience..."I'm getting a name, I'm getting a
name". If this ever happens, we will just
have to increase the ticket price.
It's quite a good
show tonight and the audience are enthusiastic.
West Hotel, Bristol.
A gig on
the outskirts of Bristol.
At the end of our performance, the DJ at the event
said something like....."Let's hear it for The
like these pictures from tonight, they sort of
storyboard the evening quite nicely. So, I think
I'll just describe them individually......might make a
nice change, eh.... readers?
1 & 2.
Outside The Lowry: I've just
walked up to the front of the building to show Derek
where to park. I've been here once before, last
February to see Sparks. I think it's beautiful.
3 & 4. The Quays: Derek has
driven through the lowered bollards to the parking
area. I've told him I will be with him in a
minute to show him where the dressing room is, but in
the meantime, I snap away around the quay desperately
trying to get the auto-focus to work on the camera.
Then an occurrence that has become part of modern
life.... Derek who is probably about 30 yards away and
just out of ear-shot, phones my mobile to ask where to
go. I'm not criticising this...well actually I
am, but I do it myself. I've phoned Adam before
now, to tell him a TV programme is starting...and he
is only upstairs. How disgracefully lazy is
Fluffing: If we were very much more
successful....I wonder if we could hire some fluffers?
An all important part of the routine is the fluffing
of the wigs. We all go about it in a different
way. Dirk, as you can see, sort of teasels
the piece; I am rather more vigourous with mine; Roy
treats his like a pet rabbit, with gentle strokes; Eddie on the other hand,
becomes Andrew Collinge.
6. Aiming to Please!
...............and the first blog appearance of my
Very Fast!!...This Way! I can't think
what inspired me to take this shot!
8. The food trolley arrives:
Surprisingly little pushing and shoving going on
here. Everyone just takes a plate without
looking underneath to see which one has the most meat.
10. The Lowry is a no smoking building.....and
you get the idea that they really mean it!
Unlike other venues, where perhaps Eddie and I have
hung out of a window or sat in some grubby stairwell
to have our pre gig fag. Tonight, Eddie and I,
almost psychically understand that it is time to go
outside, it's just a nod to each other that prequels
our silent ascent up the staircase to nicotine
heaven. We don't say much, just stand there,
tugging on cigarettes and enjoying the calmness of the
water on the quay.
Players Tunnel: Here we wait for what always
seems like an eternity, but is more likely about five
minutes...shuffling about.....probably making 'League
of Gentlemen' references. I hate this
picture....I feel like Peter Crouch (stand up
straight Dirk!!), but this is very typical of
12 -15 The Gig: The Compass Room
is not that enormous, but 50% of the wall area is
glass...thus very sound reflective, and if we had
played too loud it would have just been a noise. We
play 45 minutes or so of mainly hits and it is very
well and politely received, with the dance floor full
for most of the set. The audience are
predominantly German I think.
16. The Stage Door: The
blurry image, is Eddie, travelling too fast for the
camera shutter, finally coming out to the car.
I've been sitting for 10 minutes with the engine
running, Dirk has already left, and Roy has got lost
round the front of the building.
our fourth visit to this venue...and something had to
change. Domino's do a very nice 9" pizza
for £10, but at £6.99 for a 16", one has to say
that Papa G's was by far the better buy.
So...what's my big gripe today? What can I have
a real moan about? Oh I know...signage on the
A5. Tamworth is 18 miles from the M6. If
you look at the map, the obvious way to go is along
the A5, it's a direct run. All the signs to
Tamworth from the A5 will try to get you to go on the
M6 Toll road and spend £3.50 when you don't really
need to. OK, the journey would be a little
quicker, but they don't give you directions for the
alternative and that, I feel, is fundamentally wrong.
It's like a NHS GP suggesting a private consultation
with a specialist without informing you that you could
get the same treatment for free.....if you are
prepared to wait 6 months. Just give us all the
information you bastards, and let us make our own
Things were going rather well during the gig until the
end of Day Tripper. At this point, Roy's
bass drum beater went straight through the drum
skin....thus no bass drum. As a consequence, the
following song, Paperback Writer, was
interesting to say the least. Fortunately, we
were at the part of the show where the solo spots come
in. We carry a spare drum heads, but the
condition of the spare bass head was somewhat second
hand. The theatre staff came to the rescue with
a nearly new 22" skin, and we are deeply indebted.
Ade did a great job of getting the replacement skin on
the bass drum during the solo spots, which were
augmented by Eddies first ad hoc performance of Across
The Universe. I unfortunately, let a bit of
professionalism slip, by stopping halfway through my
song to ask that the squeaking from the drum kit cease
as it was putting me off. The mics on the kit
were still on, and the noise from the pedal and the
keys around the drum was coming through the speakers.
of its totally annoying TV advertising campaign about
the quality of its food, it has to be said that Marks
& Spencer offer, by far and away, the best value
comestibles on the motorway these days. An early
stop at Knutsford, gives us the opportunity to do some
food shopping and load Dirks stuff into my car.
This way we won't have to hang around at our usual
rendezvous and draw attention from the locals who
don't like Derek parking outside their house.
The show is a sell out, and this, as always gives us
all a bit of a lift. I'm really having quite a
nice time of it.... until it gets to my solo
spot. Eddie has just left the stage after his
fab rendition of Norwegian Wood. On this song he uses
an alternative tuning on the acoustic guitar and he
usually puts it back before he leaves the stage.
Tonight, he forgets. Halfway through the first verse
of Here Comes The Sun, I realise that the E string is
tuned down and I start to panic. Trying to
concentrate on the words and the performance, whilst
at the same time thinking ahead to the middle 8 and
where I am going to have to reposition my fingers so
it doesn't sound an almighty fucking mess, is a bit
much for me. All too quickly the middle 8
arrives, and the balls I have been juggling with start
to collapse in a very untidy mess. I laugh, out
of sheer embarrassment, really rattled now, and decide
to skip forward to the last verse, dearly wishing I
wasn't there. I don't think I got away with it!
With the entire audience on their feet for the encore
numbers, the show came to as much of a rocking close
as ever.....we all enjoyed that.
Afterwards, with the bar closed, I go outside to try
to find Martyn, a fella I've met on an internet
message board who has come to the show with his wife
and some friends. Amazing thing this internet
malarky. Unfortunately we didn't have much time to
chat, as they were all too pissed and had to get off
home, and we had to make tracks towards Swindon, which
was our camp for the night.
The Holiday Inn Express chain is a much preferred
alternative to Travelodge and all the other similar
motel style accommodation available these days.
Newer, cleaner, better facilities, breakfast included
and cheaper (at least for now, and if one books three
days in advance). It has taken us just under 90
minutes to get to the Swindon Express and we arrive
before midnight. Booking on the internet is
supposed to make things easier and problem free.
It took the guy at reception 30 minutes, a lot of head
scratching, putting glasses on and off and the
eventual summoning of the manager, to find our
reservation. When we did get the rooms, they
were the wrong ones, double beds and a pull out,
instead of the twins that were booked.
Dirk went straight off to bed suffering from ear-ache
(literally, not metaphorically), and the rest of us
decided to see if the night porter was more efficient
at pulling pints than using a computer terminal.
I am delighted to report that this was the case, and
so we settled our selves in the bar area, drank lager,
smoked and ear-wigged a few conversations from other
guests who were a bit further down the road to
inebriation than we were.
After about an hour, the three of us were starting to
wonder what had become of Dave & Ade. They
should have arrived by now! I phoned Ade, to
find out that they were stuck at a service area,
having had a high speed blow out on the M4.
Apparently, the air-line at the services was broken
and they needed to inflate the spare tyre. A
good Samaritan, took their tyre over to the other side
of the motorway to get it inflated and they were able
to get on their way. The pair of them were grateful
for a couple of pints after their ordeal.
At 4am, Roy and I had had enough and went to
bed. Imagine our surprise to find one of the
other guests that had been in the bar earlier, asleep
on the floor outside our room. We weren't sure
if he had got lost, or had been thrown out of his room
after an altercation with one of the pissed ladies in
the bar, but he was certainly in no condition to
operate heavy machinery. The picture on the
bottom right, shows the view of this unfortunate
through the spy hole in our room door.
I was awoken from my sleep at 5am by Eddie crashing
into our room and laughing like Mutley. Roy and Eddie
continued laughing for about five minutes and I tried
to ignore it all and get back to sleep. The last
thing I heard was: "It's fuckin' ace, ale,
Centre, Potters Bar.
finishes at 10.30, and Roy and I get downstairs in
plenty of time to make the most of the continental
We are joined by Derek,
about 5 minutes before the staff begin hiding the
cornflakes and switch off the toaster. Dirk
doesn't look well. His left ear is still giving
him gyp, and there seems to be nowhere were we will be
able to get any Earex, he will have to fill himself
Either bored with our company or expecting a telling
off, Eddie decides to travel the 100 miles to Potters
Bar in the van with Dave & Ade. A misunderstanding
over where we are going to stop for coffee, puts the
two vehicles 20 miles apart on the M4. We have
gone for Reading services where there is an
M&S. A light hearted argument breaks out
between Roy and I, over whether one of the other
discerning travellers happens to be Daisy
Donovan. Roy is convinced that it is, and I'm
not so sure that it is the same TV presenter of the 11
O'Clock Show who held a lift door open for us at
London Studios a few years back.
I decide to bow to Roys opinion, as he is, by his own
admission, "Bloody good at faces" and
exceptionally proficient at Guess Who?
Arriving at The Wyllyotts four hours before the show
gives us plenty of time to do flap all. I wander
around the high street, noticing a high proportion of
charity shops and pizza outlets. Eddie tries to
get some sleep. Roy fiddles with his drum set,
and Dirk doesn't seem to know what to do with
himself. He's bored and in pain. I return
from my wander to find him catching the late September
sun, it's really hot for this time of year.
Ade shows us the tyre that blew out last
It's by no means a full house here tonight, but we do
a great show I think. None of us could work out
why the audience laughed when I said it was nice to be
back in Potters Bar. At first we thought we had
got it wrong and we were actually somewhere else....if
anyone reads this who knows why it caused such a
reaction, we would love to know.
Dirk was very apprehensive about the show, as he was
completely deaf in one ear. He found the whole
experience very odd, but seemed to enjoy it. The
tablets had kicked in and relieved the pain, but had
obviously had no effect on the deafness. I took
the opportunity to tease him and stand on his foot
during the first half, which amused both of us and
caused some laughter spillage on the mic.
Eddie came up with a new one at the beginning of the
second half, he walked on the stage but had left his
guitar in the dressing room. This caused a bit
of pregnant pause while he ran back for it, as Twist
& Shout works a lot better with someone doing the
When Dirk came off stage at the end and headed for the
sandwich tray, he was dismayed to discover they were
all cheese. Cheese, with cucumber; cheese with tomato;
and cheese with something else I can't remember...but
all cheese! We teased Dirk that Dave & Ade
had polished off the smoked salmon.
London Studios, London ::
March 2002 To this, you can add
September 2006, Roy was in no doubt, so that's good
enough for me.
We were performing at the wrap party for Hat Trick's, Time
Gentlemen Please. As the lift doors opened
and we scruffily struggled out with guitars and bags,
Daisy held the door open for us and smiled
sweetly. There was no conversation.... but her
hair looked great!
15. Al Murray ||
London Studios, London ::
March 2002 As a consequence of playing the party mentioned
above, we got to meet Al Murray. Personally, I
think the programme is shit, but apart from shoving
Eddie off the microphone to make an announcement, (had
he not been a bit tiddly and it not have been his party,
I think Eddie should've gobbed him!) Al was a pleasant
fellow. I wanted to say hello to Rebecca Front,
who was dancing during the set, but by the time we had
de-rugged, she had buggered off.
House, South Shields.
back towards the A1 at 10.45, Roy said "Well
there's not much to put in the blog about this
I guess he was right....not much had happened at all,
we'd had a good, but pretty uneventful gig in a part
of the world we always enjoy coming to. Oh....it
was also suggested that I would not write about my
shameful bout of wind that plagued me, and more
especially the others on the journey north. I
Then, a series of events that were rather like the
film Sliding Doors...but without the sex, the deceit,
the humour and music from Aimee Mann.
We stop off at Washington Services to grab a bite, but
the burger bar is closed and by the time we reach the
petrol station, the attendant has locked the door and
we can't get in to choose a pastie.
If we had not have crossed over the bridge to discover
the closed Burger King, we would have been in time.
If we had not stopped at all, we would probably have
not been stationary on the A1 for 30 minutes because
the accident less than a mile ahead would have
happened after we had passed Scotch Corner.
Without that delay on the A1, it is probable that the
police car that tailed us for 5 miles on the A685 and
eventually pulled us over just short of the M6, would
not have been in a position to be "looking out
for cars that were not local". That is the
reason I was given for being stopped! The
officers were really friendly and all, but it doesn't
sit right I'm afraid. They had clearly radioed
the car reg. through, found that the car was
registered in Liverpool and decided to have a closer
look. They were going to ask me to produce my
documents at my local police station. I politely
argued that this was wrong, as I was not guilty of any
offence, I had shown them my driving licence and the
police computer would have told them that the car is
insured and that it is taxed and MOT'd. Why
should I be inconvenienced any further? They
decide just to take my details for their report, and
allowed us on our way.
Without the delay caused by the police, I would not
have had to swerve out of the way of an accident that
had just happened on the M6 near Kendal... a white
estate, with its arse in the central barrier at right
angles to the carriageway. I expect this is
closest we have ever (knowingly) come to death on the
road. Had there been more time to think instead
of just react, I would have been terrified.