London calling, The Slaughtered Lamb in Clerkenwell, and because we’re not new to this we left for London before midday – Friday afternoon traffic. It was nice when we left, the sun shining, blue sky between giant fluffy clouds we were soon on the M4 heading east. The clouds looked like Roman gods on the right of the motorway and on the left a creeping black virus that even the gods couldn’t stop from releasing a deluge that drenched the traffic. It was soon over and the blue and the gods fought back and shined the sunlight down again onto the grateful humans.
Then the eye migraine started on the right. Ok, migraine, for those that don’t suffer, they have no idea of the hell it can be but these days for me if it turns into a mild headache after the eye distortion, it’s generally ok. It cleared up without event, the eye, not the weather. But then it came back in waves on the left eye, it was like being in the surf in your head, fearing being dragged towards the rocks. After the bad years, losing the vision like this is frightening because it used to turn into bad, very bad. Happily, that wave went softly to the shore but I was feeling kinda sickly, and that wasn’t how I wanted it to be for this London gig. Lots of people, all putting the effort in to make it to Clerkenwell where generally you are not allowed through the borders if you are under thirty – there must have been a lot of fake IDs and fantastical stories.
My mate Gary rang from Switzerland as we were driving down Cromwell Road. Just checking in as he knew we were touring. We went to the same school, Woodchurch Sec, and worked in the same restaurant on The Wirral in the seventies. He speaks perfect (Swiss) German and has lived in Basel for 38 years. Nice one Gaz. Traffic was its usual chaos in central London but there was something about driving through Piccadilly Circus and up Shaftesbury Avenue in a car. We wound our way around, Boydie concentrating on the other white van drivers, the buses and all kinds of mechanical apparatuses coming at him from every side. Then there are the flashing lights, the cameras, the speed limits and perhaps most dangerous of all, the pedestrians.
We arrived at the gig, my left eye was still swimming but I helped load in. Having said that I’m trying not to overuse my thumbs so I can carry but not pick up. And…if you shake my hand these days, fist bump me because a hard handshake causes me pain. I did an interview at soundcheck with Ayisha from Post Punk Blog, pics with Anna and then we got into the soundcheck with sound man Q (yes, really) and then waited for the government to run in and confiscate my subversive guitar with the tape.
Sessioneer Brian was over with his family from Orlando, that was cool to see him out of context. Sessioneer Kadeem came from the deep south too – of London. Sessioneer Noel who has lent me the Tak 12 in D, Scrim the luthier, and partner Sharon. Biggles and Coleen who we always stay with in London and the man who produced Wheels Of Steel. A whole slew of fans and familiar faces, many of which have helped out with the cause but perhaps too many to mention here – but Mark and Vicky did bring me more magazines for The Archive and Deanne did bring me the green Burns double six 12-string which has returned to the fold after some years in her care. Chris Remington, bassist from The Buzzcocks, was there but the missing piece was Matt Piucci from The Rain Parade who was coming to play with me (I even had a spare guitar stand) but he got COVID and had to cancel, get better Matt…and next time.
The gig was great, thank you everyone for coming and packing out the room and filling it with your enthusiasm for this somewhat vague career retrospective. And thank you for buying the Marty & Olivia T-shirt, 14 to go to break even. We drove back to Bristol, the last of the long drives after shows. In bed at 4 AM.