Heading north to Manchester on the M1 in a white van with gear in the back, that’s being in a band, that’s being on the road. Leaving Leicester on what looked like a nice day, the sun shone through the window and I could feel its warmth, a sign of spring, different to those winter days where the sun is there (sometimes) but delivers no heat. Waves of memories flood through me as I see the signs for Liverpool but it’s all the places around, the places nearish to these two major cities, Nantwich, Sandbach, Chester, that tweak childhood memories of sitting in the back of my parents’ car (a green Humber Sceptre), driving to some mysterious destination beyond the safety of home.
I have a scary childhood memory of travelling in that car. I remember driving up the hill from Marple Bridge and as we turned right towards Glossop and the direction of our house, the back door swung open and I nearly fell out onto the road. We lived in the countryside, the last of a row of large bungalows with a view of Kinder Scout. We had geese and ducks, hens and bantams, dogs and a cat and a rabbit until one day the fox got in and literally ripped it to shreds, leaving the animal dead, its snow-white fur doused in blood. I thought of it as the fox’s revenge after experiencing the hunt and the chase in the field opposite with the fox worn out and the dogs full of vigour waiting to do what the fox did to the rabbit.
We drove into Manchester and I commented on how I don’t see a recognisable skyline there. Maybe it has just changed so much, so has Liverpool but the pier head is iconic. Manchester always seems like random planning, there’s a hole, put a building in it. It doesn’t really matter what it looks like, it doesn’t matter if it fits, the architect isn’t looking to match the last architect that got a building project approved.
We’ve played at Gulliver’s in Oldham Street before, the top room of an old Manchester pub. It’s dark in there and hidden behind a back door atop a narrow staircase, inside it’s long and thin with quite a high stage, it’s a little like a tomb if pharaohs had discovered rock and roll. Tonight we had a very nice helpful soundman (Ash) and an enthusiastic listening audience to which we are most grateful.
Earlier, after soundcheck, we had ventured out into the city as the rain started to fall and darkness fell with it. We lurched our way across Piccadilly along with a population of hunched over well-wrapped locals fighting their way through the grim night. We managed to make it to Wagamama in St Peter’s Square where we had a lovely ramen, gastronomic solace in contrast to the reality outside. We found our way back over black pavements and towering buildings to the gig and played a well-received set. Thank you to everyone for coming on such a night.
Music today was The Monkees‘ debut album (1966) because as I was born here in Stockport and lived here as a child, it must have been somewhere in close proximity that I bought my first 7-inch single, The Monkees’ Alternate Title (1967) otherwise known as Randy Scouse Git in the States as over there ‘Randy’ is a popular first name, ‘Scouse’ meant nothing along with ‘Git’. Here it wasn’t quite acceptable.