I went to bed around 2 AM, said goodnight to Paul, whilst Olivia and her sore throat retired to the bedroom. It was warm in the house and cold outside so we settled down to sleep quickly. At some point, I awoke feeling uncomfortable although I wasn’t sure why, it wasn’t long before I realised that I was tossing and turning and feeling something in my body that wasn’t right. When you feel this way you stretch out as if the problem is aching muscles from standing, travelling, performing, carrying something, everything you have to do on the road. It wasn’t long before I realised it was more than that, I started to feel sick and then I knew that I was way beyond muscle tension, being too hot or simply not sleeping properly. I was soon in the bathroom gazing down at the toilet, waiting for the inevitable.
The inevitable came five times, approximately once every hour, vomit, five minutes of feeling better, then 55 minutes of feeling sick, and so on until late morning. At some point I managed to fall asleep, exhausted in pain, my body weak, my throat and my ribcage hurting from retching and after the third time, I was having to fill my stomach with liquid to have something to throw up. It was terrible and there I was in Paul and Gemma’s lovely house just wanting to catch up and hang out before we had to leave for Edinburgh. In fact, as the next show was so close, I was also going to have time to go with Lynne who was married to the late Steve Knott from Atlantaeum Flood and visit his cairn but all this was thrown into chaos as I lay there so weakened and sick I was hardly able to sit up.
Eventually, at around 1.30 PM I managed to pull myself upstairs where Paul, Olivia, and Lynne were talking. They saw me and I must have looked like a ghost as I shuffled into the room feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. Lynne had got me some Lucozade and some Milk of Magnesia, that medicine we took as kids to ease our upset stomachs. I took some small sips to rehydrate myself but my stomach was so sensitive that I had to stop. Soon we had to leave, we had a gig in Edinburgh that night but I could hardly stand, my skin was super sensitive and although I’d stopped vomiting I still felt sick.
We waved a grateful goodbye to Paul and Lynne (Gemma was still working) and as we drove away, I think I nodded off. It was just an hour to Edinburgh and at this stage with me in this state, there was no way I could play, no way I could sing, and certainly no way I could pick up a guitar, stand by a microphone, and perform. We arrived at the gig in Edinburgh and Boydie and Olivia unloaded the van. Boydie came and got me and took me upstairs at the venue where we were staying, he let me in. I flopped down on the bed in my big coat and scarf with my boots on and promptly fell asleep. I had an hour and a half to decide whether or not I could do the show.
Olivia set up the stage and Boydie came and got me at 6.30 PM. They’d put the start and finish times back to allow for my condition. The sleep had helped but as I tentatively walked down the stone steps to the street and into the venue below, I wondered if I was mad to even attempt this. On the stage, my guitar felt heavy, my legs were shaky and as I attempted to play I felt my coordination was all over the place. I tried to sing and I wasn’t reaching the high notes, it was mostly frustrating because this was our last show of 13 in a row, and at this stage we were really knowing what we were doing and now this, it didn’t help that Olivia was also unable to sing the backing vocals due to her losing her voice two days earlier. James and the other Olivia on the mixer desk were great, they were patient and encouraging, I decided I’d give it a go.
I went on and told the audience what had happened, food poisoning. I told them the way I felt physically I would be trying my best to do the show. They were great, they sang along, it was like being in Bon Jovi. Thank you, Edinburgh. Not playing tonight would have been the worst thing, worse than the poison that had streamed through my body. Afterwards, I slept like a baby.
Music today has been Teenage Fanclub’s last album, Endless Arcade (2021) because they are Scottish, and the fact that I bought it but then I moved to Portugal and left the vinyl in the storage house till who knows when.