Leeds to London, November 16th-19th 2014


After four nights in the same hotel in Leeds it’s refreshing to be back on the road proper. It’s heavily overcast and muggy, the southbound traffic sluggish. With three shows left there’s an air of weary resignation in the van. My body, on waking, felt like a block of hardened rubber, as if some entity had poured moulding material down my throat in the night. I’ve set stiff and sit like a bag of cement in the front seat. I need a drainage contractor. A dim orb of pale grey hovers in the gloom above like a ghoul. Tiny spots of rain collect on the windscreen like alighting insects until, forming too dense a firmament, they are swiped away. A sunbeam strikes through ahead with an abracadabra and, peering upwards, I see a flat white disc; our furnace star reduced to a glinting tiddlywink.
The…—More Tales

Selby and Uppermill, November 12th-14th 2014

At last we escape the clutches of the country club with its therapy pool and veneer of hushed sympathy. I feel like we’re on the lam from rehab. The A-Road north is as straight as a Roman nose, we are the only deviants. Ploughed fields fill the flatness dotted with hamlets, farmhouses and groups of trees loitering like sulking teenagers. It is very still, the sky a white soup with puffs of smoky clouds trailing along the horizon like steam from an antique train. The rectangular torpedoes of lorries barrel towards us but it’s slow going this side of the road. We cross the odd canal and the sun, swimming out to our left in a sea of grey muslin, manages to throw blurred shadows across the tarmac.
It’s already crepuscular as we turn into Selby, a little town not without an earthy old-fashioned charm. We’re early, so we set up…—More Tales

Norwich, November 11th 2014


Heave-ho, we head out of Bury, swinging round the sugar factory which belches white smoke into the crisp blue sky. It’s a short hop to Norwich across the flatlands of Norfolk but the sat-nav takes us on a wild goose chase around half the county before we arrive at our abode, a country club type joint, all golf courses and spa treatments. I HATE golf. It’s the refuge of the respectable Nazi. I immediately order a taxi to ferry me away from this hell. The driver is a cheeky chappie from Larkhall in Scotland. He wears a black waistcoat with a silver pinstripe and tells me about his daughter’s graduation. She’s the first of his family to go to university. I congratulate him but he’s more concerned with what the do is going to cost. Then he tells me he just won £1400 on…—More Tales

Bexhill-on-Sea, November 8th 2014

By the time we hit Bexhill the warm southern wind is whipping off the channel in swiping gusts. We hear the local fireworks event has been cancelled due to the danger of rockets launching five feet in the air, abruptly bending to the horizontal and blowing children’s faces off.
The De La Warr is smaller than I had remembered it but beautifully sculpted and remarkably unspoilt. The auditorium is a wonderful room, perfectly proportioned and reverberating with a gentle slapback highly conducive to music and speech. I watch our opening act Ella The Bird and am enormously impressed with her composure and dynamic control. My own show feels too effortless to be trustworthy and my mind wanders during the last half hour; I go within and feel like I lose the crowd, leaving all a little stranded. The sea lies to my right twenty feet beyond the wall, black, tormented and…—More Tales

To Liverpool, 7th November, 2014

We start at ten. The gear goes in the back, the boys go in the front and we get on our way, out into the You-Kay. Liverpool shivers at the end of the road in a milky November morning. The road-signs are blue and the cones are red – fields and fences, copses, hedges – everything crumpled into the confines of this congested country. The sun swims low in the southern sky, slipping through knots of clotted cloud, making its way to the Atlantic.
It’s a short jaunt, a quick buzz around provincial England ending in two London nights. The trees cling on limply to their remaining leaves not yet taken by the wind. Winter hasn’t taken its first real bite but you feel it coming. The pasture is that British/Irish emerald that you see nowhere else and it sings in the sporadic shafts of sunlight. Everything glistens in autumn dew.
We…—More Tales