—Back to a band of four?

Bath, February 25th 2013

We ease into Bath’s one-way web in the early afternoon. I dump my accoutrements in the little box of my room and seize the chance to have some real food. The Yo! Sushi I accidentally settle on is staffed by zombified students who appear to be auditioning for a particularly hellish reality show. One of the chefs is wearing a jauntily poised pork-pie hat over his cook’s skull cap. He’s as unhappy a hipster as you’ll ever see. The sad morsels of finicky food revolve around him like piranha circling for a feeding frenzy. He wards them off by chopping radishes at a lunatic intensity sounding like a woodpecker having a heart attack. My colour-coded plastic dishes pile up in a shaming show of greed. The oceans emptying into rich folks’ mouths.

I like the venue, though like all converted cinemas there was never any need for a backstage so our…—More Tales

—It's prim down south - Weymouth seafront

Weymouth, 24th February 2013

Finally we leave Weymouth after being waylaid in Bridport along the coast. The show was in the Electric Palace, a well-preserved cinema with some lovely early 20th century fittings. Or were they fixtures? The town seems populated by the posh and I strain to hear a local accent anywhere. Across the road from the venue I buy a little knife from a locksmith and go exploring before the soundcheck, looking for something to slice. I visit a cool little bar/cafe on the main street where the owner shakes my hand and a slightly pissed punter accuses me in a most friendly manner of being the singer of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. He thinks I’m being modest when I deny responsibility for that nineties atrocity. I committed the other nineties atrocity. I have some tea and listen to the proprietor’s soft soul playlist emanating from a pair of quality speakers then cross…—More Tales

—Deep-fried Twix, Weymouth

Kendal and Weymouth, February 21st & 22nd 2013

It is a relief to quit the strange hotel. I had to resort to headphones to mask the odd noises in the early morning. Shufflings and bleeping. A hollow cough followed by a whining hoover. Kurt Vile, Leonard Cohen and The Leopards did the trick. Barges sit stretched along the coast out on the grey North Sea. We head west to the Lake District, light flakes of snow dancing about the windscreen. Dry stone walls edge the road as we cross the moors and heaths of the Pennines. The week of winter sun has burnt off all but a few scattered patches of ice. The terrain has that distinctively British hue – khaki; neither yellow nor green nor brown but somehow all three at the same time. In spring it will all be emerald. The road dips into more verdant pasture, prettily partitioned and studded with copses.

Kendal sits in a…—More Tales

—Leeds skyline

Leeds, February 19th 2013

I like Leeds. It’s the Manhattan of Yorkshire. The dwellers have interesting faces. They’re open and blunt but oddly into fashion. The venue is a gorgeous little theatre of great vintage. It’s been refurbished but I notice from the big book they have all the performers sign that Jeremy Hardy preferred it before. Jerry Sadowiz just wrote: I should be in musicals. Nobody else seems to have tried to be original. I tried and I failed.

Great audiences in Leeds, I don’t know why. I’ve always loved playing here. This lot carry me through a difficult night. I am very grateful to them. Afterwards I head straight for the hotel and bump into some early leavers on the street. I take a photo of myself with a woman’s phone. I think I get her in it. The world is slowly drowning in photographs. Human-like creatures will excavate Earth billennia after our…—More Tales

—Manchester, yesterday

Sale, February 18th 2013

What is Sale? I’m here, in Sale, I’m walking through its – what are they, streets? but I can’t determine what it is. Is it a town, a suburb or an industrial service zone? There are homes and businesses of every sort – built in every decade of the last one hundred and fifty years – a seventies high-street, a revamped canal and a futuristic multi-storey car-park. The Arts Centre is new but it’s stuck to a town hall which was perhaps built in the nineteen-thirties. It is a mad conglomeration, strewn haphazardly about some ancient snake-pit of a street plan. It is so odd and uncategorizable it’s almost charming. I feed some pita bread to the ducks and pigeons at the canal as we wait for get-in. I try to be equitable. I don’t wish to exhibit any favouritism.

Between soundcheck and show we check-in to our Manchester city centre…—More Tales

—Some countryside, yesterday

Newbury, February 17th 2013

We strike out from Stamford at noon to watch the milky light angling onto to the extremely pretty undulating Rutland countryside. In spite of what you see from the van on most tours, England, with its cosy rustic beauty, is preserved in a great many places. Living in these areas might just turn you Tory, for modernity must seem a menace encroaching on all this pastoral glory. But we’re heading for Corby, that Scot infested industrial cauldron so normal service will be resumed. English and Scottish patriotism sow their seeds in the rural landscape. It’s a way of encapsulating a myth – the place maketh the people. As if a fucking heather covered hill has any bearing on most Scots’ character. Nationalists are great manipulators of imagery. They tell you that your inherent virtues are bound to your country’s natural beauty in order to parcel off power for themselves. It’s…—More Tales

—Not Stamford

Stamford, February 15th 2013

I have lurched from the desert to the frozen north. Leaving the Gulf last week I had visions of handbags on fire, buried minions dug up and displayed in future museums. These men died building towers now ruined, airports since vanished beneath the sea of sand. Emirs, Sultans and Kings: born to rule over those selected to serve. I played pretend palaces and Vegas-style hotels. I served my sorry time. I bought some fags, came home and torched some Camels. We’re burning up the world.

Scotland is shining under a flat white disc of sun. Stray patches of snow streak the bluffs atop which fresh ranges of turbines flower, turning in slow motion. Driving south we see a black military transport plane veer around the corner of a gorge like a fleeing vampire. Nestled off the road lies some sort of rocket launcher taking practice pot-shots. Nobody has a job but…—More Tales