Back to LA

Back we come overnight from Phoenix to a sodden Hollywood for an early morning check-in prior to the Kimmel show booking. Fat raindrops trail down the window pane of my room as traffic swooshes below in a river of white noise. The sky is all mist and moisture. You expect Sam Spade to be lighting up in a doorway in hat and Mac.

A luxuriously appointed automobile ferries us the short trip through the rain to the ABC studios and we enter the realm of TV time where Earth minutes are not respected. We wait for hours, soundcheck and wait for hours more. By which time we are all getting antsy, nerves suddenly jangling. Live TV (well, taped as live) is always a high-wire act and lack of practice leads to wobbly walks and occasional spectacular plummets. My own nerves are not helped by the sight…—More Tales

To Phoenix

After the Canyon Club show we say hi to some old friends in the parking lot before the pack begins. To save costs we’re transporting all the stage gear in the bays of the bus. I remain entirely unconvinced we won’t have to pack the back lounge with equipment but B&B and Del work some Tetris magic and make it all fit. How this was achieved is a mystery (and in the dark to boot) but we are comfortably stowed and soon on our way overnight to Phoenix. This is my first tourbus bunk sleep for 28 years but I slip back into the way of it, climbing up to my top bunk like a spider monkey. I drop down from my perch around ten on Sunday morning after map researching a nearby gaff open for breakfast. It’s starting to get hot and I fear I may shortly…—More Tales


Good morning Hollywood. I crank up the window blind to a foggy scene right out of Chandler. There’s a 1940s apartment block opposite decorated in that instantly recognisable Colonial style and a few cars pass below, windows tinted as black as night. We gather in the TM’s room to have swabs taken by a gentile Latina nurse for the Kimmel Show we do on Monday. I’m glad to be starting in the west having always found the eight hour time difference easier to adapt to than the five or six. Last night I walked to a 24 hour pharmacy and stocked up on Melatonin pills. They seemed to do the trick, placebo or not, I got straight back to sleep every time I came to. Now I just feel weird, like there’s an electric current running through me but it’s a sensation I’m familiar with. It’s slow hysterical…—More Tales


The device chirrups at my ear and I click into staring consciousness. It’s 3:30AM. I scrape some marmalade across a slice of toast and park myself and my big red suitcase on the street to wait for the cab. The pre-dawn cacophony of birdsong echoes around the buildings in a symphony of mad whistling. The cab is very late which proves to be the first of the morning’s many calamities. The airport is awash with masked and strained humanity queuing in loosely disciplined lines. In the departure area Glaswegians eat burgers and chips, sip lager and rosé at six in the morning because airport time is out of time and the goddamn holiday starts here. Everything is in motion while the city still sleeps a few miles yonder. There’s a thick fog beyond the windows and I worry a little about delays. The connection at Heathrow to LA…—More Tales

In Kirkwall

I draw back the heavy woollen curtains and sunlight streams in like honey. The harbour lies gleaming below my grand room and a hooded man sits on a quayside bench talking into his phone. I potter all morning until a man called John arrives to pick us up to take us on a tour of the Highland Park distillery which sits on an elevated spot just outside of town. John has a long grey beard with a chin plait and is refreshingly unpatronising. The distillery feels like a little village, its grey-black sandstone buildings set into a hillside and crowded together around cobbled streets. It’s utterly fascinating, different aromas filling each shed as we are walked through the process from the malting room to the stills and finally the bonded warehousing. The work they do here can be accurately described using the dubious adjective “artisanal”, which when you break…—More Tales

To Orkney

Blue, blue as an egg, the sky says spring and my watch says go. I don my two small rucksacks and take the short saunter through town to our rendezvous at a hideous hi-rise Hilton, a building which resembles the ironic tombstone of a deceased chain smoker, all nicotine beige and granite black. Our deluxe van U-turns onto the grimy Glasgow urban motorway and we soon break out of the shitty city edge zones into open country, spindly winter trees clawing at the crisp air and drinking in the sun. We’re en route early enough to indulge in a traditional listen to the Popmaster quiz slot on Ken Bruce’s Radio 2 show. The verges are scrappy with bare bracken and some last few rotting leaves but the meadows beyond are vibrant emerald and freshly ploughed soil sparkles in the day’s angling beam. The hills of the eastern Trossachs lie…—More Tales