Queens Hall Days Two and Three

And off we set a second day, the weather still madly midsummer. We discuss some changes to the set as the Glasgow towers pass by looming over the road like sentries with a hundred eyes. Glasgow is a stupid twenty three degrees, Edinburgh a sane sixteen. At school in the seventies we were taught the adage; west coast wet and warm, east cold and dry but in recent years the rule has gone out of the window. Ten years ago I spoke with an American painter who’d been living in Tuscany for twenty five years. He told me that the climate there had recently turned on its head, the formerly cool wet winters now mild and dry, the hot dry summers strangely wet. The flora was unrecognisable from a September I’d previously spent in the area. What had been parched and pale yellow was now lush and deep green. The alarm bells have been ringing for fifty years at least. There’s a fire in the basement and we’re peering out from the roof of the ninety-ninth floor wondering where the fuck we go next. So here we are burning fuel along our daily route channeling our guilt and panic into the virtue of the work ethic which is no longer a virtue nor ethical at all. Perhaps we will be the only species in the universe to entertain ourselves to death.

We rehearse three new things at soundcheck, feeling last night’s show was a little short. Now it’s probably too long. I feel less fear-stricken than last night but my body is not handling the adrenaline surge well. I don’t feel solid, I feel shaky and hollow. We’re all feeling the lack of match fitness the pandemic has caused. But it’s an absolute godsend to be able to do a gig.

There’s no time for a stroll before the show as the setlists need reprinting so I’m venue bound for the day. Suddenly it’s time to change into stage clobber and get on. No time to think, I try to relax then weave onto the platform, my brothers in tow. The lights blind me but I can taste the presence of the assembled watchers waiting for the first notes. We drift into the opening song. Let’s see where this goes…

Back in Glasgow the following day I buy a warm wrap from a local chickpea purveyor which I scoff in the sunshine in the park near my abode. My bench looks onto a forest of nettles and a blue-black pigeon comes skanking over to inspect for crumbs but I am too tidy for it. The thistle flowers in the wild bed behind me have mutated into masses of feathery seeds just waiting to be lifted away by the wind. Neighbours pass one another on their Saturday stroll, there’s a dog barking on the street. I hear the sound of a football being kicked on the other side of a hedge and some toddlers nattering. There’s a drill – way off – on a building site somewhere.

The van arrives in the late afternoon for the last trip, a passenger light as Kris is going straight south to Cornwall after the show so is driving himself. There is no longer the brittle excitement of the first day, everyone is more relaxed and perhaps a little tired. But the weather is perfect and the mood is positive.

After a brief soundcheck I make for the Meadows, Edinburgh’s Hyde Park, groups scattered across the expansive lawns like last patches of snow in spring. I see tree-to-tree tightrope wobblers, boys running after footballs and a young woman with the fresh cotton-wool dressing from an hours-old vaccination. Another fucking beautiful day.