South to Lincoln


I awake to a bright morning and shovel my various accoutrements into my black nylon trolley. Everywhere there are people in transit dragging these recalcitrant cases out for a walk. You see them in suburban streets and parks and town centres as if hanging onto weary toddlers, the little plastic wheels making that gargling noise over the concrete. Strange that the ancient invention of the wheel came so late to luggage. Even in the early nineties I was still hefting an enormous sack around on my shoulders from airport to tour-bus. On long US tours I used to carry two big holdalls, one purely for underwear. Why ruin a precious day off sitting in a laundromat when you can take three months’ worth of socks on the road? Since the World Trade Centre fell you’d be lucky to get a few weeks of keks on a plane without handing over a small pile of cash. The US cleaning industry owes a debt of gratitude to Osama Bin Laden.

The Merc alights upon the plains of Lincolnshire within no time. I spent many a happy month around these parts recording at The Chapel, a superb residential studio. Much of Twisted and all of Suckers were done there. The record shops of the region evinced peculiarly specific tastes as I remember. Lots of rock with a big “R”. Deep Purple, Bad Company, Quo – albums that weren’t extensively stocked in urban record stores in the mid-nineties. It’s a rural sort of city, you can smell the muck on the people, see the farm air in their ruddy faces. It has the vague feel of Granada with it’s medieval street plan running up the hill to the cathedral, 20th century warehousing spreading out around below on the plain.

The hotel is full of cyclists getting ready for a big race on Sunday. Athletes have an odd energy about them. It’s kind of intimidating. They act like super-beings and reek of resentment. They regard you and all your flab and smokey breath with disdain. Beh, fuck ’em. They might be fit but they’re thick as puddings.

The venue is a very decent arts theatre type with lots of space and a high ceiling. Derek is skulking about looking a little tatty after being plied with malt whiskey after Holmfirth. I’m both jealous and relieved it’s not me. You can feel tomorrow’s day-off approaching, casting some of its lethargic shadow back into today.

I sign a few tickets and posters after the gig and, as seems to be the natural order of things, people politely form a queue. The first man I talk to has brought along his entire and pristine collection of Del Amitri records. He has fifty items – albums, EPs, CD singles, 7 and 12 inch vinyl plus posters and other memorabilia. It takes ten minutes to sign it all and the line grows restless. There is some good natured grumbling but you can sense mutiny afoot. The collector man is not giving up and keeps his head down as he pulls more and more things from secreted plastic bags for me to autograph. I admire his tenacity. It seems to me that if he’s paid for all this stuff and bothered to cart it along then the least I can do is scrawl all over it with an inky. Cheers, Justin Currie, 2012.

In the morning I find myself with a few minutes before fuck-off time to graze at the breakfast bar. People are at their worst at these moments, pushing folk out of the way to load up with what they perceive as free food. They’re not fully awake and don’t seem to see other people. I’m probably the same, a zombie with bed-head and a bad attitude. It’s a bright day and we aim to make Bristol in time for the three o’clock kick-off on the final day of the football season. The silver trophy is already in Manchester being polished by some self-important lackey, blue and red ribbons neatly laid out in separate polythene sleeves. All that pompous reverence and hysterical hype. We’re suckers for it, we latch onto its teat like hungry junkies, willing fools in the great scheme. We know the game is rigged like a cyanide-laced well but we lap it up anyway. The world has made us automatons and if they tell us that we’re happy, who are we to disbelieve it?