To Perth



Oh, shit – the sun is shining, shining down on all of bonny green Scotland. What does this portend? We load up in the the lane, box upon box, case upon case. Amps at the bottom, stringed instruments atop. We will travel in a thing called a “splitter”, the front cabin containing the humans, the rear the gear. There is a schism already.

We meet a fair-weather tailback on the motorway beyond Stirling’s pretty vista, its castle and monuments sitting perkily erect on the glacial plain. The lowlands are in fresh full leaf and all the managed, manicured greenery flutters and glints in the luxury of the brilliant light. We experienced Scots know not to mistake this lovely weather for the start of summer. Summer never starts in Scotland, it just vacillates wildly between spring and autumn and occasionally lights up like a furnace causing universal astonishment.

The people of Perth are milling around, blinking and squinting. It’s almost buzzy but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The concert hall is a pristine modern affair; it all seems efficient and well built like a Danish pentathlete. We lump in our awkward equipment with the slight hesitancy of middle-aged men. Nobody wants to put their back out, nobody wants to look too keen. We set up and then the hanging around begins. You have to be an expert at hanging around. There’s never enough to do but never quite nothing to do. We may appear to be at leisure but within we are deep in pre-performance concentration. Don’t fuck with us by asking something stupid. We are ready to roll.

The rigmarole of soundcheck passes and we take some food in a bright white room situated behind the black stage that they call the green room. I’ve never been very sure about this but I think a green room is basically a dressing room with strangers in it. Or minor celebrities like Paul Heaton from the Housemartins or the blonde guy from Bread. The band or the sitcom, who’s counting?

I munch some grub and wander out to the park to absorb the precious sunlight raining down like honey. My skin rings with the pleasure of it, this rare thing, a summer’s day in Scotland.

After the show we mingle with friends backstage before heading south in the warm night. A few beers pass around the cabin and gossip circulates fitfully. I close my eyes and hug my rucksack, stuffed as it is with supermarket sandwiches, spare clothing and super-useful items I never use. We rumble into Glasgow and split up for taxis to our respective abodes, not yet fully on the road. We have made a start and the finish will be far too soon.