Brighton was good. I was a bit distracted by a mass onslaught of the Moore family. Will Moore does the booking at the Prince Albert. He used to run the Free Butt, Brighton's premier dogshit pub. The Moore family are very proud of Will's being in my piece about dogshit pubs. I didn't mention Will by name because it didn't seem fair to name and shame, and anyway I'm done with being indiscrete – it's got me in too much trouble in the past. But noiw it can be revealed – Will Moore booker at the Albert is the deep-frying ex-manager of the dreadful and magnificent dogshit pub standing four square in a puddle of mud and dereliction on the site of Tamplins Brewery in Brighton.
There were people from Newhaven, there were people from Kent and some who even travelled down from London, and it was quite full. We played well and laughed a lot and the man whose Clio I wrecked before the show didn't show up seeking retribution.
I couldn't help wrecking the Clio – he shouldn't have pulled up on the zebra crossing zig-zags as I was backing out on to the street. He shouldn't have jumped out of his car and run down the street clutching a phone to his face, but it's just as well he did because he wasn't in his car when I backed into it, smashing the wing mirror and stoving in the passenger door. When he came back and I tried to explain myself he was completely unaware of what I'd done.
I thought the best way was to front it out so I started in with 'due to you parking illegally on a zebra crossing as I was reversing into the road I appear to have smashed your door in.'
He didn't want to know.
'What are you saying?' he asked in an irritated voice and carried on speaking into his phone.
'As a result of you parking illegaly...'
'What do you want? Is it money?'
'No, I just wanted to point out that because you're parked illegally...'
'Parking?!!? Where do you want to park? What exactly do you want from me?'
'I don't want a fucking thing from you mate'
I scurried off to the van, drove off and parked up a few streets away. You just can't help some people. Luckily there was no damage to our hire van.
From the upstairs room at the Albert we could see him yacking on his phone, oblivious to the newly inverted contour of the shiny Clio door, the smashed wing mirror strewn all over the road. Eventually he drove off. Mirror – signal – manouvre...I imagine that at some point he noticed the lack of a wing mirror.
I should talk about the London show at Milfords but there really isn't much to say. If you were there you'll know it was a good one. If you weren't I don't know how to explain the miracle of a tired upstairs function room complete with tiled floor, redundant bar and wall lights turning itself into a great venue. Everything was against it and it's a credit to Martin Dowsing of The Hungry Dog Brand that he pulled it together, filled it with people and made it work. We had a great time, and for once I actually liked the opening act, Jack Hayter.
Bristol was fairly horrible – the venue smelled of vomit and disinfectant. A dogshit pub with punk highlights.
And Winchester was a surprise. It always rains in Winchester and we've learned not to expect too much – seventeen advance sales and who would want to come out on a wet Thursday night. But they did. The promoter was very pleased but they still left us to load out in the rain with no help.
'We've done very well, a lot more people than we thought. You've got twenty minutes to pack up and get out.'
Thanks very fucking much.
A night in a Travel Lodge pretending to sleep , my head balanced on a pillow filled with chunky foam off-cuts, and then the seven hour drive to Malton in North Yorkshire. That was a surprise – it was sold out in advance. And then a triumphant return to Hull.
We exchanged the horrible Enterprise Car Hire Doblo for a light blue Volkswagon Golf and somehow managed to get all the gear into it, and then I drove it through the night at a hundred miles an hour across Belgium and through Germany to Frankfurt. That sounds much too heroic – in truth we stopped of in the Belgian town of Hasselt and got a room in an Ibis hotel and in the morning it was full of adenoidal Belgian athletes wearing sandals with socks. We strolled around Hasselt and found a coffee place that did a great espresso. The we carried on to Frankfurt.
The Frankfurt hotel was too hot, the pillows were large but completely flat and the TV didn't work. For the first time in my life I found myself wanting to throw a TV out of a hotel window but I didn't. By five o'clock in the morning I wanted to throw myself out of the hotel window. The only thing stopping me was that I was hungry because we hadn't eaten very well the day before and I didn't want to miss breakfast. The early morning sun was streaming in through thin, cheap hotel curtains. 'At least it's a nice day,' she said. No it isn't' I replied, 'it'll never be a nice day again until we leave this disgusting hotel,' I have never felt so middle-aged.
Things improved and we spent another three nights there. We changed rooms and that seemed to help – I think something sinister must have happened in the first room, a murder or something.
We arrived at the festival site equipped with tubes of acrylic paint, cheap brushes and a lot of cardboard donated by my daughter Luci's mother. I think we were all enjoying the middle England notion that the Krauts might not have cardboard.
It put me in mind of the days when I first lived in France back in the eighties. I'd stand on the deck of the Newhaven / Dieppe ferry watching cars full of everything you need to survive in an unwelcoming holiday destination spewing forth from the bowels of the ship (I suppose I could just have said dis-embarking there but I wanted to be dramatic) – every last overloaded car had containers of salt and pepper on the parcel shelf. They had to put it on the parcel shelf because the back seat was always taken up with rolls of toilet paper. Well you never know do you...
We didn't get any takers for the portraits which was just as well because we were very busy making signs and recording bespoke cassettes. I thought the signs were very clear but we still kept having to explain it. The cassette was free, you just had to choose a song from the list and you paid for that. We did a few commisions too – A Day In The Life was the highlight of the entire festival (even though it was only witnessed by an audience of about twelve people). We did Good Times by Eric Burden & The Animals for someone's dad and that went well but I dread to think what the recorded cassette sounded like.