The White Page
  A Road Diary


Subj: Rolling along

Date: Friday, November 20, 1998

We're in Sheffield today........the City where "The Full Monty" was filmed, and, coincidentally, as we drove to the gig yesterday we passed a run-down old pub advertising strippers on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Maybe it's me, but the only thought that entered my mind at the time was what the hell THEIR dressing room must be like, when I'm sure a million more abject things could be pondered. I say that because we'd just been discussing the dire lack of basic changing facilities in these British gigs - no matter how new or custom-designed the building may be, the dressing room is usually a nook (or cranny, if you must) doubling as a beer keg storage passage/fire exit - the thought of the alarm going off as one is midway in & out of one's thunderbags, and the ensuing charge of terrified and panicked punters still clutching pints is enough to chill the nerve of the most stalwart entertainer - or a small room with good intentions which has been overcrowded by a large, useless couch and homely coffee table, when every inch of space matters, and a simple coat rack would be a luxury.

You see what we're reduced to on the road - where are the grandiose ideals of glittering stagecraft and inspired performance, carrying besotted throngs of idolising fans away on seas of abandon (and drink, of course)?, merely the mundane and menial carping of cold and uncomfortable men in the misty midlands of Mercia. Ah, Death, where is thy sting? Right now, it's about...... No, let's not go there.

Needless to say, the show was fine, if a wee bit difficult on my part trying to sing through the cold, but the others pulled mightily as always and more than compensated for my weakness. Tonight, however, we have a merciful night off to rest our bones, watch telly, have a toddy or two - in short what- ever takes your fancy, apart from McIntyre and me who have to make a train journey back over the Peak District to Manchester to an hour-long interview at the radio station Jazz FM. Who knows, maybe one of us will get the job!

Then, tomorrow it's off up North to Newcastle Upon Tyne, or Geordyland to us, where you're almost in Scotland, but not quite, though the weather's just as wicked, the more so for being perched on the North Sea, that grey body of near freezing water that separates us from Europeans, and which could probably counterbalance global warming single-handed, if science could contrive to aim the wind across it in the right direction. Billy Connoly's famous take on the North Sea is one where mothers were traditionally heard on Scottish beaches cajoling their chivering children into its chilling waves on supposedly summer days (Hah!), while not so many miles offshore, tannoy speakers on oil drilling platforms were greeting new arrivals with announcements like, "This is the North Sea - DO NOT FALL OVERBOARD, YOU WILL NOT LAST TWO MINUTES IN THERE".........meanwhile, back on the beach, the maternal voice is still screeching, "Go on ya big jessie!....get in the water an' hae a swim....."

Well, I should go and find out how many came back from battle last night, so that we can plan our next skirmish. I was bundled into a waiting car last night instead of the usual meet & greet after the show, and feel much better for it. All our concerns are that we embark on a six-night run on Sunday, now that the second night was added in Liverpool, the final night being London, of course, just to make it all the more scary.