Below is a tour blog I wrote when I had no access to the internet. Other things happened afterwards but we’ll let this video do the explaining. Video and most of the photos by Rory Dickenson.
What’s that you say? Where have we been? What’s been happening?
Well dear readers, I write this Friday afternoon while I have the house to myself in Palnackie, a small village near the Scottish border. To paint you a picture of this village, there is one house, one shop, one pub and outside the one pub there is a large white limousine covered in large text with the name of the very same pub. The Glenisle Inn. What has driven this tavern to go to such extravagant promotional lengths, I wonder? Has the one person in the one house come into some kidney difficulties? Does it take the sight of an oversized incongruously glamorous vehicle to entice her into spending what’s left of her pension on a few halves and a packet of nuts? Perhaps.
Of course I am exaggerating slightly. But not much. This is one sleepy town.
I just went for a rejuvenating solitary walk up a hill and when the rain came and I decided to head back, I found open the one shop that was previously closed for a leisurely two hour lunch. I popped in to see what was on offer. One copy of The Guardian, three cans of Coke and a box of Tunnock’s Tea Cakes. Pretty much my ideal hamper. I asked the man how he was doing. He looked at me, baffled for a moment, like I was the first person to attempt communication – or indeed talk this small – since the moon landing.
He said “What?”
I said “how’s it going?”
He said, “oh, slowly”.
I bought my can of pop and went about my day.
Tonight we play in Clarebrand Village Hall, Kirkpatrick Durham. I think the gig I have been looking forward to the most. For what else can the people of this town, young and old, have to do but come watch Curly Hair and Laish folk their socks off? We hope, nothing, though there was talk of a darts competition at the Glenisle Inn.
Tour has been going swimmingly. After a week together we now function as one being. We are now bonded like a pleasant version of the human centipede. Our anuses willingly sewed to each other’s lips. Our every movement as one, united as a giant singing and dancing organism with lots of limbs and thankfully more than one liver. Today is in fact the first time I’ve had the opportunity to have some Danny time. Not counting those stinky private moments in a venue’s toilets.
Can I sum up what has been occurring for the last week in one blog post? I am pretty sure that I can’t. Let’s do a bullet-pointed summary.
Setting off from Brighton in Lewis’ Toyota Previa, Ben made quite an impression by producing a box of Curly Hair cds that had been delivered that day. Designed and posted by our friend Sven, the box contained some special gifts. Two small black packages.
Of Anal Glide. The lotion and the spray. For his pleasure, presumably.
Ben has of course used it all up already. We’ll get to that later.
Friday, Falmouth. No Jo. She started the tour at home, in bed, coughing, drinking nettle tea and watching repeats of Starsky and Hutch. We were indeed violinless. Our crowd at Miss Peapods was the most numerous, sexiest and chattiest we have had. We rocked it as hard as possible while it rained heavily all night. Our trip from the van to our in augury house party had us wet to the bone. We then made noise until about 6am before setting off, bedraggled to…
Saturday, Calderbanks Farm. A barn party with the familial Rupert and Toby Green providing excellent support. They are musical stars of today. We emptied a barrel of real ale and one of cider. We again jammed until the early morning at the hospitable Calderbank’s residence. When morning came we stuffed sausages into our faces and hot footed it to Cardiff.
Sunday. The Waiting Room radio session had each band record four live songs and then talk protracted nonsense for what seemed like the length of an episode of Twin Peaks. Much giggling and hilarity while we tried our best to not come across as in-jokey and like a big erotic clique. Which we definitely aren’t.
Bristol, Oxjam – possibly our most coherent performance given the respectful crowd and clear PA system. Jo back on board and sounding magnificent.
Quite an amusing episode in the venue’s cafe involving a birthday cake, a humourless member of staff and an assertive mother. I’ll save that one for the memoirs.
At this point, myself and Jen were suffering somewhat from the onset of cold symptoms. I successfully told my cold to fuck right off and got on with it. Back to a house with a parakeet, a pile of takeaway pizzas and a relatively early night for me.
Monday, we left Bristol and straight to the Songs from the Shed residence. Feeling, personally, at my lowest ebb, we each did a session in the wonderfully eccentric country house with its famous shed. Hopefully my rasping voice will sound more Bob Dylan than Bernand Manning.
Then to Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms. By this point I was feeling desperately pathetic and really wanted to just get on with it and have a bloody good night’s sleep. I actually started writing a blog in that state. Here’s a direct quote from that abandoned post:
“Today I awoke with a throat as raw and rough as a roll of sand paper buried inside Jade Goody’s rotting arse.”
Thankfully that blog was never to be, and nor was an early night but we did manage to have a pretty jolly time in the Rescue Room’s bar, playing to a chatty student crowd. One suspects they have been more enticed by the promise of 1989 drinks prices rather than the viral rumour that Laish and Curly Hair were indeed in town.
I should probably mention that we have stuffed a few performative tricks up our sleeves since starting this tour. The most notable (and probably the only) one is us diving into the crowd periodically to play a song acoustically with no microphones or amps. Just ourselves strumming guitars into the faces and midrifts of the bemused/exalted people around us. I think this gig was one of those instances where we really made our point. We shut up an entire bar of arseholed students and made them think for a moment that they were elsewhere. Quite where, I am unsure. I’m just standing with my eyes closed trying to remember what the words are all about anyway.
We have also been playing a beautiful song called Leave Me to Lie Alone in the Ground by Animal Magic Tricks. What a joy that song is to belt out with five singers.
The Martha Rose has also been playing solo sets at many of these gigs. It has been a joy watching her sets shift and change with the tides. We have also found a way to get us all up on stage and to sabotage her most singalong tune, In the End. I somehow ended up on drums, which is a real treat for me.
The morning of Nottingham started with a clockwork darts tournament and the best baked beans masala you are ever likely to taste. Thanks Ali! We then drove to Newcastle with an impromptu stop at my folk’s house. What are the chances that I could call them and find both my parents at home with time on their hands and a kitchen full of soup, cakes and tea? Well that we did and lovely it was.
We pushed onwards to Newcastle. By this point, my general wellbeing was improving but sadly Jen’s was deteriorating. We are all constantly subjected to each other’s germs and I think at this point Rory and Ben were beginning their downward health spiral. Coughs and sore throats and a disproportionate amount of sneezing.
The Cumberland Arms welcomed us with open, ahem, arms. Myself and Rory are both staff alumni and I was pleased to find an old drawing I did years ago of Eric, a regular, still on one of the walls.
Richard Dawson opened the proceedings and I think it’s fair to say we would have all just happily watched him play for the remaining hours. His presence on stage is totally compelling and his voice has the peculiar range of an opera singer. The next band, Grandfather Birds were utterly dismayed to be following such a masterful performance, but they did so with good grace and I was really impressed by their show.
Curly Hair have been improving night after night; Ben is now the suave bastard he always hoped. It is interesting to witness the communication between Jools and Rory and the melodically defining fiddle parts from Martha. And the lyrics are fantastic. Like a young Darren Hayman.
The Laish show was probably our most enjoyable and we even got something of an encore from our particularly lovely crowd. We played a couple of extra songs acoustically and packed up for pints at the Head of Steam pub by the station.
Back at Riggy’s house in Fenham, Jools passed out immediately on the sofa while Rory got desperately excited by a giant stack of fixed wheel bikes in the living room. We listened to a bizarre compilation of psychedelic music and passed out to the warm glow of the stove fire. Unfortunatey Ben awoke in the middle of the night to find that he didn’t exactly have a space to actually stretch out to sleep and no blanket or pillow. Just a cold wooden floor and the sight of a fire that was once lit. Can you imagine that face? Such destitution and despair on one so handsome.
By this point in the tour, Mike started grumbling quite loudly about how unfair it is that we keep staying at all these really cool houses. Why can’t Mike live in a house populated with abundant food stuffs, exclusively comfortable bespoke furniture and aesthetically pleasing fixtures and fittings?
Something to aspire to I guess.
To Glasgow. Bloc Bar. Good to see old friends and my cousin Phil and co. However, that was about it for our audience. Just two other young men. One dressed in a banana costume, the other in a whoopee cushion costume. They didn’t stay.
I was pretty grumpy that night. What a long way to go for that. Still I should have bloody cheered up.
We got back to my friend Alex’s house and watched the Human Centipede on a laptop. I fell asleep before anything particularly grotesque happened, and instead I had the pleasure of stuffing breakfast bananas into my mouth, while watching how the plot develops. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then do your research and get back to me.
Morning in Glasgow was one of those times where the collective fabric of our team began to fray. Tensions running high.
“I want soup.”
“ Shall we park up now and get some – but there’s no where to park. Oh the fucking satnav is –
“Oh for fucksake, where is the house anyway? Where are the bastards?”
“I might just get out and sort myself out.”
“Where’s the soup shop?” “On this road.” “Where?”
“There you idiot.”
“I can’t see it….”
And so on. Don’t worry we all got our soups and our rolls and had a nice relaxing journey to Palnackie. See, somehow everything was all ok…
We rocked up at the house of Adam, our delightful promoter, made a pasta, and sang songs until about 4am. He has patience this man. Ben didn’t join us for this particular musical enterprise, instead declaring himself “sick of bloody music” and going for an early night. We played the Radio 4 game, Just a Minute, which morphed into Just a Song. Less rules for Just a Song. Just make up a song, and make it not shit. Or funny.
I have missed out many incidents and many other things have occurred but right now, I’ve got to watch Ben make a pumpkin soup in record time and then go and play to the village hall of Kirkpatrick Durham.
I doubt if there’ll be another update from me unless I manage a depressed post-tour entry.
Oh, I just remembered we have had our first album pre-orders. So get yours now before we sell out!
Danny and his tribe xxx