The train pulls out of Church Stretton, Song for Jesse by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis is playing, the sun is on the hills, and I am surprised that no one seems to be walking up any of them. It is where I want to be. Maybe an angry Lear-like farmer controls them all and wants no footprints where his livestock might graze. On bright days like these, passing hours on the trains, I often want to climb out of the window and walk on the land outside.
I imagine sitting under a tree, like a print in a junk shop of a hatted man reading a book by a flagon. Mind you, his back story might involve ploughing, and I don’t think I have the wherewithal or stamina to achieve many furrows.
Is it a case of “I would rather be anywhere but here”?
I am not a train malcontent. I have music, books, and even a packet of YumYums.
Would my rural imaginings end up with a rash from hungry, unnoticed ants, or a hand cak-handedly put in a cow pat? Would I tire of walking, be lost on the hillside as the sun went down?
Who cares? That is not in my imagining now. I have even put a canvas bag with some beer, cheese and bread. I can’t feel any wind chill in my daydream.
It is like seeing that rural pub you’ll never sit in because you only pass it on the way to perform, and for me, that requires sobriety and a little paranoid edginess, not an open fire and some decent bitter. Maybe if I went into it, behind the timbered facade, would be wipe clean menus of microwaved food and banal brasses hung from the walls to please passing tourists who only have time for a half a bitter before their tour guide ushers them back on the coach after their full 17 minutes “English country pub experience”, next stop, an actor in a frilly bonnet will offer them small squares of “Jane Austen’s ginger cake” in Bath Spa.
Stopping at Hereford, I remember my first trip to the Hay Festival. Arriving with arranger and accordionist Martin White, we find ourselves waiting for a lift with Martin Amis. Martin W is an admirer of Martin A. He musters some conversation while we rock back and forth on our heels. “My name is Martin too”, he says cheerily. The conversational spur does lead to a gallop of words. We rock back on our heels again until the cars arrive. This year, I see Alan Yentob arrive with so much stuff that no else can fit in his cab. I presume it is mainly boxes of VHS tapes of his Cracked Actor David Bowie interview. At least he hasn’t brought his folding bike. He lifts his final item into the boot of the car, it is his folding bike.
I need some ephemerol, the Saturday partygoers, or Chase and Status visitors as they will be tonight. They are not repugnant, just drinking, though one is talking to like a Soho creative fresh from the powder room. His speed of words is cutting into my reading brain, he makes me feel that my onstage delivery is quite lethargic. Chipping and chopping between anecdotes of festival friends hopelessly staggering for a tent they have long forgotten the location of, rapidly drawn battle plans of post gig drinking, and jovial stories of Scarface length lines of cocaine on a gunky table – Withnail says, “say hello to my little friend” while wearing washing up gloves.
I have been listening to Voices in a Rented Room – New Bums, Distraction Pieces – Scroobius Pip, White Lunar by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.
I am approaching Cardiff and trying to remember the St Mary’s Street pub where a man with eyes so drunk I didn’t know if his intention was murder or embrace, asked me, “are you the Fonz?” For safety’s sake, I gave a reply that was affirmative, negative, jovial, and concerned.
Looking at all the booze drunk and to be drunk by those around me, I hope they end the night happy, not like that decline of love and concern that ends up with shouting and pitta as a weapon.
tour continues, frequently with Grace Petrie too, harrogate, egham, sutton cold field, london, bath, bristol, alnwick and GOOLE AND BRIDGWATER amongst many others, details HERE
part of the foolish music podcast I do with Michael Legge is HERE