August 13, 2016
Saturday, 13 August, 2016
In a van headed north
Current listen: Deceit – This Heat
Hello sweet and loyal internet denizens,
PF Hotseats here, once again reporting to you from a moving vehicle. Don’t worry, I’m not currently driving, and my seatbelt is fastened. We know some bands like to play it fast and loose when it comes to safety, but not us! Before every trip begins, our band Safety Officer – Edward “Eyes Front” Brogan – checks everybody’s helmet, 5-point harness, and (of course) cup to make sure we are protected from any and all hazards. Sure there’s some chafing, oh, you’ll have some chafing, but the piece of mind that we are protecting America’s most valuable assets makes all the hassle well worth any soft tissue inconvenience. Plus, you’d be amazed at the variety and innovation taking place in the modern lotion industry. To look at us walk and perform, you’d never know!
We are just leaving the town of Whitby, home of Bram Stoker – creator of Dracula, the most famous vampire - and Captain Cook – the culture vampire (sorry England, but really, it’s not clear to me that he had a net positive effect on a global scale. I mean, sure, any of us could be eaten by cannibals, but it takes a special kind of invader to find oneself in that situation to begin with). We had a great gig at the Coliseum Centre (yep, I get to spell things like that while I’m over here) last night, fueled by large and delicious fish and chips platters. Nothing like copious grease to get those fingers sliding across the strings! The English audiences really like to keep us guessing. They are so unfailingly polite during the show, it’s often hard for our lizard brains to know whether we are succeeding, or stunning them into disapproving silence! Of course it’s the former, and we had a lot of good conversation following the show.
The night before we had a great time at the Fringe-By-The-Sea in Great Berwick (“Berrick”), performing to a sold out spiegeltent. This time, it was “La Gaiete.” This makes our third spiegeltent, and they remain amazing to us: that these wondrous constructions of wood, glass, and mirrors move around and can be found all over the European continent. There’s nothing really like them in the US of A, which only means that there’s a market! And, of course, ours will have to be huuuuuuuge! So huge.
Speaking of huge, off the coast of North Berwick is a small (though tall) island called “Bass Rock,” upon which resides a massive colony of gannets. According to the very helpful gentleman who turned Jake and me away from the shorebird educational centre because we didn’t want to pay, over 150,000 gannets live there from January to October. Now, setting aside the smell, which must be powerful, wouldn’t you want to be a gannet? Just hanging out with 149,999 of your best friends, squawking and diving for fish with your powerful beak? Just preening and pooping whenever you want, then flying thousands of miles for some different fishy fare? Ah to be a gannet . . . or maybe I just want some more fish.
Behind the wheel is our tormentor and mother hen, Gerry “Tough Luck” Roche. He had a series of van mishaps over the last 3 days, beginning before our tour even commenced. Let’s go ahead and make a timeline, shall we?
1) Gerry gets a new van, finally retiring the “Womb of Woe” that he’d been driving for years (thank all that is good in the world! We back seat riders definitely lost brain cells to exhaust fumes over our many months in that metal box)
2) After less than a month, the new van breaks a timing chain on the M6. “The van was running great,” says Gerry.
3) On his way to pick us up from Gatwick, Gerry’s rental van has what might be described as a minor mishap – the side of the engine fell off about 80 miles north of London on the M40. He spent 4 hours on the side of the freeway, got towed to London, then had to source another van, all while we were in the air.
4) We did get a van, and Gerry drove us to North Berwick for our first gig, and then had to turn right around and return the (2nd) rental van to London, then fly BACK to Scotland, get yet another rental, and meet us back at North Berwick the following morning.
5) As of yesterday, we’ve had to stop once to pull a loose piece of plastic off of the bottom of the van. Who knows what today’s adventure will bring?
So, to recap, over the last 4 days, Gerry has driven the length of England 3 times in 3 different vans. Hard luck doesn’t really describe it. He must have ridden a black cat underneath a ladder factory and straight into a broken mirror shop, spilling a few thousand gallons of salt along the way, all this after having invested heavily in cursed monkeys’ paws. And still he manages to find the energy to keep up a steady stream of quips, insults, angry outbursts, and miscellaneous historical and literary trivia. Whatever he’s got, it should be bottled (it already comes from a bottle, so it shouldn’t be so hard to put it back in).
Tonight we play in Dundee. We had a great gig there in May of 2015, and are hoping to see some familiar faces. At some point, however, all faces start to look familiar. You begin to believe that you’ve met everyone you see at some point in your travels. It’s not especially helpful.
Running list of notable town names we’ve passed thus far:
- Low Cocklaw (I think I’ve mentioned this one before)
- Cockle Park
- Seaton Burn
More to come!
PF Hotseats et al.