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I set off on Friday night full of the joys of BEER, ready for an EXCELLENT weekend featuring The Peterborough Beer Festival and Hibbettfest. I had a very pleasant journey on the WAGN (or whatever the slow train is called now) and trotted off to meet my Step-papa. I saw him waiting, waved, and realised... hang on, didn't I have a GUITAR with me?
PANIC! I RAN back across the bridge, tripped, went FLYING across the tarmac and REALLY hurt my knee. Ooh, it is still a SEEPING WOUND even now! I LIMPED BRAVELY to the train, went to my carriage and saw it had gone. i RAN back and forth through the carriages looking for it, AFEARED in the knowledge that this train would soon be heading back to London, until I found the driver who told me the cleaner had picked it up. A DASH to Lost Property, where they told me it'd be in another office, so I collected Chris and EXPLAINED things to him (I was very impressed that at no point did he say "You bloody idiot". I thanked him for this later and he pointed out that he didn't really NEED to SAY it. True) then we went to a portakabin where a man asked me CUNNING QUESTIONS like "what sort of guitar is it?" to CHECK it was mine. He didn't CHECk what kind of guitar it WAS, but he did take my name and address, just in case. Because there's no way to fake your name and address, I guess?
Anyway, it was with some RELIEF that I got dropped off and went for MANY BEERS with Robin, Mileage, Guesty and later The Parents. AGE seems to have caught up with us somewhat - not only are there rather a LOT more grey hairs on some of us, but Mileage left at 10pm and we left only an hour later, rather than hanging around until final kicking out time at MIDNIGHT as usual.
I was still KNACKERED when I got up next morning, mind you, and so thoroughly enjoyed the LENGTHY journey from Peterborough to Birmingham (via NOTTINGHAM due to Rail Repairs in Oakham) and then on to Sandwell & Dudley, where Ray's Dad picked me up for HIBBETTFEST, the annual FESTIVAL that takes place in his parents' back garden.
We had a LOVELY time I must say - there was beer and a HUGE array of Vegan GRUB, including some superfantastically delicious SAUSAGE ROLLS which were AMAAAZING. Also, CURRY. It was thus a rather WIDENED Hibbett who got up and, slightly nervously at first, gave the assembled throng a run through of Dinosaur Planet. It felt a bit strange at first to be doing the JOKES in the formal way in front of 9 people sat on plastic garden furniture, but I persuaded myself that I had to do it PROPERLY to make it work and, anyway, before long I was into the EXCITING BITS over which I have no choice but to be EXCITED. I thoroughly enjoyed it, utilising all the changes since Edinburgh AND even putting some new bits in. That TOUR must happen!
Then it was time to get the TAXI into Brum where we visited The Wellington, a GRATE Proper Pub. It was soon time for me to limp to Snow Hill and get another slow train (which, due to REPAIRS elsewhere, was actually faster than the Virgin "quick" train) back home. It was a mightly long way down rock and roll, but it was GRATE!
The End Of The Month
It's The Last Working Day Of The Month again (non-UK citizens: BANK HOLIDAY on Monday, WHOO!) which means it's time for this month's NEWSLETTER.
Quite exciting this month as, for the first time in YEARS, there are NO GIGS listed! None at all! I'm playing at HibbettFest in Ray's Mum's Back Garden tomorrow but after that I've got over FIVE WEEKS before I play another gig - after which we fall HEAVILY back into action with Totally Acoustic, a BATCH of UK gigs and then - HOORAH! - our mini-tour of (bits of) Germany.
I'm a bit nervous about the break as there is a small (well, not that small) slightly paranoid (not really "slightly") part of me that thinks STOPPING for more than a week will make everyone completely forget about me. There's a rather larger part of me, however, that is REALLY EXCITED about it - after all the ACTION of the past six months there's a WHOLE LOT of books and comics that I've got piled up ready to read, STACKS of DVDs, lovely PEOPLE to see NOT AT GIGS, a lovely HOME to lurk around in, and lots and lots of long delayed SORTING OUT to do. It's going to be GRATE!
It appears that some of our songs are now available on Spotify - I think this is probably Quite Exciting, but to be honest I'm not really sure how it works. Spotify is so far turning out to be the MILESTONE in my Road Of Technology that says "GO NO FURTHER". I sailed through Myspace, Facebook and even twitter, I spent many happy days lodging in iPod Town, but Spotify appears to be a step too far. It is the metaphorical New Video Player that I am never going to work out how to use, and will probably have to find a Neighbour's Son to come round and re-set the clock on for me.
But if you're NOT befuddled by the advance of THE FUTURE then I mention this in order that you can have a LOOK. I'm informed that not all the albums are there - when I first put our stuff up for digital uploads I did it via the marvellous people at CD Baby (and only stopped because, being in the US of A, it took AGES to get stuff to them for uploading) and I do vaguely recall an email from them saying they'd done a deal with Spotify, so I guess it's those albums that've got on, not the more recent ones.
It's all very modern anyway and I'd love to investigate further, but the kids next door have just kicked their ball into my yard AGAIN, and I've got to go out and stab it with my garden fork. WHY I OUGHTA!
ITEM! The long awaited review of Dinosaur Planet finally appeared in Threeweeks and, EXCITINGLY, in CMU as well. It's a bit odd tho - it's a "four star" review but reads like a bit less, whereas the two "three star" ones read like more. That, I suppose, is SHOWBUSINESS.
ITEM! A rather strange review in Room Thirteen ("where music rocks") where the reviewer struggles somewhat with the fact that he doesn't like it, and wonders aloud, it seems, whether this might be because he's a bit of a wanker. That's the sort of impression I got anyway - he actually sounds like a nice enough chap, and when he says "Sadly for the band, this reviewer much prefers the music from studied cool bands compared to the cheesy and thumbs aloft whacky tunes that the more relaxed characters seem to release" two thoughts occur: 1. I think we'll bear the sadness 2. he sounds like he's trying to convince himself, doesn't he? This was one of the review copies sent out by that PR Company, who seem to have gone to great lengths to send it out to people who won't like it!
ITEM! Rather less troublesome is a review by Mr Ned Raggett over on the All Music Guide, where he DOES seem to get it - and best of all compares me to THE HIP HOP! Heck yes!
ITEM! And finally, not a review but some GIG NEWS: Totally Acoustic is BACK! I've just booked the first one of the NEW SEASON for October 6th, with Gavin Osborn and Winston Echo. It will be, I think, MEGA!
So, I went off to London's Medialand yesterday afternoon to do a THING. I'm not supposed to say too much about it as it's for a COMMERCIAL that hasn't happened yet, but basically it was some people doing an ADVERT THING who wanted to make a DEMO FILM to show to THE BOSS to give them a rough idea of what it would be like if they did it PROPER. The upshot of this was me and five other Music Types hanging around for an hour then having a bit of a JAM.
The JAM was really good fun - it's AGES since I've sat around with people I don't really know and played music, YEARS really, so it was actually Quite Exciting to have DIFFERENT people doing The Drummer Signal or to find us all quietening down or speeding up together. I played UKELELE and when it started asked that we do something EASY as I can't play that many chords on it. I'd like to think this makes me INSPIRATIONAL.
Then we went and did it again on camera outside a SHOP which was also, to my surprise, quite good fun, as people came and LOOKED at us (more attracted by the video camera than the MUSIC, I guess) ROCKING OUT. I'd been a bit worried about it all beforehand but it seemed to go OK, and then we went for a DRINK.
And that was that - they might be doing a big CAMPAIGN about it, but as everyone else there was SIGNIFICANTLY more Youthful and Photogenic than me I somehow doubt you'll be seeing me in it, but it was INTERESTING to be a part of something like that, and to see how it all works. I'd love to say more about it but i said I wouldn't - but if it DOES actually happen I look forward to BANGING ON about it for the entire duration!
Sometimes I am ITCHING to get out there and ROCK, sometimes I am too KNACKERED and want to go to bed and sometimes... well, sometimes it's a lovely sunny day with not much else to do except lie around in the garden eating tasty food, drinking long cool drinks and listening to Exciting Cricket.
When I say "sometimes" i mean "incredibly rarely" but it was certainly the case on Sunday as, with my thumb on the Ashes Updates on my phone I struck out for ANGEL where I was due to do the VICTORY LAP of Dinosaur Planet at The Hangover Lounge.
I arrived to find a healthy does of all SORTS of people had turned up, and spent the next hour or so happily drinking beer and chatting away, it was LOVELY. The beginning of the show was slightly delayed by a Staff Training Session going upstairs, and we knew it had finished when a sudden stream of HAIRCUTTED YOUTH stormed down the stairs. Aah, The Young People and their haircuts, where do they find the time and money for it? I thought there was a recession on - ee, it was all ripped jeans and thunderbird wine in my day!
It was time for an Emergency Wee - just as i went IN to the loo someone said "7 wickets now!" IN the toilet someone else said "8 wickets!" and when i came OUT i got a text saying "9 WICKETS!" Maybe I should go to the loo more often at Crucial Cricketing moments?
ANYWAY I went upstairs to help Steve and Jerv sort the seating out, came back down to get a beer, then went back up to suddenly find LOADS of people were sitting down, waiting expectantly. Steve did the intro and we were OFF and, I must say, I think it went rather well. I had some difficulty with my voice - I was back to doing it Totally Acoustically and it was a LARGE room so I found myself SHOUTING somewhat. I had a Medicinal Brandy halfway through which, as usual, really helped but also, as usual, made me feel a bit SQUIFFY.
This manifested itself in a few more mistakes than usual, but it didn't matter I don't think as everyone seemed to be VERY willing to have a LARF, and so I ended up showing off a bit/even more than usual, including doing a BIT about the reason I often get distracted (THINKING about Space DInosaurs) and made a few minor changes here and there.
It was MUCH FUN anyway, and I settled back to a bit more chat including a rather lengthy/GRATE discussion of JUDGE DREDD. I never really talk about that sort of thing in the open air, but as there was a WRITER of Judge Dredd there I felt I was safe. I recommended he read the (nearly) weekly Amazing Spider-Man too, as I would recommend it to EVERYONE as it is as close as The Americans can GET to THRILL POWER without just reprinting 2000AD.
As i say, i don't often talk abut it in the open and you can probably guess why. Still, a LOVELY time was had and it was a happy, slightly tiddly, Hibbett who arrived home to find it was chips and curry for tea. A perfect end to the day!
The Secret Wedding
Myself and The Legally Binding Vows In My Wedding Ceremony headed off to ESSEX after work on Friday to go and see some old pals who had asked us to be witnesses at their SECRET WEDDING. It was all very jolly, especially that evening as we set out to see them off in some style, with CHAMPAGNE, WINE, and then a trip into Saffron Walden for the PUB. There was a band playing in the pub who instantly reminded me of the bands I used to play with in about 1992 when Voon were first going. They were EXACTLY like them - huge piles of equipment (way beyond the dreams of the likes of us, who could only just manage to get a couple of extremely cheap shopping catalogue guitars between us, never mind amplifiers), LENGTHY guitar solos, and a mild level of pomposity, as if they were playing a HUGE STADIUM, rather than a room in a pub. My old reactions flooded back as i began to HATE them, but this soon dissipated as I began to enjoy how ridiculous it all was - it was EXACTLY like a gig from back then, but with everyone nearly 20 years older. All their mates were down the front getting really into it, EXACTLY as they had been back then except now with a lot less hair and an wide array of bored looking teenage children sat nearby, and at the back were the obligatory pair of SUPER FANS who knew ALL the worlds and sang along convinced that any second now Mr Big From Big Records would turn up to SIGN THEM.
A few songs in the guitarist launched into a FIVE MINUTE GUITAR SOLO. The singer sat down cross legged to look up at him, fingers templed, a look of serious appreciated and concentration across his face. The drummer (who was, in accordance with the LAW for early 90s drummers, CONSTANTLY twiddling his drum sticks between fills) ALSO sat on the floor, as did the Keyboard player and bass player. It was AMAAAZING. Shortly after THAT The Pickups On My Slap Bass went outside and got talking to A Friend Of The Band who told her they really WERE a band from 20 years ago! They'd broken up when the guitarist had fallen ill and had done nothing for 18 years, at which point he'd got most of the old band back together and they'd headed out to play the old songs once again! FANTASTIC!
Most of us felt rather less fantastic next morning as our hangovers took hold but we BRAVELY stomped out into the gorgeous sunshine to make our appointment at the Town Hall. The wedding was due for 10am but we got there at 10 past. There was some signing of forms and then the ceremony itself began early, at 20 past, and finished ten minutes later! It was the quickest wedding i have EVER been to!
The main reason for the SPEED was that it was all stripped right down to the BARE BONES. The Couple Concerned had been together for YEARS and were only doing it because they're moving to a country where Tax Laws mean it's am EXTREMELY good idea to get married, so they didn't want too much fuss about it, but it still managed to be surprisingly lovely. I've been to a few registry office weddings and they do tend to make a fuss about it being non-religious and LEGAL, but even when you get right down to the absolute BRASS TACKS of it it's still got LOVE and COMMITMENT and, you know, MOVING WORDS at the very centre. There were TEARS, and not just from me either!
Also, it has to be said, keeping it LEAN like that means there's no time to get BORED and before we knew it myself and The Ink In My Pen were signing the registry as witnesses and then back out into the sunshine. We went for a celebratory cup of tea and then that was that - we were heading back to London while they were packing up to DRIVE TO SWITZERLAND!
It's been a very secretive couple of days here, as a number of things have occurred which i CANNOT SPEAK OF.
On Wednesday I was trudging into work, idly thinking about how nice it would be to have something land in my lap that would give me sufficient CA$H not to have to worry about having to go to WORK... when the phone rang. It was [UNNAMED PERSON] with news of a quite exciting [THING] which, unbeknownst to me, I had been SHORTLISTED for. I spoke to [SECOND UNNAMED PERSON] later in the day and arrived at work YESTERDAY with my guitar ready to go to a meeting at [SECRET LOCATION] to DISCUSS it. I then got a call to say it'd been POSTPONED, possibly not happening at ALL now - it was a little bit disappointing (I'll give the FULL FACTS when I am ALLOWED) but also a little bit relieving. If it had happened it would have been a HUGE DEAL that would take up most of my time for the next few months, so not having to worry about THAT was quite nice, although other aspects of it would have been GRATE. We'll see!
Then I got an email back from [SOMEONE... actually that's getting annoying, sorry. I got an email from someone who'd asked me to do a fairly groovy sounding storytelling-type gig a while ago. I'd not heard from him for AGES so emailed to find out what was going on to discover that I'd been BUMPED in favour of someone PROPER FAMOUS. I can't really complain, if it was ME booking the gig then I'd DEFINITELY have wanted to see him playing instead of me, and i AM me! Hopefully I'll get to go and see it all, which would be rather good, but I'm not sure I'm supposed to actually tell people about it.
It's quite exciting all this secrecy... and it continues this weekend as myself and The Rice In My Confetti are off to a wedding. A SECRET WEDDING! No no, don't get excited, it's not US, it's some PALS, but it is SECRET! WHOOO!!
Dinosaurs On The Streets Of Edinburgh
I put this on my TWITTER (SO modern) the other day, but forgot to mention it here: it's a vidoe of Steve in The Space Dinosaur Costume!
I did a freeze frame at the start of the bit with the little kids in just because i LOVE that bit, and you miss it otherwise. Also, please note THE DINOSAUR WALK in action, who says Street Theatre is dead?
Sweeping Up The Sawdust
And so life gently beds down into normality, with the odd scrap left here and there to finish off before this year's Festival gets tidied up and put in the big box of Delightful Memory. Largest Looming amongst these is our VICTORY LAP, when we perform the Whole Darn Show again at The Hangover Lounge this Sunday. It's happening at The Lexington on Pentonville Road in That London, the afternoon commencing with BEER from 2pm-ish onwards, and DINOSAUR PLANET being performed upstairs at 5pm. If you're about in This London at the weekend do pop along, I'm REALLY looking forward to it!
Elsewhere there's a review in Fest Magazine which comes a little late to BOOST NUMBERS but is very nice nonetheless. I tell you what tho, these music reviewers are a bit MISERLY with their stars - we get three AGANE despite a pretty GLOWING review, whereas the comedy listings seem to dole out four and fives WILLY NILLY. Maybe we should swallow our pride and make the LEAP next year into The Section Everybody Else Is In?
There's a number of things to think about - going for a bit longer, doing some t-shirts, entering the five pound fringe etc etc - but I am trying to HOLD FIRM to my resolve NOT to think too much about them until at LEAST when The Festival itself is over!
The Final Day
Our last full day in Edinburgh dawned, as so many before it had done, shortly before NOON and myself and The Hewitts were up, about and into town at the ungodly hour of about 2pm. Steve went to do some Space Dinosaur Flyering, Meg and I went to the PUB. After the previous day's Slightly Too Sober performance it was VITAL to the artistic process to get my beer levels correct. IT WAS FOR ART. In the pub I said to Meg "Do you think Steve might dance THE HORNPIPE in costumer today?" If you have seen the show you will know this is not the most ridiculous question to ask. She told me no, he probably wouldn't do such a thing.
Re-united we trooped off to the venue to get set up, and were soon MILDLY BESEIGED by people coming in, lots of people! All right, probably not as much as whoever's in The Big Pleasance Room, but still it felt good to us, including as it did many pals and especially Mr Ben Moor, who had recently arrived in town for the book festival. It also featured someone who we'd bumped into on the way there, requiring a second flyer as a) she'd lost hers but b) really wanted to come. EFFECTIVE FLYERING!
Maybe it was the end of term feeling, maybe it was the drink levels, probably it was just the fact that we had a nice big crowd, but for some or all of these reasons it was the best show YET. There were extra laughs, there was Dramatic Physical Enactment and, best of ALL, there was a display of THE DINOSAUR HORNPIPE! Afterwards we agreed that if only Steve had done this in ALL the shows we would DEFINITELY have five star reviews. AND A WEST END RUN READY BOOKED.
Full of the joys of ROCK we retired to The Pleasance Dome, before I thought it best to nip home and drop off the guitar and my bag, which contained a recording of the show. That done we descended into a gentle toddle around a few pubs, getting to hear "National Shite Day" appear unexpectedly on the jukebox in The Oold Hoose before I had to admit defeat and head home early, KNACKERED.
Next day we were up the earliest we had been all week, pretty much, to do a big tidy up before the ceremonial Throwing Away Of Unused Flyers. It was a MARVELLOUS moment and felt very much like the end of the run. All that was left to do was HIKE to the station and enjoy a CALM but LENGTHY trip back to London.
We said our goodbyes, resolving to meet again this coming Sunday (at The Hangover Lounge at 5pm for the VICTORY LAP - if you're in London come along, it's FREE!). As I trudged home on the tube I thought "Aah well, that's a week and several previous weekends hanging around in places where everyone is REALLY NICE. Suppose I'd better prepare for London Miserables now." However, just as I turned the corner into the alley at the end of my street I noticed an extremely fluffy black and white cat looking at me, standing halfway through some railings. I said hello and carried on my way, when someone came the other way and said "Is that cat all right? Is it stuck?" we both turned to go and check, both said hello to it and, possibly nervous of the attention, it SCARPERED. "That's all right then" said the mysterious stranger and, with a smile and a wave, headed off. I went home with a great big glow inside me.
A Taste Of Normalcy
Friday got off to a VERY civilised start as I basically sat around the house doing NORMAL type things. There was telly, there was laundry, and there was even a proper lunch (bought from Ye Olde Worlde Vegetarian Shoppe) with PASTA and EVERYTHING. Lovely!
This was all due to the fact that showtime wasn't until 3.30pm, and I felt VERY virtuous getting into Medina just after 3pm having not had a DROP of booze passing my lips. This did, however, appear to make things feel a little bit hard going for me - it seemed to be extra dark too and as there were only a few people in I couldn't see or hear much to work out if people were enjoying it. I think they did!
I then heading out into the CHUCKING RAIN to go and play a spot at Marcus Ryan's Preview Show over on Leith Street. I'd love to do more things like this and I had a LOVELY time doing a few non-Dinosaur songs, including "Boom Shake The Room" when, for the first time EVER, I did "Are you ready for me yet?" and a lone still voice said "No." The whole hour was really good, especially Marcus Ryan himself. There was an amazing difference between speaking to him beforehand and during the show, when he seemed very nervous and shy, and then seeing him on stage being very confident and even doing the whole "where are you from" bit with LARFS.
I then STORMED back across town, hoping to drop my guitar off and have time to see Anna And Katy. However, just as I was closing in on MEdina I realised they were at a More Distant Venue than I thought so, once I'd barged past the LARGE queue for the Doctors' show later, I decided to SWITCH SHOW and went to see the slightly later Hugh Hughes instead. It was LOVELY - very theatrical really and moving, also very different and GRATE. EVeryone walked out into the rain smiling and feeling WARMED.
I met The Hewitts and we went for a Surprisingly Nice tea in, i think, The Fat Cow - loud music, bouncers on the door, shiny furnishings and screaming crowds of Young People, it all said "FLEE!" to me, but the food, also service, were dead good. IT was also handy for The Teviot where we FINALLY got to see Axis Of Awesome who were brilliant. We've seen some EXTREMELY good stuff this year and they were one of the BEST, though the EDGE was taken off things for me a bit at the start when we walked into THE ROOM OF TERROR! The room where, all those years ago, Simon and I, then just ME, DIED A TERRIBLE COMEDY DEATH for six long hours. I joke about it but it did really HIT me and, all this time later, I still felt a bit AFEARED.
All was well by the time the show finished so we popped into The Blue Blazer for a quick drink, finding it full of AN ORCHESTRA, so wandered into The Grassmarket for a couple more. Living in That London I've got out of the habit of having several nice pubs within walking distance of my house, so it was a DELIGHT to be reminded of what a handy thing that can be. We ended up talking to some people from Dumfries before wending our happy way home.
And that's nearly it - one more show, one more sleep, and this time tomorrow we'll be waiting for our train home. It's gone VERY quickly, and it's been GRATE!
Also, A Motor Rally
I forgot to mention, probably because it is such a common event, that yesterday morning there was a cross country rally car rally taking place outside our front door.
There'd been noise all morning but all looked normal from the windows, but 30 seconds down the street towards the castle we were suddenly in the middle of a car rally. There were huge vans for mechanics, medical centres, TV cameras and lights, a huge PA broadcasting a live interview and loads of heavily advertised cars pulling into position, ready for a race up the hill. There had been no evidence of it whatsoever the night before, and when we came home last night it had all disappeared again, like it had all been a very strange dream.
The Edinburgh Festival is an extremely rum old place!
Whole Lotta Showbusiness
Yesterday we set out with a firm intent to see some SHOWS, and DID. Yet another ROUTE MARCH across this fine city found us back at The Canon's Gait to see Rich Sandling's Perfect Movie. It was LOVELY - he seemed like such a nice bloke that it was hard not to join in with the show and CHAT to him, but that appeared to be what he was after as he asked people for their favourite movies and was very funny INDEED about them. He was so good, in fact, that we decided to stroll back to The Pleasance to see his other show, Kiosk Of Champions, which was ALSO dead good. In the interim we sat around a bit and FORCED some flyering. The Hewitts went and did some Dinosaur Chat, I RAN round Hullaballoo throwing flyers at people and then hiding. ADVERTISING!
I also got a call from The Herald asking for a picture, and managed to talk the chap through downloading one from the webpage. Whether it would be a good review or just one saying "Look at this idiot!" i did not know.
More lurking round trying to flyer led me to bump into John The Publisher, who'd come up specially to see the show, which was IMMENSELY cheering, as we'd only sold 3 tickets. Things got even cheerier as LOADS more people turned up on the door - 20 people may not sound like a HUGE AUDIENCE to the likes of J Bon Jovi or C Martin but it felt pretty marvellous to me. We also had yet ANOTHER reviewer in, this time from Fest... which won't come out until we've gone, but still. He was wearing a DINOSAUR T-SHIRT which I hope bodes well, althought what if he's a DINOSAUR PURIST?
Anyway, the show was, I reckon, the best yet, even if i DID get a bit over-excited and almost miss out TEN MINUTES of it by leaping straight past the theme tune. EDITTING WIZARDRY saved the day tho. It was all caused by a change to the start,lopping off the whole bit about "War Of The Worlds" and going straight into the OVERTURE. I think i worked, I'll try it that way again tonight, hopefully without messing everything else up!
Afterwards we went to the PUB for some PUB GRUB, also BEER, and then wandered over to The Teviot to see Old Rope again. It was really rather good, there was Chris Martin (not that Chris Martin), a girl doing her first ever stand-up who was surprisingly good, a Posh Bald Man whose name I can't remember (but who involved Dr Thomson in discussion of ARRESTS) and then Rhys Darby who, despite me never really getting into The Flight Of The Conchords (TOO CLOSE TO TRUTH), was very very funny indeed.
There was then only time for a quick visit to The Blue Blazer for lasties before bedtime. I awoke this morning, however, to some good news on the review front - I'd been slightly AFEARED of what The Herald would say, but they ended up being very complimentary and then Mr S McHugh gave us a GRATE review over in Is This Music?. HOORAH!
A nice start to the day which will see us switching to a 3.30 show. Hopefully this will engender a less pub-based approach to the show, but we can only wait and see. In the meantime, for me at least, itis LAUNDRY DAY! ROCK AND ROLL!
posted by MJ Hibbett, (click here for permanent link)
Day Of Dynamism
Yesterday found The Mattress On My Bed and I up and about INCREDIBLY early, also EXCITED, to go and visit The Museum Of Fire. When we arrived the chap on the desk was telling a colleague how incredibly busy the day had been, so we thought it must be RAMMED, were soon collected by Keith, one of the two chaps in charge who was going to give us a guided tour.
He was GRATE, the whole Museum was GRATE, it was just GRATE. For the next hour and a quarter we strolled around with him talking us through all the equipment, the history of the Fire Brigade in Edinburgh and in general, telling us how all their devices were devised and how things had changed over the years, commenting on the policy differences with regards to display between him and his colleague (who was escorting another couple round the building, the only other people we saw in there) and generally being ACE. We left feeling a bit giggly with the brilliance of it all, massive GRINS plastered over our faces.
We then had a FORCED MARCH across town in order to catch Four Sad Faces, the TROUPE who Steve and I had got up EARLY in the RAIN to see last year and missed because it'd been their day off. This time we DID see them and it was very funny, but the funniness was distracted by us thinking how lovely it was. The crowd seemed to be mostly split between Old Friends of theirs (they seemed to my jaded eyes to have all just left school) and PARENTS. When it finished the chap near us turned round and said to a LAD "Ah, Justin! How's University?" and he had to suddenly become POLITE. AAAH!! Apart from that it was jolly good, my favourite ASPECT being the way they did scene changes with a FLIP CHART which had different drawings on it. CLEVER.
Another STOMP up and down hills found us back home, via Ye Olde Vegetarian Shoppe round the corner which appeared to be recreation of such a shop from round about 1991 - no Linda McCartney, no junk food, just three or four dour looking incredibly expensive packets of dry stuff and some homemade hummus. The hummus was NICE.
Then we headed to the station, to say a sad farewell to The Wheels On My Engine as she was off back to That London. Once the waving was down I proceeded to get LOST as I staggered around New Town, eventually finding The Hewitts in The Outhouse, where we saw Mr Matt Brierley's show T-Rex: Pack Hunter. It was very good indeed, funny but also Actually Rather Interesting. It was sort of Dave Gorman-y and very likeable, especially the graphics and the FILM in the middle. I recommend it to you!
MORE lengthy walking got us back to our HOOD for a bit of flyering and then it was SHOWTIME again. It felt like a while since we'd done one but I consciously SLOWED DOWN a bit and I think it was the most PRECISELY WORDED one so far, even though I did get a bit distracted halfway through by various bits of people coming in and the bar guy changing some sound settings. People seemed to enjoy it tho, especially some (i think) German people who asked if i was a SCIENTIST. NOT OFFICIALLY. The only person who didn't seem THAT keen was, inevitably, the reviewer from The Herald, the same guy who saw us last year, but I guess we'll have to wait and see.
The rest of the evening was a bit of a jolly old wander round some PUBS where I caught bits of football and had several lengthy Pub Conversations before reaching home for a Late Tea of CHIPS. A BUSY BUSY day all round really, and now well over half way through!
Up With The Lark
Aah, the early mornings! How I pity those who lay abed all day, missing the joy of the near dawn that is 9am - truly, this is the best part of the day!
We're awake (not up and about yet mind, let's not go crazy, but very much conscious) because yesterday we made an APPOINTMENT with FIRE! Every day walking into or back from town we've walked past what appears to be ao museum containing fire engines, and looked longingly in, wandering what it might be. Yesterday we saw a sheet of A4 paper saying "Museum Of FIRE - Free Entry Today" had been stuck in the window so, after ten minutes to locate the unmarked door which allowed us entry, found ourselves WITHIN... where we found everyone had gone to LUNCH, but were able to make an appointment to go and see it TODAY!
Duly EXCITED we carried on with our mission to get some tickets for later. We were mostly succesful, although the young man on the desk was VERY strict with us, FORBIDDING us from buying tickets for one show that might clash with some others we'd already booked. CHASTENED we did as we were told then, as Mr Hewitt was collecting Mrs Hewitt, The Picture In My Frame and I headed off to The Scottish National Gallery!
Or, rather, The Scottish National Gallery Cafe, as that's where we spent most of our time. TOP HINT: If you go to the Scottish National Gallery Cafe for something to eat and/or drink it's important that you take something to eat and/or drink with you, as you will need it to survive the QUEUING TIME. They are not built for SPEED at The Scottish National Gallery Cafe.
We did have time for a SPRINT round some 14th Century Iconography (it was dead good, especially one of The Lives Of Saints that looked like it was from The Beano) before HIGH TAILING it to see our first show of the day, "Morecambe". I wanted to go and see it because i love Morecambe & Wise (my bookshelf will ATTEST to this) but wasn't sure what to expect. It was a one-man show and when it first came on I wasn't sure he'd got the voice right but within minutes it was like Eric was THERE, and the next 100 minutes was probably the BEST TIME i have EVER had in THE THEATRE. It was very funny, but also incredibly MOVING and I have no shame in saying I had a few TEARS at various points, usually ending with HUGE LARFS. He did The Famous Bits (huge round of applause for The Bag Trick, for instance) as he told Eric Morecambe's life story, but carried the whole thing off with love, respect and, as stated, a LOT of laughing. It was completely and utterly brilliant!
Afterwards we were sat in the courtyard with me QUAKING with THE EMOTION when I saw the actor coming out. After some prodding from The Hair On My Short Fat Hairy Legs i went over and got his autograph. He seemed very pleased to do so and excited about how well it was going - there'd been a RICHLY DESERVED Standing Ovation at the end of the show and he'd just heard that he'd got his third five star review. He deserved it, it was, as I may have mentioned, MEGA BRILL.
We then went off for a bit of an old wander round town before meeting The Hewitts at The Pleasance, where we went to see Pappy's Fun Club. I've read a lot about how good they are and Steve had highly recommended them, but this did not prepare me for seeing my SECOND completely GRATE show of the day. HOORAH! They were AMAZING - really really REALLY funny, but also LOVELY and SILLY and all round FAB. I look forward in a couple of years, when they're on telly EVERYWHERE, saying "yes yes, of course, I saw them before they was proper famous". ACE!
We then rounded off the evening with a delicious CURRY before The Hewitts went off to see another show and we went home for a CUPPA. A highly succesful day of SHOWS!
I Am THE FUTURE
You find me today IMPRESSED with THE FUTURE, for I have managed to connect my old laptop to WIFI. I have no idea how I did it, but it's AMAZING - I ALSO managed to get the washer dryer to DRY some clothes! Truly, we live in Amazing Times!
Anyway, yesterday we were up at the crack of NOON and into town to watch "SuperClump", a sketch show that was Actually Quite Good. It's YEARS - DECADES - since I last saw a sketch show, probably since I was last doing one myself, so it was a LOT of fun to see one again.
Then I popped to the train station to collect The Luggage In My Suitcase who'd arrived for a flying, much needed, visit, and we HIKED through a very busy Royal Mile HOME before heading back out again to meet Steve. We had a CONFLAB about what on earth we were going to go and see - everything is EITHER on when we are OR sold out - and then it was SHOWTIME.
I was a bit nervous about this one as I knew we had PRESS in, and this DID lead me to make an almighty cock-up, doing two songs the wrong way round but a bit of FAST EDITING saved it and I think it went OK. The reviewer lad seemed to be VERY SERIOUS throughout, so I somehow doubt we'll be getting FIVE STARS, but most people seemed very happy. It was odd - there were much less BIG LARFS as compared to yesterday but afterwards much GRINNING and NODDING OF HEADS. Perhaps the STORY is so CAPTIVATING it doesn't leave room for LEVITY?
Job done we headed across town, crossing Princes Street for the first time this week to see a chap called Rob doing a show called "Army Of Dorkness". It was good, tho contained slightly more Normal Stand-Up and slightly less Extreme Geekiness than I was expecting. He answered my question about the ending of "Watchmen" CoRRECTLY ("It's more elegant in the film") tho, so all was well.
We then popped nearby for TEA before a STROLL home, a quick LASTIES in The Blue Blazer (still GRATE) and then to bed. Today's a day off so we're up and about (well, nearly) and heading out for some show's in a minute, for LO! DAY OFF!
The Height Of Professionalism
Yesterday, true to our word, we did indeed see more shows and drink less beer before SHOWTIME, and it seemed to work out pretty darn well.
Our day began with a baked bean fuelled ATAK on The Royal Mile, with the Dinosaur/Dinosaur Support Team kicking into HIGH GEAR. After discussion and analysis we'd decided that having "It's a one man ROCK OPERA!" as out opening gambit wasn't working out, so we switched to "Space Dinosaurs Madam?" instead, which worked A LOT. Following this up with "Explosions! Car Chases! Giant Robots!" HOOKED IN all but the most determinedly anti-flyer, then we went for the kill with "IT's AN HOUR OF THRILLPOWER!"
If there's ever been a BETTER slogan than "AN HOUR OF THRILLPOWER!" then I have yet to hear it, and we retired VICTORIOUS for a well earned first pint of the day at 3 o'clock. Three o'clock! It's like we are MONKS or something!
We then went to see what would turn out to be our only show of the day, but WHAT a show it was - Gavin Osborn! I don't think I'd even really heard of him before we bumped into him in the street the other day, but Steve assured me I would like him and OH MY WORD but he was CORRECT. The easiest way to describe him in current company would be to say he's like an improved, refined, next level up version of ME. HIGH PRAISE INDEED!
What I mean to say is that he did similar sorts of things to me, but MUCH BETTER. He was FANTASTIC - an hour of AMAZING songs, all of them funny, romantic, deeply moving and TRUE. When he finished with his INCREDIBLE song about being over thirty I felt a) MOVED b) like I might as well RETIRE. I bought a CD and will DEFINITELY be going to see him again. A LOT! It was one of the best gigs I've seen in YEARS - anyone who comes up to The Fringe, he's on downstairs at the Tron at 3.45pm for a fiver, go and see him!
Now even MORE revved up we headed out for some FLYERING ACTION around the Hullaballoo and Potterrow, where I found new COURAGE to do it properly now that I was armed with "Space Dinosaurs Sir?" and "AN HOUR OF THRILLPOWER". I did still find some of it frightening tho, and I have yet to get used to the REJECTION. It's lovely when people look interested, but still DEVASTATING when they tell you to fcuk off. I am too DELICATE for The Commercial World!
Soon it was SHOWTIME - we knew we had nearly thirty tickets sold but then had an AVALANCHE of walk-ups so by the time I hit the stage there was nearly FIFTY people in there! WAHEY! This also made it the best show YET as there were LARFS APLENTY throughout - i still messed up a little bit but did at least find a way to get out of my ongoing confusion mixing up the words "Dinosaur" and "Giant Robot". It could happen to anybody!
Once everyone had been thanked (elsewhere in The Multiverse i am a VICAR shaking hands as people leave the wedding ceremony) we headed for the PUB with Mr Matt Brierley, who's doing a show about whether T-Rex was a pack hunter or not. Then there was TEA, a vague attempt to see if there was a show we could watch, and then BEER before I admitted defeat while Steve went off to a DO.
All in all it was a heady day in SHOWBIZ. Today The Boards Of My Stage arrives, we've got some reviewers coming, and we're hopefully going to see Richard Herring. Let's ROCK!
Met The Media
Yesterday began properly with a visit to Fringe Central for the Meet The Media event. There was a LARGE queue which we joined just behind someone in a chicken costume - honestly, the things some people will do for publicity! - and Steve had time to... er... change into the SPACE DINOSAUR costume as the queue slowly shuffled forwards.
We got in to find a succession of queues for the various media organisations that had turned up, and I went to see an online guide (who answered my pitch by saying "How interesting, go online and fill in a form to request a review" which made it all seem slightly pointless. Still, Steve was in the queue for 3Weeks who seemed more receptive when we got to the front, then we joined the queue for The Press Association which handily split in two, me staying on for them (who were also very easy to talk to, but appear to be only reviewing two shows a day) and Steve hanging on for The List. The man there had only just sat down so was still in Listening Mode and we did at least make him LARF with our GIDDY ENTHUSIASM.
I'm not sure that it'll make much difference to getting a review, but it was good fun hanging around chatting to other performers, including Matt who's doing the OTHER dinosaur show and some people who'd had The Curse Of Macbeth fall on their play ABOUT Macbeth- they're Lady Macbeth was in a road accident. We DID ask if she was OK - she is - before saying "That'll be a GRATE press story!" so we haven't gone TOTALLY Showbiz just yet...unlike the guy from The Sun who looked like he was in a student union production of NARNIA, playing The Lion as a particularly satirical portrait of The Bee Gees in their Disco Pomp. I think he may have MEANT to look like that, thinking it COOL, but more people seemed to take his picture than of those in Actual Costumes.
Our plans to then go and see a show were THWARTED by us being unable to find one we even vaguely wanted to see that was a) ON b) not sold out, so instead we went and did some flyering. Well, Steve did, I had a cup of tea and HID because I really don't like doing it, it FRIGHTENS me. He didn't have much luck so instead we went for a bit of a drink and felt a bit DESPONDENT.
Our DESPOND was soon lifted, however, by the site of someone wearing a Million Ukeleles t-shirt, OH MY that really cheered us up, and we went our seperate ways, Steve to do some more RE-POWERED Flyering, me to get set up, like men reborn.
Soon it was SHOWTIME and it all seemed to go pretty well. We'd sold FOUR tickets and got all excited when we DOUBLED that number of people coming through the door, especially when one of them was Adam Plimptons. There were a couple of bits GABBLED during the set and a verse of "A Little Bit" was re-written on the FLY but otherwise all was well and everyone seemed to enjoy it, so we went off with the freshly arrived Dr A Thomson for a WELL EARNED PINT.
That done we went an sat in The Teviot, where we felt VERY VERY OLD INDEED before going in to see The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre Company's show, which was dead funny VERY much in a BEANO style. There were some bits that were slightly rude but only in a Tipsy Uncle sort of way, and even the Swine Flu and Michael Jackson jokes felt like they were old friends come round for tea. It was lovely really, and the OLD OLD joke "You'd think he'd be able to spell 'can't'" got a HUGE laugh, possibly for the cheekiness of DOING it. It was GRATE and we left with BIG old smiles.
And then, I am proud to say, we came home for an "early" night, KNACKERED from all the showbiz. I watched Posh NARROWLY lose to Derby and then went to bed, where I found that The Swingers Club were back in full swing but didn't appear to be having quite as EXCLAMATORY night as last night, so I got a HEARTY night's sleep and now we're up and awake listening to the cricket. The plan today is to see MORE shows and drink LESS beer before hitting the stage - we've sold nearly 30 tickets tonight, we need to be on TOP form!
Greetings from scenic Edinburgh, where we're now fully ENSCONCED. Last night was our first show, which seemed to go pretty well. There were a few CHILDREN in, which was a bit worrying but they did not appear to be too MENTALLY SCARRED. Two of them fell asleep (after getting VERY involved with the Evisceration Section) but the other was SUPER KEEN. "I want a sequel. NOW!" he said afterwards. I had a grim foreboding of him working in a comic shop ten years hence, blaming ME.
The reason for the kids turning up was probably because of the DINOSAUR content, so i was glad for Steve's advice MONTHS ago to omit any swearing. I'm still a bit worried that we'll get LOTS of kids, mostly because of the DINOSAUR COSTUME. As long-threatened Steve has GOT a Space Dinosaur costume and spent a happy hour on the Royal Mail yesterday SCARING young children. Most of the seemed to enjoy it and only one actually cried, and we DID give quite a few out to adults, including the owner of Games Workshop!
We also bumped into comics illustrator Kev F who said "Aaah, PC 49 from Eagle!" when he saw the flyer's inners, and seemed to take it in his stride when I said "YOU'RE Kev F! OOH!" He's doing The Scottish Falsetto Sock Theatre thing, so hopefully we'll go and see that. We've only seen ONE show so far,"Old Rope", which was dead good BUT was in The Teviot which, twenty years (nearly) ago was The Fringe Club where I did The Gig That Ended My Career In Comedy. It was a LONG time ago and the room where it happened seems to have changed beyond (my) recognition, but the building itself still felt eerily familiar and I did get a twinge of THE FEAR to be there again.
In other news, our flat is very nice, although it is in a somewhat "mixed" neighbourhood. On the plus side we have an almost TOO NICE pub 30 seconds from our front door, The Blue Blazer, which we've already popped into a couple of times. It's LOVELY - if i don't see any more shows it's because I was in THERE. On the downside the area is apparently known as The Pubic Triangle due to the LARGE number of strip clubs. It's a little disconcerting to see strippers on their fag break as we wander into town, and MORE than disconcerting to hear The Swingers Club next door in full SWING, as I did last night!
All in all though things are going GRATE so far - very long lie-ins, delicious BEER, curry and ROCK have been the order of the day, let's hope it continues thus for the next week!
Collywobbles And Communism
YIPES! You discover me this morning all of a WITTER, as I am mid-packing for Edinburgh. I'm meeting Mr Hewitt and lunchtime on the TRANE heading NORTH and I'm WHITTLING about packing everything I need, catching the train OK, finding the flat etc etc. I had a DISTURBED night full of dreams of FORGETTING and HASSLE and RUNNING and ... er... taking Leonard Rossiter's place in a revised combination of The Count Of Monte Cristo and the original Reggie Perrin. Which was set in Peterborough.
Hopefully tomorrow I'll just have the MILD CONCERN about actually doing The Show... and people coming, and the venue still letting us have our slot, and remembering the words and AAAAAARGH! PANIC!
CALM! CALM! I'm going to take my laptop with me to record EVENTS, and hopefully I'll find a way to update these pages while I'm away, but if you're SUPER EAGER to know what's going on I'd heartily advise watching my twitter page, as I'm bound to updating that one A LOT. THRILL as I report how the show goes! GASP as we go for yet another curry!
Having gone on about how GRATE it is to go ABROAD and get fed and watered at gigs, I do have to draw back slightly and say there is at least ONE place in England you can ROCK where they DO feed and water you: The Green Dragon in Croydon. For LO! that is where the glamorous trail of ROCK took me last night, and I enjoyed an EXTREMELY nice Vegetable Kiev. Ooh, I've not had anything like that for AGES and it was DELICIOUS.
As was the BEER, or at least the beer they had left, as there'd been a BEER FESTIVAL over the weekend which had been rather more popular than expected. There was a lot of CIDER left over tho!
The gig itself all went swimmingly - two bands had had to drop out, but Liz Crawford stepped in, introduced by a CROW. I think the crow may actually have been some sort of PUPPETRY, but the ILLUSION was made slightly spooky by the fact that they'd set it up with a MICROPHONE. Even when I was on stage myself and could see BEHIND THE MYSTERY the fact that the crow was talking into its own microphone was enough to slightly FREAK me OUT.
It MAY be that that's why I was slightly nervous, or that may be because I wasn't expecting to go straight on and spent a sizeable part of the gig needing a WEE, but that's how I felt as I attempted to do an abbreviated version of Dinosaur Planet. It SEEMED to go OK - I cut out a couple of songs, which was fine, but cutting out half the TALKING and JOKES made it feel very strange indeed, especially in the first half where there's LOTS of it. By the time we got into the second half and the ROCK EPIC things felt a lot smoother, and although i DID forget a couple of words it was nice to know MOST of it is safely in my BRANE ready for Friday.
After that there was just time for a quick chat with a few delightful people who'd come along special and then it was Superman Revenge Squad, who was FANTASTIC. I've seen him several times and he's always been GRATE but i think this was probably the best I've seen him - it may be the Crow Introduction that did it, but he seemed even MORE Urgent and Angry than usual, and there were LOADS of brilliant new songs. Afterwards he said they were less funny and more SAD, but I seemed to have listened to all of it with a big LIFE AFFIRMED GRIN. I'm not sure that that's the idea, but he expresses GLOOM so eloquently and with such FLAIR that I can't help it.
And then it was the long voyage home, full of the knowledge that our next stop for the ROCK TRAIN will FINALLY be Edinburgh. I'd better get packing!
It's been brought to my attention that I made an ERROR in yesterday's reportage - Let's Whisper were NOT the first band of the evening, I got so excited thinking ahead/backwards to the Friday night gig i skipped RIGHT past Tafra. Sorry about that! Tafra was two lovely chaps who we were speaking to earlier, hence GUILT for skipping over, who did one long PIECE with computerised music accompanied by DRUMS, over which there was what APPEARED to be a spoken word POEM but, I think, was actually a series of Facebook updates. It was rather clever, and it's SUCH a good idea that I'm surprised not to have heard someone do it before - it told a proper story in a NEW yet FAMILIAR way. Why, one might even said it was the 21st Century equivalent of The Epistolary Novel, if one were being SHOW OFFY!
Meanwhile in downtown London plans are afoot for a continuation of the recent string of GLAMOUR GIGS - I'm off to Edinburgh on Thursday, and will be making plans for a semi-Validators/POWER TRIO Tour Of GERMANY when I get back. And tonight: CROYDON!
Here's the short version: Stockholm was AMAZING. If you ever see Palma Majorca hanging around nearby let me know, as I would hate to upset it by having it know ANOTHER City was jostling for position as my ALL ROUND FAVOURITE.
Pretty much EVERYTHING about it was GRATE - indeed, the only way it could really be improved was if more places sold CHIPS. They don't seem to have much time for chips, yr Swedish. Perhaps it is because they are too busy being DECENT and LOVELY and EFFICIENT?
For LO! That is very much how it felt. Travelling there was PEASY - Scandinavian Airlines were all very nice, getting the Arlanda Express was SIMPLE and quick, and it took us into the middle of town where it was only a short walk to our hotel. And OH WHAT A HOTEL - The Towels In My Bathroom had booked the room online and noticed that while the hotel's website didn't have any spare rooms of our chosen type hotels.com DID. "I bet they'll have to upgrade us", she said, and she was RIGHT. We got an INCREDIBLE room with a CHANDELIER and a BALCONY and enough room to swing a PRIDE OF LIONS in. We say SHOUTING at each other from the distant edges of the bed saying "Somebody's going to come and tell us to leave any minute, it's TOO NICE!"
Thursday night was GIG NIGHT so we went off to Southside Tavern to meet Mattias Cosy Den, Siri who was in charge of organising, and a surprisingly large number of familiar faces who'd come direct (ish) from Indietracks. Rumous of Bands Being Treated Well Abroad proved well founded as we got DELICIOUSLY WELL FED and also provided with FREE BEER all night, and EVERYBODY was extremely friendly and, as all Swedes appear to be, highly proficient in English. This led to an Amusing (TO ME) Incident when Mr Johann Hedberg introduced himself. I said "Hello, I'm Mark." "You're One". "One what", I wondered, as he went round everybody else and said "You're One" to them too. "We're ALL one?" I goggled. It took me AGES to realise that's just how you pronounce Johann in Swedish.
The GIG itself was fab - Let's Whisper were on first, who The Jangle In My Indiepop had never seen before. "These are GRATE" she said, GRINNING, and indeed they were. Mr Hedberg was also rather brilliant - I couldn't really understand what he was SAYING but the way he was saying it, also dancing around and gesticulating, was MOST invigorating. Everyone (e.g. Mr R Newman, who was also in attendance) keeps telling me how brilliant Suburban Kids With Biblical Names are, and on this evidence I think I really ought to have a listen.
In the middle of all this was ME, and this is what I played:
I DID have fun, tho it was a bit strange, especially bits where I'd usually WAGGLE THE EYEBROWS in recognition of a particularly NIFTY bit of lyrics... to find CULTURAL DIFFERENCES (hem hem) meant it didn't carry over quite so well. I'd been a bit worried about the fact that I was borrowing a Nylon Strung guitar with the frets far apart and a high strap (unadjustable), but apart from looking a bit like a midget with a ukelele standing too close OR a particularly sweaty Mariachi band member, it seemed to work all right. Fucking Hippy was included because a chap from Gothernberg had told me he always played it at his club nights, "Boom Shake The Room" seemed to go down as well as it does in UK, and all in all I was AMAZED by how many people SO far away seemed to be familiar with the songs. It was TREMENDOUSLY exciting.
Next day we went and did some sightseeing, including a bus tour and a trip to the Vasa Museum (which BLEW MY MIND - it's a restored 17th Century SHIP and is, as discussed MIND BLOWING) before heading across town to watch The Smittens playing in a PARK. It was a beautiful evening, loads of people we knew were there, and The Smittens ROCKED. Every time I see them they appear to ROCK MORE and this time was no exception, with the whole VERANDA leaping up and down in excitement. We then went off and had a delicious curry - does life GET any better?
Saturday found us doing MORE sightseeing, heavily featuring The Changing Of The Guard at the Royal Palace. This too was INCREDIBLE - when we saw The Changing Of The Guards at Buckingham Palace there was a lot of marching around and then performances of The Hits Of Disney. In Sweden they do the whole thing on HORSEBACK - honestly, a whole massive BRASS BAND doing FIGURES OF EIGHT whilst PLAYING, I've never seen ANYTHING like it. Then they stopped and did NIMROD in the middle and I wanted to CRY.
Before going I'd made a copy of THE BOOK, the mighty TOME that we always take on holidays and/or tours featuring travel times, local sights, places to eat etc etc which features as many local vegetarian restaurants as possible, Just In Case. We finally got to EAT in one (they usually CLOSE too early for some reaosn) called Hermitage where we got a DELICOUS Traditional Veggie Cafe BUFFET before nipping across The Old Town to The Post Museum. I always say (and keep meaning to write a song about it), if you want a GRATE Museum make sure it's A Museum Of One Thing: they're the BEST. You get a COMPRESSED look at a single subject that the people in the museum LOVE and you also get an informative, if slightly postal/tram/sailing ship/bread (delete according to museum) biased, history of the area. The Post Museum: RECOMMENDED.
A further bus trip, some more beer, a BOAT ride and we were heading home EXHAUSTED. Next day we went for a wander in the park nearby and were GLEEFUL to discover a statue of Linne, who according to The Post Museum was a great writer of LETTERS (and who also categorised most of the fauna of Sweden, but as this was less mail-based was less noted). We were really sad to be saying goodbye - yes, Sweden IS very expensive (although not THAT much more than London) but it's also LOVELY. It felt like a sort of idealised version of England where decisions had always been made for proper decent GOOD reasons rather than mean, cynical money-grabbing ones, where people really WERE polite. Everyone seemed EXTREMELY proud of the Gay Pride march which went through town on the Saturday, and every commentary in museum or bus or boat was always going on about how enlightened and NICE everything was.
Waiting for the Arlanda Express back to the Airport the Cushions On My Sofa found a pair of CHAIRS you could sit on "to hear stories of The Arlanda Express". They all seemed to be about people who, in extreme and unusually demanding circumstances, forgot something vital on a journey but, thanks to the efficient public transport system and fundamental decency of the Swedish People, came to no real damage.
It was a fitting end to our first - and pretty definitely NOT the last - visit to an absolutely briliant country. TACK, Sweden, TACK you very much!