I write to you at the beginning of a moderately restful week with no gigs til Saturday though I will of course be filling my time with rehearsals and writing. After my last blog, it was off to London for some Live Music Now work for St Patrick’s Day with my mandolin playing chum Nic Zuppardi in a couple of cracking schools. It was a slight surprise to be introduced as an Irish music act as we’re not and weren’t expecting to be! But of course Irish music was my first love (apart from Graceland…) so we called upon my old repertoire and sang children songs about drinking and in a catholic school we sang a song by a band that is famous for deriding the catholic church….
Then came just about the most nostalgic gig I think I’ve ever done. It was at Berkswich Methodist Church in Stafford where I used to go to youth club and where my first band the Glinics used to both rehearse and gig while I was at school. One of that band came as an audience member and the other was in the other band on the bill Clutching At Straws (pictured). Plus my high school music teacher came. Oh and the school was next door. As if all that wasn’t enough, in the interval a projector screen appeared and on came footage of the Glinics I had no idea existed. It was amazing to see it again though rather a surprise. Thanks to Keith and Gillian for organising the gig anyway it was lovely.
And then was back into UFQ action, firstly with a workshop day at Birmingham Conservatoire and then with cracking gigs in Worcester and Oxford with plenty of people and an awful lot of fun. Worcester was Huntingdon Hall, a wonderful venue with brilliant acoustics and very much a personal favourite of the band. Then came Oxford – the Old Fire Station and it was great to play a standing gig again so people had a good old boogie. Then speaking of nostalgia, Saturday saw me return to my favourite venue of them all – the Market Vaults in Stafford. It’s difficult to think what more I can say about this wonderful pub where my gigging journey began twelve years ago and which remains my social hub. I love it! It was the usual bonkers three hour epic anyway.
This blog used to have many astounding stories from my train travels but sadly since the advent of getting a car and the greater neccessity (possibly spelt wrongly) of having to use it owing to how busy I’ve become, train stories have been somewhat less of a feature. However, it returned in style recently. This is the full story as was posted on my personal facebook on the 17th March:
1) arrived at London Euston to catch my 1849 train to Stafford
2) all trains suspended in and out of Euston for an indefinite period
3) much debating over whether to try and find alternative routes home from other London stations or linger in the hope it will happen from Euston
4) suspension lifted and surprisingly my train announces boarding reasonably soon after
5) an awful lot of people get on said train
6) at Northampton the computer tannoy says ‘those travelling to stations towards Crewe please make your way to the front part of the train’
7) I pick up my instruments and make my way to that part of the train
8) upon arrival the human tannoy announces this was bollocks and the whole train is going to Crewe
9) I move back to where I was as there was more room
10) we don’t move for some time
11) the announcement comes that the train terminates at Northampton
12) utter mayhem on the platform including my personal favourite moment when one guy simply stood on a bench and asked everyone ‘does anyone know what’s going on’
13) a train not on the screens mysteriously arrives at platform 2 full of people and on its own screen says Birmingham
14) I figure this is in the direction so get on it
15) I confide in my fellow passengers that I fear the train is going to terminate because it’s not moving and it’s not on the station screens
16) it terminates
17) the Crewe train, calling at Stafford is now due to leave at 2124 but a) it probably won’t and b) there is a train to Birmingham arriving soon…
18) I opt to get on that train and laugh with other passengers at the general incompetence of British rail and inability to cope with one incident nowhere near where we are
19) I get to Birmingham at 2214 and feel desperately sorry for my new friends who are trying to get to Shrewsbury and whose train leaves at…2214.
20) I get on the next train to Stafford and type this essay
21) I’m still not home
22) my friends unfriend me because of my train rants
23) I’m thinking about whisky
24) I finally got home at 23.05