Just tell us the sodding platform!

Dear all,

Good lord it’s been a little while since my last blog I am awfully sorry, I have received a couple of substantial bollockings for not posting one so I shall update you on all that’s been happening and have a little rant. Now calm down, I can feel your excitement.

So the UFQ tour continued after its slightly chaotic opening in Nottingham and an absolute belter of a gig at Lakeside Arts Centre. I have hardly come across a venue who did everything you’d expect like they did – great promotion, lovely staff, terrific venue, great sound. Bloody marvellous and the audience were great to boot. Much the same can be said of our outing in New Longton two days later as Lancastrians gave us a great night and indeed morning as we played live to a studio audience on BBC Radio Lancashire. It was a long auld day and it didn’t ease up for me as next day I was up in time to catch the 6.41 down to London to go to my friend’s wedding before zooming back up to Redditch to play the Palace Theatre that evening which was again a lovely gig.

Now, you may be wondering why on earth I’d need to catch a 6.41 train to get to London in time for a wedding given the trip from Stafford to London is but an hour and 15 minutes or an hour and 50 on London Midland (or 2 and a half bloody hours today owing to trespassers on the line). Well let me tell you. London Euston, as far as I can recall, is always open and running its mainline services. But of course when I really needed to get to London and back QUICKLY the powers that be went ‘we should do some engineering work when should we do it? Walsh needs us this weekend…NOW!!!’. Bastards.

Anyway, returning to my activities after the Redditch gig Tom, Charlie and I went back to Birmingham and got severely pissed in The Hare and Hounds which I have to tell you was bloody good fun. It also involved a rare Walsh dance outing…well I say that, it basically involved me standing up and not quite still which is generally as close as you get. I also now realise you may have no idea who Tom and Charlie are…The UFQ is Paloma, Joe and Tom but Paloma is on pregnancy related leave so Charlie is depping for her.

Then followed a knackering game of football and then a cracking day with some old school chums watching a show we put on at school when we were 16/17 – TEN YEARS AGO! Good god. Then UFQ activity continued with a lovely gig at Cambridge Junction and then a day’s workshop at Tom’s old school in Bedford which was good fun. A day at home was then followed by a trip down to Hampshire to play a thoroughly weird but cool gig at Hanger Farm Arts Centre where we couldn’t see anyone in the audience and Charlie uttered the immortal words ‘it’s like leaving an answerphone message’. Next night we were in my hometown of Stafford where, as ever, the audience were bloody fantastic and I had one of the best nights of my life. God bless Stafford I tell thee!

Then a trip to Cumbria to stay with my parents…oh and to do a gig at Kirkgate Arts Centre in Cockermouth where we had a cracking time again. Next up was a trip to London to kick off a cracking project with Live Music Now (this blog’s getting long enough already – details of Live Music Now can be found via google or previous blogs…). Nic Zuppardi (cracking mandolinist, Italian hair, that one) and I are visiting a school in Brent and many of our LMN colleagues are visiting other schools which will be culminating in a big performance at Wembley Arena (!) of a piece all played by us together. Cracking stuff and great kids.

The UFQ gigs then continued in Oxford with a gig at the cult classic The Jericho where we had a severe burger and…well…a gig. Totnes was next for a seriously seriously fantastic gig at South Devon Arts Centre (you’ll find it in an industrial estate…no really). The audience were rocking and it was a real belter. Cracking laughs and drinks back at the hotel with Tom and Charlie too followed by a journey home dominated by severe 90s pop. Much fun.

Phew, almost there! On Monday I ended up making a little guest appearance at London’s Southbank Centre to sing the bass line of ‘John Ball’ with some of my favourite musicians after a lovely time in the afternoon playing in a different Live Music Now school. Yesterday I played football and got a head in the nose (accidental obviously) which led to quite a lot of my blood being in the centre circle of the pitch. Finally, I was back in London today to continue the Brent project.

Wow, quite a month! So to round off this unusually long blog, I have a small rant which I don’t think I’ve had before but I can’t rule it out. London stations. As in London mainline stations. Why on earth do they not tell you the platform til five minutes before departure? They blatantly know because they’re kind enough to put on the departure screen that the train is being ‘prepared’. So why the wait? I am genuinely intrigued as to whom this strategy actually benefits. As far as I can see it merely causes carnage, a last minute rush, people falling over each other and on a more serious note people with limited mobility having to find their way quickly. It seems to be the only place that does this. But that’s London isn’t it? I mean I don’t want to offend any Londoners and there’s no doubt it is an exceptional city with a truly mouth watering array of things to do, see, eat and hear but everything’s always different there. You can’t get anywhere quickly because it’s London. You can’t afford a round of drinks because it’s London. You can’t drive anywhere because it’s London so you have to go on the tubes with three instruments, a suitcase and a massive amount of sweat and stress. Rather a pain. But then you think ‘what shall I do tonight’ and realise you have more choice than just about anywhere else. Because it’s London.