Hello and welcome to Shannon Airport. It's 3 a.m. on Monday 11th December and I've just found a London Underground ticket from yesterday that someone's left by the internet terminal. Our flight leaves at 6.25 a.m...
Friday 9th and, somewhat inevitably, it's 5.30a.m. and Gary and myself are on our way to Richard's house. From there we go to Stansted Airport to meet the rest of the boys and from there we go to Shannon. We're in Ireland for 2 gigs- we should have had 7 gigs in 8 days but, for reasons perhaps best left unsaid here, we've only got 2. Hmm... with the usual suspects on this trip are sound engineer Phil and merchandise man Joe. Everyone meets in departures and then, almost immediately, the fun starts. We've got too much baggage. Or something. That'll be 60-something pounds please.
After much redistributing of clothes and toiletries (there's still a restriction on taking liquids on planes) it eventually costs us £11 to get our stuff on board. Not good, but better than it might have been.
At Shannon we pick up our 2 hire cars and head off to our first gig. Or rather we don't, because one of the cars has got a faulty rear seat belt. After switching motors we set the sat. nav. for Cork where we're playing at the Opera House. This is going to be a good one for several reasons- we've nearly sold the venue out in advance which is always a good sign. Also one of my personal guitar heroes is Rory Gallagher who, although originally from Ballyshannon, is always associated with Cork- there's some great footage of him playing at the Opera House in 1987 and it's nice to think of myself playing on the same stage as the great man. If that wasn't enough the name Heggarty comes from Cork. A top evening in prospect methinks. After the latest round of sat.nav lottery we eventually find our way to the Brookfield Hotel and Holiday Village where we're staying the night. I was hoping to spend some time in Cork before the show but tiredness overtook me so I opted for a bit of sleep instead as did most of the band... we made it to the venue just before 4.30p.m. (passing EINSTEIN'S BARBERS on the way- I'll let you know when I've come up with a punchline) only to be told that there was a panto rehearsal until 5. (cue 'oh no there isn't' gags). But what a fabulous venue- it's not very often that there's posters for 'Orpheus in the Underworld', 'Tosca' and 'La Traviata' on our dressing room walls. Also among the photo's of previous productions was one of a pantomime including Tony Hegarty among the performers. Excellent. Whilst stumbling around backstage I got a call from Eddie Richards, former Price manager and all round good guy. The answer to his question- 'Meal Ticket'. I tell him about Wiz and he's shocked, stunned even.
Soundcheck time and I've got a Fender Deluxe 112 combo to play through. John's got a Pearl drumkit with a collapsing floortom that eventually gets gaffataped into place whilst Gary's struggling with what he describes as a 'kid's keyboard'. But we're sounding good and there's even time for a quick pint of Guinness before showtime. And what a show it is with the audience up for it from the first number and mayhem a-plenty by the last- in the words of the front-of-house manageress, 'they don't behave like this in Cork'. Joe does a roaring trade on the merch and we even sign a few autographs- Pete's right arm's numb from shaking, in his words, 'every punter's hand'. A classic night which myself and Michael end by visiting 'Joe Cashmans' pub near the venue. To quote Squirrel, they serve 'the best pint of Guinness I've ever tasted'- which, if you know Squirrel like I know Squirrel, is information well worth knowing. There's a signed photo of Roy Keane on the wall of the bar- Michael asks me who he is and says that someone said to him after the show that 'Roy Keane's got nothing on you'. Michael doesn't like football. Poor lad.