Saturday, October 24, 2009

'How many fingers am I holding up?'

Have you ever been to Norwich? It's one of those places that always gets a reaction from people when you tell them you're going there, often along the lines of 'look out for 6 fingers on their hands'- in fact 2 people used more-or-less exactly those words to me. A bit unfair perhaps? Maybe... then again we played 2 shows at The Playhouse Theatre on Thursday and Friday, and after the first of them we had the dubious pleasure of meeting a couple of the locals after the show, and if they're anything to go by all the sniggering asides that you get when you mention the place could well be justifiable...

The long-suffering Shirley got myself, Richard and Tracy to the theatre just after 5.15 pm; we play here each year with a dance troup as part of local lad Dave's support for various local charities, and when we got there the rest of the A-team were all present and correct and everything was more-or-less ready to go. Soundcheck included that well-known Blues Brothers classic 'No Woman No Cry' as well as running through the songs that the dancers were joining us on so that they could practice getting on and off stage at the allotted times. Dave had also got a local crew in to film proceedings so they were setting up at the same time- by the time we'd done all that needed to be done there's not much more than half an hour to showtime- and it's a... well, an odd show. The audience seemed quite reserved initially, which is often the case although it seemed that no matter how hard Mike and Matt tried there wasn't much of a reaction to be had. It took a bizarre second set incident to lighten the mood- Richard's radio microphone stopped working at the start of 'Natural Woman' (the battery ran out!) so he went to the front-of-stage mic for his solo, but just as he started playing the mic stand began to collapse, meaning that by the middle of the solo he was on his knees attempting to play into the microphone and Tracy was in fits of laughter unable to sing when it was time for her to come back in. As often happens this sort of incident lightened the atmosphere and the gig took off from there. Bizarrely while Richard and Tracy were turning into a comedy double act Dave was kicking a door backstage in frustration at the mic going down and having just discovered that he'd got a parking ticket! He had to go to hospital next day to see if he'd broken a toe! Oh and the smoke machine got jammed on at one point meaning that we all disappeared into a fog that wouldn't have been out of place in Victorian London. Strange but true- but not as strange as the incident in the bar afterwards...

Myself and Shirley were sitting with Mike, Tracy and Ian and his wife Nadia when we were joined by Matt who'd been for a drink with an old friend of his; they'd come back along with a couple who were friends of Matt's mate (I can't recall any of their names- or maybe I've driven them from my mind?) who seemed a little peculiar... in fact as the mate of Matt's mate dropped his trousers exposing himself I realised that not only were they a bit peculiar, they were also... just searching for the right word here, and I'm in a good mood so it's not easy to come up with... oh, I know- SCUM. I'll spare you the gory details of what took place as she joined in (and no, I didn't count her fingers!) but when he looked as though he was going to move towards Shirley things got serious- Matt made a comment to him along the lines of 'there's a lot of water around here and you're going to be living in it in a minute' as I looked around for something to hit him with (I have to watch my hands you know!) He backed off, did his trousers up (and before you ask, yes I am well aware of how weird this looks written down!) and then tried to introduce himself and shake hands with me. I tried to make joke along the lines of 'I'd rather not if you don't mind, I've just seen where your hands have been' (and no, I didn't count his fingers either!) but he persisted, leaning closer and closer across the table at me. In the end I said something like 'why on Earth would someone like me want to shake hands with someone like you?' which he clearly didn't like; I don't think I'm a particularly violent person but for a split second I nearly stood up and whacked him, but I could see that Shirley was getting upset and so decided that hitting him wouldn't solve anything. But sitting here typing this now, I don't mind admitting that I almost feel angry that I didn't clobber him after all. So- does that make me a violent person? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't- but if any one deserved a broken nose it was that idiot.

He nearly got one too- Matt told me the next day that he'd been contemplating giving him exactly that. From what I saw it couldn't have happened to a nicer bloke...

It was the sort of incident that winds you up all the next day- well, it did me. Still it was good to have a few hours to wander around town- there was an exhibition of Beatles photographs but £5 to get in seemed rather a lot for what we were told was 'only a small exhibition' so we didn't go (told you I was wound up!) but we did hear a busker playing some excellent jazz guitar and see a sign advertising a 'husband creche' at the Sir Garnett Wolseley pub which raised a smile (we nearly went there for something to eat but it looked horrible so we didn't!) along with Shirley launching herself at the local Primark and me nearly buying a box set of mono Beatles CD's- well, I felt bad about not going to the exhibition!

5 o'clock and it's back-to-the-venue time; Matt got behind the drums and we attempted to play Joey Ramone's version of 'What A Wonderful World' (You've not heard it? Shame on you! Never mind- here it is!) with limited success and to a mixture of horror and bemusement from passing band members. It felt to me as though there was an air of 'lets-make-up-for-last night' among the band members, and right from the first number that was what we did, playing a great show which I'm really looking forward to seeing footage of. In fact I enjoyed it so much that it almost made up for the incident the night before, although the word 'almost' is very important in that last sentence...

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