Another week, another riot (now there's something you never think you're ever going to type!) and what better image to be left with from the protest against the increase in tuition fees than Charlie 'son-of-David' Gilmour hanging from the Cenotaph? Well actually there are probably quite a few better images, not least the hilarious interview he gave on the London news programme when whilst carrying a false leg that one would imagine came from a shop window dummy (let's hope it didn't belong to a disabled person!) he slurred his way through a few sentences (given the amount of photographic evidence he could find himself slurring his way through a very different type of sentence fairly soon) before saying that he'd only 'borrowed' the leg and was intending to take it back, honest. Excellent! But of course there are any number of serious points to be made here, not least the irony that many of the M.P.'s voting for the increase went to university in the days before student loans and therefore received a full grant. How soon they forget - 'we don't need no education' as someone once sang... and of course the right wing media can have a field day at the 'troublemakers' as indeed can the Conservative and Liberal politicians, therefore obscuring the fact that many people will be put off from continuing their education simply because they can't afford it, and that many of the people who voted in favour of that happening signed a pledge to say that they opposed it. Does this mean that we can never believe anything that they say again - or does it mean that we never could in the first place? It looks as though we do need some education after all... and before we leave the glory of the Tories Jeremy Hunt has been in the news again after his name was mispronounced on the radio - apparently he was more amused than offended, 'though I'm sure he's heard the word on many occasions (and if you want to hear it click here!) not least because his nickname around the Ministry of Culture is apparently 'corrible'...
In the meantime Friday evening saw The Upper Cut return to The Bell in Ruislip for a show that got off to a less than ideal start - I walked in just as Watford scored their second of three goals against Queens Park Rangers amid scenes of great distress among the assembled multitude. The pub guv'nor appeared wearing a Q.P.R. shirt and a less-than-happy expression, and by the time we went on (after the match had finished at nearly 10 o'clock) there was very little interest in what we were doing. The pub is L-shaped, and we played down one end whilst a few people came around to watch us for the most part everyone stayed in the other part. Bah! Still we used the opportunity to play some of our newer material as well as bringing back a few songs that we'd not played for some time, and while it would be easy to moan or be cynical (oooh imagine that!) we had a good time even if nobody else did. As we were leaving the landlady told Terry that she'd be in touch as they'd like to have us play there again so I guess we must have done something right?
Saturday it was time to see a couple of bands in a couple of venues - Substance at The Crown and Treaty in Uxbridge and Sociology at The Bell in Ruislip. Yes that's right, The Bell in Ruislip again. Before our gig there the previous evening Terry the bass had noticed a poster advertising a gig on Saturday and observed that Sociology feature his mate Steve on guitar who has depped for me in The Upper Cut when I've been unable to make a gig. It seemed a good chance to catch them, although as I'd already intended to get along to see Substance for the first time in something like 15 years (I think one of the last Price gigs in our original incarnation was with them and we certainly played with both Need and Babapapa, the two bands that they'd all originally been part of) we hatched a plan to get along to both gatherings.
We made a quick visit to the C & T to check when they were on (11 o'clock) then headed for Ruislip. As we arrived at The Bell it was clear that there was no one on the stage yet we could hear live music - yes, you've guessed it, they'd set up in the end where all the people are. 'You lot should have played down this end' said a cheery chap who struck up a conversation with Terry. Well, yes we should, and no doubt we will next time... I'd not met Steve before but he seemed a very nice chap, and his band played a good mix of material, even gamely responding to a request for a Roy Orbison song. Good stuff.
Meanwhile back at The Crown and Treaty Substance were storming through their set - well I think it was them, it was difficult to tell as there were no lights on the stage at all while they were playing. Still it was good to hear (if not see) them again, and if anything they sounded even better than they did back in those dim and distant days. They finished at midnight and I'd intended not to be out too late, but as both Terry and myself bumped into several people that we'd not seen for a while we were still there nearly 2 hours later. What a way to carry on eh?
Having spent much of Sunday stumbling around thinking 'I really should go back to sleep for a while' I eventually admitted defeat and went back to sleep for a while, and woke up feeling a whole lot better for it. I'm sure hangovers didn't used to last as long as they do these days? But it was good to be feeling better as the evening saw this year's last 'Acts Less Ordinary' gig at The Load of Hay, and what better way to end the year than with the legend that is John Otway. I'd spoken to him about a possible Uxbridge show back in September when T.V Smith and myself played at Attila The Stockbroker's anniversary gig in Shoreham, and was well pleased when he came up with a gig date for us as well as being more than a little intrigued when he announced his intention to do 'John Otway's Christmas Lecture' rather than a normal gig, although 'normal' is the last word that you can use when Otway is involved... myself and East arrived at 7 o'clock to find Grant the landlord lighting the fire in anticipation of a busy evening; Otway himself arrived shortly afterwards to set up his laptop and projector (!) and opted to use the pub's T.V. screen rather than his own. He then sat down to sew the buttons back on his white shirt (in case you're wondering why he'd do such an apparently odd thing before a gig, have a look at the 'Bunsen Burner' promotional film - around 50 seconds in you'll get your answer!) telling me that his mum used to do it for him right up until when she died last year aged 89, 'a button sewer until the end'. I took the opportunity to ask him about Pete Townshend's involvement in the early part of his career - he recalled 'standing as far away as I am from you' (i.e. about a yard) from Townshend as he recorded the guitar part for 'Louisa On A Horse' and thinking 'he's good'; he also told of recording the vocals for 'Misty Mountain' at Olympic Studios - he was on his way back into the control room from the recording area when 'a little man' stopped him and told him that it sounded good, and when he got to the control room the engineer asked him what Mick had thought of it...
9 o'clock and with a good crowd in it's time for the lecture to begin. Unsurprisingly given Otway's self-deprecating sense of humour the subject was his failure in the music industry, and very funny it was too with plenty of graphs and charts on the screen as well as live and interview clips and much more besides. I won't give any more away in case you go to see it (I wouldn't want to ruin the surprises!) but it left me with the thought that he isn't a failure at all - after all you don't accidentally get a 35 year career do you? An absolutely brilliant evening, and a fine end to a year of Sunday night gigs at the venue. I'm not sure how I'm going to top this one - maybe Charlie Gilmour would like to do something for us? Well, it's a thought.