Well it's a funny old life sometimes isn't it? I just looked at the end of the last blog posting, when referring to the currently-customary Monday nights at The 12 Bar Club I wrote -
'Oh well - there's always next Monday... hopefully...'
- and let's face it, that's a fair enough comment if you think about it. Well obviously I think that it is as I wrote it, but well, you know what I mean... anyway, it turned out that from my point of view there wasn't next Monday - not at The 12 Bar Club anyway. Here, as best I can recall, is the story of the last few days...
THURSDAY 20th MARCH
I spent much the day at my niece Sherrie's wedding in Weybridge. No I didn't drink too much, honest - in actual fact I stayed on the soft drinks and ate sandwiches and cake with other family members and friends. A good day. Or so I thought.
FRIDAY 21st MARCH
As I going away with Ruts D.C. the next morning it would have been nice to have had a lazy day, but instead I worked in Balcony Shirts - I'm generally in there on Wednesdays but as Ruts D.C. rehearsed that day I swapped a day with Simona and was in on Friday instead. Simple eh? A fairly busy day which I spent most of feeling tired and a bit out of sorts. Well, it had been a long day on Thursday hadn't it?
Big Al And The Blistering Buicks were playing at The Dolphin in Uxbridge that evening - Pete and myself hatched a plan to go there early and have a curry (one each, not one between us!) before everyone else arrived. To this end we were there around 7 o'clock, and spent the next hour working our way through some food and drink. And very nice it was too. Soon enough the rest of the band arrived - we all set up and readied ourselves for action. But all was not well, at least from my point of view. I was tired - really tired - and hot. Really hot. As in sweating and everything. Please don't let this mean I'm getting the flu or something like it. Please.
The first set then, and I feel terrible. Terrible. But we're playing well and people are enjoying it, so that's ok. But I'm dizzy and my stomach feels like it's swelling up. What on Earth is going on? By the interval I'm feeling even worse, to the extent that I'm not sure if I can manage the second set. Don't silly Leigh, just get on with it. We start again and I nearly overbalance, I make it to the third number before it all gets too much - I take my guitar off as slowly and as calmly as I can, put it down and stumble to the nearest gents toilet. I then spend the next song-and-a-half being violently and horribly sick. Urgh! And what song were we playing when it all got too much - 'We Gotta Get Out Of This Place'... I'm back in the band for 'Shakin' All Over' but off again for 'Sharp Dressed Man' - I make it to the end of the set but then it's time to be sick again. Not the best evening - although it wasn't a bad gig, if you see what I mean.
SATURDAY 22ND MARCH
I woke up after around 4 hours of broken, fitful sleep. It was 6am. As I came to my senses I realised that I felt how I would imagine that I would have felt if I'd spent some time in the ring with Mike Tyson in his prime. I had the very definition of a 'splitting headache', my stomach was churning, my sides hurt and I doubt that I would have had a worse taste in my mouth if I'd been drinking paint stripper. Not good frankly. But, incredibly, there was no time to worry about any of that, as I had to get myself across to South London to meet the rest of Ruts D.C. before flying from Gatwick Airport to Amsterdam to play at The Rebellion Festival. I'd been looking forward to this since we first got the gig - now I had no idea how or indeed if I was going to be able to do the show.
'Hey guys - we're in Amsterdam!' And we were. Segs sounded excited, and why shouldn't he be? And I felt a bit better, although the words 'a bit' are quite important here. I'd slept for most of the car journey to the airport and for indeed most the flight, and had been steadily drinking bottled water in an attempt to rehydrate myself - that's the thing that you're supposed to do at times such as this isn't it? As we took a cab from Schiphol to The Milkweg Amsterdam looked pretty much how it was supposed to. Judging by my reflection in the rear view mirror I on the other hand looked grey and cold - which was pretty much how I felt. But even that was better than earlier so things were looking up. Sort of. We met Molara at the venue, who upon hearing of my plight immediately took charge, ordering me to find 'dry crackers, and sugary drinks like Sprite, 7-Up, Pepsi' - after swallowing what I thought was a potentially unwise amount I was amazed to find myself getting a burst of energy. Suddenly I had a way of getting through the show. Probably. Good. In the meantime we've got to check in at our hotel - as we walk around the corner a voice shouts 'RUTS' and a huge cheery man gets out of a small car followed by a couple of friends, they've come from Poland to see the show and ask Dave and Segs for photos with them. A nice moment.
My alarm woke me up at 5.45pm. We're due on in 90 minutes. As my head clears I realise that I feel... ok... ish... I get up and head back to the venue. Time to go to work. When I get back to The Milkweg Department S are on and Jed is behind The Damned (they're on after us) merchandise table. It's nice to see some familiar faces - things are getting better all the time. I climb the spiral staircase to the dressing rooms and meet various Damned members along the way before bumping into Jon their guitar tech who upon hearing of my condition immediately offers to help me with my equipment. Top man! I've got a Marshall stack to play through, I've bought my effect pedals with me and there are new strings on my Les Paul - at last it's time for some music. But first, some sugary drinks to wash the crackers down. Rock 'n' Roll eh?
Quarter past seven and I'm on stage. 12 hours earlier I wasn't sure that I would be. We start with 'Mighty Soldier' and my guitar is heavier on my shoulder than I remember it being. But it's alright. We play, and we play, and we play, and we go down better and better as we do so. After 'Love In Vain' a chap gets on stage and asks us to 'play a song for Foxy' - I think about saying something like 'I play them all for Foxy mate' but I don't feel like it, and anyway I've a funny feeling he did something like that at another gig and I said it then. Oh well. Segs calls 'Something That I Said' instead of 'West One (Shine On Me)', I put everything I can into the guitar solo, and halfway though it I burp and for want of a better term, something appears in my mouth... I make a mistake (it happens at 2.14 in this clip - well, that's my excuse anyway!) which annoys me but I guess I shouldn't be too hard on myself. We finish with 'Society' and the whole place goes crazy. Job done. Good.
Afterwards I watch a few songs from The Damned who sound as great as ever, with Dave Vanian looking like a demonic dentist and Captain Sensible on great form. I see a song or two by Goldblade then meet T.V. Smith in the bar, it's been ages since we've seen each other and I say how much I'd love to stay and chat but suddenly I'm flagging dramatically. It's time to call it a day. But I'm pleased that I've got this far; I'm pleased to have done anything at all. As all around me plan to watch headliners Cock Sparrer and continue the festivities into the small hours I share a cab with Molara back to our hotel. I get to my room, go in and close the door. Suddenly I feel rough. I put the television on and find a Jimi Hendrix documentary and a (presumably) Dutch version of 'Have I Got News For You'. Oh and 'QI' in English. Things aren't all bad. They rarely are if you think about it.
SUNDAY 23RD MARCH
The next morning dawned early, as we had to be at the airport for 9am. Judging by the looks of Dave Segs and Nick our soundman they'd had a good night. And why not? At Schiphol there's a large 'Bird Control' photo display board that amuses Nick no end, and beers are being ordered before 10 o'clock to celebrate Dave's birthday - I decide to brave a latte and some toast, which thankfully doesn't re-appear. I then spend the flight to Gatwick drifting in and out of consciousness and the car journey back to London in a similar state. When I get home I go to sleep. Who said coffee keeps you awake?
My alarm woke me up 45 minutes earlier than it had the previous day. Time to go to work again - Big Al and co. are playing at The Horns in Watford. I travel over with Pete who thankfully has had no ill effects from Friday's food. That's good. That's very good. It looks as though I was just unlucky.
The Hill St. Blues Band are still playing when we arrive at The Horns - I say hello to the rest of the band and recount the horrors (and indeed the good bits) of the last day or so. We're due on around 7.30 so there's time for a glass of water (!) and a chat with some of Al's friends before we set up and get ready to play. The band had performed without me the night before so this is their third show in a row, it shows with everyone on form and Paul the soundman getting a great balance. The first set goes so well that we're offered a return gig in the interval, and the second set has a celebratory feel as a result. I feel a bit shaky here and feel very tired during the encore, but it's a great end to the weekend.
MONDAY 24th MARCH
By the time I get to Balcony Shirts I feel so bad that I'm ready to turn around and go home again. Bugger. I stumble through the day, occasionally recounting tales of the weekend to Simona, customers, anyone that will listen, all the while feeling at best bad and at worst dreadful. I make a couple of daft mistakes in the shop which annoy me, but I decide that there's no point in being silly about it. I'm not well after all.
In the evening I get home and consider my options. There are no options. I'm not going to The 12 Bar Club. Oh well. There's always next Monday. Hopefully.
POST SCRIPT - TUESDAY 25th MARCH
I spent Monday evening writing much of the above and then having an early-ish night. A good move methinks. Not long after I got up this morning I received a phone call from my brother Terry - after saying hello he asked how I was feeling, I assumed he'd heard about me being ill but it turned out that he and 'a dozen or more' of the wedding party had been ill with stomach problems since Thursday. Was it the egg sandwiches we wondered? Who knows. But I'm feeling better. At last. Onwards and upwards, as they say. Whoever 'they' are...