Well it might sound a bit of a strange thing to say but I'll say it anyway - it feels as though I've just had the first 'normal' week for ages. Not that I very often do anything that deserves the label 'normal'... I've worked a couple of days in Balcony Shirts, played two gigs with Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks, been to see a band play at Tropic at Ruislip - as I say, a 'normal' week.
The shop has calmed down a bit since the Christmas blitzkrieg, although there's still more than enough going on to keep us all out of mischief. It's usually quiet at this time of year, but with school leavers, stag and hen parties and more waiting in the wings it's been a chance to clean the place up and re-do various displays. That said we had two very likely lads in and out of the shop for much of today - they were celebrating the taller one's birthday, and judging by their condition they certainly knew how to celebrate... t-shirts that featured Kermit The Frog and some 'adult' slogans were printed, and at some point in proceedings the smaller one bought five - count 'em, five! - Zippy wallets. They were last seen getting into a taxi to go to the taller one's nan's house. I wonder if they made it that far?
Big Al and the boys (once again with Dave from Red Box on bass who may well be turning up a fair bit more in the future...) returned to The Black Horse in Eastcote on Friday night for a raucous performance in front of an all-but-full house, while the next night we journeyed up to Dunstable for a very enjoyable show at The United Services Club. The early part of the evening was enlivened by a visit to the nearby Froth And Elbow, which I only suggested because of the name (!) but which turned out to have a gang of ridiculously attractive young ladies behind the bar; it also puts on live bands so Al swung into action with the business card - we shall see if we get a gig there. Further merriment came from the fact that the ITV game show 'Take Me Out' featured an appearance from Al which he'd recorded while I'd been away gigging last year. The band had been filmed (at of all places The Black Horse in Eastcote) but sadly none of that footage was used; the show itself was broadcast while we were playing our first set meaning that we were unable to watch it (shame!) but when Al switched his phone on in the interval it went crazy with text messages, Facebook postings and Twitter messages, many of whom were from ladies asking him out and indeed offering their, er, services. He didn't win on the show, but 'he who laughs last laughs longest' as the old saying goes... and no, I've never seen the show either!
And last night it was back to Tropic At Ruislip to see The Marrakesh Express - as their website puts it, 'a tribute to the music of The Byrds and Crosby Stills And Nash'. On the surface this was a rather odd event for your humble narrator to attend (both bands are far too hippyish for my not at all hippyish tastes, although it's impossible to deny the excellence of much of their music) but I was intrigued to see that they featured two members of Diesel Park West who were a band I saw several times back in the Eighties and Nineties and who I always thought deserved much more success that they achieved with 'Jackie's Still Sad' still something of an undiscovered classic. I went with Scott from Balcony Shirts who bought along friend of the shop (and indeed of Scott's) Iain Lee who turned a few heads in the venue - it's amazing what the presence of a celebrity does sometimes isn't it? Anyway we all agreed that the Byrds part of the evening was a bit disappointing - without bass and drums the songs didn't really come across as well as they might although the playing and singing was excellent throughout. However the Crosby Stills And Nash set was something else again, with stunning vocal harmonies and some superb guitar work from all concerned. An interesting evening, although inevitably still a bit too hippyish for me. Mind you it wouldn't have been right if it hadn't had been if you think about it.
And this should be another 'normal' week too. Let's see if it turns out that way...