Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ayr guitar (sorry!)

From the hotel we returned to the venue to pick up our gear then it's off to the nearest supermarket for breakfast before setting off to Ayr. It's pouring down making for nasty driving conditions but Pete and Squirrel do a fine job as always. We drop Andy off just outside Glasgow- he's from there so is off to visit family- and with a 'National Lampoon' film on the DVD player we wind our way to our guest house and our base for the next 2 days. There's no gig tonight so we decide to go into town to find some food. The first place that catches our eye is a little basement bar on Wellington Square which advertises an acoustic session beginning at 9 so we make a vague plan to return then to check it out.
In town we find The West Kirk, a church-converted-into-a-pub (really!). We stopped for a quick drink (you have to don't you?- although we did see a pub called The Squayr which was nearly as bizarre) and then set off in search of food, eventually settling on the Shanghai Rendevouz; a Chinese meal goes down very well and it turns out that the manager used to work in Southend, just down the road from our Essex contingent. Small world eh? Then it's back to 'Wellingtons' bar; it turns out to be an excellent traditional Irish session- when I was playing in Neck (hi Leeson!) I played in and attended quite a few of these and always found them very enjoyable and this one was no exception. We got talking to the barman, then the owner, and before long Squirrel had borrowed a bass, I'd borrowed a guitar and with Pete & Michael on harmony vocals we performed that well-known folk club classic 'Sitting on the dock of the bay' to the general approval of all concerned. Well it would have been a shame to have a night off wouldn't it?!?

Monday morning and after breakfast I decide to take a walk into town for some Ayr air (sorry! I'm really sorry!! But I'm not the only one doing it- there's a hobby shop called- wait for it- 'Ayr Craft' so I don't think I'm the worst offender. Probably not anyway...) and to get a newspaper. On the way in I passed Ayr Spiritualist centre which had a sign outside reading 'THIS WEEK'S MEDIUM- BETTY McLEAN', a bit like a cinema advertising this week's film. Interesting... mind you I then found 'Bowie's Gentleman's Hairdressers' which given some of the great man's hairdos amused me greatly ('would you like a 'Ziggy' sir? Actually you'd look good with a 'Thin White Duke' etc etc).
Back at our digs Andy's just getting dropped off and John's arrived (Roger flew home Sunday, John flew in Monday- rock'n'roll eh?) so it's time for set the controls for the long and winding road to Newton Stuart and tonight's gig. Pete's on the phone to a promoter with a problem and tempers are fraying- at one point he jumped out of the van shouting at a guy in a badly parked truck (we were in a little village and couldn't get through) and got back in the van with the words 'I think I can feel one of me 'ead's coming on!'. Out of town the scenery calms everyone down a bit with the Holy Isle looking breathtaking in the mist.
The Cinema in Newton Stuart is exactly that; it dawns on us that this means there's no bar which is a disturbing concept at the best of times but there's a splendid river just out the back which really should have salmon jumping up the waterfall and at certain times of the year probably does. Soundcheck is a bit fraught with a few awkward 'TURN IT DOWN' moments and Pete on and off both the phone and the stage so Squirrel and myself do the decent thing and go to the pub across the road. The show's a good deal better than it might have been with a re-booking promised for next year which is always good news. The journey back to Ayr is an eventful one with patchy fog and dozens of oncoming trucks ('the ferry's arrived at Stranraer then') conspiring with a malfunctioning sat. nav. but in the end we made it back to the guest house for some well-deserved sleep.

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