Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008- or was it?

This being my last posting of 2008 it's time for a look back over the past 12 months of life in mad-guitar-land, much of which sounds oddly familiar...

The Chicago Blues Brothers have gone from strength to strength, winning friends and influencing people left right and centre and playing some great gigs in the process. Particularly memorable for me was the run of shows at The Theatre Royal in Windsor at the end of March, with April's weekend in Norwich and the Jools Holland support show in Southend at the end of June not far behind. Next year's looking good for us with plenty of shows already in the diary and some very interesting things being talked about- I'll keep you posted, as they say. In dep-land I played a couple of shows for local heroes The Cane Toads back in the summer and a highly enjoyable gig with The Ali Mac Band at London's Southbank Centre in November 'though my favourite stand-in shows have to be the two I played with The Sex Pistols Experience- is there anything better for an old punk like me? And I have to say that playing in the window of Horsepower Hairdressing in Uxbridge with my old mate Andy just about beats the CBB show in a Swiss shopping centre for the 'oddest gig location' award- but not by much!

As far as other people's music goes it's been a bit of a barren year on the 'new music' front- I'm sure it's out there, I just haven't been able to find it! The only current (as opposed to re-issue) album that I bought this year was 'Dig Out Your Soul' by Oasis which, although a good album in my opinion, is hardly the work of up and coming young guns. There's a new album out by Graham Day and The Gaolers called 'Triple Distilled' that I haven't got around to getting yet, and I must find out more about The Gene Drayton Unit who I heard on the way home from our Kettering gig a couple of weeks ago; at the other end of the commercial spectrum John Mayer has finally made more sense to me, especially his concert DVD 'Where The Light Is' which presents his music in 3 different ways (acoustic, trio and full band) and contains some absolutely superb playing throughout. Re-issue wise 'Boy' by U2 sounds every bit as extraordinary to me now as it did when I first bought the album all those years ago- whatever happened to them eh?
Talking of DVD's the long-awaited (by me anyway) release of 'At Kilburn:1977' by The Who didn't disappoint- what's often reported as being a sub-standard show originally filmed for inclusion in the bio-pic 'The Kids Are Alright' turned out to be alright after all even if it did fall below their standards at the time (actually it is a bit shaky in places- 'Daltrey forgets the words to 'Dreaming From The Waist', 'I'm Free' is all over the place and the bit in 'My Wife' where Townshend throws a amplifier at guitar tech Alan Rogan has to be seen to be believed!) while the bonus footage of them at London's Coliseum Opera House in 1969 shows them in fine 'we're about to conquer the world' form, albeit in rather low visual quality. 'Shine A Light', the Martin Scorsese-directed film of the 2007 New York theatre concerts by The Rolling Stones contains some fabulous moments (and, it must be said, quite a few rather odd ones!) whilst 'There'll Always Be An England' is a remarkable document of last year's Brixton Academy concerts by The Sex Pistols; directed by long-time associate Julian Temple it features the audience almost as much as it features the band!

And I've seen some great live shows this year- The Who (of course!) in London a couple of weeks ago, The Sex Pistols (of course!!) at both Birmingham and London, Wilko Johnson in Watford, The Godfathers in London, The Blockheads with Wilko in Camden- but I think my 2 favourite shows from this year have been 2 very different blues gigs. Buddy Guy gave an astonishing performance at The Shepherds Bush Empire back in June whilst in August Kris Dollimore played a solo show in a pub outside Chesham, both of which had me mumbling 'back home to practise then' throughout. Great stuff.

This year's 'Did That Really Happen?' moment has to be meeting Steve Cropper. Playing in Dave Finnegan's Commitments and The Chicago Blues Brothers have meant that I've played Cropper's guitar riffs more than I've played anybody else's over the last few years and I can honestly say that I've never found them to be anything less than inspirational. When I shook his hand I felt like I was shaking hands with soul music itself- and it doesn't get much better than that does it?

Far too many great musicians left the building in 2008, among them Richard Wright, Mitch Mitchell, Isaac Hayes and, earlier this month, Davey Graham. When I worked at the E.M.I. factory in Ruislip all those years ago I met a chap called Ken who, incredibly, had shared a flat with Davey Graham back in the day. He told me all manner of stories about those times, but the one that came to mind today concerns the day that he came home to find Davey hunched over his guitar, deep in thought. When he saw Ken he said words to the effect of 'Do you think this is any good?' then played Ken an instrumental piece that he'd just written- making Ken the first person ever to hear 'Anji'. Words like 'genius', 'virtuoso' and 'legend' are in my opinion rather overused these days- but Davey Graham was all those things and more.

Plenty to look forward to in 2009 gigging with The CBB's as well as continuing to work at Pro Music in Ickenham and 'We Will Rock You' in London with Stuart the guitar repair man; I'm also putting on some acoustic gigs at The Load of Hay in Uxbridge as well as getting the R'n'B band (tentatively named The Retrobates) with Andy, Dave and Mike off the ground and, if I can finally banish my memories of our appalling performance last December from my mind, I might see if the rest of The Price fancy getting back together again... keeping busy as they say. And I've finally managed to work out how Voltarol puts links to websites in his blog! I'll be putting YouTube clips in next...

Cheers and thanks for reading- see you in 2009!

In case you're wondering about the title of this posting go back to my last posting of 2007-
I haven't come very far in the last 12 months have I?!?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Folk, blues, and all points in between

2008 ends with the sad news of the death of Davy Graham. As a guitarist he crossed virtually every musical barrier, mixing folk with blues, jazz with pop and, ultimately, East with West. In doing so he re-wrote the rulebook on what you could and couldn't do with the instrument and influenced everybody from acoustic players like Bert Jansch through to rockers like Jimmy Page in the process. He popularised DADGAD tuning (whether he actually 'invented' it or not is open to dispute) which was used to such great effect on everything from 'Kashmir' by Led Zeppelin to Rory Gallagher's version of Leadbelly's 'Out On The Western Plain'- see what I mean about crossing barriers?- and is often cited as the man who showed that the guitar could be a credible solo instrument in folk music. To describe his much-covered instrumental piece 'Anji' as a classic is a bit like saying that Muhammad Ali is quite a well-known boxer. Hell, even I've tried to play it!

If what counts in this life is what you leave behind when you're gone, then Davy Graham has left behind more than most. It's very sad to see him go.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Behold this study of your humble narrator taken earlier this month in the hallowed confines of Pro Music International in Ickenham. If you're thinking 'it looks like he's playing an electric ukulele shaped like a Gibson Les Paul' then you're absolutely correct- American Tom took this picture of me on his phone when I was playing that well-known Christmas classic 'White Riot' (well, I got the first word right!) to the general bemusement of all concerned.
It's been a busy few weeks in the shop as you might well imagine- if there is a credit crunch then it doesn't seem to have affected everybody! The last 2 weeks have been particularly chaotic with deliveries arriving as late as 5 o'clock some days and the phone line approaching meltdown on several occasions. Then again Paul the guv'nor took us all out for a curry on Sunday evening (top man!) and we were in the pub by 5 o'clock today (just as well as it closed at 5.30!) so it hasn't been all hard work!
In the midst of all this madness (and with my ears just about recovering from The Who gigs earlier in the week) Friday saw the last Chicago Blues Brothers theatre show for this year, at The Lighthouse in Kettering. An unusually clear M1 meant that everyone arrived on time or even early which doesn't happen too often (!) but it gave us chance for a soundcheck/rehearsal with Matt and McGoo who were doing their first show with us- Matt did the Alnwick show last month with Mario, and he used to do the Blues Brothers West End show with McGoo several years ago. The theatre's part of the Kettering Conference Centre and has only been open since June- with Dave and Richard doing a fish and chips run myself and Squirrel set up the merchandise (we've got some this time!) in the foyer and with people queuing up to buy things before we've got everything on display it's set to be a good show. Roger (keyboards) and Chris (drums) are doing their 3rd show with us in the space of a week and they've got things well under control, and with Matt and McGoo at the helm it's an energetic performance with everyone in top form with the only glitch occurring when Sam the soundman played the second half intro voiceover earlier than we were expecting causing a somewhat panicky race to the stage with shirts being buttoned up on the way. We got there just as the audience were getting restless! The journey home was enlivened no end by hearing The Gene Drayton Unit's tremendous version of 'Geno' on The Mark Lamaar Show- I've not heard of the band before so I've got to check them out- and an extraordinary version of 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' by Hammond organ hero Jimmy Smith from his 'Christmas '64' album, which I managed to find on Amazon before I left for the shop Saturday morning. Well I hope I did- I wasn't exactly awake so I could have ordered almost anything!

Now it's 2 days off (thank God!) before a return to shop duty on Saturday- Happy Christmas to you and yours, see you on the other side...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Slip-up Kids

I've just seen The Who 3 times in the last 4 days. Does this make me, to use a word I often hear young people use in a very disparaging manner, 'sad'?

No- it makes me very happy indeed!

When writing about them in a previous posting I mused on what they would have to do for me to say that they'd played badly- well on Monday night I found out. They attempted to play an acoustic version of 'Slip Kid' as part of their encore which was frankly, not very good... well actually it was pretty awful, terrible even. There- I said it! It would have helped if Roger Daltrey had known the words, or even sounded as though he'd heard the song before; then again what on earth was Simon Townshend doing? Standing at the back of the stage clapping along and attempting to provide backing vocals he looked like someone who would rather have been anywhere rather than where he was, and doing anything other than what he was doing. And as for big brother Pete- sitting on a red sparkly Fender stool scowling across the stage as he attempted to remember a chord sequence he'd written 30-something years ago he seemed a long way from being the man who wrote the rulebook for rock guitar performance. As they crucified one of my favourite Who songs I looked around me at my fellow audience members- some were laughing, others looked horrified, most looked bemused. Could this really be the same people who had just delivered such an astonishing performance of some of the greatest rock songs ever written?

Yes, incredibly it could- and indeed it was. In the previous 90-or-so minutes they'd played with enough energy to power half of London, a feat they repeated on the other 2 nights with an almost casual brilliance that most bands strive for but never even get near to achieving. All the classics were there for the casual observer/'C.S.I.' fan, but there were a few twists for the diehards like myself- they don't play 'Naked Eye' too often these days, I last saw them play 'Sister Disco' in 1981 with the much-maligned (unfairly so in my not-so-humble opinion) Kenney Jones on drums, and I'd never seen them play 'Tattoo' before- so everyone went home happy. Pete Townshend is now officially rock's grumpiest old man, ranting and raving about everything from airline ticket prices to the plot of 'Quadrophenia' ('a kid has a bad day- and then it rains') whilst wearing a pair of outsized sunglasses and a black trilby that, as Big Andy put it, made him look like something between a Beastie Boy and a Blues Brother. After Monday night's opening number 'I Can't Explain' (how many other bands can still start their shows with their first single 43 years after it was first released?) he put his guitar down and walked offstage with words to the effect of 'something weird's happened in my inner ear' leaving a bemused band to follow him a few moments later; he returned after a few minutes to play the song again, one of the strangest things I've ever seen happen on a stage. But The Who were never predictable, and maybe that's why I like them so much- it's not just that every show is different, it's that every performance of every song has the potential to be different to the one before. I've just been listening to a recording of them in Amsterdam in 1969; it's the same set that they played 6 months later at Leeds University but parts of it couldn't be more different- not better or worse, just different. The best part of 40 years later and with half of the band sadly passed away the group now called 'The Who' is still as uncontrollable and dangerous on stage as ever, which in these days of X-Factored monotony is a rarity worth celebrating. Now if they could just get 'Slip Kid' right next time... please...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Andover express

2 sold-out Chicago Blues Brothers gigs in a row this weekend- always a good thing to be part of in my not-so-humble opinion:-

Friday's show was at The Lights Theatre in Andover- myself, Richard and Dave arrived around 4.30 (after a somewhat unexpected detour to Blackbushe Car Auctions- Richard likes it there!) to find sound guru Ian Bond nearly ready for us to soundcheck. It being the season to be jolly there's people away gigging elsewhere giving an unfamiliar look about the band- Roger's on keyboards, Chris makes his debut on drums and Mario's up front with another Chris who's also with us for the first time 'though he's worked with Mario on many occasions before. Having several dep's in the band can often be a recipe for disaster (see October's '...THAT much talent...' posting for an example of a show where it can all go badly wrong) and when my first conversation with Chris the drummer reveals that he's not seen a DVD or heard a CD and will be reading the entire show things don't necessarily bode well- which just goes to show how little I know as he plays the show with hardly any signs that he's only just met the band.

More about that in a minute. Firstly some stuff about guitars...

You may recall that my latest 'accidental guitar' (I don't go looking for them, they seem to find me! Honest! Well, ok, I happen to be in a guitar shop or on eBay when they find me but that's not the point..!) is a Fender Stratocaster aquired last month in a somewhat bizarre swapping incident somewhere near Coventry; with Bondy bringing along his Gibson Les Paul for me to pass onto Stuart the guitar repairman for some much needed repair work it seemed a good chance for me to take my Strat along for some mutual guitar nerdery. Ian bought his guitar earlier this year in the U.S.A. whilst on tour with Porcupine Tree- it's a black '70's Custom, a model colloquially known as a 'fretless wonder' due to it having very low, flat frets (if you're feeling brave check out for some background information and a review of a similar guitar- go on, you know you want to!) although in this case the guitar lives up to it's nickname a bit too much for Ian's liking so he's giving it to Stu for a re-fret. It's a great guitar that screams 'ROCK 'N' ROLL' from the moment you pick it up- it'll be interesting to see how it shapes up after Stu's worked on it. My Strat got a good revue from Bondy who it turns out hadn't intended to come back from the States with a new guitar but had found it in a shop and was powerless to resist- see, it's not just me that does it!

Back in the real world soundcheck turns into a rehearsal with beginnings, middles and endings being tried out and the setlist being mulled over left right and centre- we put some things in, leave some things out and arrive at a show worth playing. With the rest of the band off in search of food I retire to the bar to catch up on some phone calls before heading backstage to prepare for a 7.45 show. As our intro voiceover plays I follow Squirrel out onto one of the darkest stages I've ever encountered, nearly tripping over the monitor as I stumble towards my guitar. At the allotted moment I nod at Chris who counts in 'Peter Gunn'- no turning back now but it's sounding good and the audience are into it straight away with Mario and Chris bantering furiously and much merriment all round. At half time Bondy comes backstage, I ask him to see if the lighting man can put a bit more light on stage at the start of the second half- he does, but only just... still it's light enough for us to see Dave and Richard desperately changing their shirts at the side of the stage while we're already playing the first number 'New Orleans' so it's not all bad news!
Back in the bar afterwards I meet Ralph who loved the show, tells me I sound like Steve Cropper (cheers Ralph- it normally costs me a fortune over the bar to hear people say things like that!) and that his brother's a guitar teacher locally; people are asking for merchandise but we've forgotten it (!) which is annoying given the level of interest but I tell them to go on our website and to stay in touch through that. A fine evening.

After a suitably chaotic day in the shop- no time for lunch!- myself and the long-suffering Shirley battled our way through the wind and rain to Maidstone for another of our occasional Pizza Express shows. With everyone else already set up I sort myself out in world record time, opting to give the Strat it's first stage run-out in the process. When I go back to the bandroom everyone's tucking into pizza but there's no vegetarian one- being a moody old bugger (and, it has to be said, starving hungry) I decide to take various band members would-be-humorous comments personally and make myself thoroughly miserable in the process so Shirl and myself go next door to 'Earls' (I'm sure the pub's name changes every time we visit Maidstone!) for lager and peanuts- rock 'n' roll food! The Spurs vs. Man. Utd. game had just finished on T.V. and there's more than a few people in who are boisterous and a bit worse for wear but the atmosphere's good- there's a band setting up in the corner, the poster says they're called Eclipse 'though there must have been hundreds of bands called that over the years? There's a Deep Purple tribute band on there next week which suggests it's something of a 'rock' venue- it's certainly a noisy enough place judging by the time we spent there.
Back at Pizza Express it's a 8 o'clock show- we've done gigs there in the past when I've wondered if the audience knew what they were letting themselves in for but this time they were ready to go from the first song. Bev's in for Richard on sax and we start where we left off in Andover i.e. sounding a lot better than a band that's 50% deps should sound. At half time I get accosted by some people who ask if I'm also in a local band called The Chillbillies- they're really embarrassed when I tell them that I'm not- and who incorrectly guess that I'm one of the deps! I decide to cheer up and concentrate more in the second half... but the Strat feels good and sounds even better, and the band play a great show to scenes of mass hysteria that cheer me up (a bit!) at last.

As we leave the venue Eclipse are playing 'Foxy Lady' next door, it's stopped raining at last and we've got John Mayer on the car stereo for the way home- remind again why was I so miserable earlier?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

'ere we go / earwig oh!

In contrast to the previous day Sunday was almost too leisurely- with an afternoon flight the chance to catch up on some much needed sleep was universally appreciated although going for a walk after breakfast revealed our hotel to be in what I'm sure is one of the less tourist-orientated parts of Zurich i.e. an industrial estate. Not long after 1 o'clock we caught the shuttle bus to the airport for the customary hurry-up-and-wait for our flight (on time this time) which got us back to London City Airport around 4.30 p.m.- I almost expected to arrive at Heathrow... or Gatwick... or...

I didn't have too much time back at home as Sunday was the first of 'my' nights at The Load of Hay in Uxbridge; given the title 'Acts Less Ordinary' by Grant the landlord and featuring acoustic music booked by your humble narrator they're going to get off the ground properly in the new year but I've put a couple of evenings together to try it out before then. This one had local singer/songwriter (and my occasional dep in the CBB band) Joe Card next to slide guitarman Garry Smith and went pretty well for a first attempt 'though we could have had a few more people in- then again I guess any venue could always have a few more people in? Tonight it's the turn of the splendidly-named 2-acoustic-guitar-duo Donut, then there's a break until the middle of January- more news as and when I have it, as they say.

This week the shop's alternated between being frantically busy and almost desolate, with not much in between. Friday night saw the annual Ickenham Festival where all the shops in the village stay open until 9 p.m. and hundreds of people appear from nowhere expecting something BIG to happen. I'm not sure that it ever really does but an atmosphere of general jollity prevailed- the hot chocolate stand outside our shop gave us all free drinks all in exchange for us providing them with electricity for the night, American Tom and Charlotte (Paul the guv'nor's daughter) were spotted dancing on a street corner to The Vyners Swing Band and they served mince pies and mulled wine in the funeral parlour, which I think you'll agree is something that you don't see every day of the week. I left the shop just after 9.30 p.m. and arrived back around 12 hours later to open up for the busiest day of the season so far, 'though I suspect there's busier to come.
After finishing our chores at 'We Will Rock You' on Thursday Stuart the guitar repair man and myself walked over to 'The Jersey Boys' at The Prince Edward Theatre to re-string yet more guitars including a 12-string Fender Stratocaster; now there's another thing that you don't see everyday of the week although given the time it took for me to get it up and running again this may not be a bad thing.

Talking of jollity I've been boring everyone senseless with the Swiss promoter's website (see the link from last month's 'Brewhouse Blues' posting) which reveals more madness everytime I look at it. The description of Tom Jones may well have the funniest opening line that I've ever seen, and I'm convinced that Elton John will attempt to close the entire internet down if he ever reads what it says about him. I'm reliably informed by my internet-savvy buddies that it's all the result of an automatic translation program and that much as I'd like to think that it's supposed to say what it says in English, the original German is probably fairly sensible. Shame... however East has managed to work out why it keeps mentioning earwigs- check out for the full story, 'though that doesn't explain the dancing bears or being pristine and tempo loaded. Then again I'm not sure that anything can!

This week there's more days in the shop, another day at the theatre, 2 CBB gigs and then I'm off to see The Who. Busy times...

Monday, December 01, 2008

'Swiss time was running out, it seemed that we would lose the race...'

This photo of your humble narrator was taken sometime around 10 o'clock on Saturday evening. I'm in the recently-opened Westside Shopping Centre in Bern, Switzerland where The Chicago Blues Brothers and their band have just played a storming set in front of an almost impossibly enthusiastic audience. If you're thinking to yourself that the photo looks a little blurred then you're not wrong- but it's actually me that looks blurred, not the photo. Here's why...

It's just after 7.15 a.m. on Saturday morning and Richard, Dave, Tracy and myself are arriving at London City Airport. It's cold and a bit foggy, especially over the water, and the taller buildings disappear into the ether a bit more than I remember them doing the last time I was here. Squirrel and Pete are waiting for us on the airport concourse where we check in for the 8.25 a.m. flight to Zurich- Pete ruefully observes that it's 'already been delayed to 8.50'- then join Marc, Chris and Mike for breakfast in the departure lounge. The mood is good- spirits are almost as high as the prices of the food- until the nearby screen suddenly flickers into life to announce that pretty much all of the scheduled outgoing flights have been cancelled, and to show where the incoming flights are being diverted to. Pete goes off to find out what's happening, then returns with the news that we've all got to go back down to the check-in area to book onto another flight. Amid the ensuing chaos comes the news that, you've guessed it, low cloud is to blame. While we're in the check-in queue our luggage re-appears (including the guitar and bass- phew!) around the same time that we receive the news that our flight will be leaving from Heathrow- yes, Heathrow- at an as-yet-unspecified time in the afternoon, and that a bus to take us there will be leaving at 10.30 sharp; with just over an hour to wait we retired to Coffee Corner to ponder the ironies of life.
On the bus I'm seated next to a distinguished gentleman who, in the course of our conversation reveals himself to be a dealer and collector of rare books; when I told him I was in a band he rather angrily asked me if our singers were black- I expect he's got a first edition copy of 'Mein Kampf' somewhere at home... some 5 hours after checking in at City Airport we checked in at Heathrow, after which Squirrel and myself were dispatched to Gate X with our guitars before meeting the rest of the troops in the departure area. We took off not long after 3 o'clock on a flight due to arrive in Zurich around 5 o'clock local time (they're an hour ahead of us) which under normal circumstances wouldn't necessarily be a huge problem- except that we're due to be onstage in Bern, around an hour's drive from the airport, at 5 p.m...
At Zurich Airport we meet up with Ronnie the promoter and Marcel the driver; Pete, Mike and Tracy go in Ronnie's car with the rest of us going with Marcel in his people carrier. As we hurtle towards Bern Marcel reveals his taste in driving music- 'Machine Gun' by Jimi Hendrix, 'Psycho Killer' by The Talking Heads, the German language version of 'Games Without Frontiers' by Peter Gabriel- well, I was happy!
We arrive at the recently-opened Westside Shopping Centre just after half past six. It might seem odd to us for a band to play in a shopping centre (it certainly seemed odd to me when I first heard that we were doing it) but I'm told that this type of thing happens over in Europe all the time. Excellent! The stage is all set- well it would be if you think about it!- and I've got a Fender Twin Reverb combo to play through, a bit loud but sounding great to me. We get changed, check our gear and start with 'Peter Gunn'; there's a few hundred people watching with more arriving all the time, as the set progresses they start getting into it, dancing, singing- can this really be happening in a shopping centre? Yes, incredibly, it can. Richard, using a radio mic, plays his solo in 'Flip Flop and Fly' from out in the audience while Dave 's lying on the stage getting his picture taken- he later admitted that he had trouble getting back up again! Then, suddenly, the show takes a dangerous turn- as we start 'Do You Love Me' with Pete singing 'you broke my heart' over my guitar chords, there's a loud thud behind me, I wonder what it was and turn around to see what's happened, only to see Chris sprawled out between the drum and keyboard riser. I tap Pete on the shoulder, tell him to stop the song, he asks for medical assistance as Chris isn't moving- then tells Mike to sing the song and gets behind the keyboards! With Chris receiving medical attention and me yelling chords at Pete we get through the song (Squirrel and Tracy helped Mike out in the bits he didn't know!) before I remember that we play the song as a medley with 'Shake Your Tailfeather' and the look on Pete's face says he's not looking forward to the piano intro... as we get to it I shout something like 'don't worry I'll play it'- and incredibly I do! I've no idea what I played (on the guitar, in case you're thinking that I suddenly learned how to play piano like Ray Charles!) but everyone seemed to think that it sounded ok... by now Chris is back on his feet but looking shaky, tells Pete he's ok and we swing into 'Mustang Sally', the place is going wild and the last 2 songs 'River Deep Mountain High' and 'Gimme Some Loving' cause a near riot. We encore with 'Jailhouse Rock' and Pete says goodnight but no one's going anywhere so we return for 'Sweet Home Chicago' with everyone getting a solo and audience scenes of what might best be described as 'mass hysteria'. An unforgettable gig.

Afterwards in the dressing room I ask Chris what happened- he's not sure, he thinks he tripped over the monitor or something, thought he'd broken his arm but it seems to be ok now. Ronnie takes us across to the Spiga pasta and pizza restaurant opposite where we'd just played for a much needed meal after which it's time to head back to The Hotel Ibis near Zurich Airport where we check in; I'm sharing with Squirrel in room 539, we go in to find it's only got a double bed so we stumble back down to reception amid much confusion- the porter comes back up to the room with us, puts a key in an otherwise innocent looking lock under the window ledge and a bed miraculously drops down out of the wall. On another day this might have seemed a surreal moment- but not on this day, where logic and proportion had long since left the building. We join Pete down in the bar, 'Prime Suspect' is on the T.V. and there are 3 likely lads sitting at the bar telling tales of drunkenness and cruelty. We reflect on how quickly we've got used to the smoking ban in this country, on our chances of playing at The Montreux Jazz Festival next year and, most of all, on a day that had against all the odds had turned out to be a very good one indeed- in the end.