Well now. About a week ago I got home from tour. For the benefit of foreign readers, I have laboriously marked our journey on this rather lovely Victorian map.
We had an absolutely fantastic time. Danny wrote a comprehensive blog, but I thought I’d add my own tour highlights:
New friendships. I only knew three of the eight-strong tour crew before we left, but now I feel like they’re my family. We ate, slept, fought, played, laughed and grumped together. In pissing-down rain, with hangovers, and colds, on beautiful sunny mornings setting off to a new place, drunk and dancing in our pyjamas. What a beautiful, generous, talented group of people.
Incredible hospitality everywhere we went. People were so generous in throwing open their doors and letting in eight smelly, hungry, messy, noisy musicians. They fed us and let us sleep on their floors, partied with us and in one particular case performed reiki on us. Thank you all so much…
Musical experiments. Some of the best playing was done in people’s living rooms. We invented a game called Just a Song, based on Radio 4’s Just a Minute. We co-wrote a folk-funk-fusion number called “Sexy Love Death”. Jools made up an epic rap about sealife which went on for at least ten minutes. We coerced our hosts into joining in, on cellos, ukuleles, drums, violins, zithers…
The food. It seemed that for every anodyne takeaway sandwich, someone cooked up a feast. It’s so true what they say about food made with love. We had delicious home-made chilli from Holly and Micaela in Cornwall, pork roast and honey from the farm in Devon, Rory’s pasta triumph in Cardiff, Jool’s grandparents’ 30 year old soup and freshly pressed apple juice, Jools’ roast vegetable pasta and Ben’s fantastic pumpkin soup in Scotland.
My birthday. I can’t think of a better way to spend it. I woke up after an incredible night of music with Martha in a little gabled room at the farm in Devon. Twin cots, floral wallpaper and lots of 1950s children’s books. Outside the sun was shining, inside we sat up in bed and laughed and I played with the lovely black cat that spent the night with me. Downstairs in the kitchen the guys were already frying up the sausages in the massive kitchen. We had toast and honey from the Calderbank’s beehives. We went off to Cardiff and recorded a live session for The Waiting Room, and the Curlies went off and made us a surprise lunch with cake while Laish were recording. I remember thinking how lucky I was to spend my birthday with my friends, although we’d only known each other three days. That evening we played the Folkhouse in Bristol. Candlelit and magical. Mum and Michael drove up to see us, Martha and I wore our new dresses. Jools got the sugarshakes from too much birthday cake. Michael had done a beautiful painting of Melville for me. We stayed at a house with a friendly cockatoo called Maude.
Richard Dawson. The man has been touched by the Gods. He is so blindingly insanely talented that I literally couldn’t shut my mouth while he played. Do yourself a favour and buy everything he ever does, ever.
Playing “In the End” with Martha in a huge ramshackle happy superband. Song of the tour, I think.
New instruments! Martha’s parlour guitar and my autoharp.
And so, now, back to normal life. The Laish album is out and you can buy it through the website. I am struggling with some weird tiredness thing, and trying to find a place for Michael and I to live. Martha’s now running a weekly music night, and there’s another gig on Saturday, and I have all these lovely new friends in Brighton, so I’m not too sad. I just have to find a job once this course ends. (A job that will allow me to go off on tour again… if the opportunity arises…)