I blag another lift from the Aged P up to Kensal Green with the extra stuff and arrive early. I sit on the speaker and wait. Then Matt the Drummer picks me up and we drive down to East Grinstead for the gig. Joan is travelling with David and Charlotte, and they are held up on the M25 (because they are on the east-side bit and we are on the west-side, we are held up less than they, and we arrive only just after we were supposed to).
When we get there Spekki Chris is just soundchecking.
Alastair (who will be doing sound for us) arrives in a big van, with a Fender combo, infinitely preferable to the H&H.
When it’s our turn to soundcheck I can’t hear anything at all of me. I think this is because I’m muted in the mixer, whereas it is in fact because I’m not making any sound. I have the guitar/synth switch switched to guitar. Nonetheless I play perfectly, oh yes. Perhaps inaudible guitar has a future.
There is a slow but constant stream of people arriving, but it being very hot in the marquee (and there not being anything very interesting happening there at the moment), they are wandering around the periphery – up to the house and down to the bouncy castle. It may well be when we play we will have a large but extremely dissipated audience.
A long line of ribbons is laid out on the grass in the marquee. Whether this is part of an Official Entertainment or just some child’s personal game I cannot say. Also some small boys naturally decide that on a hot day like this, inside a stuffy tent and right in front of the stage is a perfect place for a game of football.
There is a lengthy sitting around period (there being some uncertainty as to whether the timings should be theatrically disciplined or musically lax. Music wins out, quite properly) and then Sweet Laredo play first with a nicely chilled, bluesy set (perfect summer afternoon music), followed by Spekki and his bass-fellow. The small boys decide that the most appropriate form of audience participation must be running up and down in front of the stage holding a ribbon between them and shouting. This is an original approach.
When we take the stage, I am interested to see how loud the guitar is – too quiet for One More Button, so I turn it up a bit. On Mother therefore it’s quite noisy and jangly, which I like. I check with Joan and apparantly it’s not too loud, so I’m happy. I really enjoy playing the set, Summer Season with its Gilmouresque guitar solo is a high point and getting through the instrumental section of In My Life without ballsing it up is another (I actually count down the bars). I love doing the song, but have become fixated on making a huge boo-boo during this performance of it (it being done ‘specially). The box is a success from my point of view, although I should start thinking about getting a keyboard amp or something I can use as backline.
More enjoying the party (although it’s a family party for a family I’m not really a part of, so it’s a circumspect, proxy enjoyment. But then I like watching people having a good time anyway). The strange thing is that, this being a celebration of a theatre’s birthday there are many faces that I recognise from film and television. Now I have the worst memory for faces ever, the best that I can do is sort of recognise familiar faces – an alarm goes off in my head when I see someone I recognise and while I’m dredging around in my brain to try to remember where I recognise them from (or even a name if I’m lucky) I try to work out whether I ought to greet them. Today I have to keep telling myself that although people look familiar I must not say hello to them, because not only have we never met but here of all places they don’t want to be bothered by nutters.
It certainly proves that it’s possible for you to have more fun in East Grinstead than Alan Ayckbourne would have you believe.
I get the unused and perhaps unusable H&H and speaker onto a Londonward van and get a lift home with Matt who drops me off at Kensal Green again. I can’t get a ticket, but the turnstiles are open so I decide to risk it and pay at the excess fares counter when I get to Elephant. But I now need the loo very much. I practise deep breathing and buddhist tolerance and read a discarded News of the World entirely, it seems, to do with the recently concluded Big Brother 3. Not having a television or, indeed, any interest at all for this diversion, it’s all news to me. But not very interesting news. Still, the notion of celebrity is a Theme of the Day. It comes to something when someone can be famous for being in a short-term flatshare, though.
The turnstiles are open at the Elephant so my journey was free. Thank you London Transport!
I eat four vegeburgers (making up for the fact that there were piles of beefburgers available earlier on, but I’m a vegetarian) and go to bed.