…now go cat, go!
It’s terribly nice to be part of music combo which is popular with the public – it makes that business of setting up in front of people and making a noise with your electric guitars and amplified voices and suchlike so much more tolerable for everyone involved. At one point, believe it or not, I was in a band that was so popular that landlords used to invent gigs just so we’d go and visit them. For instance we were invited up to Lincolnshire once with the promise of a party gig on the Friday night and an acoustic session on the Saturday.
Being the jovial sorts we were, on our way to the venue where we were staying over and playing on the Saturday, we called into the pub where the earlier engagement was to be held only to be told that our booking had been ever so slightly exaggerated and that although we were invited to the party, our services as roving troubadours would not actually be required on this occasion. This posed a slight dilemma for some of us who had only secured weekend passes out from our respective FPOs on the grounds that we would essentially be contributing to the family coffers and not spending the weekend, well, passing out.
Desperate times call for desperate measures and since the next day found us with a few hours to spare, no gig money to tide us over and collectively holding at least the notion that we should not spend all day in the pub, ahem, 'preparing' for our evening session, we decided to set up in the market square and busk. It was a bright, sunny day, and our jam night repertoire was going down quite well with the goodly denizens of the town who, I would imagine, otherwise went about their market day business untroubled by the lilting melodies of The Beatles’ greatest hits. Occasionally The Drummer would wander off to investigate some stall or another, usually taking his snare with him, and we were able to track his progress around the market by the alternate loom and retreat of his thwackery.
At one point he inexplicably careered across our collective line of sight on rollerblades and then, with perfect Keystone timing, back again. All in all we had a good afternoon of it and at the end of our marathon session retired back to base camp with enough loose change to get a few rounds in, raid the local Chinese takeaway and line up a good few games of pool in the public bar, which was lucky, as the band who had actually been booked for the evening were already setting up when we got back and were almost as surprised as we were to find that our host had, unbeknownst to either of us, come up with the idea of combining both our sets in a revue-style extravaganza.
Shortly after this we were engaged in conversation by a member of the local street community who had taken exception to us actually performing for money earlier in the day as this apparently had the effect of diverting the limited pool of charitable donations available away from the more deserving, non-musical fraternity. Short of starting a point with “Spare a talent for an old ex-leper?” it was difficult to know how we were going to get anything positive out of this rather politically charged conversation.
At least when we then got into conversation with a girl who’d moved from Birmingham to be with her boyfriend and had been frustrated by the small town-ness of her adopted home ever since, she had the good grace to ask us all to assess the pertness of her behind by taking turns to spank it, and we thought things might have taken a turn for the better, until her other half actually turned up, all combat fatigues and brick outhousedness, wondering where his tea was, and we decided not to pursue that particular avenue of diversion any further than the limited number of baby steps we’d already taken along it.
By this point, if we’d had an agent, we would have fired him (or her) as the situation was becoming somewhat farcical. I would have written ‘becoming a pantomime’ but that would imply that we were at least in with a chance of going home with a handful of magic beans, or something more concrete – mind you, by this stage simply some concrete would have been an acceptable compromise.
As we watched the collection jug go round the pub (in lieu of an actual ‘fee’) we pondered upon the lessons we could learn from our weekend away. “Rollerblades” said someone “We should definitely get some rollerblades”.