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Blog: Even More Travel

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We left Brentwood for the OPEN ROAD, with Mr E Curry from Phoenix giving me a lift to Harlow, so's I could catch the train to Cambridge. It should have been a quick 20 minute drive but it took over NINETY, as the roads were SCREWED. Apparently there'd been an accident on the M25, which had spread CHAOS throughout the South East, verily e'en unto the M11, so we soon found ourselves stuck in a MASSIVE traffic jam about five miles long. THIS is where things got EXCITING, as we had GPS, so NIPPED off round some country lanes and got about half a mile further along until we hit ANOTHER queue, where we sat for twenty minutes enjoying watching people BEING REALLY ESSEX. My favourite bit was a lovely old granny LEAPING UP AND DOWN in her car seat BELLOWING abuse and waving her arms at other people in the queue (such was her RAGE) whilst in the other lane people drove THE WRONG WAY at HIGH SPEEDS, even including someone in a LANDROVER doing SKIDZ as they HURTLED round it anti-clockwise. Going to Essex always feels a bit like entering THE WILD WEST, in both a GOOD and a BAD way.

Anyhow, we'd had enough of that after a bit so SADDLED UP and hit the trail again, whooshing round the roundabout we'd been stuck at and out across the PRAIRIE again in a different direction. THIS time we got to the M11 junction where it looked like cars were piled up ON TOP OF EACH OTHER. They weren't, obviously, but the way people were HULKING OUT with DEMENTED HATRED for each other and grasping at MILLIMETRES of space made it feel like it, so we turned around again and finally found a clear route through to HARLOW: FRONTIER TOWN!

I stumbled into Harlow Station DESPERATE for a WEE, and discovered that the GENTS were all LOCKED due to "a smashed window and your safety", according to a felt tipped sign stuck to the door, so I had to use the LADIES. It was NOT a pleasant place to be, in fact the whole place was one of the GROTTIEST stations i have ever been in - and HEY! I have been in a LOT of railway stations. EVERYWHERE seemed to be DRIPPING and/or be covered in slime, ALL the floors looked like the loors of a toilet in a dodgy nightclub at 1am - suddenly, remembrance of ROCK CITY, NOTTINGHAM, and having to MOONWALK across the dancefloor to get mobility - and it STANK. Also all electrical equipment seemed to be SPARKING DANGEROUSLY.

I was thus quite pleased to get on the train and get GOING. My carriage was soon filled with a MOB of teenage boys who were LEAPING AROUND and FIGHTING each other, making a right old racket until two stops later when two slightly older teenage GURLS got on in a cloud of perfume, and the boys instantly STILLED. It was quite sweet really!

Eventually we got to Cambridge and I got a taxi over to The Portlant Arms where I met Chris and the other people running the evening, and soon everything became IMMENSELY PLEASANT. The Portland's a dead nice pub, even without the really good venue bit, and with the lovely company I was soon having a DEAD good time, so much so that I had to FORCE myself to go and sit in my ROOM (i'd booked a room ABOVE the pub for the night: CLEVER) and watch telly for a bit to STOP myself having too much NICE BEER and thus invalidating the actual gig. PROFESSIONALISM!

Soon it was time for the ROCK to begin, and first on was Tom Conway who was dead good - I thought he was going to be DOUR, largely because he is VERY tall and thin, but he was really engaging and funny and THOROUGHLY enjoyable... which, as I went on to say, is always slightly annoying, as I had to follow him, which I did with THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • The Gay Train
  • Never Going Back To Aldi's
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • It Only Works Because You're Here
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • I had a GRATE time! Everybody seemed to be WELL into it, with some songs getting LAFFS throughout - at the CORRECT places! - especially on the LIVE SOLO DEBUT for Do The Indie Kid, and the reintroduced Never Going Back To Aldi's seemed to work out dead well too. EVIDENCE of how much i enjoyed it can be found in the FACT that I talked so much between songs that i had to CUT two songs from the end to fit it all in. It was really really really good fun - HOORAH!

    After that it was Dolittle, and I'll say this for them, they acted during the gig like they were playing a STADIUM, but they'd been like that in the SOUNDCHECK too, goodness ME they were really going for it, AND though they were playing "stripped down" (vocals, guitar and bass) they had more GEAR than most ORCHESTRAS - in-ear microphones, about five pedals EACH and ALL sorts. After THEM it was Daniel Flay, who were DEAD good. It looked like the singer was going to EXPLODE INTO TEARS at any point, so EMOTIONAL and UPSET was he throughout, and at the beginning he seemed to be about to RUN AWAY AND SOB because he thought something was wrong with his guitar but, actually, this made it all rather COMPELLING and, handily, they had some LOVELY songs to play. I was IMPRESSED!

    So yes, a lovely night topped off by a long chat with some people from Wisbech and Stamford (though singing the traditional Peterborough Utd Lament "We Hate Cambridge and We Hate Cambridge, We Are The Cambridge Haters" may NOT have been such a good idea, geographically speaking) and NORMALLY I would have looked forward for a good hour or so of BEER and CHAT afterwards, but i was KNACKERED, so hied me away to my bed.

    I'd PLANNED to have another lie-in, but just like on Saturday I woke up REALLY early - at 7am, which was even worse as this was 6am in the old money - and set off to the station again. This being Sunday meant, of course, Public Transport was BUGGERED and i had to get a train to STANSTED before getting a bloody BUS to London (as they'd decided to close BOTH routes from Cambridge to London - HOORAH for the privatised rail network!). Still, when I arrived i got STRAIGHT on a train to Stratford, crossed the platform and got STRAIGHT on tube to Leytonstone, so at least the END of my Odyssey Of Transport was done in record time.

    I spent most of Sunday in BED after all that - I was DONE IN!

    posted 27/3/2007 by MJ Hibbett

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    Hey Mark! the Finches were in the same traffic jam. We set off from Ely to the Winter Derby at Lingfield Surrey and following a vibrant discussion over the merits of putting those radio travel bulletins on we blindly drove towards the M25 to find it shut, Plan B was to go round the M25 the other way to Kempton racecourse. The prevarication meant we missed that and ended up bumper to bumper on the M11. All plans to see live animals ended with a sign saying the Blackwall Tunnel was shut. We parked up at South Woodford and got the tube to the Natural History Museum. That's where the fun started - It was 1pm heaving and hot and the Iceman who has just turned two was hungry. We got to the self-service restaurant and a man put a rope across in front of us saying no more for 15 minutes and disappeared. The Morgster and said wife went to the loo and then 15 people piled in through the exit to the restaurant. From behind the rope I meekly said "excuse me there's a queue here, we;ve been told to wait" to which a woman turned at me and said "how terribly English of you" - well I oughta, if i hadn't been stuck behind a rope in sole care of a hungry child i'd have set Isaac on her. I wished her well eating my poor child's food but this Northern lass showed no remorse, i looked for her later to nudge her elbow but I couldn't see for the smoke from my ears. Later on the Iceman got a boy the smack. He had tried to show an 8 year old his toy dinosaur given to him by a lovely lady who returned to marshall the restaurant queue. The boy patently failed to frighten Isaac with his impression of a dinosaur but his dad returned to the scene and felt a wallop was necessary. Anyway, after a long day we got lost trying to make it back to the M11 and could well have been in your traffic jam on the a414 to Harlow touring South Essex before finally joining the m11 making it back to Newmarket at gone 8 in no mood to see the Hibster in Cambridge despite the generally uplifting nature of your music. Due to a chipped windscreen we did not go in my car with the number plate S6 LVR which would have no doubt featured in your blog of S6 traffic jams. I feel you should leave my brothers alone! Good luck with the Lesson Of The Smiths - it is a grate song, see you someday - Finchy
    posted 29/3/2007 by Finches of Newmarket

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