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I was in the first class carriage again, which was GRATE if possibly DAFT. I was booked to play this gig - an afternoon spot as part of the local council's 12 Days Of Christmas celebrations - after playing locally with Mr Bob Fischer a couple of months ago. When they asked how much MONEY I wanted I looked up the train fare and asked for THAT... then, once that was agreed, foolishly thought "though it's not MUCH more to go first class..." and, basically, ended up PAYING five quid NET to do the gig!
Still it was all very nice, especially the bit when I changed to go from York to Thornaby and had the ENTIRE first class compartment to myself. I then had to wait 20 minutes on a FREEZING platform (it really is BLOODY COLD up North at the moment!) to go five minutes to Stockton itself, using a Northern Rail train. I've used trains by MOST rail companies and I have to say Northern Rail ones are by FAR the GROTTIEST. They're just horrible - it's always dark, filthy, and half of the seats are BROKEN.
I was the only person ALIGHTING at Stockton and had quite a long walk into town, which, to be tactful, had clearly seen BETTER TIMES. LOADS of shops were boarded up and about half the ones that weren't were boarded up, and there were a lot of people who did not look very well at all. I spent quite a long time wandering around until I eventually found Green Dragon Yard hidden down an alleyway. I went down and found a stage in a courtyard, where one lady singer was singing to the four security guards on hand, whilst being ignored by two ladies sat at a table in front of her who were chatting and, when somebody walked into the yard on their way somewhere else, SCREAMING at passers by.
I said hello to the organisers, who were all very lovely, had a coffee, watched the rest of the set, and then nipped into the pub for a pint, where I got into conversation with some locals. This all seemed very pleasant until I returned from the loo to find one of them had just come back from DRAGGING someone at a different table to the ground and THUMPING them. His victim looked in his 20s, but the ASSAILANT himself was at least 60, with a big SANTA BEARD, and everyone just carried on afterwards as if nothing had happened. I looked on AGOG!
Mr Craig Steward had just arrived at this point - he'd planned to use the GIG as the start to his traditional Christmas day of all-day drinking, but had apparently got the date wrong so his pals couldn't make it. I was GLAD of his mistake, however, as it meant I wasn't sat on my own but ALSO meant i had an audience. I went out to play and did the ENTIRE GIG to HIM, as follows:
The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
The Advent Calendar Of FACT
I Come From The Fens
Clubbing In The Week
Hey Hey 16K
It Only Works Because You're Here
Billy Jones Is Dead
Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
Well, to be fair there were SOME other people around - the security guards were still there (and to give them their credit, there may have been fighting in the pub, but NONE in the courtyard!) some smokers from the pub glanced at me for a bit, and two members of the next band watched my last couple of songs (and were thus FORCED to do the OI HIBBETT bit in Easily Impressed), but basically the whole thing was done for an audience of ONE. I was tempted to ask Craig to go inside for a song, just so I could play to ACTUAL NOBODY and see if i could answer any philosophical questions about If There Is No Audience Is There Still A Gig, but it was VERY cold so thought I'd best just get on with it.
It was all rather enjoyable tho, in an odd way, and once it was all done I finished my drink, said my farewells, and we SCOOTED round the corner to a pub where, apparently, there were not likely to be any more FITES. I was quite pleased to find it was a pub that, earlier, I'd looked at and thought "That looks like a good pub". I was RIGHT, tho BLIMEY: the HEAD on my pint of BASS looked like an explosion in a SOAP SUD FACTORY, it was AMAZING!
Some chat, crisps and BEER later we walked over the Millenium Bridge (which LOOKED so much like a Millenium Bridge I had KNOWN it would be before we saw the plaque) to another pub which turned out to be 10 minutes away and DIRECTLY opposite Thornaby Station, thus cutting about half an hour from my journey! GRATE! Mr Steward then escorted me to said station and I was soon heading South.
I must say i had a LOVELY day - I know some would suggest that is a bit daft to spend NINE HOURS travelling to the other end of the country and back to play to one person, but it's the DAFTNESS of it I really like, especially when the person concerned is someone you can then go on to have a DELIGHFTUL afternoon in the pub with, and especially ALSO when you can have a proper cup of tea on the way home. Worth it? DEFINITELY!
posted 12/12/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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Yer on me podcast, fella. http://www.pennybroadhurst.com/podcasthome
Ah, Stockton. I always love playing there, but it's always a bit mad in some way or another.
posted 12/12/2008 by Penny
An Artists Against Success Presentation