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Blog: Edinburgh

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I got up early on Sunday morning (GUINESS was the reason), and trotted down to aforementioned M&S for a FRUITY BREAKFAST. When I checked out it turned out that the mini-bar system hadn't recognised my BEER and CRISPS from the night before - I very honestly pointed this out (they had my credit card details...) and was rewarded by getting them for free anyway! I should have had the champagne!

Then it was HO! for Edinburgh. Edinburgh is an AMAZING place, its like somebody set out to build London, but decided to put some effort in and do it PROPERLY. Everywhere you look is like a film set, just walking around the ordinary streets you're stunned by how beautiful it is. I strolled up the Mound to my hotel, which was on the Royal Mile, checked in, then headed out to SEE some stuff. HANDILY a tour bus came by, so I hopped on halfway through the tour. The lady doing the tour was very polite, but when we got to the start point we changed buses, and got an old GEEZER instead who told JOKES all along the route, so I went round the whole thing again, it was BRILLIANT.

It did feel very strange in places - I went up to Edinburgh in 1990 and 1991 to the Fringe Festival, and every so often I'd see somewhere that I recognised. The 1991 trip ended rather unpleasantly, largely because the venue went "bankrupt" and I got lumbered with about a grand's worth of debt, whilst most of the other people involved refused to have anything to do with it... so it's not a part of my life I look back on often, or fondly. This meant that when memories DID leap out at me they were of things I really haven't thought about in well over a decade, and I was amazed at how fresh and real they felt. Going past the big Museum Of Scotland I vividly remembered a bunch of people I was with having a lengthy argument, which destroyed the hopes of one of our number getting OFF with another one... it were STRANGE.

Anyway, when that was done I went back to the hotel, watched a DOCUMENTARY (OK, Star Trek), and then set off for the venue. The sun was starting to set as I walked down the mound, and I was struck by how very lucky I am to be able to do things like this, to get on a train and meet up with a gang of people I'd never met before, for them to turn out to be lovely, and for me to be able to experience all these different places up and down the country. It felt good.

Things took a turn for the WEIRD when I arrived at The Caledonian Backpacker's hostel, as it turned out to be ANOTHER place I'd been to before, to see a pretty crappy play about The Beatles back in 1991 - I'd been checking out the competition, as we were doing a (not at all crappy) MUSICAL sort-of about the Beatles at the same time. Inside the venue there was a Beatles MURAL on the wall, though I doubt it was in honour of that production, and the rest of the venue was decked out to look vaguely like an Australian Bar. This was, I guess, to make the many Australians there feel at home.

I nipped out again to post some postcards (ROCK AND ROLL!) to my Nan's (ROOOOCK!), and when I returned the whole GANG was there. We sat for the next two hours waiting for something to happen, and about halfway through The Other Band arrived. As soon as they walked in I knew exactly what kind of band they were - overly serious, proudly competent, hour-long soundchecking battle of the bands winners. The Hectors had seen many of their ilk before too, and we agreed that it was WEIRD that these bands ALWAYS sounded the same wherever you went (this lot sounded exactly the same, especially accent-wise, as every Leicester band who were ever like this) and WHENEVER you went. When I'd been in Edinburgh before, 13 years ago, members of our party were IN a band who sounded and LOOKED exactly like they did.

Anyway, eventually we got soundchecked, and The Other Band went on, fulfilling all predictions, yay e'en down to them over-running, not talkin to the audience, and bringing a strictly defined group of friends and girlfriends with them. Wanting to get ON with it, I went on almost straight away, and kicked off with "Back Of The Sofa", as requested by Ian and Adam. It sounded all right actually, I hadn't played it live for about three years, but that may now change. The gig itself was FINE, although felt it bit odd to be very much playing to the Hectors Massive, with nobody else paying attention... well, one of the Girlfriends Of The Other Band seemed to be listening and liking the words, which annoyed her boyfriend from The Other Band (who'd spent my first few songs pretending to be asleep) so much that they all had to leave. HA! Other than that, the Backpackers chose to ignore me completely. Well, they'd got in for free and just wanted a beer, so fair enough really.

Feeling moved by the occasion, I made a lengthy remark about "Billy Jones Is Dead" being all about certain times in your life that are incredibly precious and leave a lasting feeling of absence when they're gone, and about how we should appreciate them while we have them - this seemed extremely relevant given that this was the last original line-up gig for The Hectors, so I said so, and felt myself come over a bit unnecessary as a result. I know I'd only known them and their little group of friends a couple of days, but it felt like longer.

Sales reached the magical double figure of TWO that night, as half the people there who were listening AND hadn't been to a gig before bought CDs, and LO! I was very happy - as you can see from the screen to your right, this takes the totaliser to a whole new level. HOORAH!

The Hectors came on then, and though the sound wasn't as good as the night before, and there was a less SKIFFLE atmosphere due to the lack of drums, it was a Beautiful Thing for entirely other reasons. Somehow, over the course of the TOUR, I had decided to dispense WISDOM - it felt to me that they were in the same position VOON was many years ago, around the time that Neil left, and I felt it my duty to pass on the wisdom of my ages, so that they could carry on in JOY. For instance, I felt the need to KEEP saying that it was NOT a bad thing that Ian was leaving - he'd explained his reasons for not wanting to be in a band anymore, he'd given notice of it, and he was getting out BEFORE the whole thing was soured by bad feeling and going through the motions. In light of this, I pointed out that this was EXACTLY the gig to go out on, with the ENEMY in the room and your friends all watching, enjoying the night for what it WAS, a celebration of friendship, rather than being upset about whatever it wasn't.

Their set, then, was RAMSHACKLE and aimed directly at the long-serving, with several obviously very old songs coming out, as well as an ACE version of "Numanoid Hanglide". When it was over things felt a bit quiet, and soon they had to FLEE to get the bus home. HUGS were dispensed, by me mostly, and then they were away into the night. We all said that we would really have to do this again, and I think in this case, unusually for People In Bands, we all really meant it . Goodness knows I did.

I finished my drink, and strode off out into the night, and an overwhelming feeling of happiness washed over me. I thanked GOD for having such a life as this, for being able to travel around every so often and DO these slightly looney things, meet lovely people, and have such a lot of fun.

I celebrated on the way home in the traditional way: PIZZA!

posted 9/3/2004 by MJ Hibbett

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