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Blog: Just Like A Hard Day's Night

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I was off to BIRMINGHAM last night, but first i had to ESCAPE FROM LONDON!

I'd booked a ticket online AGES ago, going from Marylebone to Snow Hill, but someone pointed out that this was the line that'd been buggered up by Tesco's AVALANCHE of MUD onto the train lines at Gerrard's Cross a while ago. I thus spent a VERY frustrating afternoon trying to ring ANYBODY who had a clue what was going on - all i got was answering machines, uninformative webpages, and a very confused guy in India who didn't understand why I had a ticket for a train that no longer existed (they'd rearranged the timetable, see, and i wanted to know if my ticket was transferable). I spoke to a LOVELY man at Central Trains about it, who couldn't help much, but WAS the second ever LOVELY person i've dealt with in all my long and grim history with this company, the first being the GRATE Ticket Inspector who's worked on the Birmingham to Norwich line YEA e'en since i first moved to Leicester.

I eventually decided to WALK to Euston and ask if i could get on a VIRGIN train instead - i left early, and ended up taking a HUGE diversion to get round the police BLOCKADES which had sprung up. Is it me, or is it all very EIGHTIES round here at the moment? How long will it be before Headteachers once again get fed up to the eye teeth of having a BOMB SCARE every Friday afternoon and/or during exams? Anyway, i took a bizarro short cut through UCL, which was EERILY peaceful, tho not as SCARY as it was on Gower Street, where all was STILL but for the buzzing of police intercoms... anyway, i got into Euston and the FIRST ever LOVELY man i've EVER met who had ANYTHING to do with Virgin Trains put me on their next super fast train out of this crazy city! HOORAH!

We got as far as Tamworth before the train BROKE ... AAH! Virgin! With your unreliable trains and unhelpful staff! They told a PACKED eight carriage train full of people to walk across a tiny footbridge and onto a two carriage local train, whilst the staff stood around LOOKING. Someone asked one of them if they were walking the right way. "I don't know! I've never been here before!" Thanks, Virgin Customer Service training - STILL WORKING!

Anyway, all worked out WELL as i got to Brum, found the hotel (yeah! i stay in hotels! ROCK!), had a cup of tea and free biscuit, and then STRODE off to find Snow Hill Station, ready for the morning. I then got a TAXI to Moseley, and found that it has changed ALARMINGLY, getting all POSHIFIED. It's even got a SAINSBURY'S LOCAL!! I thought "Ho ho! With all this gentrification, they've probably change the name of The Fighting Cocks to The Petulant Parrot!" How wrong i was - it's now called THE GOOSE. GUMF!

Mr Ben Calvert arrived, we had a chat (during which it turned out he's supporting Chris T-T on tour later this year, so i RHAPSODISED his last album, whilst secretly plotting to try and get ME some of them dates too...), and then went up to the delighfully upholstered (NB Quite Posh) upstairs bit of The Bull's Head, and waited for the sound guy to turn up. Once again, I appreciated the DE-NERVEY-IFYING qualities of SODUKU, as it took my mind quite OFF the rising panic i felt. I'd learnt up "Hey William" and "Dino At The Sands" especially, thinking that as this was a SINGER SONGWRITER night it would all be a bit REVERENT, so i could get AWAY with some quieter songs, but things seemed to be quite NOISY. Ben told me that we'd all be doing two 15 minute sets, so i decided to do ALL NEW in the first half, then bring out the UBER SET for the second.

People arrived, and i had a few SHOCKS - The Bearos's arrived, as did Young Ray, and then Mr Mark Guest, who i have known since i was ELEVEN. He's been to Brum gigs before, as he lives in Moseley, but i wasn't expecting him this time, so this was a LOVELY SURPRISE. I was then FLABBERGASTED when Michael Lazarus Clamp turned up too - he LIVES in Brum now, tho i did not realise this. It was GRATE!

The gig started, and although everyone was doing quite Quiet and Thoughtful songs, the audience weren't being very reverent at all, and just CHATTING (as, of course, is their RIGHT). I STRUGGLED inwardly, wandering whether i should stick to my plan, or TO HECK WITH IT and GO UBER. Can you guess, dear reader, which way I swung?

  • Fucking Hippy
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • OK, i took the easy option - or, perhaps, the GOODLY option. For LO! The people i KNEW who were there hadn't actually seen me play solo for a good long time, and MOST of the people there hadn't seen me at ALL, so was it not BEST to give them THE GOOD SHIT? It seemed to go down pretty well anyway, some Young Ladies near the front seemed to really enjoy it (i was told later that one had SLAPPED the arm rest with DELIGHT: a GOOD sign!), people were certainly paying ATTENTION, and SMILES were all round. Whilst i waited for my second attempt i got bought TWO drinks, one by Ben and one by, I believe, Mr Steve Avis, who'd come on PURPOSE. HOORAH! This is ROCK! After an hour, which actually passed rather quicker, i did my SECOND set. Care to take a guess as to how i played THIS one? Look away now!

  • Clubbing In The Week
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • Easily Impressed
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • Did you guess correctly? Again, this seemed to go down pretty well, and i THOROUGHLY enjoyed it I must say. Soon all was over and I was taxied back to my hotel. There i had an RESTLESS night, troubled by ILL DREAMS, one of which seemed to feature me, Mr Frankie Machine, and Simon From Voon playing a GIG in a sort of warehouse, where everything went horribly wrong all the time. I tried to play "Boom Shake The Room" and it went DEAD WELL, then someone deliberately detuned my guitar and by the time it was fixed everyone was gone and, also, i was wearing some large off-white boxer shorts and nothing else. I found the obviousness of this part of the dream rather annoying, and woke up a) depressed about the bad gig b) annoyed at the lack of originality of my subconsciousness and c) slightly confused.

    Showered, breakfasted, and checked out i headed to Snow Hill. It's a LOVELY station, SO much nicer than New Street (although, of course, almost everywhere IS), and like a small sensible station ABROAD. I liked the fact that it didn't make a big deal out of itself, it didn't try to sell you anything apart from TRAINS, and seemed to get on with its job in a neat and tidy way. LOVELY. I had a LENGTHY journey back to London, and ALIGHTED at Marylebone which was much the same - I felt like I'd been travelling in the sixties. It was, in fact, just like A Hard Day's Night.

    posted 22/7/2005 by MJ Hibbett

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