I’d had four hours sleep and my trainers were wet and covered in sand and my mother was outside in the car park waiting to drive us from Bournemouth to Exeter. My album was out. Twitter and Facebook and my website were full of happy paragraphs singing its praises.
“Happy birthday,” said Jack, and I knew that it was true. Charlotte was in our flat in London, playing The Life Equation very loud and getting excited. I said, “I love you,” because it was the truth.
I did a lot of work in a small space of time, and we got our shit together and out of the Travelodge. Driving with my Mum is a very different experience to driving with Damien. She told me about the hilarity my Nan and her sisters have been getting up to since my Nan moved from Wales to Cannock a few months back. They all live next to each other, in the same little close, and go to bingo, and bicker about who borrowed who’s plate and didn’t return it in a timely fashion. I am very much looking forward to visiting.
We stopped off along the way for food. We are clever so we ignored all services and Little Chief’s until we happened upon a friendly looking pub.
The Americans were already there when we arrived. Science had an issue with his ear, poor bugger. Jack went looking for a stereo jack lead in town and me and my Mum crawled through half an hour of traffic to the Travelodge, which was cunningly disguised as a restaurant. We bid farewell, and Mum went home, leaving her grateful son doing admin on his latop for an hour, and opening his present from Alex and Victora, which turned out to be very useful indeed.
Shower, work, hop in a cab with some apples and head for soundcheck. The cabbie was a very nice 57 year old man with 6 brothers, all of whom are a good deal older than him and all of whom he hates. “There was a pecking order and I was the runt,” he lamented. “Still, who has the last laugh?”
In the venue we set up the merch stall next to Lars’ angular blonde Merch Doctor MC Kal, which Jack and I would be running ourselves tonight, and lo it was beautiful. I have grown very fond of MC Kal, who is a hard working, enterprising young man and fiercely loyal, which I respect. He sometimes goes onstage with Lars to do iGeneration, and looks like he’s the happiest boy in the whole world.
Soundcheck was productive. Rather than sitting around drinking whiskey like I did last time I was on tour, I ate apples and pasta and did an interview with a safe and ambitious young radio jockey, and did about an hour’s worth of work on my laptop. Our old friend Art Hooligan was in the building, and it was lovely to see him. He looks very well, and a damn sight better than he did last time I was on tour when he was so drunk he kept falling over and incurring the wrath of security. It seems that we have all learned much these past 5 years.
Speaking of amazing changes that happen with time Zef turned up, along with his Kelly and a gang of his Falmouth buddies, and he BOUGHT ME A DRINK. Actually, he bought me TWO DRINKS! I couldn’t believe it. That has never happened before. Ever. He was having a great time, bouncing away in the crowd as we performed an awesome set. It’s up there with Wimbledon. In some ways we were better than we were at Wimbledon. It was flipping great, I had an amazing time. We got one of Zef’s mates onstage to do Oh! With us, as he looked awkward, and lead the packed cave in many glorious chants of Thanks For All The AIDS and what have you. Oh, and Lars remembered all his words on Living In The Future! Glory and triumph!
At the end of the set Jack got everyone to wish me happy birthday, which was awesome, and I went off and sold a load of T-Shirts and CDs and took photos with people in the New Jack Kirby Double Pow Pose, which was also awesome.
MC Chris did his consummate entertainer thing, to the point where he gave up on his mike for the last song, as it kept cutting out, and performed that song about Boba Fett acapella, to rapturous response. Jack held down the merch stall, and I partied with Zef and co throughout Lars and Science’s set, which was mighty and powerful and flipping FUN. My favourite song they do live is either Science’s Fuck You or Lars’ 23 right now. The live version of 23 is incredible, cos Science sings the hook and his voice is ragged and roaring and wrought with emotion, and Lars always gets so deep in his words he tears up. That shit is powerful.
Towards the end of Lars’ set we always do Falling Apart, so when Lars announced they had a surprise, I had no idea that there was any more to it that that. I got up onstage, and everybody cheered, then all off sudden MC Kal and Jack were up on the stage with a flipping BIRTHDAY CAKE, and everyone was singing the happy birthday song to me, and I had so much joy in me I could quite easily have exploded in a big wet shower of joy splat right there and then, but I kept it together enough to blow out the candles and beam, beamishly, in the manner of a very happy person on a stage with his own cake and a room full of amazing people singing for him.
I looked around me at the smiling faces of these incredible humans I was so fortunate to spend that special day with, and I felt like the luckiest mud that ever stood. It was a beautiful moment, forever frozen in time. Jersey John looked like he might drop a tear. “That was a real moment,” he said later. “A real special family moment.” And it was.
We then proceeded to perform Falling Apart, which was so swagged out I think I screamed up a bit of spleen, and at the end, on the encouragement of Lars, I swan-dived into the crowd and was carried to the back of the room and back to the stage again, and NOBODY PUNCHED ME IN THE BALLS.
A little later at the merch stand, I was approached by a grinning dude with big ear tunnels and baseball cap, who asked me where I was staying. ‘The Travelodge’, I said, to which he replied, ‘are you SURE?’ then gave me my room key, which I’d unknowingly lost whilst crowd surfing, and if that isn’t an amazing thing to happen then I don’t know what the funk IS.
Back at the Travelodge we smoked a nice spliff and ate sandwiches and discussed the correct terminology for square television sets, and Jack surprised me with an amazing Biz Markie affiliated talking robot, and a card, which the gang had all written awesome stuff on.
Down the corridor, Zef and his buddies joyfully trashed a hotel room, while Jack slept, and I sat up working. as BBC News 24 droned lugubriously in the background. My inbox was full of orders and praise for The Life Equation. All in all, it had been a pretty flipping beautiful day.
PS - if anyone has any photos from the shows, please sned them over and I'll add them to the posts and my Facebook - akirathedon at gmail dot com.