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These were my memos to Birdland
RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF RECENT TRIPS ABROAD
I had to jump a stream to get to the railway station.
When you call ‘Max’s cab’s’ ‘round here, Max, or his mother, answers.
Its bright and cold and very A.M.
The rest of the band are asleep and hundreds of miles away.
I am three trains, (Over and underground), various buses and numerous car rides away from the first microphone.
I have a ten-day trip ahead and enough money for 3 of those.
Such is country life for a city boy.
I am caught between two poles, hung out to dry on some internal equator.
Technically it is Saturday morning-eight am but I haven’t been to sleep since Thursday.
My roommate, the maniacal Portuguese tour manager; we’ll call him Oscar; is asleep in the bed across from mine.
He passed out an hour ago; around the same time that I took what I thought was my last sleeping pill.
(I later discover it was merely a heavy duty pain killer-thanks a bunch, Ma).
I am wired and now muggy and wrong.
To be merely drunk seems like the behaviour of a purist.
The mirror that Oscar took from the wall is flat on upon the desk across from me; it is balancing a fair sized mass of white powder.
Beyond Oscar’s bed is what’s left of the ‘Party zone’.
A couch, chairs and a mass of bottles.
Cognac, Scotch, Vodka.
In the fridge, there is a Spanish porno mag.
My sinuses are clogged and heavy.
My mouth dry but numb.
The thought of snorting or drinking anything now repulses some small but indestructible part of me.
I look out of the closed window.
A beautiful day is coming but I wish I were miles and hours away.
I won’t sleep and I can’t wake up.
We leave in two hours.
This place is a mystery to me.
I’ve been here…4 times(?)
And yet never been allowed (by time and fatigue) to stray further than the venue and the hotel…if I’m lucky I get to see the occasional record company office.
So it’s a treat to do a photo session in an arcade and see the populace go by with their lives, for me to grab some scent of real life.
I wear my disguise (Stolen hat, the jacket I finally grew into, and Chloe shades-via my girlfriend, who got them from the ex-Oasis wife; Meg Matthews).
My disguise means I look the same in every picture, no matter how shit I look and feel and I don’t have to worry about shaving and hair.
Those days are gone, friend.
We do a show and I drink Vodka from a glass.
I seem to have trouble getting drunk.
Although singing certain songs allows an intoxication of sorts.
I see Black lights while singing a line in ‘Nico’s children’ and feel as If I will black out.
But I recover, albeit winded.
Back in the Hotel lobby I talk to my friend Chris about Love, music and films till dawn.
Back in the Room, I sail asleep on the wings of White Russians.
I don’t know why, but I rarely dream when ‘on tour’.
I had a friend living round here.
Who disappeared from my life in October 1999.
Don’t work (or live) or Fuck with friends.
The first of the photograph sessions begin here.
It’s been a while.
Every photographer I will meet favours the outdoor shot.
Ok, perhaps it’s the light but then again it’s not especially sunny.
For me, portraits taken outdoors lack atmosphere and focus, generally. The context is so big as to be hardly there. I’d much prefer a close-up next to a lamp in the restaurant or whatever.
But no, here we go again, out in the street, next to graphitised walls, between rows of parked bikes etc etc
And I don’t bother trying to instigate any kind of collaboration between subject and photographer anymore, either.
Let’s just get it done.
So Matthew and I stand there, feeling like poor pet-shop-Boys in the Paris rain.
Next to the keyboards is a rack of shiny, blinking equipment. Samplers and the like.
All useless. Someone has forgotten to bring the discs with the samples on.
This means we have to cut most of the new songs from the set.
We played here in ’98 and someone handed me a spliff from the audience.
The audience now are seated and cool and sparser.
I look up while singing and see the huge, Sistine chapel like ceiling stretch above us.
I aim a line at the Angels in the architecture and then return my attention to the audience.
Thank God for the shades of Meg Matthews.
ON A PLANE OVER BRUSSELLS
We are coming back from Madrid. I still haven’t slept.
We change at Brussels for London where I change for Shropshire.
I have been so fucked that one of the group ordered a wheelchair for me at Madrid. This means that every time I get on or off a plane, there is some chap with one, waiting to push me.
I am tempted, but decline.
Perhaps it would be a premonition of sorts if I did affect such an extreme disability.
I’m superstitious like that.
So I wave the man and his chair off at each opportunity, feeling vaguely and ridiculously noble.
The landing into Brussels is one of the worst I have experienced.
Everything is rattling, shifting, there is a noise that changes pitch by the second.
Extreme turbulence or something.
It feels as if we’re about to flip upside down any moment.
It feels as if the pilot doesn’t have control of the plane.
I keep the window covered and listen to someone crying behind me.
The stewardess is knocking on the toilet door.
Oscar comes out, outrageously confident.
Takes his seat, seat belting himself up almost as a courteous afterthought.
The Plane is shaking and rattling as if in the hands of Godzilla. People are moaning and crying and Oscar leans back with a rictus grin, loving it.
He’s been at the powders in the toilet.
‘Rock’n’roll’ he drawls to himself, grinning insanely.
I return to focussing on the back of the seat in front.
Making peace with death.
Thinking about home and the Cat’s and My girl.
I close my eyes and cover my crotch.
We land shortly after.
It is snowing.
In the airport toilets I have succumbed and am finishing off what’s left of the Coke.
I hear a babbling foreign voice over the P.A.
My name appears in the middle of the babbling.
My heart jumps a beat…Jesus..Jesus,,they are on to me…
I snuffle what’s left and flush the wrap, heading out.
Oscar is waiting. We’re on the same wavelength.
‘Don’t worry’ he grins.
‘They are just saying that your wheelchair is ready’.
Serge Gainsbourg Biography.
(The Sylvie Simmons one)
Elvis and Bowie bootlegs and out takes.
Dennis Wilson: ‘Lady’.
Remember folks, if you won’t eat animals, and resort to ‘chips’ as a last resort while those around stuff themselves with steaks and the like, ‘Chips’ anywhere outside of the UK means ‘Crisps’