Monday, 22 October 2007

September '07

Written after four days of solo acoustic shows

Tuesday 18th September – Port Mahon Oxford

We arrive before doors at the Truck Festival benefit. Truck Festival is this super cool festival that used to exist before the Summer of Eternal Winter came along and pissed on everything, so it's great to contribute to getting it back on its feet. I ask Jamie, the promoter, how many tickets have been sold.

"Seven." He says.

A quick calculation – at five pounds a ticket, that makes thirty five pounds. Take away our petrol money and Euan's mini bottle of Laurent Perrier, that leaves …ninety pence.

A glorious win. I wonder if they'll do an etching of my face on the plaque or if it'll be writing only. I hope they spell my name right. So many people just don't bother to check these days.

The Mules arrive as I am imagining a parade in my honour (no blimps, just some tasteful dancing). Some might say they interrupt my revelry as they tramp up the stair with their buckets of equipment. Apparently they're headlining as well which is a real bother, as I was planning an hour of vagina monologues after the set. Euan seems relieved not to have to do the precious lily dance, but maybe he's just happy to be in Oxford. I know how he likes Culture.

The ringleader of the Mules, a thug if I ever saw one, approaches me before the gig.

"Jenny," he says, "I want you to take it easy in the second verse of Polly-O. Remember, you're here to reel in the lads mags, and drum up the minority vote. No drawing unnecessary attention to yourself." He hands me a violin, and I handle it uncomfortably. I've always thought of myself as more artist than musician, so I've never really bothered with learning about instruments. Maybe you tap it. I think, hitting it against a stool.

When it comes to the Mules' gig, I join them onstage. Since they seem to have offered me a ticket into their set, I resolve to go ahead with my evening's plans. I am going to supplement their show with the waltz of the thousand ovaries, and maybe the Lauryn Hill polka if there's time. Clutching the violin I wait for the first chord to be struck. Then I spring into action.


I am still singing as Euan bundles me into the car.

"I didn't even get my champagne." He grumbles.

"We'll send an invoice to Truck." I promise.

Wednesday 19th September – Music Box Manchester w/ Herman Dune

Tonight we are playing a show with a famous band from Paris.

"More famous than me?" I ask the promoter.

He hands me a keycard. "We've got no beer on tap today, ok?"

It's my eternal problem, being mistaken for staff. At the Emma Pollock show in Bristol I ended up working on the merch desk for two weeks, and had to cancel the rest of my dates. i think about asking if he knows who I am, but the last time I asked someone that I got sectioned. Sighing, I take my place behind the bar. Looks like Euan will have to play alone tonight.

"Do I have to?" he whimpers when I tell him. He is always complaining about something or another. Can I have time off to go to the toilet…Please don't make me wear the giant vulva… blah blah blah whine whine whine. I plait his hair and tie some money to his garter.

"In case they need change for the tips." I tell him, slapping his arse as he goes.

Behind the bar, things run smoothly. There are hardly any customers as Euan's show is going down so well in the other room. I busy myself with covering the bar with bible quotations. Over the Stella tap I place a little drawing of a man with a pint glass burning in the pits of hell. It's quite good actually, although the medium of crayon makes it hard to distinguish between the fire and the blood.

A man comes to the counter and asks for a tap water.

"Drink is for the devil." I snap, handing him a leaflet.

The promoter emerges from the main room, looking a little worried.

"Things are getting quite wild in there." He says, "I thought Emmy the Great was supposed to be fey indie folk, but it seems more like a live sex show."

"Has there been any singing?" I ask.

"No," he replies, "but there have been some cries of pain."

Looks like Euan has gotten carried away. I take my apron off and quietly slip into the arena.

"Time to go." I call from stage right.. He looks up from beneath Herman Dune, whispering,

"I want to go home"

"Just a couple more days," I chirp happily, counting out the cash. He's done very well tonight, so I let him shower before the drive.

Sitting in the back of the car, I work on my crochet. It's an abstract piece, in wool, entitled Me and My Tampon. I think it's going to be rather good.

Thursday 20th September – Manchester BBC studios – session with Marc Riley

After lunch we meet our manager, Laura, at the BBC studios. She is looking rather nervous, as she always is when we see her.

"Did you have to bring her again?" I hear her ask Euan.

"She follows me everywhere." I hear him reply. I assume they are talking about someone else, or maybe rehearsing a play. Although Euan writes all the songs and they mainly get someone else in to do the singing, the interviews and any photo shoots, I still consider myself the star of the outfit, so they can't be talking about me.

Laura ushers us into the building.

"Whatever you do," she hisses at me, "don't speak." She's probably worried I'm going to try to sacrifice another goat on air. Jeez, daub yourself once with a little ritualistic menstrual fluid and hear about it for the rest of your bloody life. The problem with music managers is that they have no real vision. I make a note of that in my diary.

The problem with music managers if that they have no real vision. I write. Perhaps the beginning of a paper?

When we get to the studio I am surprised to see that I'm not allowed in.

"IS THIS BECAUSE I AM A WOMAN?" I rail at the guard on the door.

"No," he replies, pointing at Laura and Euan inside, "it's cause they told me under no circumstance to let the batty girl who thinks she knows them into the room during the session."

"And how do you know that they mean me?" I demand to know.

He replies, "because you look like you are wearing a quilt."

If he is referring to my hand-knitted nativity dress, then I am very angry indeed. it looks absolutely the epitome of style when partnered with a pair of sandals and a floor length apron. He's probably just mad he can't see my ankles, although even if he could he would have to contend with my inch thick angora chastity tights. Men are so debauched. I make a note to make note of that of in my diary. Men are so debauched. Perhaps the beginning of a ballad?

Through the glass I can see Laura and Euan laughing with Marc Riley. I assume they have simply forgotten I'm not there. Won't they feel silly when they come out and realise their mistake! I head down to the cafeteria to desecrate the coffee machines with religious hatred.

"Caffeine is for the devil." I tell someone helpfully, spraying some light vegan propaganda on to the milk flask.

After the session I meet the others at the car.

"Don't you feel silly you forgot to let me in to the session?" I chuckle.

"I wish she was dead." Euan says.

"Me too," says Laura.

I would really like to know what this play is that they are rehearsing, and why no one has asked me to be in it.

Friday 21st September, Newcastle Dog and Parrot

There is a disaster on the motorway on the way to the gig. We stop at a service station on the M6, only to find they have no fat free soya crisps.

"I absolutely will not work under these circumstances!" I scream. To placate me, Euan buys me Country Living magazine, but I still don't feel much better. It's looking doubtful that I will be able to play the show, and to top it all off, it starts raining.

I can't believe how awful my life is, I think, wondering if I should use my digital camera, laptop, iPod or travel Scrabbopoly to fill the next hour. In the end I decide to just sit in the back counting my money, contemplating the unfairness of existence.

In Newcastle we are greeted by the promoters, David and Rachel.

"You have a beautiful voice," says David.

I fall instantly in love.

"You're going to have to play alone tonight," I tell Euan, "I have to do my hair." And I rush off to the bathroom with my travel case full of toiletries. It's been a long time since I last felt the flush of romance, but I think I remember how to do it. I pull out a pair of tweezers and attempt to wrestle a single strand of hair from my air tight bun. As it cascades down the back of my neck, I wonder if it seems a little desperate. I want him to see my wild side but I don't want him to take this as a guaranteed touching of hands. Oh, what the heck! I think, undoing the top button of my cardigan and removing my socks.

Outside I see that Euan has started the set. But instead of singing "David, go to the ladies toilet, somebody is waiting for you there" like I instructed him, he seems to be playing a selection of songs from our EP. I am outraged.

"Come on David, let's go." I say, clubbing him round the head with my toiletries case. The weight of all the holy water knocks him out and I drag him to the car.

I speed off, leaving Euan to fend for himself.

Saturday, 22nd September – My house, Camden Town

The next day I receive a call from Laura.

"Your services are no longer required for Emmy the Great," she says, "you haven't written anything good in months, and frankly people prefer Euan's voice face and personality to yours."

"But what about Love me, love my hymen?" I ask, referring to the two minute pop gem I recorded for them last month.

"We were never going to use it." she reveals.

I am shocked. This doesn't bode well for my melodic adaptation of the Female Eunuch.

"Can you believe what she just said?" I ask David. He shakes his head mutely and mumbles something through the gag.

"I can't untie you darling, or you might run away." he is such a silly thing, as if I would fall for that trick twice on the same day. Crushing up his valium into a glass of water, I reconsider my options. I suppose that over the next few months I will just ordain myself as an internet minister and marry myself to David in a private bedroom ceremony. Or I could set him free and get a real job.

Why mess up the habit of a lifetime? I think to myself, typing 'spousal consent/ tranquilisers" into Google search.

As the sun begins to set, I contemplate our new life together. It will be difficult, what with his constant attempts to escape and my increasingly loose grip on reality – but then what relationship doesn't have its ups and downs? Perhaps I will even ungag him on our wedding night. I look over to the bed where he is slumped over the headboard. If he continues to look this adorable I will let him touch my knee.

News comes on the radio of a new singing sensation called Euan the Great. It doesn't sound familiar, and frankly the noise of it is interfering with the humming in my head.

"Pop music is for the devil," I say to David, switching off the radio. He nods, eyes glazed.

We are going to live a long and happy life together.

NB amazingly, as I sat finishing this at an airport, Germaine Greer was called to my departure gate. Pretty much two minutes after I typed 'the Female Eunuch'. Next time I am going to type 'a cute puppy with no home' and see what happens.

Euros Childs Tour, 06

This diary was written over three days travelling with Euros Childs and band as part of their Uk tour. All the museums depicted in the blog are real. You can read Euros' tour diary on his website It's much better than this cause his is the gospel truth.

Day One

London to Nottingham

We meet at the Columbia Hotel in Lancaster Gate. I've seen the band before, but here I am given my first proper introductions to Pete, who plays drums, Tom, the sound engineer, and Alun Tan Lan, who seems to be Euros' mortal enemy. I've been instructed already not to make conversation with Euros, or even look in his direction, but it's difficult from the start with him lunging at Alun at every possible opportunity, yelping incomprehensibly about some horse. This also makes it impossible to conduct any kind of small talk with the others, all of whom seem unperturbed by this strange behaviour. I sit alone in the corner of the van, needing the toilet. Thankfully I have brought with me the Observer's monthly 'woman' supplement. This is incredibly useful as I am just beginning my lady's week, I spend the journey crocheting my own tampons with the handy kit that came with the magazine, riding side-saddle till the rest stop.

Sound Check

I have been slightly worried about not changing my money to the currency they use in Northengland. Alun tells me not to bother with it, we have plenty of food in the van. "As fresh as if we caught it yesterday!" he winks. In fact they have caught it yesterday, it's just some rabbit they hit on the M1.

"I'll be ok." I murmer.

Euros is cross because the life-size cut-outs he ordered for the tour are not in place. Naturally he is blaming Alun, and a fight breaks out. A crowd gathers around the scrum, cheering and placing bets. Sensing an early night, Pete and Tom throw Euros' album 'Chops' over the PA. The ruse works. At the end of the last song we pack up and leave for the Travelodge Grantham, not forgetting to collect all the leftover drinks and snacks from the rider into big black bin-bags. I am genuinely in awe at the consummate ease with which they fill those billowing vessels, and I realise for the first time, that I am in the company of true professionals, masters of the road for fifteen years. I wipe away a grateful tear, and get the thumbs up from Tan Lan, as he 'accidentally' sweeps the venue's fridge into his backpack. I do think it a little unnecessary, seeing as we already have the fridges from London and Reading in the van, but he promises that this is absolutely the done thing.

"It's almost expected." he assures me.

A chilly journey for us in the back.

Day Two

Nottingham to Norwich

A bad day for all as the gang argue over which roadside attraction to hit on the the way to Norwich. Pete wants to check out the National Coal Mining Museum, Alun quite fancies Beatrix Potter Land. I keep quiet for the debate, though secretly yearning for the Norwich Museum of Domestic Life, which I read about in my trusty Observer Woman. Euros arrives late at the meeting point, a wild look in his eye.

"I've got a friend coming." He grunts.

Everyone rolls their eyes. Though we don't mention it, we are all aware of his growing feelings for the talking Sat. Nav. device in the front seat.

"It's not Bernadette." he exclaims, reading our bemused expressions, "I've got a friend coming and that's that!" I notice he is clutching the notebook in which he has been keeping a tour diary, which features a centaur called Darryl. The thought that he might have started believing his own writing comes only seconds before my second realisation.

If his 'friend' is to take my place in the van, then I will have to ride.

" the trailer." I snap back to the conversation in time to see Euros looking at me for the first time, his finger pointing towards the carryon compartment where the amps are kept. Oh well, I think, it will probably be more comfortable than the back seat of the transit. Alun has a growing collection of shower heads from the Travelodges which he piles under my seat. Their presence leaves little space for me to finish my knitting, a pastoral piece featuring horses grazing under a setting sun for Alun. We are getting on well after he strung my guitar in Nottingham. I did know how to string it myself, having watched Pater do it on several occasions, but everybody knows that outside your own home, you do not take on jobs over which you might perspire. I have been very discreet about my bodily functions so far, peeing only slightly into my petticoats when desperate. I would happily go to the toilet in the Welcome Breaks, but for the suspicion that they don't change the bowls between customers. I'm not fussy, but I won't place my bottom in the same place as a woman who frequents petrol stations. It's not cricket.

The Arts Centre

I spend a bumpy journey in the trailer, knitting one and purling one with every mile. Every now and then I hear shouts from the van about hoof marks. I think Euros might be nuts. I make a note in my notebook.

Euros is nuts. it reads. A possible song perhaps?

At the venue we meet Rory McVicar, a local lad who has had great success with his hit single. He is to be the first support for the night, and has come armed with free copies of his latest 7" vinyl. I decline the gift, based on the Observer Woman article Why Only Sluts Take Gifts from Men Who Aren't Their Fathers, but not before I notice it is a split release with another Norwich band called Hoofus. Euros has clocked it as well. He grabs Rory by the neck.

"Who are you working for?" he shouts, pushing the poor fellow against a wall. "WHAT IS THIS SUPPOSED TO MEAN?"

This time we don't even stay to hear the end of the Chops LP. Pausing only to pick up the rider, we rush out into the street with Rory and the venue security in hot pursuit. On the way to the parking lot I am overjoyed to pass the Museum of Domestic Life. There is a delightful plastic display of what food looked like in the 19th century.

"Hurry up!" shouts Alun. I know he is upset by tonight, because he didn't even stop to take any cushions from the bar, though he managed to grab a few credit cards. I suppose I will have to wait another day to see my 200 year old biscuits. Gathering my skirts, I jump into the trailer, and we tear towards to another Travelodge.

Its very strange that we haven't yet played a gig, but Rory is a popular favourite at the arts centre. Curling up into the kick drum, I have nightmarish flashbacks of all those black suits and berets chasing us through the town centre. Thank god they stopped for a communal cigarette break. There were over 80 ticketholders that night - the stench of Gauloise followed us for miles.

"I could have done with some of those cigarettes." Alun grumbles, looking murderously at Euros.

Tensions are high.

Day Three

Norwich to Liverpool

Today I am a ball of highly-wired emotion, and its not just because my uterus wall is breaking down. Another fight has broken out in the front, and by this time I am too tired to even bother listening in. Something about the planned Ordinary Boys cover for the Academy gig. It seems Euros is keen to get on to Celebrity Big Brother, because he thinks he will meet Noel Edmonds there. I don't ask why this is important. For the gig we've all been given pork pie hats, and instructed to say things like "George Galloway is pinkie scum." I don't know so much about pinkies, though I was brought up to raise mine when taking tea, and I'm annoyed because instead of playing my own songs, I am being made to wear a long blonde wig and sing from a badly transcribed karaoke DVD from Eastern Europe. To my great surprise, however, it's the best reaction I've ever received at a gig. The crowd go wild as I launch into my rendition of 'Simply the Best', or 'Simply the Beast', as its written on the karaoke subtitles, and by the time I finish with Madonna's 'Spike a Virgin', they are literally screaming my name with excitement. For the first time in my life, I have been accepted by an audience, and I stand buzzing in the dressing room corridor for the rest of the evening. The guys are really proud of me. As a special prize for doing well, they leave the dressing room door ajar so that I can see inside it, and I am told that later, I'll be allowed to step in and help collect their stuff. It's going to be a great night.

Sad Goodbyes

I am sad as we come to the end of my stint as support act for the band. Though only Alun has ever spoken to me or even looked in my direction, and that is mainly to distract me while he slips another sack of stolen loot into my handbag, and though Euros has made me ride in the trailer because he thinks he has a friend who is half man and half horse, and Tom keeps switching the sound off when I am about to go on stage, and I have to wake up three hours before they tell me to because they're always trying to leave without me, I have grown close to these older brother figures in our short time together. Tonight will be the last time I plunder a fridge in the name of thrift, and as a thank you treat I spend the duration of their set scraping bits of soap of the sinks where they have become stuck, filling a plastic baggy with the flakes. I may not be joining them on their journey back to Wales, but at least I can make sure they eat well. As the set finishes and they turn towards the wings I am waiting with open arms. On seeing this, all but Alun turn straight around and linger around the stage, whistling awkwardly. Alun strides over to me and gives me a big hug.

"Did you get the light bulbs?" he asks.

Later I realise my wallet is gone.

I spend the night with some friends that I met on Myspace. They say they are from Liverpool but they are clearly all Canadian. It's very weird. On my return to London I read of sightings of a hoofed man, blowing a bugle outside a broken down transit van, somewhere between Birmingham and Wales.

It doesn't explain much.