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 www.euroschilds.com. It's much better than this cause his is the gospel truth.
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.
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.
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.
"...in 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.
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.
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.