Sunday, 30 June 2013

Lessons I have learned: 1. Don't drink and blog.








The Australian Tour is over and I am back in Brisbane rifling through Kate and Keir's belongings to see what would sell quickest on ebay.
They have gone to the UK and Germany to play even more gigs before we all head off on our drive from Darwin to Broome. I'm knackered and I weigh more than I did a month ago.
Last night at the end of the very last show in...Taree (Yes, really) a young girl came up to speak to Kate at the end of the signings. She was about 13. She wanted to ask a question and the question was;
'How did you get to where you are today?'
As Kate pointed out, that's a big question.
It reminded me of a comment Keir had made a few nights previously. Two teenagers had come to get their CD's signed and the mother of one of them said;
'They're a couple too, and they're musicians. They want to be just like you and Keir. They've applied to the Conservatory that you went to.'
In the car on the way back to the hotel Keir said;
'But we got to where we are today not because of everything that went right, but rather everything that went wrong.'
Kate gave the girl a two part answer. The first part was spot on;
'Play music every day. Make music every day. If you love doing something then just do it all the time. You'll find you can't not.'
She then lost the thread slightly (distracted by Keir trying to remove a cork from a good wine using nothing but a pen and the will to drink) and continued;
'Don't say no to anything in the first couple of years.'
My wine glass froze halfway to my mouth. The girl is nodding and smiling. Kate is nodding and smiling. I'm trying to gag back laughter and the girl's mum has a glazed look of horror.
If you're reading this 13 year old girl, Kate meant don't say no to opportunities to play or sing. There are some things you should definitely say no to. Just to clarify. I'm sure your mum will have filled you in on the details by now. At length.
A few of the teenaged girls at the gigs have been showing up in stripy tights and fairy wings. Its a reference to the song Sarah in which two girls go to Livid festival dressed in this way. One of the girls is abducted and her dress is found later in a creek. Its all pretty chilling. I took a picture of two of the girls in their finery and one of them joked;
'Hey, I hope we don't meet the same fate as Sarah huh! Hahaha! D'ya think we've jinxed ourselves?'
There was an uncomfortable pause before I heard myself in my own mother's voice;
'You two stick together okay? Is someone picking you up afterwards? Good. Now go and enjoy the show. Responsibly.'
I've talked at length about the fans. But there are also the people we just stumble across along the way who recognise Kate. That's fun too. My favourite is when we're in a cafe having breakfast and the server politely takes our order whilst his eyes dart repeatedly sideways at Kate. They then go off to get our coffee and a minute or so later we hear Kate singing Last Day On Earth through the sound system. It always makes me giggle.
You now know that I know that you know that I know who you are. More coffee?
Kate tells this story about having performed somewhere remote that I can't pronounce and afterwards checking in to a motel. As she climbed in to bed the phone rang and when she picked up the man on reception said:
'I've just been googling you. I've thought about it and I'd like to offer you a five dollar discount on the room.'
She took the offer and maintains that it was a bargain.

Things that I have learned from being on tour:

  1. When Adrian says; 'It was a good show but.' The sentence is finite. He is merely taking the 'But' from its rightful place at the beginning of the sentence and propping it on the end. I no longer need to repeatedly ask 'But what?'
  2. People are much the same wherever you go and whilst I gleefully rip the shit out of some tiny backwater I will invariably feel like a complete arsehole two hours later when the community of said tiny backwater greets me with open arms and recommends all the best places to eat/get coffee/while away an hour.
  3. Women in Mandurah like their T-shirts tight.
  4. Women in Albany like them loose.
  5. When Kate says we need to eat. We. Need. To. Eat. And she's quite right. Four people locked in a car together for five hours at a stretch cannot add low blood sugar to the equation. That way madness lies.
  6. Two glasses of excellent wine give you the same high as two bottles of bad wine. (Learned so very late in my drinking life.)
  7. If someone at a merchandise table asks you how much something is 'worth'. They are asking the price. Do not answer philosophically. They will spend the rest of the evening pointing at you from a distance and laughing with their friends.
  8. Don't make a gay reference whilst happily chatting to a fan in very small town who is clearly in the closet and fighting to remain so for his own safety/sanity.
  9. When people tell you that if you rise early and sit on the bay you'll see dolphins/whales, they are lying.
  10. If a theatre employee tells you the venue is haunted take it to mean that something went horribly awry during the soundcheck.
  11. If something goes horribly awry at the next venue it does not mean that you brought the ghost with you.
  12. Telling a professional sound engineer who is extremely good at his job (Adrian) that you just think of him as the driver is unforgivable. And never forgotten.
  13. Constantly mentioning Adrian in blogs and it leading to him getting hugged by complete strangers when he has an aversion to physical contact is also unforgivable.
  14. Adrian telling you that he believes you to be more terrifying with every day that passes in your company is kind of funny. Accidentally getting on a plane with his copy of 'Eat Pray Love' and refusing to get off the plane to return it to him is not funny. His having a copy of 'Eat Pray Love' IS funny. Make no mistake.
  15. Keir doesn't often recommend things. But when he does they are always unquestionably brilliant. From films and comedy to Chiko rolls.
  16. A lesson I learned from my Gran many moons ago but is always worth a mention: One good friend is worth a dozen adequate lovers. But I am still in the market for lovers.
  17. If you make a friend online and have the opportunity to meet them in person on the other side of the world four years later; Do it.
  18. Kate is always being told how beautiful, talented and inspiring she is. Yeah yeah, she's alright, in the right light, and she can hold a tune but what Kate also is, is kind. And a good friend.
  19. That was uncharacteristically sentimental of me but I am three quarters of the way down a bottle of shiraz and I have nowhere I need to be.
  20. If I ever have the chance I'd like to go back to Margaret River and spend a month there.
  21. All of you who said I'd love Melbourne were right.
  22. The Mandurah tourist board who recommended I check out the miniature village were wrong.
  23. Shepparton may only have a swamp as a local tourist attraction but its a lovely swamp.
  24. The Giant Oyster in Taree gets funnier the longer you look at it.
  25. When your hosts add several hours to their journey to drive you along the Great Ocean Road, stay awake.
  26. This American Life is one of the best podcast series in the universe. Your life can only be enriched by listening to it on long journeys.
  27. Every single hotel or motel we have stayed in on this month long tour has had something to recommend it. Be it a good bed, a nice complimentary soap or free wifi. Except for the Travelodge in Sydney. That was shit. It was like being in Prisoner Cell Block H. With fewer windows.

    ...28. Say Yes more than you say No. Unless you are an ambitious 13 year old.


It's hard to stop when you start numerical points. That could be point 29. I've lost my thread haven't I.
I'm a third of the way through my Big Australian Adventure.
I got to where I am, not because of everything that went right, but rather everything that went wrong. And I'm very happy about that.  

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Do you remember me Kate?



'I love you so much, you're beautiful and you sing like an angel. Could you sign this? And can I have a picture with you?'
'Sure, of course.'
Snap.
'Say hello Bree. Say hello to Kate. Say hello. She's a bit tire- Say hello Bree. Say Hi Kate! Say Hi. She's your biggest fan. Your songs have actually helped her through some really hard times. Get your picture taken with Kate Bree. Well somebody's a bit grizzly this evening. Seriously though, she's been going through a really hard time and your songs have helped so much.'
Bree is three years old. At a stretch. I think maybe its Mummy who's been having a rough time.
Snap.
'Can you sign my ticket stub please?'
'Sure, of course.'
'I already have all of your merchandise. All of it.'
'Oh, great, thanks.'
'And if I could just get a quick -'
Snap.
'Well done Kate, I liked the set tonight. I think its the best set you've done.'
'Oh, thanks so much.'
'I approve of those songs in that order. Just keep doing that from now on.'
'Oh, right, okay.'
'Just like that.' She thrusts a camera at me. 'Can you take a picture please?'
Snap.
'Hello Kate.'
'Hi.'
'I'd like to begin by saying how much I enjoyed your show this evening.'
'Thanks so-'
'I made you a gift.'
'Thank-'
'But I forgot to bring it.'
'Oh that's o-'
'So I made you this.'
I brace myself. Its actually a rather lovely origami butterfly made out of a napkin. It has the theatre logo on it. He flies it across the table to Kate in slow motion so she can see the wings move up and down.
'Wow that's lovely.'
His mother interjects;
'What time were you born?'
'Uh, I'm not sure.'
'You were born on November 16th 1981. What time was it?'
'I'm really not sure.'
She is glaring.
'You're a scorpion but I can't do your chart if I don't know the exact time.'
'I – I'm sorry.'
The son:
'Before we go, may I just ask, what is your favourite colour?'
'Um, I think, I guess, blue...?'
'What shade of blue?'
'Azure?'
'Light or dark?'
'Dark.'
'Thank you again for an exquisite evening.'
'…..my pleasure.'
'Oh. My God! I am like your biggest fan. Seriously. What's that song about the fat kid getting bullied again? I want that CD. Can I get a pic?'
Snap.
'Come on then! Give her your Cd's to sign.' Two shy slightly chubby pretty girls inch forward. The mother turns to me:
'Have you got anything that'll fit these two? Anything at all?'
Kate chats to the girls. The mother cuts it short.
'Okay now, don't bother her! Can they get a quick pic with ya Kate?'
Snap.
As she marches them off, a quiet mumbled:
'Thanks mum.'
'Come on stop dragging your heels!'
'Hey Kate! How're you going?'
'I'm good, how are you?'
'Great. Can we take our pic with you?'
'Sure.'
'And can we do four faces?'
'Er...sure.'
'Okay -Happy Face!'
Snap.
'Sad Face.'
Snap.
'Confused Face!'
No rehearsal needed, immediate-
Snap.
'Thoughtful Face!'
Pause.
Snap.
'Hi Kate, the show was incredible. You're incredible. I just need to tell you, my Dad/Mum/Uncle/Cousin/Second Cousin/Poodle died and we played Last Day On Earth at the funeral. It was incredible.'
'I'm sorry to hea-'
'Can we get a pic with you holding a pic of Mum/Dad/Greg/Michelle/Mr Snuggles?'
Snap.
'Hey fellow Scorpion.'
'Hi.'
'I bet you don't believe in star signs right?'
'I'm afraid not.'
'Typical Scorpion. I'm going to get a picture with you now yah? Because we are sisters. Soul sisters. But you know that. You know.'
Snap.
'Ohmygodohmygodohmygod-'
Snap.
A lovely couple approach with a massive box of home made chocolate muffins.
'Hey, how are you?' Kate smiles.
'Good good. Great to see you.'
'We made you these.'
'Wow they look wonderful. Are those straws?'
'Yeah well Can't Shake it is my favourite song so I made them to look like Milkshakes.' The woman grins.
The husband turns to me deadpan:
'We're not crazed stalkers.'
Kate laughs.
'Ha! No, these are friends of mine.'
'Hi. I better hide these from Keir.'
'Hi Kate this is my daughter insert any one of fifty names here she sings just like you.'
'Oh great, you're a singer huh?'
'Yes she is. And she's just like you. She sang Caught In The Crowd at school assembly.'
'That's great.'
'You're her idol. Here honey take the camera. Can I get a quick pic with you?'
Snap.
'Hi Kate. Do you remember me? We met in 2004 at that festival in that place and you were drunk.'
'Um.'
'Here's a picture of us.'
'Oh yeah. I was drunk.'
'Can I just...'
Snap.
'I made this for you.'
'Wow. Thanks.'
Its a painting of Kate. Stroke victim Kate. I'm mean. Kate is not.
Snap.
'Wow you were just so, it was like, I mean you totally, and I was like, and its just the most...can my friend take a pic of us?'
'Of course.'
'Okay, hold the button down or it won't –
Snap.
'No, I had my eyes closed. Do it again.'
'My hands are shaking.'
Snap.
'Did you get it? Did you get it? Let me see? Okay. Thanks Kate, you were so. Like, really.'
'Hey, are you the blog lady?'
'Nope.'
'Hey Kate how're you going. This is my son Danny. He loves you. He said when he grows up he wants you to be his girlfriend.'
'Mummmmm Noooooooo! Don't say that to her!'
'Do you want to get your picture taken with me?'
'Yeah, please.' Glares at mother.
'Put your arm around Kate sweetie!'
'MUMMMMMMMMMM!'
Snap.
'Hi Kate, great show. Can you write your name on my arm?'
'Sure.'
'I have an appointment to get it permanently tattooed in the morning.'
'Oh! Well now I'm nervous about writing it wrong. Do you want the whole name or just the initials?'
'I was thinking initials would look good. Round about there?'
'Okayyyy...' shaky handed Kate writes her initials.
And just a quick-
Snap.
'I love you Kate.'
'Aw thank you.'
Tiny girl;
'I love you Kate, can I get a hug?'
'Of course you can! Come here.'
Snap.
'Your songs really help me Kate. Thank you.'
'Its my pleasure, really.'
Snap.
'Thanks Kate.'
Snap.
'Caught In the Crowd is so special to us. Thanks.'
Snap.
'Kate I love your voice. Keep up the good work.'
Snap.
'Caught in the Crowd helped me.'
Snap.
'...Last Day On Earth when he proposed.'
Snap.
'...Last Day On Earth for the service.'
Snap.
'Just Bliss.'
Snap.
'So happy.'
Snap.
'Thank you, really.'
Snap.
And slowly the queue dwindles to nothing. And we pack up the gear. And we pack up the car. And we make sure we haven't left anything behind, especially not the drawings, the origami, the muffins, the pictures, the kind words.
I watch Kate struggle down the metal steps with her suitcase and her two bags, he big red scarf wrapped around her neck.She climbs in to the back of the car and smiles at me. She won't talk now until tomorrow so her voice can get some rest.
She falls asleep.
I get out my iphone and switch on my instagram.
Snap.


Drink then?






Soundcheck at St Michael's Unifying Church, Melbourne. Four pm

Madeleine: Is it time for a drink yet?
Kate: (Whilst massaging throat with vibrator) Let your own conscience be the judge of that.
Pause.
Madeleine: Yeah, it seems like it might be time for a drink.


Madeleine has joined us for the weekend as Kate's backup singer. It is the day after the Melbourne gig and we are stood outside a coffee shop in Bendigo having a smoke.
'So, how long have you been with yours?' I ask.
'Coming up for thirteen years now,' she smiles. 'What about you?'
'Uh...twenty? God yeah, twenty years,' I say taking a drag on my fag and wondering if he's stuck to his electronic cigarette on the other side of the world.
'You must miss him,' Madeleine says. 'I miss mine. We're trying to make a go of things long distance at the moment.'
'Must be hard.'
'Yeah, but its been a while now and we talk a lot. How did you meet?' Madeleine has this lovely conspiratorial quality that makes you feel like you've known her forever.
'University. You?'
'Same. He came up to me on the first day and said his bum was hurting.'
We both laugh.
'Those early days are so special aren't they?' She looks wistfully into the distance.
'Yeah,' I think back to those heady drunken times. 'Does yours have a partner?'
'No, not right now. Yours?'
'Yes, he's been with a lovely chap for a few years now. They're settled and happy. It's what you hope for isn't it.'
'It is. I don't know where I'd be without my gay.'
I overhear her on the phone to him later:
'I love you my darling. How's it going? That's amazing. Of course...yeah...yeah...sure. Awesome! I'll call you tonight. Love you.'
My conversations go slightly more like this:
'Yes I'm wearing make up. Yes I have put a brush through it. No I am not wearing the 'good' bra. Uhuh. Uhuh. No, no I haven't shown anyone my feet. Shut up. No, I am not going to end up like that chick in Wolf Creek. Yes I have stopped eating everything in sight...no I'm not going to be my own excess baggage weight and unable to afford to come home ….I miss you too.'
As my Grandmother says; There are all kinds of marriages. Mind you, she also says; Don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes.

We have been having a very civilised tour. Not so much Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll as Coffee, educational podcasts and fine dining. And oh my have we dined. Kate orders delicious little things and relishes them. It doesn't matter what Keir orders, he will always wish he'd ordered whatever someone else at the table is having. And he will almost always go to bed with chronic indigestion under a cloud of regret and Eno salts. Adrian approaches the menu like a vandal. He has the unique gift of picking something that sounds incredible and getting them to alter it to the point where it is as close to something you could get from Maccy D's as is humanly possible. I sometimes fancy I can hear the chef weeping behind closed doors as he self harms with the pointy bits of his Michelin star. I order and eat like someone is going to take it away from me. I noticed myself hunching over the plate the other day. I don't want to talk about it.
So, bearing in mind that we have not had any particularly excessive nights, imagine my surprise when we finished the show in Melbourne and I found Keir rocking on his heels looking mischievous with a mostly empty bottle of Shiraz in his hand.
'What's up Mr Nuttall?'
'I'm meeting a friend round the corner for a quick drink. Wanna come?' He swigs the dregs from the bottle in a devil may care fashion and then pops it responsibly in the bin.
I don't want to intrude on his evening and start to demur when Kate interjects;
'Go! Let some steam off, we're not in Melbourne for long.' I know for a fact she is heading home to ginger tea and an early night and I'm not tired.
'Sure, okay, great!' Keir and I head off to The Carlton Rooms. We are initially horrified by the sheer volume coming from within. And everybody is being turned away at the door because its too full.
Keir approaches the security guards in his cardigan. I follow, in mine.
'Hey. We're here to meet John...?'
The bouncers immediately nod and step aside.
'Wow, John must carry some weight around here,' Keir observes.
We enter Dante's first circle of hell. Whatever the young people in here have done to warrant this cruel and unusual punishment they can't possibly deserve it. The room is dark, heaving, loud and the walls are sweating. Two overgrown foetuses are attempting to flirt by standing very close and screaming information in to each others faces.

'He just texted to say they're on the roof,' Keir communicates with a mixture of sign language and despair.
We head up. The second floor is still heaving but the lighting is better. We continue onwards and pass the ladies;
'CLAIIIRE! CLAAAAIIIIREEEE! AH AHM SOOO WORRIED ABOUT SHANAAA. SHE'S BEEN IN THE TOILET FOR AGES AND HE'S HERE WITH THAT OTHER GIRL AND SHE'S BEEN SLAMMING THE SHOTS AND AH Reckon she won't come out cos remember that time she got really fucked and fell asleep with sick all over.......'

We continue on up. The roof turns out to be a massive relief in every way.
Its an open air tiki bar, some heat lamps and god help me if tears of joy didn't form in my eyes– ashtrays.
'What are you drinking Keir?' I ask flourishing my purse and rolling a cigarette simultaneously.
'A glass of shiraz please,' he smiles.
'Seriously?'
'I think its best to stick to the same drink.'
That was at around eleven pm. Two hours later I can be heard asking John, Anne and Keir if they want the salt too or just the lime. I remember Keir's sage riposte:
'Noooo no no no no no no Thea! No No No (Slam, bite, swallow, slam) no no noooooo. No.'
At around three thirty I find one of Keir's eyes looking directly at me and his urgent insistence that; “We have to get out of here. Right now.”
We marched with singular purpose straight in to Hungry Jacks and ordered a couple of bags of Too Much and a portion of Completely Unnecessary.
Keir spent the whole taxi journey home telling the increasingly nervous driver jokes interspersed with some very soul searching questions about his spiritual beliefs.
When we got back home Keir told me that he'd mentioned to John how we had only managed to gain entry by using his name. John said he knew no one on the staff or in that building. We can only assume that wearing a cardigan, giving a specific name and looking bewildered will get you in anywhere. Give it a try.


Thursday, 20 June 2013

Fantasy Lane.



Follow the road of tranquility....
'The girls will be with you in a moment. Please make yourselves comfortable.'
He closes the door. Kate and I stand in the lamplit room, staring at each other, nothing but two futon beds on the floor to separate us.
'Okay. So, it looks like we're going to be naked together in the same room then,' Kate observes.
'I am not getting naked,' I retort.
We kick off our shoes.
'He gave no instructions!' Kate starts rummaging through the shelves for a clue. She finds a small pillowcase.
'The windows have been blacked out,' I mutter.
'I'm beginning to understand why this was so cheap,' Kate says.
'Shall we just strip down to our knickers?'
'Okay. Let's do this.'

Two days previously:
Kate and I are in a sex shop in Geelong called 'Fantasy Lane.'
It's a main road not a lane and unless 'Fantasy' is the same as 'Wipe Clean' this place should be investigated under the trades description act.
'Explain it to me again Kate?' I ask glancing nervously at the vast selection of battery powered merchandise.
'Apparently it vibrates at the same frequency as the vocal chords when singing.'
'Uhuh.'
'So you massage your throat with it whilst you're practising. It loosens everything up.'
'Uhuh. And you can't just buy any old vibrator?' (I suddenly think of a stall offering discounts on second hand vibrators and shudder.)
'No, it has to be a particular one. It looks like a small egg and the brand is called.....' she scrolls through her iphone, 'Lelo.'
'Okay. Go on then.'
'I can't go up to the counter, she's chatting to a couple. Its awkward.'
We stare at each other. We stare at the counter. I clear my throat.
'Fine,' I say, squaring my shoulders.
As I approach the counter I overhear a couple talking to the owner;
'And that one fitted like a glove didn't it Gary!'
'Er, hi,' I mumble.
'Hi!' The couple smile.
'Hey there, how're you going?' The shop owner smiles.
'Hi!' I say.
'Hi!' The couple smile.
'Hello,' the owner smiles. 'So...how can I help?'
I look to Kate. Kate looks to the novelty cock shaped cake tins.
'My friend here is looking for a Lelo vibrator for her - '
'Got 'em!' She certainly has a Can Do attitude.
'Oh great. She needs it for her - '
'We've got this one,' she pulls some monstrous looking device from a display cabinet and blows off the dust.
I recoil.
'It's for my throat,' Kate elucidates somehow managing to sound like a kindergarten teacher.
'Uhuh,' the shop owner leers.
As Kate explains the whole vibrations throat thing I take in the shop owner. She is in her late forties and she is without question a smoker. There is an empty space next to her mouth where in happier times a cigarette would permanently dangle. She has long middle parted straight hair dyed Vixen Black. Her roots are a full inch grey. She looks tired. And yellow. And like she's seen things she can never un see. She has a top on that's a kind of halter neck but with a large round silver coloured hoop in the front connected to a boob tube that is resisting gravity with a mutinous determination. The whole look is vaguely reminiscent of a dominatrix except she has topped it all off with a comfy knitted cardigan.
'Oh well isn't that interesting,' she says. 'I can use that as a selling point. So you're in a band are ya?'
'Uhm, well I'm a solo artist,' Kate murmurs.
I can almost read Kate's mind at this point. Last week she twittered a comical picture of herself on our flight to Perth wearing a 'Humidiflyer'. Just for shits and giggles really. Two days later its in the local paper and the company have contacted her to ask if they can use the image in their advertising.
And whilst there is nothing that would amuse me more than seeing Kate on a poster clutching a Lelo Egg with the caption “It really helps me hit the high notes!” I do feel for her. I'd hate to have to second guess myself like this. I'd be shit at it too, whereas Kate is quite mindful.
'So what's your name?' There's an opportunistic look in the woman's eyes.
'How much is it?' I ask.
'$155.'
'$155,' I repeat for no reason at all but she takes this to be an exclamation of shock and immediately lowers the price to $120. Bargain. No, really.
As Kate pays they talk a bit about The Voice, and stood there, surrounded by gags, whips,wipe clean catsuits and cheap crotchless netted knickers she sighs and, staring in to the distance, says 'I really like Harrison.'
'The one with the stutter?' I ask.
'Yeah,' she sighs again, 'he's lovely.'
Before we leave Kate has another quick glance around;
'It's my husband's birthday today. Do you have any birthday candles that aren't shaped like cocks?'
'No love, I'm afraid I don't.'
We leave.

Back to the present;

We have stripped down to our knickers and are lying under our towels when the two thai masseurs enter. They look momentarily surprised to see that we are women but cover it well.
I've never had a thai massage before. Earlier on Kate has told me that its referred to as a lazy persons yoga. We have opted for No Oil.
As the two women quite literally climb on top of us and start kneading our backs and legs they whisper to each other in their own language. I'm reminded of a podcast we listened to the other day that talked about a new craze called ASMR. Or not so new as it turns out. Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. The short version is that people whisper and the frequency of the whisper causes small explosions of pleasure in the head which are by all accounts very difficult to describe but incredibly addictive. You can watch youtube videos of women whispering at you. Just telling you about their Gran's jewellery or that they are a nurse and they're going to take care of you. Its not sexual. They are VERY clear about that. But of course it is. Even if it isn't. If you know what I mean.
As the woman on my back sticks what I can only assume is a piece of molten lava shaped like a knuckle duster in to my spine, I wonder if Kate is thinking about ASMR too. (I checked later, and yes, she was.) Over the next hour we basically had seven bells of shit kicked out of us by two tiny but surprisingly strong women. I wouldn't say it was relaxing. I wouldn't say that at all. But afterwards we both agreed that we did feel we'd had a good workout and I certainly felt a bit taller. It's strange to lie down for an hour and still feel the burn of strenuous exercise.

'Kate.'
'What?'
'You know I'm going to write about this don't you?'
'Yeah I figured.'
'And the sex shop.'
'Yep.'


....and you shall find the facilities.


Sunday, 16 June 2013

Please don't make me sing along.




The Lighthouse Theatre, Warrnambool.
Adrian and I were sharing an apartment in Adelaide. As I was getting ready for bed he said;
'You should listen to some Dr Karl, it'll help you sleep.'
'Nah, I'm alright.'
'No you should.'
'Really, I'm fine.'
'But you should.'
This went on for a while until he put Dr Karl on his iphone and played it to me as I brushed my teeth. And as I removed my make up. And as I closed my bedroom door in his face. And as I climbed in to bed and he remained outside my room with the phone pressed firmly against the door.
'Legie, have you noticed how the hollow door provides an echo, like the acoustics are even better to listen to Dr Karl to?'
'Yes, yes I've noticed.'

The following morning we listened to Dr Karl in the car. There's no denying Adrian's point. Dr Karl knows everything there is to know about everything. I don't like him.
After a while Keir put on a podcast for us about the Kama Sutra. We were all expecting an education in sex. What we got was a stiff (stop it) scholarly type explaining the difference between Kama and Karma.
'This is a bit dry,' Kate observed dryly.
I fell asleep and dreamed that Dr Karl was explaining the Kama Sutra in a peppy and upbeat way. He wears bright fun clothes to make learning cool. I don't like him.

Central Market, Adelaide.
I had a wander around the Central Market in Adelaide before we left. Hundreds of food stalls and cafes. At eight in the morning it was buzzing with activity. Families stood around laughing and chatting, drinking coffee. Amidst all the hustle and bustle I saw a very old man, sat on his own at a table in a knitted bobble hat eating ice cream for breakfast. I desperately wanted to get a picture of him and so made a pretence of needing directions to get talking to him. He found me confusing and didn't seem to know entirely where he was, what was going on or why the strange woman with the tattoos was talking at him. I felt bad for bothering him and before leaving pointed at his ice cream and said; 'Is that breakfast?' He grinned and shrugged innocently before picking up his spoon and tucking in with all the enthusiasm of a four year old. Why do we only appreciate the world in that way at the beginning and end of our lives? I suppose its the two periods in which we feel we have nothing to lose.

On the way to Mount Gambier we stopped in a small town called Keith for lunch. This caused me no end of amusement, which like the dick I am, I catalogued on Facebook:
“Don't cry Dahlink, we'll always have Keith.”
“We Need To Talk About Keith.”
The fact that I'm repeating it here does me no credit whatsoever but I'm still giggling.
Where are we?
We had a great lunch and I found a thin silver bracelet with three tiny four leaf clovers on it. Two of them had the word 'Courage' engraved on them and one had the word 'Bliss'. As one of my current favourite songs of Kate's is a new one called Bliss I thought it all very serendipitous and bought it. Two parts courage, one part bliss. Seems like a good ratio. Also, I got a 20% discount so everyone's a winner.

At the show last night there were a couple standing vigil outside the doors two hours before the performance was due to start. I set up the merchandise stand under their constant unwavering stares. When the doors were opened they came straight over and asked me if Kate would be signing that evening.
'Definitely, she always does,' I smiled.
The woman was in her early thirties and quite heavily pregnant.
'We lost a little one,' she said. 'We played Last Day On Earth at the funeral.'
This happens a lot. What can you say? I mostly say that I'm sorry and that Kate will of course sign anything they want. On one occasion I just grabbed a woman and hugged her for an inappropriate length of time. Her story was so heartbreaking and so recent. The easy answer would be; 'Kate write something a bit more fucking disco would ya?'
I don't see anyone coming up at the end of gigs saying; 'Thanks so much for “Can't Shake It”, I too am rhythmically challenged and that song got me through a really hard time in my life.'
Now that I've written that down I rahealllly want it to happen.
A great woman came to the gig in Adelaide. She's a roller Derby chick and her Derby name is 'Skate Chiller Heidke'. Excellent. She got Kate to autograph her arm and she had an appointment the following morning at 9.45 am to get it permanently inked. 

Not a wanker.
Keir is Kate's opening support at all the regional venues. He can't perform in the churches because, apparently, he's a bit 'blue'. His alter ego is called Franky Walnut and people often don't realise its the same person playing with Kate later on. He comes on stage in flip flops (or Thongs are they are so wrongly called here) and a hat and sings very funny songs. I love sitting in the foyer at the beginning of the show and listening to him sing a song called 'Please don't make me sing along.' I particularly love hearing the audience sing the chorus back at him with real gusto:
Please don't make me sing along
I don't like to sing
and I don't like this song
Please don't make me sing along
You're a wanker, you're a wanker, you're a wanker.

On our way out of town we stopped off to see the famous blue lake which was beautiful. And big. We have so little time between venues the tourist attractions are a bit of a hit and run affair which actually suits my nature very well. Get out. Admire. Take picture. Get in car. Find coffee. 'Tourist Attraction' has become synonymous with 'Ciggie Break'. All Kate has to say is “Apparently there's a beautiful -” and I've got my pouch of Dead Bryan tobacco out and poised.

 Whilst driving to Warrnambool Kate found a message on her public FB profile from a fan saying that he owned a fish and chip shop in Hayward (Haywood?) which was on our way and he'd be delighted if Kate came there and was his guest for lunch. She gets a few invites like this and its pretty much impossible to accommodate them. And also, you know, weird. But we ended passing directly by it and decided to stop off and say hello anyway. As we parked up I saw a man in his 50's behind the counter do a comical double take and run out the back. When we walked inside he was stood there grinning from ear to ear. His assistant said;
Ravens Nest Chip Shop.
'Thank you so much for coming, he's been beside himself all day. I said you probably wouldn't come. And here you are!'
He was lovely. He phoned his wife (“Ahm telling you Diane, she is REALLY here. She is stood right here. No ahm not makin' it up woman!”) who came over to say hello and made us a coffee. He also tried to teach Keir how to juggle. Kate had her picture taken with them and we carried on with our drive all a bit jollier for the experience. They're coming to the gig tonight too.

The accommodation here in Warrnambool is excellent. Last nights in Mount Gambier was surreal. Don't get me wrong, it was spacious, clean, it had everything we needed. But I'm pretty sure we were the only people staying there. And it wasn't small. When we returned from the gig the place was in darkness and there wasn't a soul in charge. The whole hotel was decorated fabulously back in 1972 and had since maintained that décor with an unwavering and mutinous determination. There was even a white mini grand in the reception area, right by the low sweeping staircase. Every time I walked down it I found myself swaggering and humming Saturday Night Fever. It boasted a free, instant and super fast wifi connection. The one concession to a treacherous world that had left flock wall paper and taupe behind. As I lay in my slightly porn like bed I received a text from Adrian next door saying:
“My download says its going to take 8 weeks & 6 days to complete on this internet connection.”

Chasing the ball.
On the way in to town we stopped to look at a beautiful view/have a smoke, and feel the grass beneath our feet/use it as an ashtray. Keir and Adrian were bouncing their tiny juggling balls as high as they could and then running to retrieve them. They looked like kids, all happy at play.

Watching Keir chase the ball.
Kate and I looked at the view and spotted a group of snoozing kangaroos on the hillside.
'I'm having such a great time Kate.'
'Really? I hope so. I always think you must get bored during the shows every night.'
'I'm having such a great time Kate.'

In other news, I had to explain to Adrian what Dogging is today. I'll leave that with you.



Ashtray

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Nearly halfway.



We arrive in Adelaide and I decide to have a nap before we head out to meet a friend of Kate and Keir's for dinner. I'm sharing an apartment with Adrian.
'Listen Adrian, I'm going to have a kip. If I'm not up by 18.30 give me a shout ok? I want to have a shower before we head out.'
'No worries.'
At 18.30pm exactly Adrian is outside my door. He has been left on his own for two hours.
Imagine Tigger. Add amphetamines. Remove any internal dialogue.
'Hey Legie!'
I'm on the first rung of the heady ladder to becoming a 'Legend' in Adrian's eyes. Apparently there's a CEO and everything. I think Adrian currently holds the position of 'Legend Liaison'. Something like that. I was flattered initially until I noticed that complete strangers who make a decent coffee immediately attain the level of Legend in his book. Strange men outside service stops with crocodile teeth sewn in to the rims of their hats are legends too. A purveyor of good fries is a Legend without any question. And cats. But I'm still just a Legie. A rank amateur in the arena. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. Perhaps cataloguing his inexhaustible food issues in a public forum isn't helping my case. But legendary cats? Its hard not to take it personally.
'Legina. Legeena. Leg.' Pause. 'Legina. Legie. Legie. Legie. Leg. Leg. Legina.'
'I'm awake. Don't call me Legina. It sounds like vagina. I need a coffee and a cigarette.'
'Come on then!'
'How did I sleep so long?'
'Its your age. You start needing naps more frequently.'
'Adrian I'm 38. Can I go down in my PJ's?'
'I see it a lot in older people. Don't worry about it, its normal. When you're old. Napping.'

It's a nice hotel with a bar. I ask the young woman behind the counter if I can buy a coffee and she says of course. White, two sugars. Thanks. She asks Adrian what he wants and I settle in to watch his charm offensive. He's going to detail for her exactly how he likes his coffee, and why. He's halfway through his patter and I notice she has the dazed look of yet another service provider mesmerised by the strange magic he weaves around him. I wonder if I can fuck it up for him. I decide the key element is getting her to break eye contact with him, she looks like a rabbit under headlights. I start subtly waving at her from beside him as he talks about chocolate sprinkles and coffee to milk ratios. She finally notices and tears her eyes away. I've only got a second so mouth as distinctly as I can 'He's fucking mental!' I'm tapping my temple with my index finger and pointing sideways at him to illustrate. Her eyes widen suddenly and the glaze disappears. When she looks back at him she's frowning like she's just woken up.
'So, you basically want a flat white with chocolate sprinkles, yeah?'
She's being sarcastic! I'm absolutely delighted. I practically skip outside to light my cigarette.
Adrian follows me out looking confused and glancing back uneasily.
'Was she being sarcastic?'
'Yes, yes she was. I mouthed to her that you were a mental.' I have a shit eating grin on my face. I'm not proud of this (Yes I am). Its like kicking a puppy (I haven't yet had a cigarette or a coffee and the puppy has woken me up.)
'I knew something wasn't right. I lost her there towards the end.'
When the girl brings our coffees out she tells me that she made mine a little smaller especially because she knows I wanted it strong and the cup is too large. I thank her profusely and smile at Adrian. She practically throws his coffee down in front of him. Adrian tries to win her back but this battle is lost. Conceding defeat he tells her that he scores her coffee making at a meagre 9.5 out of 10. That's how lovely Adrian is. On the way back up to our room I have to stop him going back in to the bar to tell her that he didn't mean to be so harsh and its actually a solid 10 out of 10. I've told him to save it for tomorrow, she'll appreciate it more when she's had some time to think on it.

One of the most important lessons I have learned about being on tour is that good coffee and good food are paramount. I day can be made or ruined by breakfast. Kate frequently Twitters what town we're in and asks for breakfast recommendations. We've had some outstanding ones. And it is killing me. I'm not used to eating three meals a day and Kate and Keir work it all off by running every day. I have no such recourse. The notion of me running anywhere at all, even if Satan himself were on my heels, is laughable. In the UK I cycle everywhere and that makes a big difference. I also don't eat half as much. Kate is going to take me to the hotel gym tomorrow morning and show me how to use the Iron Maiden or whatever its called. I just thank the gods that there are no scales in hotel rooms or I'd have to stave my own head in with them.
We meet in the lobby at quarter to eight to walk over to the restaurant. Brasserie Dom, if you're ever in Adelaide. Perversely good. Kate is wearing a bright red poncho which makes her look like Little Red Riding Hood. She's always brightly dressed in lots of colour. I like to try and counterbalance her look by wearing black. Relentlessly.
The friend we were meeting, Mickey, knows the owner so we were sent a bottle of something sparkling and delicious as soon as we arrived. The menu was incredible and I looked over to see an air of resignation settle over Adrian. No pizza. No deep fried fish. No burger.
When we asked Keir what he fancied he read out the entire menu. Except for the House Boudin Noir. But only because we didn't know what it was. Turns out its Black Pudding. Keir has what he calls 'Trigger Foods'. If certain things are on the menu he has to have them. Scallops are one. Black pudding is up there. And I think liver parfait too. Whilst he attempted to whittle his selection down to something manageable Kate and I tried to figure out a way to get Adrian to order Lamb sweetmeats without telling him what they were.
We ordered a magnificent feast of Charcuteries, fish, lamb, cheeses, salted caramel and chocolate. Adrian had the fries.
In his defence he did order a cured salmon dish with Oyster cream. But he didn't like it. It came with charred peppers which he kind of liked. Kate tried to convince him they were like fries.
'What? Like fries but healthy?'
'Yes. Eat them.'
We all get giddy from the food, wine and conversation. Mickey tells us about the four different religions he's tried over the years and there are some arguments for and against the meaning and importance of spirituality. Keir quotes Jung and I think of my friend in the UK who loves Jung and wonder what he'd say. And I think about my family and how much I love them and how good it was to speak to them on skype the previous day. And I vaguely wonder if eating this food and talking about religion and Jung in a posh restaurant means I'm a grown up now. Because I don't feel like one.
I pop out for a cigarette between courses and when I return Kate tells me the remnant cigarette smell on me is delicious. She doesn't smoke at all anymore. She and Keir have both managed to completely knock it on the head. Mickey is a singer and a smoker. He says the guilt is awful. Apart from all the usual health risks you're horribly aware that you are wilfully damaging your voice and it feels very self destructive. Luckily my voice is only required for Karaoke and a smokers rasp is almost obligatory in that setting.
At the theatre in Renmark yesterday Kate was doing her vocal warm ups right next to me in the dressing room as I checked my email. She made a noise so high that one of my ears popped and I've been able to hear better ever since.
We're staying in this hotel two nights in a row which is a profound luxury. It means we can have a lie in tomorrow and we actually get to wash some clothes. We're almost halfway through the tour which seems impossible. We've covered a lot of ground in a short space of time. Long drives, flights, photos, podcasts, coffee stops, music, laughter and food. It's good.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Redrum.


I'd like to be one of those people who is cynically cool about touring with a band. You know the sort : 'Another nameless town, another faceless hotel. Sigh.'
But I'm not that person. I love arriving in a new town, all shiny and anonymous. I love staying in a different hotel every night. Kate checks us in at reception and I hare off to bounce on the bed, look in all the cupboards and drawers and use every single complimentary item simultaneously. If you were to knock on my door five minutes after my arrival you would find me slathering myself in Body Lotion whilst drinking a cup of tea with a shower cap on. I've never used a shower cap in my life but if I arrive at a hotel and can't locate one in the bathroom I am genuinely disappointed. Also, washing with miniature soaps and shampoo bottles is just more fun. You can pretend to be a giant in the shower.
This hotel is somewhat different though. All of the following observations could well be the result of sleep deprivation, but I'm going to share them anyway. If for no other reason than it will stop me checking inside the cupboard for the third time. I'm not checking for knife wielding psycho's by the way. I'm checking for monsters.
We got back from the gig around half eleven tonight. Adrian pottered off to his room to watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones, apparently something appalling happened to a bunch of fictional characters that no one is allowed to talk about. Keir had a Thai meal to eat and consequently regret at 2am, and Kate and I just wanted to have hot showers and get a good nights sleep. I noticed during the post show meet and greet that a lot of the lovely people having their CD's signed would say “Thank you for coming. Here.” There was an unmistakable full stop between 'coming' and 'here'. As though they were either apologising for being so far out of the way, or giving some coded message implying that they were being held here against their will. Which reminds me, before I continue with my own personal episode of The Shining, there was a little girl at the theatre tonight. She came up to the counter before the show started and was very intently examining every item on the table. Her mum, who was strikingly beautiful, asked what she wanted and after a full minute of weighing the options she requested A T-shirt, a bag, a CD and a poster. She then opened a small terribly glamorous clutch and removed a zip lock freezer bag absolutely stuffed with dollars from which she counted out the required amount.
'She's been saving for tonight,' her mum laughed, blushing slightly. 'Sweetie, why don't you pay for the CD and I'll treat you to the rest.'
The little girl shook her head once. 'No it's ok. I've got this.'
This kid was fascinating, really serious but adorable too.
'Hey, Kate's going to come out afterwards and sign stuff if you want to meet her,' I say. 'She'll have her picture taken with you too if you like.'
The girl gives me a polite smile but I notice her little hands are shaking as I hand over her purchases.
'Come on mum,' she says walking purposefully towards the auditorium.
The mum smiles at me apologetically. 'She's beside herself with excitement. Believe it or not. She loves Kate.'
Anyway, back to what I hope won't be my last blog with the addendum 'And she was never seen again'.
I come in the room, put my key on the bed and turn the shower on in the bathroom. I come back in to the bedroom and my key isn't on the bed. I check under all my crap and its not there. I eventually find it zipped inside my bag. Overtired, I think. I put the key back on the bed and go about unpacking my PJ's all the while glancing sideways at the key to make sure its still there. I think briefly of Adrian telling me the other day how he sometimes gets bad vibes from a room. I hate the word 'vibes' so broadly dismissed what he was saying. Now I'm beginning to get bad vibes. This is entirely the product of an overactive imagination but once you start down that road you're sort of fucked.
I get in the shower and am trying to enjoy being a giant with my tiny complimentary products when I suddenly remember the shower scene in The Grudge. I tentatively check the back of my head for an eyeball that shouldn't be there. Shower time is kind of ruined and I hurry through the last verse of FE FI FO FUM and scurry out.
Once I'm in my PJ's I decide I want a cigarette and head out to find the smoking area. The corridors are silent and empty and long. And they all look the same. I finally get to the reception area and there's no one there. The large room is low lit and a small television is showing a late night film, the screen flickering, completely in keeping with my now slightly elevated heart rate. It feels as though someone was just sat here watching and snuck off when they heard me coming. Its not out of the question. I used to work in a hotel and I'd frequently hide from guests. But in all fairness I was shit at my job. I say 'Hello?' and the word ricochets off the walls like a ball thrown in an empty gym.
I find an exit and stand in the drizzling rain of a darkened courtyard smoking my rollie. I toy with the idea of phoning Adrian and seeing if he wants to come down for a smoke but he will have fallen asleep listening to Dr Carl by now. When he first told me about Dr Carl I assumed it was one of those late night lonely heart lines. But no, apparently Dr Carl is just “some dude who knows, like, everything.” Like what? “Like people call in and ask why do radiators get a coat of black paint before they're painted another colour.” And what's the answer? “I don't know. As soon as Dr Carl starts explaining anything I fall asleep. It's awesome.” 'kay. Adrian met Dr Carl when he was younger and asked him about Aliens and other life forms out there. He was bright eyed and bushy tailed. Dr Carl gave him a level stare and replied: This is all there is.
I make my way back through the deserted reception area and get lost in the identical corridors. I come to a dead end and some ornately carved wooden doors. Above them in faded gold lettering: 'The Grand Ballroom'. I do a swift U-turn. There is no fucking way I'm going in there.
After a few more wrong turns I find a snack dispensing machine and put all my loose change in it. If these walls could speak they would probably scream GET OUT! But that's no reason to forego a Snickers Bar and a packet of cheese twists. It took another three or four wrong turns to find my way back and that only happened because I left a trail of cheese twists on the carpet behind me.
I'm back in my room now. And apart from opening my curtains to find a brick wall instead of a window nothing else untoward has happened. I'm sleeping with the lights on though.
We're leaving at ten tomorrow, after I have made full use of the inclusive breakfast. The next show is in a town called Renmark and then we're off to a baptist church in Adelaide. The gigs in churches are the best, a lot of them are very beautiful even though they do look brand new by english standards.
So yeah, on we go, another nameless town, another faceless hotel. Yay!
Sleep tight. One of us should.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Taste Sensation.


Adrian, the tour manager, doesn't like a lot of foods. He says he likes simple things. He says he's easily pleased. He is not easily pleased. Proof of this would be watching him try to get a toasted cheese sandwich in a traditional greek restaurant. Nothing sends him in to more of a panic than the words 'No Alterations' printed on a menu. I have started behaving like a mother; 'Do you just want some bread and olive oil? With a bit of balsamic? Have you had any vegetables today? No Adrian, chips are not a suitable vegetable.' Kate takes a more direct approach; 'Just try it. Try it. Try it. Just try it. Just one mouthful. Try it. Try it. Try it. Just have one bit. One. Try it. Just try it. Try it. Try it. Try it.'
He's about thirty five and in addition to being borderline phobic about food he's also lovely and nothing is too much trouble. We watch him charm his way across the country. Everyone is a 'Legend', everything is 'Living the Aussie dream'. He goes to collect our hire car in Adelaide and we stand outside waiting. Through the glass we see him, the view muted, as he tries to solve a mistake the company has made. The two women morph from stern and unobliging harpies in to blushing, giggling girls. You could set your watch by it. I hear him in one hotel, two minutes after we arrive, wandering down the corridor with the receptionist:
'So what are you guys doing in Mandurah?'
'We're on tour.'
'Awesome.'
'Do you want to come?'
'I'd love to!'
'Cool, I'll put you on the guest list. What's your name? That's a great name. So what do you do for fun in Mandur......'
Their voices fade in to the distance.
Its like a very mild super power. She's now following him on Instagram. Adrian had a look at the many pictures of her and her cat. A cat he reckons looks like 'a total legend.'



Keir told me a story today.
'I'm at this great Tool gig and they play their last song of the night and the lead singer says to the audience; “I want you to think about how you feel right now, that feeling you have. And I want you to remember it. And then I want you to take it with you, that feeling. Take it with you tonight, keep it tomorrow. And then keep it the following day, and the week after that and take it with you in to the next month. Look inside yourself and make that feeling positive.”' Keir pauses. 'Then the bloke next to me turns and says;
“I'm feeling positive. Positive I want another beer.”'
I start giggling and Keir has this look on his face. He has this look quite often. If I had to sum that look up in a sentence it might go: I try, I really try to be a spiritual person and to enjoy the little moments, but then life comes along and kicks those moments in the nuts.
He has funny bones. In my experience this is only true of people who find the world an entirely confounding place.
This evening I saw a new side to him. Kate ordered a desert that had been recommended to us earlier in the day by one of the Sommeliers at the vineyard. He tried it and it was so good it actually brought tears to his eyes. Then he had what he terms as a 'food high', momentarily but utterly suffused with joy. Adrian had a fancy Pizza with all of the fancy removed, and a portion of chips. He had the same for lunch. But at lunch they let him watch them cook it in the wood fired oven outside which made him very happy. The chef didn't know quite why he was letting Adrian watch him cook but, like everyone confronted with Adrian, he had been charmed.

After every show Kate comes out and signs albums, t-shirts, posters and on one occasion, a bald man's head. I love watching this. There are certain types at every signing. Here are just a few:
Normal – You were great, please sign my CD and make it out to (insert name), keep up the good work.
Nervous laughers – You were amazing sudden high pitched screaming laugh that ends as abruptly as it started Seriously though you were amazing Repeat.
Criers – You are such an inspiration to me brittle smile I just love you blinking furiously Can I just get a quick picture? Thanks. Is lead away weeping by embarrassed looking friend.
Pushy Mother's – Go and sit with Kate and get your picture taken. No mum I'm fine. Go and sit with Kate! You want your picture taken with her. You said you wanted your picture taken with her whilst we were queuing now go and have your picture taken! Cringing child with hunched shoulders makes the long long walk to the seat beside Kate.
On one excellent occasion a small boy was getting his cd signed and the mother said to Kate: Danny was saying to me earlier that when he grows up he wants you to be his girlfriend.
The boy looked like he wanted to scratch his own face off “Nooooo mummmm don't say that to her!!!” Danny will never share another thought with his mother as long as he lives.
Ambitious Teen – Ohmygodyou'reliketotallyamazingpleasesignmyalbumandmakeitouttoSarahspelledZARRIAHI'mactuallyasingermyselfandIjustsowanttodowhatyoudolikeforever!
The Slightly Intense Non Blinker – Hi. Please sign this. And this. And this. And this. And.......this. Thank you. See you at the next gig.

Sometimes there's The Bereaved too. People who have lost someone, usually recently, and have played one of Kate and Keir's songs at the funeral. They come and share their story and I can't make fun of them. Sometimes it's all I can do not to have a cry myself.

I want to tell you about Helen, the Security Guard at the last venue, but its late and we have to set off early tomorrow on the four hour drive to Mildura and the next show. We'll leave at ten and find a good coffee place. Keir and Kate and I will have a long black with milk, mine with one sugar. Adrian will have a flat white with the chocolate sprinkles. No, not a cappuccino, that would be a naïve interpretation of his needs, he doesn't like the froth you see. Its all about 'The Ratio's' apparently. Its okay though, he'll explain to the barista exactly why he wants a flat white with chocolate sprinkles as opposed to a traditional cappuccino and she will listen and she will be charmed and she will put her heart and soul in to that cup of coffee. That's just how it is.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Piece of morning sun.

Dead Bryan stares up at me from my pouch of Australian rolling tobacco as I wait for Kate to pour my second coffee of the day. Its a testament to my addiction that I am willing to spend the equivalent of thirty quid for a bag of leaves wrapped in an unbranded nightmare of death portents and statistics. Not to mention Bryan's dead eyes staring up at me woefully as I roll. Poor 34 year old Bryan. What do you want to be when you grow up Bryan? Well Miss, I'd like my adult corpse to adorn every packet of cigarettes in Australia with a nice little pic of me healthy and mustachioed in the corner to serve as a reminder to smokers that they too will come to an untimely end if they follow my path. Not that anyone will see it, I mean 40 dollars a pack? You're having a fucking laugh aren't you?! That or I'd like to be a train driver.
Everyone here thinks the coffee is much better than in the UK. And they're right. I don't know how that's possible but, inexplicably, the coffee is just a great deal better. I'm up to six cups a day so its only a matter of time before Heart Attack Dave is staring up at me from my paper cup.
There's a lyric in one of Kate and Keir's new songs called Bliss: 'A piece of morning sun, swallowed with a grin'. I feel like that every day at the moment. Happiness is such a simple thing when you have it, so easily forgotten when you don't.  I found a book on K&K's shelf called 'Happiness'. I thought 'Whoa there! That is SO weird. I'm feeling happy and here I find a book all about that very subject. It must mean something. Evidently the universe wants me to read this book. I'm going to read it. I could learn a lot from this. And probably grow spiritually, like, as a person. I'll start it just as soon as I've stopped looking out of the window and marvelling at how beautiful the sky is at this time of day.
Serendipity. A happy co-incidence. But if I don't attach some deeper meaning to it and create some sort of cause and effect then I might have to consider the possibility that the universe is just glorious chaos and if that's true then anything could happen. That used to be a fearful thing for me. Now it seems quite exciting. A really recent example of this would be flying. I've been afraid of flying since I was about twenty. And I'd like to say that I underwent CBT or read a self help book or got hypnotised and consequently mastered my fear. But the truth is I just decided I wasn't going to be frightened of that anymore, and then I wasn't. To believe that the plane you are on, that specific plane, is going to fall out of the sky, implies that you think you're special in some way. They almost never fall out of the sky.  It's taken me a long time to realise that I'm insignificant, just like everyone else. Its very freeing. It makes you feel kind of special.
It still amazes me every time I hear Kate sing that a voice so vast could come out of a package so tiny. Seriously, I could fit her in my pocket, right next to Dead Bryan. She should by all rights just be a bobble head on an enormous pair of lungs.  The first time I heard her go at it full pelt in the UK I thought what a wonderful gift to have. How lucky. But living with her has been quite an education. That girl earns every penny she makes. The mornings start silently as she potters about eating more than should be humanly possible for one so small. There's a smell of vinegar sometimes. Some apple cider concoction that I assume aids the throat. No jump starting that engine. I always feel that I should be silent too, my voice sounds like rocks falling in the stillness. At some point she'll start speaking quietly and then its just a matter of time before the noises begin. Scales usually with the odd grunt interspersed. I'm sure its all very technical but to me its just hilarious. Like a small woodland creature waking up and making its presence known.
Its a nice household to be invited in to. I like musicians, their houses are always filled with instruments and songs are always playing, either on the stereo or live. Keir sits doodling on one of his seemingly endless guitars as I watch enviously. He sings sometimes and I'm stupidly surprised at how lovely his voice is. Kate and I sat drinking red wine yesterday, writing lyrics on the floor by the piano. We'd fuss and fiddle over a word and then she'd sing it to test the sound. I think this should be in my life every day for at least an hour. There's a little whiteboard in the corner of daily goals they set themselves and a box to tick the ones they achieve. The list includes: Listening to music, writing music, not smoking and doing exercise. But my favourite one is: Be a good friend.
We're flying to Perth today for the second leg of the tour. I still can't get my head around the fact that we'll be in the same country but it will take nearly six hours to fly there and we'll be in a different time zone. I'm taking Bryan with me. I don't know if he ever went to Perth. Either way he'll be seeing a lot of this country over the next three weeks or so. I should pack. And wash. And have another coffee. And count my blessings.