9th October 2007 – Guildford Boiler Room
I was sat at work feeling fucking shattered, bored stiff and itching to go rejoin the tour. In my head I imagined the funtimes the others would be having in the van on the way to Guildford while I sat there in front of my laptop doing the data entry thing. I had successfully blocked from my mind the fact that – apart from the first couple of days – the travelling part mostly consisted of everyone sitting in the van in varying states of boredom.
I took a coffee break and phoned Malcolm to give him an update on how things were going. I bitched about work to him. “Don’t worry,” he told me. “You won’t have to worry about that for much longer…” Nowadays I put this up there with the time he told me not to worry about learning to drive. “By the time you pass your test you won’t NEED to drive yourself.” he had said. Um, yeah. When 5.30 eventually came, I downed tools immediately and got the train from Waterloo to Guildford. I should be upfront: I have issues with Guildford. To 27-year-old me, it was my idea of Hell. It was boring and suburban and miles away. Because it was on the A3 leading to Horndean, where the parents of my girlfriend of the time lived, she had always been keen on the idea of us moving to Guildford, so that we could be near London for me and near Horndean for her. I could think of nothing more ghastly. I felt disconnected from everything living in Greenwich instead of Shoreditch or Whitechapel, but Guildford was something else. Guildford was just boring.
The sort of town one travels through, or leaves. I had once had Worthing described to me as a place old people went to die but when they arrived they forgot. Guildford just felt like the sort of place you moved to when you were ready to be boring. Boring, boring, BORING. Boring.
The train journey was mercifully brief – it only took half an hour. I met Grant at the station and we made our way to the venue. It was miles away from the station. We timed the journey so we could make sure we left with plenty of time to catch the last train. It felt like we were walking for bloody ages. When we finally arrived at the venue, we met the others, grabbed some drinks and waited around for soundcheck. Once more, we did not get a soundcheck. Fuck’s. Sake. I was already in whining brat mode. This pushed me over the edge.
The first band went on and did their thing. It was a bit Bloc Party. I half-watched the first couple of songs, slagging them off to Sam Christie before going back to the bar. My friend Megan – with whom I worked – turned up with her boyfriend (now husband) Howard in tow and we made small talk. I started to get nervous. Meg had never seen the band and I had talked us up something chronic. I didn’t want us to be shit in front of someone I wanted to impress. Stage time came and we kicked off with Money Is The Drug. We were abominable. The sound was fucking appalling. Simon was using the Line 6 Pod in lieu of an amp, but he needn’t have bothered. None of us could hear a fucking note he was playing. Ditto Deborah’s keyboard. And our vocals. Christ only knew if we were in tune or not. We asked the sound engineer to turn any of these things up in the monitors, but he was either lazy or didn’t know what he was doing. Either way we sounded like shit, offstage and on. We had no space to move on the tiny stage and I stropped my way through the gig, eventually chucking my guitar to the floor at the end of I Am Not A Monkey and storming out of the venue, leaving whoever else to turn my amp off as feedback shrieked from it. I was embarrassed. The gig had been fucking shit. It was one of the worst gigs I had ever played, certainly the worst gig of the tour and very much the crappiest gig we had played in ages. I was fuming.
I don’t know whether it was the sympathy vote or what, but once we had packed up we sold an awful lot of CD’s. The first band turned out to be really nice people. One of them endeared himself by telling me how good my band was and that I looked like Bryan Ferry. I repaid his kindness by bitching about his terrible band to Grant on the journey home. And what a journey. The train to Guildford had been a speedy, half-hour zip-along that ignored the inbetween towns. The train back to civilisation was a slow moving metal Hell tube that lavished attention on obscure south-western suburban shit-holes, stopping everywhere and annoying the fuck out of Grant and me.
“I’m never fucking working and commuting to gigs during a tour ever again,” I whined to Grant, petulant, tired and obnoxious. We had half a day’s day-job work left, then we were done for the week and back on the tour proper again for a couple of days. I could not wait.