21st September 2007 – Carlisle Brickyard
Or “Get your cock out then, love.”
The highlight of the tour so far arrived on the merchandise stall after SohoDolls had finished their set, but before that…
After the stress of the previous night, and the joys of the sofas Simon and I had slept on the night before, it felt glorious to sleep in a proper bed and get a proper breakfast. We were in a great mood when we got in the van and started the journey back to dear old England for our next show. Stopping at the beach the day before had been such a brilliant idea that we did it again, this time stopping at Loch Lanark to feed some swans, have a walk and play on some swings. We went to the local charity shop (amazing vinyl purchase of the day: Santana’s Abraxis for a pound) and grabbed some food in a local restaurant. Simon and I decided to sample haggis, and we bought a cupcake to sneak into Weston’s dressing room later that night. Our big problem was what to do tomorrow night: we were playing a headline show in London while the Dolls were playing elsewhere, so how could we get a cake to him in our absence? At the moment, Weston quite rightly suspected it was us, though we denied all. If we were to get one to him while we were in another part of the country, we could plausibly deny it was us AND start to seriously freak him out.
We decided to enlist SohoDolls drummer Paul. Paul was a session musician and therefore not quite part of the inner circle, and we seemed to get on with him. Deb thought he’d be up for it, so we had a plan. We just had to hope that he was a) actually up for it and b) not a grass if he wasn’t.
We got back into the van and made our way to Carlisle, stopping again at a huge valley just because it was called the Devil’s Beef Tub. I am obsessed with places like this: I have been since I was a child. When I was a nipper, we would go on family holidays to Devon, Somerset and Cornwall, visit castles, and I would read books about their mythology and infamous beasts…the Beasts of Bodmin Moor, Exmoor and Dartmoor fascinated me, as did any place name prefixed by ‘The Devil’s’. A lot of these have stories suggesting they are caused by Lucifer’s visits to our world, but sadly – according to Wikipedia – the Devil’s Beef Tub is named after its use by the Johnstone clan to hide stolen cattle. Their enemies referred to them as “devils”.
We had ages to kill when we arrived at the venue in Carlisle, so we went and explored the local castle and picked up some food from Subway before soundcheck. We tried out But… again and then retired to the dressing room. Today’s rider? Beer. And crisps.
Doors opened at 8 and the two local support acts did their thing but I paid no attention to them at all. I was more excited by the fact that a couple of weeks after us, Britpop also-rans Northern Uproar were playing the same venue as us. I was/am a big Britpop obsessive, so despite the fact that I don’t even like Northern Uproar, this was the cause of much amusement for me. I couldn’t believe they were still going.
By the time our stage time came the venue was actually properly full for the first time this tour. Huzzah! The audience seemed to really dig us and the stage was a good size so we rose to the occasion, pulling comedy stadium rock poses and bouncing off each other. At one point we had a heckler:
“Get your tits out!” came the call.
“Get your cock out then, love!” I replied before either of the girls could. The audience laughed, seemingly on our side. This was brilliant. We finished up with a particularly raucous version of I Am Not A Monkey – our traditional set closer – and off we tottered to the merchandise stand, where we were swamped by people wanting to buy stuff and meet us. It was amazing. SohoDolls took to the stage and did their thing, and after they finished Weston and Maya joined us at the stall. Weston and I got talking to a gaggle of young female fans.
Weston and I both had girlfriends, but we were also men in bands in our mid-20s. so when the fans asked us to sign their chests, we thought Christmas had come early. We didn’t stop grinning for a very, very long time. We couldn’t. Yes it was juvenile, yes it was silly. Yes it was borderline (actually, scrap that, it just was) sexist. But if you are a chap and you are reading this, you would have done the same. And you probably would have tried to cop off with them too. We didn’t. We had girlfriends. And to be fair, we signed a bloke’s torso too. So there. We high-fived and carried on holding court to anyone and everyone, drinking the rider dry as we did so.
Deborah had to fight to squeeze my newly-inflated ego into the van, but eventually she succeeded and – later than planned – we departed for London. The drivers (Deborah, Simon and Sam) were doing so in shifts while Grant and I took it in turns to pick the tunes and keep the drivers company. I was buzzing off my tits on all the excitement, so stayed awake for most of the journey talking drunken excitable bollocks. Our cake plans had been successful – Deborah had slipped Paul a cake and a note and he would hide it in the dressing room the following day. When we finally arrived at The George on Saturday morning around 6.30, we were less perky and felt exhausted. Photographers and models were arriving at The George to set up for their day’s activities: Duran Duran were doing a photoshoot for Tattler magazine. We unloaded our equipment into our storage area in the pub and everyone went their separate ways. The others all lived locally, so walked off while I waited for my lift home to Greenwich, hoping to spot a member of Duran Duran. I was not so lucky, but later that day would be another story…