We've definitely shifted into the early stages of a good old-fashioned British winter. The days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping and more often than not it's raining. As such this leg of the tour has predominantly seen Bertie the blue Brompton and his fellow fold-ups safely stowed in the bowels of the bus. I get the distinct feeling our bikes are sulking. Meanwhile today, having left my jacket in a Leicestershire dressing room (a choice example of my trademark forgetfulness, which a year off booze has done nothing to correct), I'm woefully underdressed to weather a romp around Cambridge, but that's exactly what Adam and I decide to do before our show tonight at The Junction.
We cover much ground throughout the day; now and then the rain lets up and the sun makes fleeting guest appearances. The canals and parklands that insinuate themselves throughout the city exude pure Pullmanesque allure. Criticisms I've levelled at other towns regarding identikit urban planning cannot be directed here one iota. Cambridge, for the most part it seems, retains its character and charm most admirably. We wile some hours away visiting the various colleges, roaming their perfectly manicured grounds and cooing at the impressively ivy-covered grand old halls of learning.
Talk soon turns to education, and I confess that nothing would appeal to me more than to one day, in the not too distant future, take a year or two off and go back to school. I doubt this will happen, but its fun to fantasise. There are so many things I'd love to learn about. Have you ever thought about it? If you had the chance to put everything on pause and immerse yourself in the world of academia, would you take it? If so, what would your choice(s) of study be?
The day winding to a close, we google 'best old pub in Cambridge', and make our way to the most promising option the Internet comes back with. Bizarrely, our singer Peter is the first thing we see as we walk through the door. Hmm, perhaps the study of statistics and probability, I think to myself as I get a round in. Peter is in high spirits, having found a dusty old shop that sold 'arcadian trinkets'. He recounts amusing exchanges between the father and son duo that run the business. "...Anyway, I ended up buying all these", he summarises, and plunks a plastic bag full of Second World War medals on the table- a hardy yield.
After inspecting some decorations awarded to members of the French Resistance, we leave for the gig. This is not, however, before we witness something pretty special. Following a pub meal of bangers and mash, Pete orders sticky toffee pudding. He is so impressed with the dessert that he proceeds to order three more. That's FOUR sticky toffee puddings. Its all the effort Adam and I can muster not to burst into spontaneous applause. Pockets full of trinkets and belly full of pud, I don't think I've ever seen him happier. Wary of witnessing him become the Cool Hand Luke of desserts, we tear him away before he can order any more.
The show is great; we've hit a good stride again. Unfortunately though, we fall prey to an organised mass phone jacking operation. A day or two later we read in the paper that £25,000 worth of mobile phones are stolen during the performance. That explains the crowd chant of "where's my f*cking phone gone" that goes up towards the end of the set- not surprisingly it utterly mystifies us at the time. It seems a rock 'n' roll show is the ideal environment in which to pull off such a stunt, as surges in the crowd where people are forced against each other are common. To anyone who lost his or her phone that night, we're really sorry. So much of our lives these days are dependent on having access to these mini computers.
On a more positive note, I got to see one of my favourite people in the world tonight: Molly Naylor. Now a resident of Norwich (which she resents being called 'Little Cambridge'), she's made the effort of driving here to see us play with her pal Lisa. A devastatingly talented poet, performer and writer, I first met Molly in her hometown of Falmouth many years ago. If you're unfamiliar with her work, I urge you to check her out at mollynaylor.com. She was the inspiration and catalyst for us to record the Velvet Underground's After Hours, which features on the bonus disc of our new record. Molly is a brilliant human and you should go and see her perform as soon as possible. You'll thank me later.
War medals, quadruple puddings, old pal reunions and a Cambridgeshire crime wave: a day in the life of a band on tour. Livin' the dream. Three shows left in the UK then that's us away to Russia. Its bound to be too cold for Bertie there. Poor bugger.