Sometimes, you get the impression that a thing is not meant to be.
The band played last night at the reception for a wedding at a fairly local but rural venue. We’d never played there before. Stuey and Lucien had been there all day, providing background music and a disco and the rest of the band turned up for the evening. Right from the start I wondered if I was meant to get there.
I left the house in plenty of time but almost immediately I was stuck in traffic. There was no obvious cause for the tail back but suddenly I was 10 minutes late and still hadn’t left Swansea. A mile down the road, the police were diverting traffic away from the main road. I can only guess that with all the rain we’d had, there was a flood. I know the bit of road we were being diverted from and it is prone to becoming a body of water to rival a small ocean. After a winding journey through the back streets, we emerged back onto the main road again, past a fire engine that had been draining the ocean.
Shortly after leaving Swansea, I encountered cows who threatened to block the road at any moment. They ignored my car but stepped in front of the car behind, which had to slam on its brakes. Then, further down the road, a sheep on the verge decided to jump in front of my car, making me swerve and brake. Finally, at the venue itself, there was no clue as to where we were to go. The complex of buildings sprawled randomly and I couldn’t see the Spidervan. While Chris waited by the car, I went off to try and find the stage entrance (a rather grand title – it’s usually the fire escape exit).
Eventually, I stumbled across the van and the entrance – around the back of the buildings, through a farmyard and past a stack of gas cylinders, around a sharp right hand bend and down a mud track into a large puddle. Not one of the best access points, it has to be said. We negotiated the off road track and started to get the kit inside. The easiest route, to avoid the huge pond of indeterminate depth, was to walk carefully along the top of a low retaining wall, balancing all the way. Not too bad until you add heavy speakers or awkward guitar cases. But finally we had everything in place.
The venue itself was a permanent marquee. The sound of the rain on the roof would have drowned out the band, but inside it was quite a nice set up. Unfortunately, the area for the band wasn’t ideal and we were facing across the dance floor to a blank wall. It was big too, and being a tent, the sound wasn’t reflected back into the room. Although we were loud, the sound levels dropped off quickly.
After the bride and groom had completed the first dance to the song we’d been learning, they each sang a song and both were very talented. Then it was our turn. Suddenly I found that every time I got close to the microphone to sing, I was getting little electric shocks. I finally figured out that my beard, usually trimmed but sadly neglected recently, was catching in the grill of the mic and pulling.I kept further from the mic and sang louder.
The first half lasted until Stuey realised the buffet was open. Food is important to the band, and particularly to Stuey, so we wound up proceedings and took a break. In the second half we had more dancers and played for longer. It was a late finish and we didn’t start breaking down the equipment until well after midnight as we had to wait for the disco (Chris and Stuart) to finish. Then the fun began.
What had been an awkward carry in became an assault course of a carry out. There was no light but all the mud, pot holes and ponds remained. Balancing on the wall was harder as we couldn’t see the wall. Duck boards and pallets covered a drainage trench. When we came in again, the dance floor became very slippery because of the water and mud on our boots. But we overcame and the vehicles were packed. I led the convoy off and we managed to scramble out of the pond and through the farmyard only to find the way blocked by another car. I found the owner and it was moved. Finally we were on our way.
By now I just wanted to get home and thankfully, the rain had stopped. I was ready for suicidal sheep and martyr cows but I hadn’t counted on the horse that wanted to run alongside the car and, as I neared Swansea, the badger who wanted to race me along the road. Both were avoided (I slowed down to watch the badger as they’re rare around here). Then there was just the mysterious light in the sky (no, it wasn’t a planet as the sky was thick with cloud, so it must have been low). In a previous blog for the band, many years ago, I often mentioned the strange lights we’d see in the sky coming back from gigs. Aliens are pub rock music fans, clearly.
Then I was home. Fortunately, was able to park outside the house, too (not always the case). I swiftly negotiated the entire population of snails and slugs that covered the steps up to my house, and finally dropped in to bed around 1.45am.
Phew, made it!