The concluding chapter...

Martin's Ever So Short (?) Tour Diary (South West England & Wales Leg)
Okay first thought when I woke up was, "F**********ck, I'm really ill." This was true. I had to leave work early the day before and hoped that I would miraculously be well on the morrow. Well I wasn't, and it was taking a bit of effort to move. So to cut a long story short, I along with my fellow Laurel Collective frontman kept it real by being late. Me by being ill and Bob committing a mistake I have also committed before i.e. going to the wrong rendezvous point that we were due to depart from.

We arrived on a cold and snappy evening in Winchester. To combat this and with the help of bar staff I start making hot toddies. This was to become the drink of the tour as later on Kerry would make some excellent versions of this Irish grandmother's remedy. I think we all knew this was going to be a special gig; a sort of homecoming gig as a few of the Tape Club Records crew (in and not in the Bands) were more or less from this part of Blighty. One in particular, the enigmatic Mr. James Bright aka James Bright and/or Hairy Hands was there to "nice up the decks". Now I love this dude and so does the whole world, I believe. Not least because of the ever so convincing and bone-crushing bear hugs he gives everyone, but also because he is just the nicest chap and his music is just straight-up dope. Anyways, under the watchful gaze of Will the Tape Club fearless leader, Hinako TC No. 2 and a whole host of appreciative family and friends, all acts have arguably the most satisfying gig we had to date on this tour. After we go back Peter's dad's place in Southampton to sleep off the fatigue of the day.


On our way to Cardiff, the crew are convinced that Peter is the best host ever. The stomping breakfast he and Kerry made for us went some way to convince us of that fact. So we make our way to the capital of the land of the Red Dragon which, incidentally, is where Mark of Laurel Collective is from. So the Welsh jokes ensued, we got there, witnessed a lovely little Bavarian-themed Christmas Market not far from the venue, I went on a mini-adventure in a giant mall, ended up sitting down in a lovely Italian for dinner and a large glass of red before joining the rest of the pack to gig it. Also, Mark's folks were there and they are always lovely (probably except for the times when Mark was naughty as a little mite). Have to say that Wales did keep it real on the drunk ladies tip, which was a bit awkward but Mark apologised to us on their behalf and then assured us that if we didn't witness something like this then we wouldn't have been convinced that our Cardiff experience was genuine. Also the Millennium Stadium is such a marvel of modern architecture (gush). Anyways it was back to a hotel in some place random.

Not so much to say about Portsmouth other than the venue served us up some lovely deserts after dinner and we were joined by the lovely Mrs. Kirsty Andrew. Although I was still suffering a bit, I knew I had nothing to worry about as we had passed the halfway point of our tour.

Now it's important that I say I felt "PROPA" blessed by the fact I was able to spend quite a bit of time with all these talented persons. While at Lyons-HQ, there was quite a bit of music composition and recording taking place. I think the results of these efforts might crop up somewhere eventually with surprising and pleasant results......"marvellous".

Right, back to the gigs. For some reason we had allowed the tour van to run out of petrol about 40m away from the venue but as fate would have it, at that moment we were at the top of a hill that slanted right down to our we just coasted the rest of way (I did have an urge to "ghost-ride the whip" but figured that fate had already been kind enough to us, no need to push it eh). There was something in the air this night. Whether it was the cool looking venue, the friendly and all-accommodating staff (not including the bouncers, they were prize c*nts), the fans who had travelled from Essex to see Peter, Kerry and Dogtanion or friends of Mark who had come a way to see the band play, I don't know, but when I saw Peter and Kerry equip themselves with two bottles of champers I knew it would be an amazing night.....and it was. For the Laurel Collective it was to be the last gig outside of London for a little while *sad-face* so I guess we really wanted to make an impression with our performance.

Not much to say about our journey back to London other than it was full of mirth and merriment. We were lucky enough to be told by some Portsmouth lads aka "the white shirt brigade" that the tour van's back door was ajar as we pulled out of a petrol station. "That was a close one” was the notion that came to mind. Finally, my last memorable moment apart from instructing some of the guys in a moonwalking class with Peter Lyons emerging as the star pupil, was listening to a Mark Rainbow composition titled "Oooooo" that has the awful habit of reducing me to a near-tearful state as we approached the outskirts of Hammersmith, London-town.


"Boring to Bournemouth." So, time to be boring. After what seems like an eternity in the tour van, we arrive at the former capital of England (first the capital of Wessex, then England, and then after the Normans invaded the capital moved to London.) Apparently, William the Conqueror compiled the Doomsday book here- the chronicle of everything the Normans owned after taking over Britain. The venue, The Railway turns out not to be a railway at all- it is in fact a building.

On to the capital of Wales to see what excitement we might find! The historian George Owen (a notoriously bad speller) described Cardiff as ""the fayrest towne in Wales yett not the welthiest." For most of the Middle ages, Cardiff had an approximate population of 1500-2000, the only town in Wales at the end of the 13th century to have a population exceeding 2000 - small compared to a lot of English towns. The population actually declined in the 18th century, hitting a low of 1870 in 1801. By 1901 that had risen to 172,000. After WW2, the population was 267,000. It declined a bit in the 80's. It's now growing again and has hit 346,000 (2011) making it the largest city in Wales. Go Cardiff!

The only city in England with a greater population density (5,145 /km2(13,330 /sq mi)) than London (4,984 /km2 (12,910 /sq mi.) And you could tell just from the gig! Some people were getting in each other’s way, but luckily the Royal Navy were not on shore leave, pissed up and looking for casual sex and fighting, otherwise things could have got interesting. We wouldn't want that though - this is supposed to be a boring tour diary!

Tired of being boring, I thought of ways to make Bournemouth seem more exciting. We imagined a spectacular Hollywood franchise, The Bournemouth Identity. A man (Jason Bournemouth) wakes up on Bournemouth beach, but he can't remember who he is. Locals soon find out that he has a number of unusual skills, like issuing parking tickets and reading meters. He's taken to Bournemouth police station and given a mug of Horlicks, but finds he is being pursued by mysterious men in green uniforms from a semi secret government organisation, the CPE (Civil Parking Enforcement.) The plot then features a complex conspiracy involving the Inland Revenue, Bournemouth Council and the Mayor (who has unpaid parking fines - or does he?). Enter Jason's ex-girlfriend who works in a struggling Blockbuster, who reminds Jason that he was once an agent at CPE, but now they are after him for investigating the mayor. At the dramatic conclusion, there is a breathtaking fight sequence in a fishmongers. Best dialogue: “I’m all for parking restrictions to ease traffic but this thing is a money-grabbing exercise.”

Part One.


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