This Is My Kingdom Now

By justin

February 10th, 2017

Link to high-budget video. Directed by Steven Seagull.

Short UK jaunt announced

By justin

February 9th, 2017

Just added some dates in May/June to support the forthcoming release of This Is My Kingdom Now on Endless Shipwreck records.

See Parades for dates and ticket links.

Rod’s Concert for Myeloma

By justin

June 16th, 2015

When I was little and when I was a little bigger, before I joined the fraternity of a band, I had no brothers. Two fine and beautiful older sisters and a brilliant maw but no brother to kick a football around with or to pick a fight with, to blame or to laugh with. Suited me – I didn’t need the competition.
What I did have, however, was cousin Rod, four years older but never dismissive of me (little squirt that I was) nor bullying or belligerent. Rod paid me the same respect and attention that he did his own friends. He was generous and giving and funny to a fault.
And Rod had records. Beatles’ records, Eric Clapton records, Jimi Hendrix records. He even had an 8-Track cartridge deck. While my big sister Rachel introduced me to cool things like Dr Feelgood and Thin Lizzy, Rod had the classic rock collection and no reservations about lending me anything he had for me to study and tape. It wasn’t until punk rock and the last two years of school that I found anyone else so happy to lend out their precious (and at the time seriously expensive) albums.
So Rod was part of my musical upbringing, devoid of snobbery and catholic of taste, he introduced me to a wide range of influences that I carry with me to this day.
So that’s why I jumped when he asked me (well, got his wife Susan to ask me, the coward) to perform at a concert in aid of Myeloma UK this Saturday, the charity he’s been closely involved with (and raised incredible sums of cash for) since being diagnosed and treated for this particularly savage and unpredictable cancer a few years back.
As some folk will know I tend to avoid fundraising gigs – I suspect the motivations of those involved and despise sanctimoniousness. When I do charity shows I do them for one reason: because I love the people who have asked me to help.
Not that I’ll be much help on Saturday. Expect the usual litany of carping, sneering and cynicism that forms the bedrock of my solo performances. For I am no use to man nor beast. But you can be of great help.

Buy a ticket here:

General Election May 2015

By justin

May 16th, 2015

It does not matter whether the United Queendom prevails. All that matters is subjugating the Irish, the Welsh and the Scots.

“Those little tykes, they love a fight and they will fight for us, our United Queendom.
They will bow down and believe: they will serve. Serve their country, serve their priest, serve their landlord and serve their Queen, serve the service, serve the laird, the Lord, the God, the god knows what in between.
It does not matter if they wish to leave, for they are tied forever to our sleeve.
They cannot puke, nor piss, nor think without us. They cannot spend, they cannot send. They cannot bend.
For we…are rulers, and what do rulers do? We rule – they taught us that at school.
We have the tanks, we have the troops (though some were slaughtered – oops!)
We have the power and the might
So we can all sleep safe tonight.
But hush! What comes within? Are those dirty bastards dim? Are they not grateful, not polite, that through the ballot box they might…
We have no truck with such complainers
In the Queendom we ignore such folk
And if annoyed? We make them samers.”
All the same it seems to me,
I have no desire for a country,
Just a maw to make my bed,
And a nurse to hold my head.
I’ve no desire for a country,
But, Jesus I want to be free.
A united people, a united cause,
All things being equal
Let’s boot their baws.


By justin

December 31st, 2014


It was the year when the sound of eighties synths and vocals swamped in reverb continued unabated, a colour that seems to have been in vogue on both sides of the Atlantic for at least five years. The year when Kate came back and folk swooned while nobody really noticed gems like Withered Hand’s New Gods and Perfect Pussy’s Say Yes To Love. The year when lavish praise was poured over the Parquet Courts album in spite of it being stuffed with direct lifts from the history of post-punk; The Feelies and The Fall especially. When Paulo Nutini attempted to make an enormous soul/pop album and somehow managed to remain utterly charming and brilliant in spite of missing his target by a country mile. When Leonard Cohen, yet again released an album of faultless songs irreparably marred by horrifically cheap production and female backing vocalists who wouldn’t be out of place on a ghastly Two Ronnies pop parody. When James Yorkston quietly put out the best produced and most genre-defying album a Scottish act has come up with in a decade. When Jack White again proved that nobody in mainstream rock can catch him for slipperiness and sheer melodic invention and when Arial Pink made a prog-rock/math-pop album of such stunning weirdness it may be mentioned in the same breath as Skip Spence’s Oar come the great day of rock judgement. When Columbia finally released most everything from the Basement Tapes vaults proving that even out-of-tune, unfinished and appallingly recorded and performed songs can somehow be magically listenable for the sheer lunatic commitment of the musicians involved. And finally, a year when lyrics came back with a vengeance as evinced by Sun Kil Moon’s harrowing, heartbreaking and hilarious Benji.


In no particular order…


TV On The Radio: Trouble (from Seeds)

Ariel Pink: Black Ballerina, White Freckles, Plastic Raincoats In The Pig Parade (from Pom Pom)

A Sunny Day In Glasgow: In Love With Useless (from Sea When Absent)

Sharon Van Etten: Afraid Of Nothing (from Are We There)

Ought: Habit (from More Than Every Other Day)

The War On Drugs: Under The Pressure, Red Eyes, Eyes To The Wind (from Lost In The Dream)

Withered Hand: California, New Gods, Horseshoe (from New Gods)

Sun Kil Moon: I Watched The Film The Sun Remained The Same, Pray For Newtown, I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love (from Benji)

Naomi Bedford: Wild And Charming Energy, The Watches Of The Night (from A History Of Insolence)

Peter Matthew Bauer: Irish Wake In Varanasi (from Liberation!)

Perfect Pussy: I (Live), Interference Fits (from Say Yes To Love)

Angel Olsen: White Fire, Hi-Five (from Burn Your Fire For No Witness)

James Yorkston: Broken Wave, Guy Fawkes’ Signature (from The Cellardyke Recording and Wassailing Society)

Hamilton Leithaser: I Don’t Need Anyone (from Black Hours)


As a postscript I’d like to mention Father John Misty’s astonishing cover of Leonard Cohen’s One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong which came out a few years ago but only cropped up on my digital card-deck shuffle in October. It tears tour skin off. Also Danny Brown’s Lonely from Old which came out late last year.


And lastly, I should mention the Aphex Twin album, Spyro, which I have on vinyl. Because I couldn’t figure out the fucking free download thing I have only managed to listen to it completely mangled – that seems to be the time my vinyl gets aired these days. As a result of being in such an altered state I became convinced that it contained one of the most radical tracks I’d ever heard until I realised I’d been listening to the needle scraping round and round the label for forty minutes. Just goes to show you how much one’s mental state is responsible for how we perceive quality. And also what a fucking wanker I am.


Happy Hogmanay and Happy New Year when it arrives.

Bonus Ball

By justin

December 17th, 2014


20/11/14 – 11/12/64

I sit in my seat like a teacher at a staff meeting, room service beer in full flow, and watch my last guest die. Ella Guru has gone to the other side. Being young, she has seen the sense in heading for the hills of immediate sleep. My banter, demanding as it must be of recipients, falls on deaf ears.
I bear witness and keep vigil. Ella Guru slumbers as soundlessly as the pharaohs, her beer propped up in her lap like a leaning Eiffel. The squeaks and strains of morning erupt around my room – o shit, the world is awake.
Nighttime is everything to me, I could not live without its cloaking. Mornings are murder, murderous and murderers. They are deathly, depressing and disastrous. They bring clinging women, creepy uncles: mornings are cunts that catch one at play.
A little diseased breath in me finds my phone and I begin to tap, like I’m Whac-A-Mole-ing fleas. The hotel has furnished me with a houseplant, its sickly vines betraying puerile roots. I swallow a glug of beer, godlike and gargantuan. It’s been knackering, this year: from Bremen, with its cathedral and German cool, through Del Amitri’s grafting month and on to the revelation of Obama’s USA. O America , O’s America.
I take an extravagant repast at eight AM in the foyer, letting little Guru snooze on a sofa. The staff administer black coffee and eggs and at the appointed minute I fold my failing form into the van and we go north. On the way upstairs we hit a few fridges and toast our drunkenness all the way home. The laughter never runs out. Or if it does, its attendants pay court.

Three weeks later the same four of us are dragging our sorry asses south to Billy Butlin’s. I apologise to the troops at the outset but it does no good. This next gig’s a cunter and there ain’t no getting around it.
Butlin’s turns out to be ten times worse than I had ever considered. Peeling wooden handrails guard peeling wooden stairs. A pall of profound despair hangs low in every part of Butlin’s air. You breathe Butlin’s in like mustard gas. Butlin’s infects you like the tuberculosis bacillus. Butlin’s suffocates you with its endless tales of stale nicotine, stupefied sex and starched sheets. They give you a chalet for the evening and you take it on the chin. It’s their way or the highway.
We hit the highway as soon as morning allows, swallow the north with hunger. Glasgow comes back upon us like a damp cloud. We pull in and de-plunder, put the things back where they came from. This sopping town, moisture hanging over everything, the garden of Babylon, home, home — I’m home forever.
I shake off the shackles of the last gig. My travel-ready rucksack is disassembled – the sewing kit, the back-up batteries and the emergency capo – I extract all the stuff that life at home never calls for. The fat moon, ripe and ready to fall into the fenced-off sea at Skegness on Saturday is now eaten away night after night as the date of my execution approaches. I watch the days tick over and the last midnight loom before – BANG – it is upon me and my forties are over, sunk in a sunset of crimson and lager, lost to the ravenous mouth of my past. My housemate mocks up a funny little ceremony – some streamers and a solitary silver balloon anchored by a plastic disc at the end of its string. It hovers at head height like an ineffectual alien, assaulting my self-esteem with its slogan: I AM 50.
Some champagne is poured and I take time for reflection. I figure I’m a happy lad, and grateful for the good fortune that has come my way. The toppling of the decade makes me self-conscious for a time, I wonder if my bones can take much more, if I’m creaking a little louder, until the weekend comes and I dance into a party in another seventies suit and slide into operation – shit talked here all night without fail. The furious scathing of old age seems to creep in slow-motion. Out on the horizon it sits waiting like a bank of terrible fog. I’m still in the moonlight on the beach, singing into the stars.

Leeds to London, November 16th-19th 2014

By justin

November 19th, 2014


After four nights in the same hotel in Leeds it’s refreshing to be back on the road proper. It’s heavily overcast and muggy, the southbound traffic sluggish. With three shows left there’s an air of weary resignation in the van. My body, on waking, felt like a block of hardened rubber, as if some entity had poured moulding material down my throat in the night. I’ve set stiff and sit like a bag of cement in the front seat. I need a drainage contractor. A dim orb of pale grey hovers in the gloom above like a ghoul. Tiny spots of rain collect on the windscreen like alighting insects until, forming too dense a firmament, they are swiped away. A sunbeam strikes through ahead with an abracadabra and, peering upwards, I see a flat white disc; our furnace star reduced to a glinting tiddlywink.
The Yorkshire town names appear on signs – Rotherham, Barnsley, Sheffield. They have their own accents built in. As a shire it is still distinct, rugged and untamed. It has a stubborn unwillingness to be southernised and poncified.
We hit a hold-up and are stuck behind a Carlsberg truck whose back doors depict an unappetisingly vast glass of cheap frothing lager. I feel queasy as a seasick buoy. The grim mattress overhead breaks into clumps and a light blue afternoon appears. Colossal pylons stride around the motorway like skinny Space Invaders spooling thick ropes of metal from fleshless skeleton hands. The black road flashes bright silver with a blinding suddenness until winter prevails, the clouds close their arms about the world and everything is grey again.
We dock in an out-of-town Hilton which we recall from a few years ago; its white piano warning off players (with a stupid sign) and frozen corridors, frigid rooms. It’s a suburban conference centre. Anyone married here will divorce within the month. We clear out for load-in grumpily. At the venue we are stymied by a student play rehearsal still in progress on the stage. Tea is made and everyone slouches around the dressing room like poor cunts at a youth club waiting for life to begin.
It’s not a venue I could ever love. It has the soul-crushing air of a lecture theatre and during the show I feel like a living autopsy. The audience are stacked around me in tiers like multiplying jurors. The spotlights shine from such an acute angle that I can only see my own fringe hanging weakly in front of my vision the whole gig. It’s impossible to engage, though the audience try and I’m grateful they bother. Me? On a Monday night in this venue? Shit, it could be the Beatles and I’d go straight to the bar.
A motley collection of various guests comes backstage and I enjoy a speed-date chinwag. I meet a solicitor whose entire caseload is fighting for clients suffering from mesothelioma, the ghastly lung cancer caused by asbestos. He tells me that one industrial plant alone has been responsible for ten thousand deaths. He speaks with a Brummie accent and looks like Noddy Holder’s little brother. He is instantly my hero.
Tuesday morning brings blue skies and the angled autumn sun. I hang outside the van for a moment basking in the splendour. My skin prickles with delight. London calling, La Grosse Fumée. The journey skips by and in an instant I am roaming around a surprisingly spacious suite in a Shepherd’s Bush hotel. It’s all leather sofas and glass partitions, with the bath by a big high window facilitating rampant exhibitionism. I’m the hippest whore in London. Sadly – saddest of all – my Scottish pimp will be absent. They have done their back and the flight down is impossible. O solo mio. I try to fight the loneliness by filling the suite with noise. Like wallpapering the fissures in an Alp, it’s a redundant measure.
I smart awake at eleven, the air-con furnacing like a non-stop afterburner. I do a little housework, clearing yesterday’s modest mess. Daylight steals from the curtains’ corners, leaking grim reality into my apartment. I run the little lawnmower of my toothbrush vainly over the greenery of my teeth. Like an oligarch with an itch, I know something’s wrong. Then I remember: I am undeserving. Gratitude and humility serve no real purpose. I am in this life’s debt.
There is no birdsong beyond the glass. Shepherd’s Bush with its concrete sterility camps around me like a boundary guard in a foul mood. Along the Uxbridge Road, Eritrean, Polish and Lebanese outlets crowd into available space. London is liverish and stale but the margins sidle centre-stage and take up the gaps like fresh green grass seeding between slabs. I don’t know where the rich run to, I don’t know what they think, but I know they find death a hideous shock, I know they have a terrible surprise waiting – I didn’t order this and I cannot cancel. It is the deep resentment of their class – the impossibility of controlling mortality – that will be their undoing.
I hear furniture squeak above me, the chambermaid’s daily dance. My suite is hushed and darkened in a facsimile of luxury but what it truly is, is a poisonous waste of space. In time these windows will all be out and nature’ll bloom like a spreading cancer in corners, then surfaces, then hang from the walls. I can see my non-existence clearly: it is nothingness. And I can also hear a concrete hollow swarming with the singing of every bird.

Selby and Uppermill, November 12th-14th 2014

By justin

November 16th, 2014

At last we escape the clutches of the country club with its therapy pool and veneer of hushed sympathy. I feel like we’re on the lam from rehab. The A-Road north is as straight as a Roman nose, we are the only deviants. Ploughed fields fill the flatness dotted with hamlets, farmhouses and groups of trees loitering like sulking teenagers. It is very still, the sky a white soup with puffs of smoky clouds trailing along the horizon like steam from an antique train. The rectangular torpedoes of lorries barrel towards us but it’s slow going this side of the road. We cross the odd canal and the sun, swimming out to our left in a sea of grey muslin, manages to throw blurred shadows across the tarmac.
It’s already crepuscular as we turn into Selby, a little town not without an earthy old-fashioned charm. We’re early, so we set up and wait wearily for the PA. The town hall is an old Methodist chapel, cute as a chocolate box. Mr. Rennie, our backline master, fills the longeurs with sketches and stories. The hall rings with laughter. There are tales told by Private Eye veterans of lunches where Peter Cook held court for a few hours, turning a little item of pretension in the menu into a far-reaching parody of the human condition, where people could not breathe for laughing, where his precise wit rendered them limp, blind and helpless. None of those victims could remember a single thing that he said on those occasions. All they could recall was their submission. They were simply destroyed by Cook’s relentless improvisation. Mr. Rennie possesses such capabilities. His generosity is exemplary. He will hollow himself out to keep the camp happy, the show on the road. He will fill the lonely hours with nothing but a riff on the unfortunate phraseology from some sandwich packaging. And in between he will be your confidant and your brother. He is as indispensable as the guitars he cares for.
We arrive at our trendy hotel in Leeds late on and camp out in the bar for extensive refreshments. I lose track of time and awake disheveled and disorientated and am glad to see that my fellow occupants of the van (especially Mr. Kay, our indecently good sound technician) are suffering too. We lurch out to Uppermill, a dense little village wedged into a Saddleworth dip; posh, unspoilt and unique. The venue appears to be another ex-church of some type. It sits halfway up a hill and glares upon the high street with some disdain. After the dismal ennui of soundcheck we venture abroad in search of fish and chips. The troops need calories and we are well serviced by the local outlet, whose proprietor comes out for a chinwag as we finish eating. He’s a sixty-something who knows Glasgow from his time driving artics in the eighties. We have a strange, manly type of conversation, long on information, short on emotion. The devil is in the detail but the details are heavily camouflaged. We hear him out. He advertises his heterosexuality as nakedly as a lion and I feel a distant tugging at my sleeve. But these kinds of men are too straight to be cheeky to – and they might have useful information about the river. Later on, we leave Uppermill but the fish man stays. He is essentially that simple thing – a good man.
The gig is saved by a lovely crowd, real fans, really into it. I strongly suspect they deserve better, but all the evidence suggests they’re more than happy with the service I supply. We hang around with a few friends afterwards. There is an upright piano in the dressing room whose plastic cover is emblazoned with “PROPERTY OF THE SUMV”, some local amateur music society who do not wish their piano keys to be pawed by oiks like us. The lid has been fitted with locks at either end, secure as a safe, and you can see the scratches and chips where people have tried to prise it open. So there is no rendition of Great Balls of Fire tonight. Bollocks to them.
As we drive back to Leeds we hit thick fog. The late-night world looks magical and empty; street lights glow like bursting suns, illuminating little spots like theatre sets devoid of actors. It’s a ghost train ride and we navigate by the little fire of the satellite screen. We swim up to the sudden miracle of our hotel, looming over us like the mothership, its doors opening onto warmth and clarity and the muffled clinking of drinkers.


Norwich, November 11th 2014

By justin

November 13th, 2014


Heave-ho, we head out of Bury, swinging round the sugar factory which belches white smoke into the crisp blue sky. It’s a short hop to Norwich across the flatlands of Norfolk but the sat-nav takes us on a wild goose chase around half the county before we arrive at our abode, a country club type joint, all golf courses and spa treatments. I HATE golf. It’s the refuge of the respectable Nazi. I immediately order a taxi to ferry me away from this hell. The driver is a cheeky chappie from Larkhall in Scotland. He wears a black waistcoat with a silver pinstripe and tells me about his daughter’s graduation. She’s the first of his family to go to university. I congratulate him but he’s more concerned with what the do is going to cost. Then he tells me he just won £1400 on the football. Every week he bets on three victories with both teams scoring. He mentions Acrington Stanley and I drift off into a daydream.
I get myself orientated around the venue and go looking for scran. I see some rough looking folk lurking in the lanes – hard eastern faces bitten by the sea, Viking types with ten inch stares. Tinsel is creeping into the crevices now and a vile conical structure blinks in a square in a vain attempt to ironise the traditional Christmas tree. It’s not ironic, it’s just shit.
The gig is the old Anglia TV studio of Sale of the Century fame. I was here in the nineties miming on some Euro pop show but any other details are lost to me now. My memory has become unreliable. I can’t tell the difference anymore between what happened and what I’ve invented. In this way we all construct our own past. I have decided that I was a welder before I became a cosmonaut.
The show is enjoyable, the punters warm. In the AM we all dash back into town for a day off. I take in two films, neither what the critics cracked them up to be. Mr. Turner is particularly galling, featuring as it does acting by Timothy Spall that curls wallpaper from thirty yards. But the real hack is director, Mike Leigh. And Nightcrawler is not what it thinks it is – satire – it’s cheap creep-horror in King of Comedy mode. It apes so many superior thrillers (Internal Affairs, Collateral, The Sweet Smell of Success) that it’s positively simian. Riz Ahmed, the hero of Four Lions, is the best thing in it by far. So I wonder out of the fleapit of Norwich’s Hollywood cinema in a daze of disappointment and as I’m making my way to the taxi rank spot the rump of the tour entourage in a pub called The Lawyer. It’s a friendly joint and I join the fray, downing several pints of pretend Guinness in an effort to ingratiate myself.
In the morning I stroll vacantly around an empty golf course by the hotel and watch some ducks doing their thing in a little pond. They seem unfazed by the prospect of imminent golf ball bombing raids. I am less so and take my leave, getting my feet wet in the dew and tangling with some brambles in a ditch: the call of the not-wild-at-all, the call of the slightly overgrown.

Bexhill-on-Sea, November 8th 2014

By justin

November 11th, 2014

By the time we hit Bexhill the warm southern wind is whipping off the channel in swiping gusts. We hear the local fireworks event has been cancelled due to the danger of rockets launching five feet in the air, abruptly bending to the horizontal and blowing children’s faces off.
The De La Warr is smaller than I had remembered it but beautifully sculpted and remarkably unspoilt. The auditorium is a wonderful room, perfectly proportioned and reverberating with a gentle slapback highly conducive to music and speech. I watch our opening act Ella The Bird and am enormously impressed with her composure and dynamic control. My own show feels too effortless to be trustworthy and my mind wanders during the last half hour; I go within and feel like I lose the crowd, leaving all a little stranded. The sea lies to my right twenty feet beyond the wall, black, tormented and distressed.
I take breakfast in our Hastings seafront hotel, a slightly stale Victorian pile of some grandeur. I’m greeted by a mad maître d’ with a northern European accent stronger than sauerkraut. He offers me a shitty little table which I ignore, taking a more luxurious corner location from which to observe. For some reason this act induces him to refer to me as “Frankenstein”, which rather warms me to him. Later, after I have filled up on ghastly lukewarm buffet fare he makes a beeline for me across the long room. He’s a fit little fucker for his advanced age. “You a beg financier, yes?” “No” “A financier?” “I’m a musician” “OK, you can advise me”
He then proceeds to conjure from his back pocket a piece of A4 which he unfolds ceremoniously and presents for my inspection. It’s a printout of a webpage containing obscure shares information. He appears to be seeking some sort of insider tip. He is either a satirist of estimable chutzpah or completely stupid, I’m entirely uncertain. But he’s so sweet I offer my expertise and peruse the document with fake concentration before informing him that I am unfamiliar with these stocks. This only encourages him to impart some sage advice which has something to do with Sainsbury’s, swimming and “Zero Two” going from “Oh-oh-oh three Pee” to “Sex Pee” in the month of September. Fuck me, this is gold dust – I’m in. Buy all the Zero Two shares you can!
I walk along the promenade in weak sunshine finding a little used clothes shop full of stuff from the States. It’s not bad and I eventually make a couple of purchases. The lady proprietor is American and I feel slightly sorry for her as she tries to make something hip in such a soggy place. Hastings is neither the worst nor best of anything, just mildly depressing and moderately decayed. Mould and mildew tinges everything with a sad bloom. It’s low-rent but robust like a frayed suit from Hepworth’s. I pass a pregnant pram-pusher who is surreptitiously vaping. An enormous gull with some ruffled plumage sticking out from the back of its head waddles along in front of me for a while, eyeing backwards for signs of a scrap. The sun lowers in the west and the front is suddenly illuminated in a soft yellow light, the slate sea miraculously pale blue. Purple clouds drop columns of blue rain out on the water and as the sun drowns in flames the scene becomes Turneresque. Hastings, I didn’t know you had it in you.
In the evening Mr. Niz leads us to a charming South Indian family restaurant in St. Leonard’s, recommended by the American lady in the togs outlet. The food is terrific. Then we drop into a pub called the Horse & Groom which some scoffing locals call the Doom & Gloom when we ask directions. It’s a warm and pleasant low-ceilinged place full of very quietly spoken tipplers. Mr. Niz relates “rock tales of the eighties” to my delight over a couple of pints of warm, chewy bitter.
There are expanses of blue sky above as we head out in the morning. Sussex with its hedgerows and curvaceous undulation is resplendently autumnal. We drive towards a perfect rainbow like seekers on some celestial quest until it evaporates in a blaze of light. Sussex is dense and impenetrable and gives glorious concealment to its many beautiful private estates, always just beyond view from the road. The signs speak of Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells, place names that sound laughably stuffy and repressed to us for reasons hard to fathom. The road widens into a duel carriageway and the monotony of the major artery takes hold. The sun lies behind us as the landscape flattens out, blasting colour into the remnant foliage.
Soon we are entwined in the dystopian morass of the Dartford crossing, high-sided vehicles crowding around us like enormous cattle. The miserable merry-go-round of the M25 beckons, the ring-road of gloom. It’s a collar buttoned around London’s neck; within its circle all the money hums and bleeds and pushes. We slip around it for while, weaving between lanes in an imitation of freedom.
Bury St Edmunds proves to be a quaint market town stuffed with history and pretty houses. Even the new shopping development around the venue is sensitively designed and in keeping with the area’s character. The venue is yet another well-equipped provincial arts theatre built in the Blair era. Britain is covered in such places, perhaps as result of lottery funding coming in during the nineties. It’s a nice little circuit, in its way. Perfect for motivational speakers, self-help gurus, magicians and disgraced politicians selling their memoirs. You could call it the liars’ trail.
I traipse groggily to the breakfast room in the morning. Our gaff is a Quality Inn; low on quality, high on treating its guests with disdain. The rooms are like cells in a particularly sadistic borstal. They turn off the heating at night, I notice, which considering my window doesn’t close, is a bit on the mean side. It’s all very Alan Partridge, apt in light of our proximity to Norwich. A business buffoon plonks himself far too close and gets under my skin, stirring the sugar in his coffee for a full minute like a demented ape. I begin to growl internally. I’m not a “morning” man. Mornings fill me with rage. They’re for wankers who should have stayed in bed. The only good morning is that which is empty of other people. I slink back to my cell and re-bed. They seem to have deactivated the wi-fi – perhaps they haven’t payed their bill. I have a notion not to pay mine.