Spain and France April/May 2013

Wednesday 27th March 2013

The BBC Website:
Cross-Channel ferry passengers face major travel disruption over Easter due to a strike by French port control officers in a dispute over pay.
P&O Ferries has warned the action, due to start at 07:00 GMT on Thursday and end 24-hours later on Good Friday, is likely to lead to long delays to sailings to most French ports.
Calais, Dunkirk, Dieppe and Cherbourg are all likely to be affected.
We were travelling on the Thursday; we were using P&O Ferries; we were going to Calais; we were potentially fucked.

Thursday 28th March 2013
Centrale Culture Libertie.
Lille, France.

Tour had been planned months in advance, and as part of those plans, we had planned on not having to get out of bed too early on the first morning. With the French port police threatening to go on strike, we had to be up early to find out if the strike was still going ahead. On the assumption that some ferries would still be crossing, the idea was to get to Dover early and see if we could blag onto an earlier one. I woke up at 07:00 and turned on BBC Breakfast with the hope that Bill Turnbull and Susanna Reid would have some good news. Instead I found Louise Minchin and Charlie Stayt banging on about the minimum price of alcohol. Silent Front getting to Lille on time wasn't a major concern for the BBC, so we sat and waited for P&O to text Gareth. 

The text came and everything was going to be fine; the minimum price of alcohol bill looked unlikely due to politicians fear of a public backlash, and the French port strike was off.

We loaded our van with the gear, checked we had our passports and European power adapters, and made sure we had enough records and t-shirts to sell at the shows, then locked our front door and asked our neighbour to keep an eye on the house while we were away. I wasn't actually that bothered because all my valuable possessions were now in the back of the van and would be coming with me. Light drizzle fell on the van all the way to the port in Dover, and I prayed that at some point during the tour, I'd get to wear the shorts I'd brought along.

We made it into Lille by 17:30 and found a parking space outside the venue entrance. We hadn't been waiting for very long when David [promoter] showed up. The last time I saw David he was screaming while having bits of his hair shaved off with a pair of clippers that were attached to a contact microphone. It was part of the performance of his band Toys Are Noise, whom we had played with in Caen a year earlier. It might sound terribly “arty”, but I can assure you that it was properly mint. David showed us inside and we had a look around. The gig was taking place in the cellar and had a stage hidden around a corner. We opted to play on the floor and use the stage to put equipment, and if necessary, some of the crowd. The ground floor had an anarchist book shop, a kitchen, and a toilet that you had to flush with a bucket of water. We had a look around the bookshop but everything was written in French. David had made ratatouille with couscous, and we sat down with the other bands [Bute and Morojgovany's Dynasty]. I thought the food tasted great, but judging by the volume of salt the other bands were adding, I'm not sure they agreed.

There wasn't a rush to get things started and we were told that it would kick off at 22:00. We had plenty of time to kill so we hung about at the unmanned bar helping ourselves to the Leffe and Stella Artois. When 22:00 came, Morojgovany's Dynasty started playing. They are one of those hardcore/violence bands with song names like: Cum, Nihilism, Saliva etc. There wasn't much of a crowd to see them, but they would later get the chance to play again. When it was our turn the venue had filled up and people were sitting on the stage. It was pretty much a perfect beginning to the tour. We got to play a forty five minute set, the crowd were dancing, and during Confiance (our less noisy song), a women from the crowd shouted “Merci!”. And we got an encore. Bute were up next. They consisted of a guitarist, drum machine, and a singer singing through a megaphone. They were a crust/fast-core/power-violence type band. Good lads, but really not my type of thing. When they had finished we thought the show was over, but while we were at the merch table selling our stuff, we noticed Morojgovany's Dynasty setting up. David had let them go again because most of the crowd turned up after they had finished. They played half of their set and when they had played their last note, we thought it was definitely over. A few drunk members of the crowd started shouting “Silent Front!, Silent Front!” and David came and asked us if we'd like to play again. We fully obliged, and played three of the songs that didn't fit into our forty five minute set.

The show was definitely over this time and we got back to the Leffe and meeting and chatting to the great people of Lille. We met an English lass called Yasmin who was from Rainham in Essex and was working in a school teaching English. She sounded and looked a lot like our friend Charlie Wyatt, and even pulled the same faces. Had you told me that it was his sister, I would have believed you. Other doppelgängers on show were Bradley Sargent from The Black Heart Orchestra who was the singer in Bute, and Ian O'Callaghan from Slugbait who had been playing guitar in Bute.

We had planned on sleeping in the library but a couple of girls said that we could stay at their place with Morojgovany's Dynasty as they were having a party. We told David and he gave us a crate of Leffe to take with us. We offered him money but he refused to take it. The walk took about fifteen minutes and Yasmin came with us. She had to be up early because she had work, but the lure of speaking English to English speakers and being able to chat about QI over ruled any worries of being tired and hungover. We stayed up way past our bedtime, and as the oldest person in the room, I fought hard against falling asleep on the sofa where I was sitting. I held out, but eventually failed.

Friday 29th March 2013
Caen, France.

I was the first to wake (It's an age thing. Ask your grandmother), and after half an hour of staring out of a kitchen window, Miriam [it was her flat] joined me and made some coffee and offered me some bread. The smell of coffee must have reached the noses of the sleeping masses and eventually everyone was up and ready to head back to the Centrale Culture Libertie to collect the gear. We thought Miriam was coming with us and we left the flat without saying goodbye. We did get to say goodbye to David, who was waiting at the CCL for us, and once the van was loaded, we set off for Caen.

It cost us a lot of money getting from Lille to Caen due to the tolls, which is one of the downsides of touring in France. On the plus side we got to travel over two amazing bridges. One was the Pont de Normandie bridge which crossed the River Seine Estuary, which, from a distance, looked a bit like the QE2 bridge that links Essex and Kent. It was once the worlds longest cable stayed bridge, measuring a whopping 2km in length. The other was close to the Pont de Normandie bridge and crossed the Grand Canal du Havre. It was less impressive, but still managed to impress us.

We arrived in Caen and found ourselves in an industrial area. The sat nav was telling us that we were in the right place, but we weren't sure that it was telling us the truth. It was raining and daylight was starting to fade. Everything was grey and it all looked very bleak. The Femmes de la Nuit [prostitutes] weren't doing much for our confidence either. The common thing for prostitutes in France is to park on the side of the road and “trade” in a van. They put candles on the dashboard to let customers know if they are available or not. I'm not sure how it works, but they have two candles. My guess is that one lit candle means that they are busy, and two means that they are not.

We continued anxiously along the dim roads and arrived at our destination a little confused. It didn't look like a venue, and there wasn't a sign to indicate that it was. We were outside of a desolate load out area of an industrial warehouse. Gareth tried to phone Pascal [promoter] while I went inside to scope it out. Phil followed and we had a look around. It was completely deserted, and when we called out, no one answered. We climbed a set of stairs and called out again. There was total silence so we turned around and went back to tell Gareth. On the way back Phil decided that he couldn't wait any longer and was determined to use the toilet. It was a risky manoeuvre, but one which he was willing to take. Being caught trespassing is one thing, but being caught taking a shit while trespassing is another. I left Phil and went to keep watch at the entrance. As I was explaining to Gareth where Phil was, Pascal turned up in his car. I thought about letting Phil know that he didn't need to worry any more because we were at the correct place, but I decided that it would be funnier to allow him to think otherwise. We helped Pascal carry the PA into the venue, and as we climbed the stairs, we could hear loud music.
It wasn't like this two minutes ago,” I insisted to Gareth.

As we entered the huge doors, the sound of blues got louder. In the corner there were two men in matching white, visor-less crash helmets with a thick, black stripe down the centre. They both had guitars and one was singing through a microphone that had been slightly distorted. They were both operating the drums; one had the snare connected to a pedal, and the other one was playing the bass drum and the hi-hat. The helmets were for playing the cymbals. They were grinning at us as we put the PA down which made it all the more surreal, very David Lynch. The room was large and had a kitchen built in and a door at the far end, which I assume contained a bedroom and a bathroom. The building was once a refrigeration unit but had been converted into someone's home. I met that someone, but I don't recall his name.

Action Beat arrived, loaded in the ton of gear they had, then started to set up. I'm not sure what it was, but they tried to plug something into the mains and caused a power cut. We were plunged into near-total darkness, and all you could see was the glow of burning cigarettes. Suddenly, without any warning, the crash helmet lads started to play. They had a saxophone this time around, and they sounded fantastic. I would have been quite happy to sit in the dark and listen to them for the rest of the evening, but after about fifteen minutes, the lights came back on. Two minutes later, the same member of Action Beat plugged the same thing back into the mains. We were once again plunged into darkness.
Yep, it's definitely that.”
The crash helmet lads started again.

First up were Mons Meg. (They were the first of the Action Beat bands. Action Beat had four other projects on tour with them, all of which using different members of Action Beat.) They played a set of dark noise which groaned over pulsating drum beats. Once they had finished, the crash helmet lads played (their real name is We Shot The Drummer). They were tucked away in a corner and would play between each band to save time and keep the music going. Next up was The Sense of Adventure Tape Deck Orchestra. This consisted of one man with a load of tape decks, a keyboard, a snare, and some toy instruments. He put the tapes on and played along using loops and different instruments. The tape recordings would sing along, and it all built up to a very triumphant, blithesome conclusion. The third band of the evening (not including We Shot The Drummer) were Bad Body. Again, it was dark noise, but this time had some very bleak spoken word over the top. The last of the Action Beat lot were The Crease. It's quite difficult to describe these, and I don't know where to start, and as I've done such a pathetic job describing the other bands I'm not going to attempt it. We played next.

The room had been full of people all night, and they were very receptive and were clearly enjoying themselves. The last band of the evening was Action Beat. They were made up of two drummers, three guitarists, a baritone guitarist, and a bass player. We had heard of Action Beat but had never heard their music. They were incredible, a sort of upbeat Glenn Branca. Funnily enough, Gareth and I had been speaking about our love of Glenn Branca's The Ascension on the journey from Lille to Caen. What is even weirder is that I spent a few minutes wondering how I could get hold of it on vinyl, and when I looked at the Action Beat merch table, it was there, on vinyl!

We spent the rest of the evening chatting to Action Beat, who are all very nice chaps. They are from from Bletchley (which isn't in Milton Keynes) and they know a lot of the same people that we know around the UK.

Eventually Pascal came over and told us that the two lasses we were staying with were leaving. We quickly gathered our gear, wished Action Beat all the best until we saw them in Barcelona, thanked everyone that needed thanking, then followed the two lasses to their house in the countryside.

Saturday 30th March 2013
Rennes, France

When offered a cup of tea in the morning they didn't ask us what flavour we wanted, and better still, the tea they were brewing wasn't Lipton, it was Yorkshire Tea. They offered us some home made bread with a selection of local jams and marmalades and delicious butter made with rock salt. It gets better. As I finished my first slice I spied a large jar of Marmite in the corner. My only regret was that this wasn't happening around the mid point of the tour; the point in which I would start to crave home comforts. The two lasses went into town and told us to shut the door behind us if they weren't back in time. Again, I have forgotten their names. I really should have written them down, or made an extra special effort to remember them. It was sunny outside but there was a bitter wind. It wasn't hot enough to be wearing my shorts yet, but I hoped that it would only get warmer from here on in. I needed it to; I had split my jeans down the crotch on the very first night during a jumping competition from the floor to the stage with Phil and Gareth. I was already wearing my back up trousers, and, including the travelling days at the end, there were thirteen days left.

The girls weren't back from town when we decided to head off so we wrote a note thanking them for their hospitality and the Marmite and Yorkshire tea. However, just as we were comfortable in the van and about to set off, the girls returned. We got back out of the van and said a proper thank you, leaving out the bit about the Marmite and the Yorkshire Tea.

We stopped off at a supermarket for some food for the journey to Rennes and all bought a salad. I'd usually buy a wheel of Camembert and a baguette, but my experience of France, and the ever increasing need to watch what I eat, has taught me that salad is the correct choice. And most promoters will provide a wheel of Camembert and a baguette anyway.

It was still sunny by the time we reached Rennes. We parked up outside the venue, said hello to Regis [promoter], unloaded our gear, then tucked into the bread and the wheel of Camembert that had been put on the stage for us. We noticed a sound limiter, which got us worried. Pushing the amps isn't necessarily about volume, it helps with the feeling of the sound too, and when you are asked to turn the amps down you lose that. We tend to be very loud because of this, and the limiter kept going into the red. Thankfully during sound check the sound man ignored it. We had a guest appearance during sound check too. Some drunken wally got up on to the stage and started doing his best Tom Waits impersonation into the microphone. Phil was sorting something out, so Gareth and I played and he sang along. His English wasn't very good, but it was his chosen language for this performance. The only words he knew, and the only words he said were “made of more”, which I later noticed was the blurb on the St. Arthur Guinness Day adverts that were hanging around the pub. He was eventually persuaded to leave the stage, and then told to go home by a member of staff.

We went for a walk into the town centre to have a look around and found ourselves down some narrow, cobbled lanes lined either side with 16th century timber framed houses. Some of it had recently been devastated by fire and a big renovation project was under way. We visited Place Sainte-Anne, a biggish square that had a carousel, bars and the rather large Saint-Aubin-en-Notre-Dame-de-Bonne-Nouvelle. We then did a big loop around the block until we were back where we had started. Rennes is an extremely beautiful place, and I gather from the age of its buildings that it must have a rich and extensive history.

We had been told that if we wanted a beer we could ask at the bar and they'd sort us out. Phil and I both ordered a Guinness, which turned out to be a pint of Kilkenny red. Phil said he'd seen the guy pour it from the Guinness tap. Because it was free and we are far too polite we didn't say anything. Later on in the night I ordered a Kilkenny in the hope that it would be a Guinness but it didn't work.

The first band were called Fevrier, consisting of a guitarist and a vocalist. I have very little knowledge of this style of music so I can only compare them with what I do know, which is The Throwing Muses. This may be entirely because the vocalist was female and the songs were delicate and charming. ChooChooShoeShoot (hearing the band say their own name has led me to believe that the idea is to say it in under a second) have a sound that I do have subject knowledge of. ChooChooShoeShoot are part of the genre known as “Proper Mint”. They are angular rock, with throbbing bass lines and an excellent female vocal delivery. Uzeda would be the most obvious comparison; Uzeda with less groove and more punch, mixed with the best bits of the Fall. We got to play most of our set and did A Few More Moths as an encore. For the past year we hadn't played much from the album Dead Lake, so just before tour we practised three of the songs and put them into the set. We kept Moths back for the encore. In France, encores happen all the time, which is why we planned it. The silly thing is, when we get asked to do one, we act surprised! During the song Confiance, which I mentioned earlier, a few members of the audience tried to start a slow clap along. Thankfully it didn't gather any momentum! The crowd were immense though, and we had a super fun night.

Someone came up after the show to let me know that, despite liking our music, he wasn't impressed with my t-shirt. As a massive fan of the awesome, socially aware 90s pop duo Carter USM, I was wearing their 1992 The Love Album t-shirt which has the European Union flag on it. He told me that he liked Nigel Farage [UKIP] and said that if that made him a fascist, then so be it. I put forward a half-arsed reason for being pro European and we left it at that. Despite his political beliefs, he seemed like a nice enough chap. We met some lovely people that night, and when the bar closed we went back to Regis' house.

We crammed seven people into the van, made friends at a set of traffic lights with another crammed car belting out techno, and arrived at Regis' in a cheery mood. Most of ChooChooShoeShoot and many of Regis' friends also came back. Our friend Paul, whom we know from playing in Dublin, came too. He had spent the past year living in Rennes. There wasn't a shortage of beer and we kept on being asked if we'd like to try the local spirits, which all tasted like mead. When everyone decided to call it a night we were shown to our room. It was bright pink and full of children's books and toys. Manou [Regis' wife] offered Gareth the Peppa Pig book to read before bed but he declined. Gareth prefers audio books because his mind wanders and he finds himself re-reading pages to see what happened.

Sunday 31st March 2013
La Cantine de Belleville
Paris, France

The children in the house had been allowed downstairs again, and when we emerged from the pink room, the house had been tidied and looked like a family home once more. Regis and Manou were there to greet us and introduced us to their children. It was a sunny day outside and I flirted with the possibility of wearing my shorts. As there were children present I decided against unleashing my hairy, pale-white legs and decided to wait a couple of hours to see if the weather held out. Regis cooked us some black wheat pancakes and filled them with egg, cheese and ham, and Manou made us coffee and offered us some fruit juice. Just before we left we gathered everyone up, including Philippe [ChooChooShoeShoot] and his wife and kids, and had a big family photo together. Everyone in the house came outside to wave us off on our journey to Paris, and just before we hit the motorway, we stopped at a supermarket where I invested in some Tabasco.

We listened to the audio version of World War Zed all the way to Paris and turned it off as we hit the overcrowded mayhem of the Parisian streets. La Cantine de Belleville is in an up and coming area that was once occupied by the ethnic minorities. It still is, but the young trendy types have moved in too, to live their bohemian fantasies, pushing up the housing prices and creating hip hangouts such as La Cantine de Belleville. You could tell that it was trendy because no two pieces of furniture matched. We were in Paris' equivalent to Shoreditch. We had arrived before Victor [promoter] so Gareth went inside to ask about loading in. The bar worker rudely told Gareth that he couldn't speak English so we waited outside down a narrow road, partially obstructing other vehicles trying to get past. Down a small lane to our right was a bar that had been playing a football match, and as the full time whistle blew, the bar emptied into the alleyway and the crowd started letting off bangers. I took my Arsenal scarf off the dashboard and cowardly put it into the glove box just in case. In retrospect I should have put it on and joined them. With Arsenal's French connection they may have put me onto their shoulders and carried me around, chanting my name like some sort of hero.

We played downstairs in the man-made cavern which I imagine was intended to be a storage space as the beer barrels were down there in a room behind the stage. Electricity was in short supply and everything was running off of one plug socket. Henchmen and Made In Canada were great bands, but Made In Canada had some technical issues and had to cut their set short. The room wasn't a bad size, and plenty of people came to watch. Phil had problems with the shape of the room as the ceiling was arched over the stage, meaning that he had to lean slightly to his left to avoid scraping himself on the sharp brick wall. During our set the rude bar worker came down to change a beer barrel, which was behind the stage and the drum kit. As he returned from the room he was carrying some beer bottles and was clearly struggling. He needed Gareth's help and asked Gareth to move something out of his way. Gareth just shrugged his shoulders and said that he couldn't speak French! (Despite my tendency to focus on the negatives of La Cantine de Belleville over the last two paragraphs, the gig was actually very good, and we got to play two encores).

Paris has always welcomed us and we've played there more times than any other city with the exception of London and Leeds, though Leeds and Paris are very close [Leeds 16, Paris 15]. Because of the amount of times we've played in France we have accumulated lots of very good friends. We hung about with them upstairs in the rambunctious café area and learned that Rejuvenation records [Agnes and Greg] were expecting a baby and saw two friends who hadn't been on speaking terms, speak to each other for the first time in a couple of years. It was a wonderful evening, but the beer started to get the better of me.

I was tired by the time we left La Cantine de Belleville and my mood had declined into a foul, hwinsian mess. Phil and Gareth bore the brunt of this when we tried to buy some food from a night shop in Montreuil on the way to our friends house.
Five quid for a shit sandwich!” etcetera.
Phil and Gareth did buy one and both confirmed that it was indeed a shit sandwich. My mood improved when we got back to the house we were staying at. Our friend Alex and his girlfriend had offered to put us up for the night, where we enjoyed some more beer and their good company.

Monday 1st April 2013
Coco Cabana
Metz, France

Up until this point I had been cleaning myself with strawberry scented, Hello Kitty! Baby wipes. The tour stars had aligned; time was on our side, the shower was spraying out hot water, and the bathroom had a lock on the door. It might sound very simple, but on tour these things rarely happen at the same time.

We left Montreuil at around 13:00 and arrived in Metz just after 18:00. Phil had slept for the whole journey and didn't even wake up when we stopped at a service station. The two previous times we had been to Metz, the road that the Coco Cabana is on had been having major roadworks. Over a year on and the roadworks were still taking place. The improvements were evident this time and it was clear what they were doing; they were building a new tram system and they had cut the busy road down to one lane to incorporate it. We unloaded the van while parked on the pavement, and carried our gear down the steps into the vast cellar. The Coco Cabana had also made changes since we were last there and had fitted blue lights in all the rooms, which rather than looking hip, made it look like some sort of cyber goth hangout.

Entry – Hip:

Part of Speech:
fashionable, stylish
all the rage, chic, chichi, contemporary, cool, current, faddy, hot, in style, 
in vogue, in-thing, latest, latest thing, mismatched furniture, mod, modern, modish, natty, new, now, popular, smart, sophisticated, trendy, with it
cyber goth

The other new thing in the Coco Cabana was the smoking room. It was still clean inside and had a slight draft from the necessary ventilation shaft. I know smoking is filthy and I'll regret it when I'm struggling for breath on my death bed with my weeping children by my side, but, full marks to the French.

We played with three other bands that night: The Heartbeat Parade, Hungry For The Truth, and Aleska, which, though not really my thing, gave a good account of themselves despite the noisy room and failing PA system. We used Gareth's amp for the vocals during our set which we had brought along to amplify the bass drum in case the sound person didn't do it. With the amount of high mids we like to blast at people's ears, the unforgiving shape, and the reflective surfaces, the room sound was a little too bright. Contrary to this, the show was excellent. We played a slightly shorter set than the previous nights because the other bands over ran, and we ended our set with A Few More Moths as the encore.

As far as compliments go, I particularly enjoyed this one which was said to us by a guy that told me that he'd liked the sound of the bass:
I look at the bass and I thought – it's not the bass. Then I look at the amp – no, it's not the amp. Then I look at the man – yes, it's the man!”
I enjoyed this for a few moments before rejoining the disappointing reality that it is in actual fact the amp and the bass.

It dawned on us while we were at the merch table that we may run out of records. We hadn't expected to sell as many over the twelve dates and definitely didn't expect to sell as many after five, and we didn't even have t-shirts to fall back on; we had left the spare box of t-shirts on the dining room table in our house. It wasn't a bad situation to be in, but it was slightly frustrating. 

We packed away our gear into the van with a little help from our friend Thomas [Le Singe Blanc]. He had just got back from a tour and came down to the show after it had finished to say hi. We had played with Le Singe Blanc in Metz on a previous tour and he put us up for the night and provided us with some class A hospitality*. Jo [promoter] hadn't known that Thomas would be about and had booked us a night at the nearest F1 Motel. We have gone on record before to say how much we like F1 Motels, and when we heard the news we were delighted. We dropped Thomas home via the beautiful, narrow cobbled lanes in the historic part of Metz. Thomas invited us around to his house in the morning for breakfast, then answered our pleas for the whereabouts of the nearest kebab shop. We each bought a kebab et frites and the guy inside the kebab shop asked us if we were Americans. There were two people in there [the chef and his mate who was sat at a table watching the television] and they were both very friendly.

We made ourselves comfortable when we got to the F1 Motel, cracked open a beer, and watched some French television. We watched the ending of a serious drama about terrorism, which ended with one chap driving his car, laden with explosives, into the American Embassy while his mate in another car chickened out at the last minute and ran for his life. This show was followed by a comedy about a bank robbery. It looked funny, but I only understood the words: Salut, Au Revoir, Oui, Non, Confiance, and Merde Alors.

*that's not a euphemism for hard drugs.

Tuesday 2nd April 2013
Bar des Capucins
Lyon, France

We didn't go to Thomas' for breakfast and opted to sleep instead. It was a shame as we would have loved to hang out with him for a couple of hours. Depriving ourselves of sleep would have been silly, especially when we were being presented with the perfect opportunity.

We listened to Max Brooks' World War Zed all the way to Lyon and were all very amused with the English bit. World War Zed is a collection of individual accounts of a zombie war, wherein Brooks plays the role of an agent of the United Nations' Postwar Commission. The story behind what happened in England reflects what happened in World War II and speaks about how the people came together. The Queen decides not to go into hiding and stays with the people to slug it out, giving up all her palaces except Windsor Castle where she remains for the whole war. The most amusing part is the bit about how we descended back to the middle ages and fought the war with maces and swords because we all have them in our collections at home.

We chose the correct exit from the motorway into Lyon, which is a total bastard due to satellite navigation systems not working in the preceding tunnel. The venue was in the centre in the old part of town were the roads were narrow and not built with a one-way system in mind. The sat nav let us down again and led us to a busy pedestrian square. We found the venue but managed to piss off some delivery men by tricking them into letting us have their space on the pavement. Damien [promoter] had to translate and calm the situation, then suggested that we move on to the paved seating area to unload.

Once again the venue was downstairs. The room was similar to that of the venue in Paris but instead of a stage it had a slippery floor. Once again Phil had trouble with the curved, low ceiling and had to bend slightly to stop himself scraping off the skin from his skull. As always, the Lyon crowd were superb. Nous aimons Lyon. The band before us were a mint band called Torino, featuring members of Baton Rouge. The flyer described them as Punk Rock, which I suppose they were, but would better fit into one of the many sub genres affiliated with that phrase!

After the gig we went upstairs to hang out with our Lyon friends. Bar des Capucins was still very busy but most people were outside smoking. The bar owner came and told everyone to go inside to stop the neighbours from complaining about the noise. We went inside and out came the ashtrays! In Lyon, the police use all their powers of common sense and turn a blind eye so that they don't have to receive silly complaints from the neighbours.

When inside, smoking, a couple of guys came over to speak to us. They asked us if we'd like to do a tour with their band [Michel Anoia] during August in Sweden. We told them that we had a day off the next day so we arranged to meet up then to discuss it further. The tour had been organised already; the only stumbling block was convincing the person that had organised it that it'd be a great idea for us to go along too.

Damien and Paul [promoters] had work the next day and the bar would be shutting so we decided to head off home. We left our gear in the venue, walked up a massive hill for twenty minutes to the parked van, then drove straight to Damien's. Damien had given us his flat for the next two evenings while he stayed at Pauline's [girlfriend, top lass]. He hung with us for a bit playing records and getting us to taste some homemade spirits. Damien is one half of Bigout Records, which put out Dead Lake. He had some copies in his flat so we were able to buy a load off of him as we'd nearly sold out of our stock.

Wednesday 3rd April 2013
Day Off
Lyon, France

I woke up and stumbled towards the hallway, seeking out the toilet.
Which bell-end has left the hallway lights on?!” I thought to myself.
The hallway lights weren't on. I'd come from a room that had blocked out all the light and it was in actual fact the bright sunshine that was lighting everything up; it was midday. I was confused for a brief moment and when I gathered my thoughts I thought that it could be the day that I get to wear my shorts.

The sun was shining but the wind was cold. I put my shorts back into my bag.

The plan for the day was to pick up Tom, collect our gear from the venue, do something, then meet up with the lads from Michel Anoia. Tom is a friend of ours who now teaches English in Switzerland. He used to play guitar in Roll Call For The Second Site and Three Colours. He was on Easter holidays and decided to take the long way back to London to see his family. He would be staying with us until the last date where he'd get a flight from Bilboa to Heathrow. We arranged to meet Tom at the main train station in Lyon. It was big and confusing and took us a good twenty minutes to find him. Once we found him we had a brief look around a record/book fair on the grass square outside the station where Gareth bought AC/DC's Back in Black on vinyl, then we jumped into the van and went to the venue to pick up our equipment. Bizarrely, the paved area outside the venue (where we'd been able to put the van while we loaded in less than 15 hours before) had been dug up and some sort of maintenance work was taking place. They'd got a lot done in the few hours we'd been away! Once we were loaded in we headed back to Damien's so that Tom could drop his bag off. There we formulated a plan of action and rather predictably chose to go to a bar.

We went to visit Paul in the shop he runs, and after making a quick phone call, he suggested Le Gambetta on Cours Gambetta. We had a few pints there, then onto a Jazz-bar-with-mismatched-furniture via a kebab restaurant. We met up with the Michel Anoia boys and said hello to a few people that we recognised from the gig the night before. The same thing had happened at Le Gambetta. I already felt at home in Lyon and recognising the locals seemed to reinforce that. We only stayed for a few beers before heading with Sim, Ugo and Charles [Michel Anoia] back to their house where we swapped tales, appreciated their awesome home, ate the pasta they had cooked for us, questioned them as to why there was a wooden penis hanging from the ceiling, introduced them to Damien and Pauline (they came and met us), and generally had a wonderful evening. They had a poster on their toilet wall of a show we did with Nitkowski in Lyon over a year earlier. Proper good lads.

Damien and Pauline told us to follow the tram tracks home and we said our goodbyes and acknowledged their kindness with a big thank you. We followed the tracks and found our road. We went into the flat and I grabbed my stuff then headed back outside. It was my turn to sleep in the van.

Thursday 4th April 2013
Up & Down Bar
Montpelier, France

It was overcast, cold and a little bit windy. We tidied Damien's house, left the keys outside in his mailbox, then headed out of Lyon. Just before the main slog of the motorway we stopped at an Intermarche*. My chicken salad tasted off so I took it back inside where they refused to replace it or give me my money back as I had opened it. The difference between not liking something because you don't like the taste and not liking something because the taste is wrong was hard to explain. Even advanced-level-French-speaker Tom couldn't make them understand. It wasn't my finest hour; somewhere on the outskirts of Lyon is a lady with an anecdote about how an Englishman once tried to change a salad because he didn't like the taste. They'll never know the truth.

The rain started to come down around the halfway point of the journey, but as we pulled into Montpelier the rain stopped. The streets were wet and grey and the palm trees looked so very out of place. The venue itself was up a beautiful-cobbled, steep-narrow lane. Louie [owner & promoter] met us and showed us where to put the gear and told us to ask if we wanted a drink. The Up & Down Bar was fitted to look like a ship and we were playing in the lower deck. The stage was tiny and we had to stick the guitar cab at the front of the stage beyond the PA and the bass cab at the back, behind the drums. It was awkward and Phil once again had problems with the ceiling. We were offered some hot dogs but we turned them down in favour of trying our luck in town. The options were limited so we settled for a kebab restaurant.

We were the only band that would be playing so there was no rush. It wasn't a brilliant turn out, maybe fifteen people, but considering the size of the venue it didn't matter so much. It was actually a very good show and the crowd made up for its lack of mass. And it isn't often that you sell a record to 60% of the audience!

Everyone was very friendly and we got chatting to a few people downstairs by the merch table. Smoking laws were once again ignored and when we asked them if it's allowed they just shrugged their shoulders. At closing time Louie told us to wait downstairs while he booted out the public. After ten minutes he came back down with his friend and a tray of beer. We told them a few jokes that were suitable for adults and in return they told us some jokes that were not suitable for anyone.

We walked back to the van to grab our sleeping gear and made the ten minute walk with Louie back to his house. Louie is a great lad and looks like a cross between Chris [Cherry But No Cake], Chris Johnston [my mate], and Gérard Depardieu [French Actor, Film-maker, Businessman, Vineyard Owner and Tax Dodger].

*Intermarche's are generally crap. I much prefer Carrefour.

Friday 5th April 2013
La Méridien
Nîmes, France

The cold wind accompanied the sun yet again as we left Louie's house with Louie for the walk back to the van. Once we'd made the short drive to the venue and everything was loaded in, Louie took us for a coffee. We went to a café called Bar du Palais de Congres which was situated at the bottom of the lane that the Up & Down Bar was on. It was on a corner and we sat outside trying to make full use of the direct rays of sunlight which, if you didn't make any sudden movements, just about over-ruled the cold of the wind. Louie seemed to be a very popular guy and many people said hello to him and stopped for a brief chat. A good lad.

On the way out of Montpelier we met two Romanian Gypsies who cleaned our windscreen at a set of traffic lights despite us not asking them to. They seemed a bit offended when we refused to give them money and started poking Gareth rather aggressively, so when the lights changed we waved and smiled at them like the cowards we are. They'd done a good job and the view of the road was now crystal clear.

Nîmes wasn't far away so we had a few spare hours at our disposal. The night before, somewhere between the rude jokes and the conversation about how the province which Nîmes is in has cowboys and bull fighting, we asked for a recommendation for a good beach. It was a little out the way but we didn't mind. The town was full of stables for both horses and bulls and on the water next to the road there were hundreds of flamingos. We were now in a completely different world to the one which we'd woken up in, and we stood out. We came across a road block on the way to the beach and saw a car disregard it. They moved it out the way, drove past it, then put it back and continued up the road. The French often ignore road rules so we thought we'd do the same. We got as far as we could but the road eventually turned into sand. We had to abandon the van and make the rest of the journey on foot. I'd seen an episode of the A-Team once where something very similar happened and when they returned their van had been towed away. The huge watch tower over looking everything in the distance didn't fill me with confidence either. The beach itself wasn't the yellow sand we where hoping for and neither did it have an ice cream van or arcade machine; the sand was a grey colour and, well, that's all that was there. That and people walking their dogs. And a party of horse riders in the distance.

My fears of a towed van and an unreasonable-mechanic-where-we-would-later-meet-a-lass-who-needed-our-help-that-would-lead-us-to-saving-the-village-from-some-horse-riding-overlord was put at ease when we returned to find the van still there. We remembered that it was the fifth of April, the anniversary of the death of Kurt Cobain. Tom tipped some of his apple and kiwi drink onto the floor out of respect (he couldn't tell you why either, it just seemed like the thing to do) and we continued the journey, listening to Nirvana all the way.

Nîmes itself didn't show many signs of cowboys or bull fighting and felt a little more like an English northern town. The sign on the way into Nîmes that read 'twinned with Preston, Royaume-Uni' probably had some influence on my thinking. We pulled up outside the venue, which looked like one of those bars you get on high rise council estates, and went inside to ask if we could load in. This place was one of those bars you get on high rise council estates* and came complete with tradesmen**, the unemployed***, dogs, and children running around. We were told to come back in an hour and as we left, Tom noticed some dog poo on the floor.

The promoters arrived half an hour later and we went inside with them for a beer, then unloaded our gear into the venue. The stage area was right where the poo had been and when we put our equipment down, we made sure there were no stains. Over the next hour the room transformed into a great looking venue and the crowd started to arrive quite early on. Assos 'Y' Song – see what they did? [promoters] were a big collective of friends and were very well organised. They made a seafood pasta dish which was truly fantastic and everyone sat down together at a long table to eat.

It was a great occasion, complete with brilliant bands and a clumsy drunk guy falling on to the broken glass he'd accidentally smashed earlier. You get these people from time to time; they tend to be either incredibly annoying or the life and soul of the party. He was a bit of both. We went on last at around midnight. The bar owner was a bit worried about the police turning up but we still managed to play a forty minute set, then do two encores. It was the last show that Assos 'Y' Song were putting on there so they weren't worried about what the owner thought.

We stuck about for another hour or so and I spent the majority of that time outside, cooling down in the bracing spring air. When I returned to start packing my stuff away, Gareth was taking down his drum kit whilst the barman, who was very drunk, tried to play it.

We had an early rise the next day but the night wasn't about to stop. We got back to the house we were staying at and half the bar came along too. It was party time. We loaded our gear into the house as we were told that it wouldn't be safe in the van even with someone sleeping in it. Gareth cracked out his whiskey (he always has a whisky stash) and we got chatting to a scary looking man in his late forties that was wearing a denim jacket with an AC/DC patch sewn onto the back. His English wasn't great but he was able to tell us some stories about AC/DC and Motörhead and told us that he'd been to our neck of the woods recently to watch rugby at Twickenham stadium. We stayed up for another three quarters of an hour or so, drinking Belgian beer. When we hit the sack we went up the stairs. It wasn't a room as such, the sleeping area was open planned so the noise of the party downstairs didn't decrease. We were so tired that it didn't actually matter, and in no time at all, we were all fast asleep.

*I grew up in a council flat
**I was once a tradesman
***I've been unemployed

Saturday 6th April 2013
Barcelona, Spain

We woke up at 10:00 and swiftly put the gear back into the van through a downpour of rain. We tried to do it quietly because people were sleeping on the sofas and the floor but a few woke up and gave us a hand. We had a quick coffee and ate some brioche and Chinese stuffed cake. Chinese stuffed cake was new to us but it tasted great despite our doubts as to its authenticity. We found a supermarket where we had to leave our bags at the entrance with a security guard. The town really did have a crime problem and the hassle of putting equipment inside the house then removing it in the morning now seemed like a sensible idea. There was a different security guard on the door when we went to retrieve our bags and he didn't seem to care who was taking what. My bag had my passport and money inside.

With the Pyrenees in the distance we knew that our time in France was nearly over. We love France and were sad to be saying goodbye for another year. We'd never been to Spain, and we knew that even if it was only half as good as France, we'd be happy.
Maybe when we get over the Pyrenees the weather will improve.” said Tom.
Like the UK and the rest of Europe, Spain was wet, cold and miserable. We were tired and the tops of my trousers had speckles of Tabasco where I'd been making sandwiches on my lap over the course of the tour. I desperately wanted to put my shorts on.

On the way into Barcelona we passed through a valley that had colourful buildings sprawling down its sides like some sort of mini Sao Paulo. Barcelona itself didn't look like how I expected it to look and wasn't nearly as busy. Some idiot had even planted palm trees instead of sensible ones and everything looked plastic and tacky. We were the first band to arrive at Upload and carried our gear in through a side door that had a metre high step. The venue was massive and the stage itself was bigger than a lot of the venues we'd played. The floor where the crowd would stand had been decorated like a chess board which added to the surreal nature of the whole thing.

We were first on and started at 19:00. The crowd was a good size, and wouldn't have all fitted in some of the other venues! Both Gareth and Phil didn't enjoy playing for various reasons. I think it was to do with tiredness; the sound of the room probably didn't help either. We were received very well by the audience and some of the people I spoke to actually complimented the sound. Common Deflection Problems went on second. We met them when they were living in the UK and they'd helped us organise a few of the Spain dates. They run Human Feather [a gig promoter/record label] and this was their show. As expected, they were great. So were Barberos who came up next. They are a three piece electronic band also from the UK, consisting of two drummers and a guy doing something with, and excuse my ignorance*, some sort of electronic music device. Action Beat played last and were truly mint. We chatted with them after the show and it was great speaking to them again.

Gianpiero took us back to his after the show. We thought that we were about to head a few minutes down the road to Gianpiero's home where we could either sleep or stay up for a few beers. It didn't quite work out that way and we ended up in a square with Barberos, drinking beers from dodgy men for 1 a pop. We had parked the van 2.5km away from his house because apparently it was the closest we'd get a space. A friend [Mary] from Gareth's University days came and met us and provided us with a much needed humour injection.

Phil was sleeping in the van so he walked back with Barberos to where the van was parked and the rest of us followed Gianpiero back to his house. On the way back Gianpiero received a phone call and had to run an errand for a friend.
Watch your possessions, it isn't safe around here.” He said, leaving us on the corner.
When we got back to Gianpiero's home, Tom and I went straight to sleep while Gareth stayed up and ate some food.

*or stupidity

Sunday 7th April 2013
Zaragoza, Spain

Barcelona scrubbed up well in the sunshine and actually looked quite nice. We saw 2.5km of it on the way back to the van where we met Phil, who was sitting in the front, drawing.

We listened to the end of World War Zed then stuck on some tapes and enjoyed the amazing views that the motorway had in store for us. This was the biggest surprise about Spain; No one ever speaks about how beautiful the country is outside of the towns. Or maybe they do, I probably just hang around in the wrong crowds watching the wrong television. I only ever hear how great the swimming pool was, how cheap the booze is, the hot weather, stories of Britain's 18-30 population misbehaving, and time share tycoon's like Frank Butcher moving there to exploit idiots.

We found Arrebato with ease and pulled up outside the venue down what looked like a wide alleyway. Wichita had already arrived and had set up on the stage. The sound man was keen for us to sound check, and because we wanted to use our own gear, we moved everything out of the way. Wichita would have to set up again, but they didn't mind. We ate some food after sound check and couldn't work out if the other band were eating too as they didn't join us.

Arrebatos is a great venue located on the ground floor of a block of flats. Because of this they were keen to get the music finished by 22:00 and once the venue filled up, Wichita went on. They were stoner meets post-rock and did a Fugazi cover to end their set. The crowd were excellent and got right into it and even sang along to the Fugazi song. The crowd maintained its excellence when we went on and danced throughout. It was hot and when we finished we were all a bit wet.

We spoke to Wichita some more after the show while they were eating. They asked us why we ate so early and seemed to be amused by it. According to their singer, who looked like a bit like Adam Sandler, the Spanish eat late at night. He went on to say that he liked my bass playing style, and that I play like Lemmy [Motörhead]. Adam had an enthusiasm about him that I liked and was very friendly. Good lad and good lads.

We went back to Ceasar's [promoter] house after the show, and on the way he told us not to park on the road as it wouldn't be safe. He took us to a secure manned garage that would cost us 21. We parked up, gave the man the keys to the van, then walked a short distance back to Ceasar's. Inside the house Tom sensed that something wasn't quite right with one of the ornaments on display. It looked like a child's toy, but when he lifted the head, the clothes came off exposing a carved wooden penis. The balls were its feet, which is what had aroused suspicion in the first place. I've never in my whole life come across a carved wooden penis, so two in five days seemed very odd. Ceasar had won it from one of those grab games at the fair. It wasn't an adult only game either; it was amongst other children's toys!

As I laid down to sleep, with my head on the pillow, I listened out for Violet [the van] hurtling around the streets like that bit in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Monday 8th April 2013
La Faena II
Madrid, Spain

Caesar's cat was very ill, and when I woke up she was sleeping on my trousers. As I pulled her off she clung on for dear life and a bit of cat's litter fell from her, down a trouser leg and on to the floor. The trousers didn't have any stains, and even if they did, I'd have still had to wear them. Where was the friggin' hot weather that Spain is so famous for? Along with my shorts I also packed some sun block. I actually worried that I might run out!

Caesar put his cat into a box, and as the garage was on the way to the vets, he walked us there. We thanked Caesar, picked up the van and filled it with diesel, then hit the road towards Madrid.

It was on this road I heard about it. This was one of those 'everyone remembers where they were when they found out' type news stories. I was sitting on the toilet of a dusty, run down old amenity stop on the road somewhere between Zaragoza and Madrid. I received a text from my brother that read 'Margate fatchers dead'. I had often wondered how I'd react to this news and had decided a long time ago not to celebrate. Celebrating the death of a senile old lady would only make me as bad as her. I wasn't too surprised about the hate Thatcher band wagon that followed, but what surprised me the most were the amount of people that didn't understand just how horrible she was. We had early-twenty-something's out partying to celebrate her death but some people that were older, that could remember her, questioning if she really was that bad. I found that disappointing. Once I'd wiped, done up my trousers and washed my hands, I walked back to the van and told the others the news. Tom and I both bought a fruit juice from the shop, raised our cartons in acknowledgement, made a couple of jokes about how the floor felt a bit warmer, got back into the van and continued our journey towards Madrid.

We found the road that La Faena II was on but couldn't find the venue. We walked about for a bit but couldn't quite work it out. The number we had been given was for a building that had its shutters down. We waited in the van in the hope someone would come along that looked like they might be involved. Our prayers were answered when a group of four people came along carrying guitars and a bit of drum hardware. We followed them down a side alley, where at the bottom was
La Faena II. The alleyway was wide enough to fit the van and the we could park inside the venue. La Faena II is a non profit community space run by a collective of great people dedicated to DIY principles. They had a large distro stall and a selection of vegan and anti-fascism leaflets. The food they gave us was great too; they made us a mildly spiced dal and some home made bread and humus. Thomas Close* [The Royal Mail, Spite House] came and asked us if the food was okay because they weren't sure if we would be able to handle spicy food.

The sound man looked a bit like Spanish play-maker Mikel Arteta and had a great selection of music playing over the PA via his MP3 player. It was pretty much the playlist that Me, Phil and Gareth would have come up with if we'd been asked. He was a lovely guy too, and he was very good at his job. El Pardo were the first band on and their singer looked like Alex Robertson [Kidnapped Kids & our old house mate] if he'd been shrunk in the wash. They were advertised as 'They believe they do post-punk'. I'd go with post-punk as it doesn't matter anyway. I could say high-temperature-machine-wash-post-punk and it'd make no difference. The next band were Perräs Salvajes, which was Carlos' [promoter] band. They were advertised as 'angry rock intrigue', which I imagine got lost in translation. It was another fantastic night and very unexpected as we tend to expect Monday nights to be a bit naff.

When we got back to Carlos' house he opened up a big bag of crisps and laid out some of the most amazing hot dips. They warned us that the dips were super hot and that we should be careful. Gareth and I cook a lot with chillies at home and these dips were perfectly manageable. The problem was that if I did go ahead and start digging in, they might have thought that I was doing it to look well-hard. Chilli bravado does exist, but some of us actually enjoy it. I had my eye on a whole chilli that had been softened by the sauce so I slyly and slowly cut away at it, finishing it without anyone noticing. His house mate was there too (another name I should have remembered). He made the spicy dal and had learned to cook Indian food when he lived in Ireland. He had also acquired a taste for good beer and was brewing a batch in the room next door. Though, I'm not sure how he acquired the taste for good beer in Ireland as they only sell three types of stout and the rest is lager.

It was my turn to sleep in the van.

*It wasn't really Thomas Close; it was another hilarious doppelgänger

Tuesday 9th April 2013
Sentinel Rock Club
Bilbao, Spain

Madrid was very noisy in the morning and it was made noisier by the person blaring out talk radio from their garage at 09:00. My sleep was interrupted but I managed to get back to sleep for a couple of hours before Gareth text me the lyrics to Education from 2001 by Dr Dre. This was my cue to say that everyone was awake and I could go back inside. We ate breakfast on the rooftop of Carlos' flat and climbed a dodgy ladder onto another roof to get a better view and to take a group photo. Good lads both Carlos and his mate. Proper good lads.

That was pretty much the end of our tour of Spain. We still had the Bilboa show to play, but it didn't feel like we were in Spain. We could have been in Dover or any port town for that matter. The venue 'The Sentinel Rock Club' added to this by displaying a coat of armour, a throne, and a shield decorated with the St George's cross and three lions. Upon the walls were words like Saxon, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motörhead, Def Leppard, and Venom. This bar was dedicated to the legacy of The New Wave of British Heavy Metal (which was no longer new). I might sound disappointed, but I wasn't. Though I'm not a fan of The New Wave of British Heavy Metal, the chance of getting a photo of myself in a throne whilst holding a St. George's shield that had three lions on it doesn't present itself very often. I took my top off and got my bass out as an extra prop and Tom took the photo.

The other band on the bill were Eten. They were a two piece drum and guitar combo and were absolutely brilliant. Playing with a couple of rad guys of an excellent band is a good way to end a tour. The stage was probably a bit too high which always makes me feel a little uncomfortable and disconnected from what's happening on the floor, but this was fine. The crowd were awesome and we got to play through flickering lights and a smoke machine.

Gareth and Phil got speaking to the owner of the bar and he spoke about his love of The New Wave of British Heavy Metal and gave us all a free round of drinks, presumably because we're British.

We put our gear back into the van for the last time, thanked everyone still hanging about in the bar, and drove back to Nico's* flat in the main part of Bilboa for some late night food. The main part of Bilboa did look like Spain and it was good to be back.

The flat was given to Nico to use by his parents as it belonged to his grandmother who had passed away a year or so earlier. He'd made the sitting room cosy and had put posters up on wall, but the other rooms looked untouched.
You can sleep in any of the rooms. I live with my parents downstairs and only use this flat to hang out with friends.”
All of us refused to sleep in his grandmother's bed as it really did look untouched and still had her personal belongings on the dressing table. The cross above the bed didn't inspire much confidence in us either, so we shut the door and Tom slept on the floor of the sitting room. I slept in the guest room which itself was very eerie while Gareth got the sofa bed, and Phil slept in the van. As I was drifting off to sleep, Gareth and Tom crept down the dark corridor turning the handle of a small music box they had found on top of the television.

*I may have got his name wrong, but the promoter was called Mikel, something I didn't mention

Wednesday 10th April 2013
Going Home: Part I

In the morning Tom left us and went off to find the airport. It was nice to spend time with him again and having the extra person added more possibilities for conversation. Phil returned just after Tom had left and had brought with him some breakfast that he'd bought from a shop. It was as close to a fry up as he could find so we cooked it, ate it, then cleaned up.

Santander was a short distance and the ferry wasn't leaving until the evening. We hatched a plan to drive to Santander to scope out the ferry port and find a beach. The sun came out on the drive but I had lost any trust in it and left my shorts in my bag. The weather did hold out and we sat on the yellow sand of the beach with our tops off, drinking beer and eating ice creams. We sat there for a couple of hours relaxing and admiring the beautiful blue sea and pretending not to notice the topless ladies that walked past.

As departure time got closer we drove to a supermarket just outside Santander and stocked up on whisky, beer and plenty of food. Between us we spent €100. Phil and I grabbed a Burger King then we headed for the ferry port, where we joined a long queue. We thought we would be at the front if we got there early, but lots of other people had had the same idea. The queue was made up of mainly British people with their caravans and their dogs.

On board the ferry we found the cabin which would be our home for the next nineteen hours. It had a shower and a toilet and enough room for us to store our bags. It was pretty sweet all in all. We cracked open a beer and read the leaflet that told us about our entertainment options. In the bar they had planned a guy singing pop hits along to a recording, a kid doing football skills, an Elvis impersonator, and a late night disco. We drank a wee more then headed out to the bar, concealing the beer we'd brought with us. Gareth didn't last long; he felt seasick and it wasn't getting any better. He retreated to the cabin and Phil and I stayed on. We watched the football skills kid, heckled the Elvis impersonator and over enthusiastically applauded him. After the football skills kid had finished I had gone back to the cabin to get the rest of our booze and the two burger king cups that we had saved for the whisky. We no longer cared if the bar staff saw us drinking as the alcohol had given us a confidence boost. In the two and a half hours we sat there we managed to polish off all of our beers and nearly finish the bottle of whisky. The last thing I remember was noticing that no one else was at the disco except me, Phil, and a couple of old blokes.

Thursday 11th April 2013
Going Home: Part II

I woke up and found myself strapped into the top bunk. I had no memory of getting back to the cabin and neither did Phil. Gareth remembered it very well and said that he heard giggling outside the door, and when the door opened we both came tumbling through onto the floor. About three hours after we'd got back, Phil woke Gareth up by calling out for me to hurry up in the toilet.
He's not in the toilet, that was three hours ago” groaned Gareth.

Gareth found a doctor in the morning and was given a tablet. The ferry was an hour off pace because of the unsettled conditions the night before which meant that we now had an extra hour to kill.

We disembarked the ferry in Plymouth and drove back to Kingston, making it with enough time to relax and sort ourselves out, which I'm sure Phil and Gareth appreciated as they had work the next day. Our house mate [Andy] had hoovered and I was looking forward to a cup of tea. I stuck the kettle on, put my shorts away, and changed into a nice, clean pair of trousers.