Friday, June 25, 2004

Losing the plot

We (ad Hock) played Geneva’s bar last night. We got there early to set up so we could watch the football. The instructions were we don’t play until the football was finished. So we sat and had a few beers, and some Rachi or is it Rakki? Del had O.D.ed on the stuff whilst on honey moon and he was determined I should try some. So we went outside where his wife was parked up waiting for us with bottle of Rachi and some glasses. Great drink, aniseed flavoured, although I was thinking, a few seconds after swallowing the stuff, of Gollum screaming “It burns, it burns ussssss.”
Del was getting restless wanting to get on stage.Tony laid back as usual said “Look at it this way Del. We’re getting paid to sit here drink beer and watch football. How many jobs give you that?”
Across from us were a group of foreigners who were intent on drinking the pub dry of Stella Artois. Spookily enough they were the only ones shouting “Eng-er- land” eventually one of them collapsed in an alcoholic stupor sending pints of Stella flying to the floor. None of them moved they just stared at him. Poked him a bit to make sure he was unconscious then stole his beer, and bought yet more Stella Artois. A few pints later he’s still unconscious and the others are getting close so with 15 minutes of normal time to play they stand up to go. One stumbles and falls on Del who catches him. He apologises profusely. IN Latvian or summat, so he could easily have been telling Del anything like “next time I am falling on you I will break your stupid head.” So we guessed it was an apology by the tone of his voice. Two of them pick up their unconscious buddy and drag him out the pub the toes of his shoes been polished to a nice shine on the carpet.
It got to the penalties and the punters were pulling their hair out and screaming and burying faces in hands. I thought this is going to be a hard crowd tonight.
We started playing just after 10:30. It turned out the crowd wanted to be entertained after all. So a great time was had.
After a while we stopped for a break and the hostess came up to me and said “I didn’t realise you were so good. We’re going to have to have you back here again. A Sunday night next time it’s usually packed, I’ll give you a call.”
Great! We finished at one in the morning and the landlord said “Will you be stopping to have a drink with us lads?”
Daft question really. Of course we’d have a free beer with him. Well one free beer turned into two which turned into three along with the Kentucky fried chicken which was being handed out. A tall guy was there with us indulging in several glass of the dark stuff. He started singing caberet.
“Start spreading the news”
Doo doo di doo do do doo di doo
“I’m leaving today.” And he’s falling about throwing his arms around Del and my shoulders urging us to sing along. “I wanna be a part of it “ raising to a crescendo
“NEW YORK NEW YORK……. Someone give me a mouth organ…… I wanna mouth organ……..has anyone got a mouth organ here?”
I think he’d lost the plot somewhere.
Del and I fell out the door at 3am and got a taxi home.
This morning oh joy ! I had a parcel arrive. Wonderful. It was my new football t-shirt to wear at the pub during the football. Only trouble is we’ve been knocked out the tournament, so it’s a day too late. C’est la vie. There’s always another football tournament England can lose in. I must tell you that I am not actually a football fan. So this may be the first and last time I ever mention football here.
Gotta go I need to rest. We’re playing the Fox at Folkesworth tomorrow night. That will be another late night I guess.

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Thursday, June 24, 2004

A Lobster on your arm

Let me tell you about John. (Check out previous posting) John came to me one night and told me he used to be the chief engineer for the Saudi Hydro Electric power project. Hello? Plenty oil, not much water. So he let me in on his latest project which he couldn’t understand why no one would let him go ahead with it. That is to flood the entire Nene valley and make it into a huge water park for boating and such like. I pointed out that if he did that Peterborough and more importantly where he lived would be under twenty foot of water.
Another John would walk around with his fore arm stretched out in front of him. He had a lobster resting on his arm. If he dropped his arm the Lobster would fall off. No one could see the Lobster but we all knew it was there. I asked him one day if it ever fell off when he took off his coat. He looked at me incredulously. “No of course not. It just dematerialises for a second then comes back.”
“Doesn’t it get tiring having to hold your arm up like that all the time so the Lobster won’t fall off?”
“It’s a fucking pain.” He said.
“So why don’t you just shake it off?”
“It would be really pissed with me.”
“But it’s just a lobster.”
“They bite you know.”
“Yes I know.” I replied
“Do you want a really pissed Lobster biting you?”
“No I guess not but surely you can run away from it when you’ve shaken it off?”
“No it just comes back and it’s really pissed and angry and then it hurts me so I have to be careful with it.”
I’m not sure if I’ll ever understand the schizophrenic mind. They have logic that is totally illogical but real to them. Another John said to me one night “Can you come back tomorrow and walk with me to the post office?”
“Why?”
“Because they all laugh at me.”
“Who laughs at you?”
“Everyone. And I don’t know why. So if you came with me you can tell me if they really are laughing at me or not. I need to get my money but I can’t if everyone is laughing at me.”
“I’m sure they’re not. Perhaps they’re just smiling at you to be friendly.”
“But I can’t tell. I get nervous and the voices tell me things.”
“Like what?”
“That they are laughing at me. So will you come with me tomorrow? Please!”
You could almost weep for him. We take it for granted that we do what we do. But these guys hear voices and have strange ideas that they can’t explain themselves. To them it’s real. To us they’re crazy. It’s a chemical imbalance in the brain. They have medications to control the extremes and mostly they work, except for some it leaves them very tired, lethargic and unable to function properly.
I got into trouble a while back. Giving my guitar lessons a couple of the inmates started refusing their “meds”. The duty officer came to me and said “Have you been telling them that this is music therapy?”
“No. Why?”
“Because they claim they don’t need their medication because they’ve had music therapy instead. So could you emphasise that you are not giving them any therapy, you’re just giving them music lessons.”

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Wednesday, June 23, 2004


"The Kidnaps" at The Wheatsheaf Peterborough 18th June 2004. Julian is playing base. he told me that he had just one and a half weeks to learn the set as he was standing in for their regular bass player. The singer is James he describes himself as "The guy with the long girly hair". Justin (guitar right) is manic. I've never seen anyone so enthusiastic. The previous night they played The fiddlers Elbow in the battle of the bands competition and won. They played in your face heavy rock. but for this night they played acoustically. For my money it was better, you could see the talent in their playing. Excellent night. Posted by Hello

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Julian and Jacs at The Wheatsheaf Peterborough. 18th June 2004. They played for this night only as "The Hostages" because they were supporting "The Kidnaps" Posted by Hello

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Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The cupboards will eat me!!!!!

Where Do I find the time to do all this stuff? I don’t know. It just kinda happens. It’s like I’m driven to keep going, to never stop, because if I do…….hell I don’t even want to contemplate what would happen if I stopped doing stuff and actually relaxed. Probably nothing but there’s something in the back of my mind that starts going into panic mode if I’ve got nothing to do. So I was doing this guitar workshop at a home for Schizophrenics. Yeah really! I kid you not. I can’t mention any names to protect the guilty so for the sake of this story all the schizophrenics are called John.
So I turn up with a car full of guitars and report to the evening duty officer.
“Is John ready for the Guitar workshop?”
“Yes he’s been looking forward to it all day. He’s in his room go and knock on his door.”
So I went to his room knocked on the door and muffled voice screamed out
“Come in!”
I walked in. John was sitting in his arm chair with his back to me masturbating furiously with a biro stuck in the end of his dick. Eeeek! I quickly turned round and walked out, shutting the door quietly behind me.
I walked into the common room to wait for John and a man dressed in a three piece suit walked in, head held high and hands clasped behind his back. He had a definite air of authority. He looked about the room, like a sergeant major inspecting barracks.
“Everything OK? Yes? Fine. Excellent. Good to see everything running smoothly. I’ll be in my office if you need me.” He walked out.
I turned to the duty manager, who had just walked in. “Who’s that?”
“Oh that’s John. He likes people to think he runs the place.”
“And he doesn’t?”
“No he’s quite mad. Lovely guy though.”
So another John came in for his guitar workshop session and I started playing something. “Thank you for the days”
“You know what Mike? I wrote that.”
“Wrote what?”
“That song you were playing.”
“No that was Ray Davis of the Kinks.” I say firmly.
“Yeah that’s what they want you to think.”
“Who wants me to think?”
“Them. Y’know them.” he says confidential like.
“So have you written any songs for the Beatles or the Stones.”
He goes into a panic and starts looking around furtively this way and that “Keep it fucking down.” He hissed, “nobody writes beatles or stones songs and admits to it.”
“Why?”
“Because it’s a cut throat business out there, they’ll cut your throat if they found out you were writing songs for the Rolling stones or the Beatles.”
“So what’s the most famous song you’ve written.”
“My most successful was “My way” sung by Frank Sinatra.”
“Really? When did you write that?”
“I wrote that about 1986. You know, that was a bastard as well. I wrote it on the Friday and by Monday morning bloody Frank Sinatra was singing it on bloody Radio 2. I never got a penny in royalties, not one penny. Do you think I should write to them to complain? I’ve often though of doing that.”
“Yes but just remember what you said before it’s a cut throat business, you start making demands for royalties and they've instantly got your name and address.”
“You’ve got a point I’d better keep quiet."
Later on I saw the sergeant major and asked him if he wanted to join me for a coffee.
“Absolutely old boy. Love to.” He stopped at the door of the kitchen. “I’m afraid I can’t come into the ol’ kitchen.”
“Why is it restricted or something?”
“No the cupboards will eat me.”
“What?”
“The cupboards will eat me if I go into the kitchen.”
“But they’re just cupboards. Boxes of wood with doors on them. There’s no teeth or muscles, no brain, nothing, just an inanimate box.”
John flared up “Don’t you think I know that? Do you think I’m stupid?”
“No no it’s just a little difficult for me to se the problem.” I said, back peddling as fast as possible.
“Well that’s alright. I know it’s just a box an’ all.”
“So let’s go and get this coffee shall we?”
“Sure.”
“You coming?”
“NO I can’t the cupboards will eat me.”

I'll tell you more about the Johns another day.


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Monday, June 21, 2004

Poultry not poetry

Well I have to tell you the Kidnaps went down really well Friday night.It wasn’t a packed house but 80% of the pub goers were listening to the band. They
played virtually the same set as the night before but acoustically. It worked. Unfortunately at the end of the evening the landlord wasn’t happy. Bless him, he’s been understaffed for the last few weeks and has worked 7am until 1:00am for the last week, so he was tired. I’d had a great evening and had a few beers so I wasn’t in any position, or inclination, to argue with him. So Tony, my friend from Ad Hock, chatted with him on my behalf. Basically he said The Kidnaps were not the sort of band he wanted in his pub. OK onwards and sideways, I’ll go and have a chat with him later and find some
bands he does want on stage.

Saturday was my turn to be on stage with Ad Hock at the Swiss cottage. Brilliant fun. In the toilets this guy came to me and started telling me he was
an editor of a magazine. Poetry world.
“Wow! A poetry magazine. I’ve written two books of poems none of them published. I was thinking of having a book of rejection letters.”
He looked at me as if I was mad.
“Poems? I don’t do poems. I do poultry, not poetry. It’s poultry world. Not poetry world.”
“Oh! What they hell is there to write about chickens.”
“You’d be surprised. It’s a huge business.”
I think I’ll wait to be surprised.

Sunday Sandra and I played Charters. Mike da Hat and friend. No Simon. Haven’t spoken to him in over a week now. I guess he still has problems.
WE arrived at the boat (Charters) and dale was sitting there playing guitar. he’d been playing an hour.
“Do you want me to take over?” I asked.
“Please.”
So I started playing. Smashy turned up with his amplifier and microphone and when that was set up, while I was playing, I called Sandra up on stage and we started our set. Forgot to capo the guitar for “Aint no sunshine” so Sandra had to sing it down in her boots. She struggled. But the rest went down really well. That is until the bar manager told us to turn it down a bit.
At the end I spoke to dale and asked him if he’d like to play a showcase night for me. he didn’t seem to keen until I told him he’d be sharing the bill with Richard and Abi from within. Then he leapt at it. Seems he’s a great fan of Richard and Abi and their band. So that’s the next Showcase night sorted. Just got to speak to Steve the landlord to confirm it. Hope he’s still keen on the idea, especially as I’ve got publicity for the event in the newspaper.

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Friday, June 18, 2004

Deciding the fate of the country over a few beers.

Last night I went to the "Band of the year" competition. Or battle of the bands. Whatever. They had a really curious way of deciding the winner.On entering the venue we were all given voting slips. OK they were raffle tickets but what the hell! So that seemed sensible. Each person had a chance of voting. But then I was given another voting slip when I bought a drink. Hmmmm? I looked along the bar and everyone was getting extra voting slips with each drink ordered. So then we had the situation whereby the people most incoherent with alcohol, the most unlikely to be able to think clearly would have the most votes. Wow! Who thought that one up?
Well my friends in the band "The Kidnaps" won the competition. Now does that mean their fans were the most outrageously drunk, or did they just have more fans or were they actually the best band?

I wonder what would happen if the government introduced this voting system to decide who runs the country? I know in the pub I go to there are always a load of people who think they can run the country better than any elected government. Especially after copious amounts of beer. This must be the way forward. So let's go to the pub and decide the fate of the country over a few beers. It sounds much more civilised than the slanging matches we have in the houses of parliament.

Rock on dudes.

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Behind the scenes

Just been to the Fiddlers Elbow to see the band (The Kidnaps) I am showcasing tomorrow night (Friday). It was a "Battle of the bands" competition sponsored by The Live music centre and The evening telegraph. Well The Kidnaps won and I'm very pleased. Admittedly they were quite heavy. but they told me that they are looking forward to playing this gig acoustically. They said "It's gonna be very different. Laid back and mellow." So I'm looking forward to that.
Had a call from Richard and Abi tonight. They've confirmed that they'll play the 9th July. I can't wait. I've told you about Richard and Abi before.But it's worth repeating. Richard is a brilliant guitarist and Abi is an incredible vocalist, she has such stage presence. Check out their website:

www.within-band.co.uk

Who to put on with them? Eeek! That's a toughy. Obviously they'll be the headline act but who to put on first? I'll have to think about that very carefully. Being a music promoter isn't as easy as it first appears. There's so much going on behind the scenes that the vast majority of the public don't even know about, or care about. But hey! It's a lot of fun. I wonder if my ex-wife, Vikki, will play a set? Now there's a thought. She is good. She's very good. I might ask her. Good job, even though we're divorced, we're still friends. I'll let you know what she says.

May your God be with you

Rock on!

Mikel


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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Strippers, Pole dancers and quantum physics

Met a new person in my pub the other day. Quite an amazing girl. Young enough to be my daughter. She’s slim with short brown hair and petite. I was introduced to her by someone who was talking about fishing.
“That’s where I’ve just come from.” she said, looking like the most unlikely fishing type that ever walked this earth. Dressed in her smart black jacket andblue jeans.
“Yeah right!”
“No. Really I love fishing it’s my way of relaxing after a hard week in London.”
“So what do you do in London?”
“Oh I’m a stripper.” she said it like she might have been telling me she was a secretary or something. “And I do a bit of pole dancing, some private work, you know.”
“Why a stripper?”
“Because I’m not stupid. I’m intelligent and educated, I speak five languages, French, Spanish, German, Italian and of course English.”
“But with all that talent, again why be a stripper?”
“I’m 22 next birthday. Next month I’ll be moving into my new house. It’s costing me over £200,000. I’m paying for it in cash. Now you tell me why I
shouldn’t be a stripper. By the time I’m 30 I’ll be retired and living an easy life.”
Well I don’t know how much of that was true. How much of it was spin. But I tried her out on her languages. First French then Spanish. She could certainly speak those two. I can’t vouch for the German as I’ve never learnt it. So she could have said anything and I wouldn’t have been any wiser. The italian sounded convincing too.
Leslie was sitting near me. She leant over when the girl had gone to the bar, and hissed at me “Don’t encourage her.”
“I’m not encouraging her. I’m just talking, finding out stuff. I’m a writer I have to know about stuff.”
“But she’s a .......prostitute.”
“So what? Does that make her evil? I don’t think so. She’s certainly clever.”
“She’s after something and you don’t want to have any part of it.”
My stripper friend came back after getting herself a drink at the bar.
“So what do you do Mr Hat?” she asked looking at me over the top of her glass.
“I’m an electrician, part time musician, part time writer and I used to be a biologist.”
“I’ve always been interested in science. I took a course in quantum physics a while back, You know all that stuff about breaking down atoms into electrons
and neutrons and protons then breaking them down a bit more into positrons and gluons and all those other strangely named sub atomic particles, hey did
you know one of the particles is actually called strangeness?”
“Yes Quark ,Strangeness and Charm. It’s the title of a Hawkwind Album.”
Well guys I’m still not totally convinced but she was interesting if nothing else.
“Thank God! She’s gone.” says Leslie, “I thought she was trying to get in your wallet, via your pants.”
“Leave it out. You don’t half talk some rubbish.”
“I call it like I find it. And she’s no good. You mark my words.”

1 Comments:

Blogger Quink said...

She sounds fantastic. And if she's a talented and unfazed prostitute too, well, who are we to criticise? I wish I'd met her - I'm planning to brush up my French in the autumn...

8:10 pm  

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Monday, June 14, 2004

OK there's dead bodies everywhere, but you can't have everything.

I have a great view from where I am sitting. Across the road is a cemetary. In the middle of this city it's a beautiful patch of green. OK full of dead bodies but hey you can't have everything. The council deliberately don't cut the grass round the sides, to allow wild flowers to grow. I can stand in the middle of all this grass and without moving my feet I can stretch out and touch at least 8 different species of grass alone. (I didn't tell you I used to be a biologist, but the money was no good so now I'm an electrician and musician) anyway in the air above the cemetary I can see swarms of flying insects all picked out in the setting sunlight.

Saturday night we got to the pub to play. Spent a while setting up and got on stage. We played two songs and the landlady asked me to come off stage.
They don’t have a full music license so only solo or duo artists are allowed to play. Not trio’s or bands. So I came off stage and became a member of the
audience. That’s hard you know. I wasn’t angry with Jane the Landlady at all, it’s her pub it’s her license so she was doing the right thing. But I just sat there as Del and Tony played the favourite songs I love to play. Of course there were a few songs they couldn’t do without me. but they’ve got plenty material to cover for me not being there. So now I can only play in places with a full music license. There’s plenty of those. But some of our most fun gigs are in small intimate pubs.

Sunday phoned Simon to meet him at a pub in the afternoon. We had to discuss the plans for the showcase evenings and other stuff but his mind
wasn’t on it. He had other worries to occupy his thoughts. He said he’d tell me all about it one day. But for now he had to deal with it himself.
Today Sandra phoned, she wanted to know what was happening. I had to tell her that Simon was preoccupied with a few problems and we were on our
own for a while. So we’re practicing tomorrow evening for a gig we’re gonna do just the two of us at Charters next Sunday. It won’t be the same without
Simon but we can do it. If he says he needs time, well he’s got it.

This guy came into the shop today with a grill element from an oven.
“Have you got one of these?” he asked.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“I had an electrician round to look at my cooker and he says this element is faulty.”
I had a look at it and put a meter on it.
“Well? Whaddya think?” he said.
“I think you need a new electrician.” I said
“Why?”
“The element is fine. What’s the symptoms of your oven?”
“The fan oven doesn’t work, there’s no heat.”
“So your electrician has sent you to find a grill element?”
“So what DO I need?”
“I guess you need a fan oven element.”
“That makes sense, why didn’t he tell me that?”
“Hmmm!”

So now I’m gonna go and play pool.

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Saturday, June 12, 2004

nailing that sucker before tea time

We're playing the glass onion tonight. I had a long chat with Tony last night about the direction we want to go in with the band. He'd like me to play a few lead bits on mandolin. So I've been practicing the first song he suggested, in between customers, as I sit behind the counter. Should have that sucker nailed by tea time.
I play with other people and bands but none is them is as much fun as playing with this band. We never rehearse. That is we never rehearse as a band. I practice a lot by myself, songs I know we are going to play. But most of the time I never know what I'm going to be playing. Most of the songs we do I played for the first time ever while on stage. They rarely tell me what the next song is going to be and as for what key we're playing in; forget it. So I havea a split second to figure out what the song is, what key to play it in and then jump in and catch up. Often it's a song I've never played before. People in the audience just shout out songs for us to try. We give it a whirl. It's not often we're beaten totally, we usually manage a verse and a chorus at least. Anyway gotta play some more. See ya.

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Friday, June 11, 2004

The customer is always right. But not in my shop!

Someone at Google has a wicked sense of humour. Try this out. Go to
google.com and type in “weapons of mass destruction”, then hit the “I feel
lucky” button. I wont spoil it by telling you what comes up. but try it. It’s very
funny.
Had a phone call tonight, the first band to answer my ad in the music shop.
It’s got to be a good sign. because the band is “Heathcliffe”. Two seperate
people have independantly recommended them and I’ve been trying to get
their number. So I’ve provisionally booked them, for the 30th July, subject to
their audition. Their audition being next Thursday at The Fiddlers Elbow,
Peterborough. They are entered into the Peterborough Evening Telegraphs
battle of the bands competition. So I’m taking a look.
(Note to my children: Now you know why I’m taking you to the Fiddlers Elbow
next week. Ha Ha!! Am I a cool dad or what?)

You know it’s great being the owner of your own business. If I worked for
someone else I would have been sacked years ago because I don’t take
things seriously enough. The concept that the customer is always right, is
alien to me. Hells teeth I’m a professional I know my job. My customers come
to me because I know what I’m talking about. Well one day this guy came tyo
us with us shaver, it was very very old, obsolete in fact. But I told him we’d do
our best for him. So I gave the shaver to my brother, Chris, who is a genius
at fixing things. He can fix stuff that’s not supposed to be fixed according to
the manual. Luckily he never reads manuals. He fixed it and when the
customer came back, Chris said, “I’ve fixed it, but I can’t guarantee the repair,
it may last another ten years but it may pack in next week. So don’t charge
him anything.”
Fair enough. So, full of bon hommerie, I present the customer with his shaver
telling him we’d fixed it, but there was no charge.
The customer picked up the shaver and started looking at it very closely
peering over the top of his glasses at it.
“Is there a problem?” I asked, in all innocence.
“I think I’m being ripped off here.”
“WHAT? How can you say that we are not charging you a penny. You
brought in an obsolete shaver that didn’t work, and now you have an obsolete
shaver that does work, for no charge.”
He looked a bit more at his shaver, turning it this way and that.
“You are a bunch of charlatans.”
Well that got me really angry because I had honestly thought we’d done this
guy a favour. We didn’t have to go to the trouble of fixing it for him, we could
have told him it was obsolete. We could have charged him £10 for the repair,
but we didn’t. We were doing him a favour and this was how he repaid us.
he said a few more things that can’t be repeated so I pointed to the door and
said “There’s the door, fuck off and don’t come back.”
“You can’t talk to me like that. I want to speak to the manager.”
“I AM the manager, and I’ll speak to you any way I choose in MY shop. So
fuck off and don’t come back.”
He went, but not before threatening me with the trading standards office.
Like I’m suppose to be quaking in shoes over that one.
Two months later he came back, carrying something that needed fixing. The
shop was full and I noticed him walk in the door. I guess he thought I wouldn’t
remember him. Either that or he was incredibly stupid.
So I said to the customer I was serving “Excuse me one second. I have to
deal with a difficult customer.” I looked his way and said “I thought I told you
never to come back to this shop.”
Everyone turned round to look at him. He looked decidely sheepish and
walked out. “now then where were we.........”
I have to tell you that that was the first time I ever had to throw someone out
of my shop. The rest of my customers are lovely people. I treat them like my
best friends. In fact a lot of them are. They are all different. But they’re great.
My customers make my life at work so much fun. I take the piss out of them.
I joke a lot. I call little old ladies “Miss”. I’ve even been know to entertain
customers by playing my guitar. We have a sweety jar on the counter. I give
away stickers and sweeties and poppers (bubble wrap) to the kids. Even the
answerphone message when we’re shut is funny. If you’re really keen you
can listen to it 01733 565128. Leave a message. I couldn’t do all this if I
worked for John Lewis, or Radio Shack, or Currys. Because the customer is
always right. Who invented that phrase? If the customer was always right
they wouldn’t need me. Todays work uniform for me was Guiness T-shirt,
shorts and trainers. My father who started the business has long since given
up trying to make me like him. I remember him telling me years ago “You
can’t talk to customers like that!”
“Why not?”
“Because........”
“They keep coming back. I rest my case.”
Later on I noticed he was telling the same jokes as I was to customers.
You see being a shop keeper isn’t just being a shop keeper. It’s like an act. A
part in a play. I play this part and I tell my jokes and it’s like a stand up
comedy routine. When I was a teenager I vowed I would never work in a
shop. I would rather die than demean myself by serving customers. But you
know it’s one of the greatest jobs on earth, when you do it right. It’s so much
fun. So I will eat humble pie and admit I WAS WRONG.
My father, although as good as retired, still comes to the shop occassionally
to “oversee things”, has given up criticising my methods. although he still rolls
his eyes when I go into one. People tell me “you should be on stage”. But my
shop IS my stage. Well that, and when I’m really on stage, playing guitar.

That’s it for now. Keep the faith. And may your God be with you.
Mikel

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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Emergency sunbed repairs and saboteurs

Some one phoned up the shop yesterday. A young lady. It was an emergency she needed her sunbed fixing urgently. Hello!! It's 31C out there today and there's more rays out there than you can shake a stick at.

Today I had a phone call from a friend of mine.
"Hey can I send a young lady over to you to see if you can fix her hand buffer?"
"Sure no problemo."
So and hour later this girl walks in with an industrial car polishing machine. Not the finger nail buffer I expected. She looked close to tears.
"You gotta help me. I kinda broke it and now I've got to get it fixed."
"It doesn't look broken, in fact it looks brand new."
"It is brand new. But I broke it."
"How?"
"I cut the wires. I was having a bad day so I cut the wires."
"What for?"
"I was upset."
"Ok let's have a look."
"I've been to loads of places and they all say it can't be fixed."
"I'll be the judge of that." I said.
So I took it apart and sure enough she'd cut the wire to the carbon brushes. So it wasn't so much she'd broken it but subtlely sabotaged it.
Later in the conversation she let slip that she was in a hurry to pick up from another repairer, the industrial car valeting machine that she had similarly sabotaged along with a steam cleaner and vacuum cleaner.
Hmmm I wonder who'd upset her that much to make her do all that damage.
Well I fixed it for her and she went away happy. Well as happy as an amateur sabateur can be.

1 Comments:

Blogger Will D said...

You would'nt want to be married to her and piss her off...think of the damage to your sock draw!!

Oh, i added you blog to my links...its a good read!

11:09 am  

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Supporting Gordon Giltrap

I asked. Some one replied by E-mail. Tell me the Gordon Giltrap story.
Last year I was asked to play guitar at a village hall near Stamford, I was to be the support act for Gordon Giltrap. Wow! I said yes straight away. Not
because I was any good, or needed the money, but just because I could say I supported the Trap. Well on the night through some quirk, Gordon was playing first and me second. So technically I was top billing. Gordon was brilliant. I say brilliant because he was. But to be honest after I’d heard three absolutely brilliant songs I got bored. There’s only so much brilliance a boy can take, only so much perfection. I sat there hoping beyond all hope that the Trap would make a mistake. just one little one, so he could stop being a God,
and become a mere mortal like the rest of us. But the sod played it all note perfect. Don’t you just hate that. Well played his set and name dropped like mad a list of the famous he played with. All done in that easy matter of fact way, that shows us that to him it’s just an every day thing. He finished his set and when the tumultuous applause had died down announced that “Mike da hat is going to play his 12 string guitar for us, where are you Mike?”
I put my hand up. “Here. Ready and waiting.”
“Well I wouldn’t want to play 12 string myself. It takes forever to tune. So over to you Mike.”
Hmmmm having a dig at me already?
“Thanks Gordon. Oh yeah and thanks for doing the warm up act for me.”
The crowd went wild with laughter and clapping. Gordon was not impressed and never spoke to me again. So while he was putting away his nine guitars
at the front of the hall I set up at the back with my single twelve string.
A good 75% of the audience pissed off, they’d only come to see the warm up act. But I was left with a decent crowd.
I started playing. I got through a load of old favourites and had them singing along. Then the cleaners turned up. They started putting away the chairs that weren’t being used. Fair enough. It was only 10:30. But I carried on. No one told me to stop. Someone got up to visit the toilets came back and his chair was gone. I thought that was so funny I started laughing in the middle of a song. I laughed more. I was laughing so much I had to stand up to play and someone took MY chair away. It was getting beyond a joke. Then one of the cleaners got out a hoover and started cleaning. WHAT? This was getting beyond a joke. There were murmurs among the audience. Finally I gave up.
There was no point battling against the sound of a vacuum cleaner. I packed away my guitar and went outside to join my friends.
“Where’s Pat?” I asked.
“Can’t you hear her?”
I listened. Pat’s voice came through loud and clear she was giving the organisers a piece of her mind. She told them in no uncertain terms that she’d
never seen such downright ingorance and rudery. Yes rudery. She was fuming. She had booked me to play at their request and this is how they treated a guest artist. their behaiviour was unforgivable.
She finally came out, still shaking with anger.
“I need a drink” she said. “Let’s go back to my place.”
So we did. And that friends is what happens when you
let amateurs organise a professional gig. Or more to the point small village amateurs, who are more used to organising coffee mornings.

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Monday, June 07, 2004

Dontcha just love the music biz?

Life gets better and better. Yesterday we went to The Strawberry Jam on the embankment. There was no one there. So went to Charters. Charters is a pub on the river and I mean literally on the river, as it's a converted grain barge. Mike Fowler was there setting up his PA system for an afternoon of music.
WE asked about The Strawberry jam. Apparently the organiser was stuck in Cambridge after getting blasted. So the hippy chick was spark out on drugs instead of being here to organise things. Far out!
So we had a few beers and a chat with Julian who is playing on my next showcase night on the 18th along with a band caled the Kidnaps.
Mike played for half an hour then announced "Mike the hat is gonna play next" WHAT! Oh well. So I got up on stage and took his guitar and started playing. Wild wood, Wild world, wild thing. in fact anything with wild in the title. Played for twenty minutes. It went ok.
Meanwhile outside on the embankment people were wandering around with guitars looking for the action. No Strawberry Jam.
Went home to print out the flyers to take to the Wheatsheaf, the definitive list for the night, E-mailed the newspaper and a music mag. Stepped outside and walked straight into Richard from Within. He agreed that he and Abi would do a set on the showcase night 9th July. Fabulous. I said I'd let him borrow my 12 string again to do pink floyds "wish you were here".
Saturday night we went to Goodbarns yard to see my friends Pip and Steff playing with their band The Electric Warriors (That's a reference to Marc Bolan I think)anyway Steff wants to do a spot as well so I've pencilled him in for the 30th July. He has this plan for a set including himself, Pip, a saxophonist and Cat. Cat plays electric violin in my friend Tonys band Pooks Hill. So that should be really interesting.
So we hit The Wheatsheaf, stopping to talk to Julian and jac's on the way, to show them the advertising flyer we'd produced. Negotiated a fair rate of pay for the nights. Which is great because now we can afford to pay the bands something. Not a lot, but enough for their beer money on the night. So I'm happy at that. Simon and I could have trousered the lot. But we're neither of us money grabbing little bastards. OK we want to be paid for our work but at the same time it's nice to be able to pay the players something.
So things are really panning out great for the showcase nights. Everything seems to be falling into place nicely. Don't you just love the music biz?

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Saturday, June 05, 2004

The strawberry jam.

Went to see the hound dogs last night. Great band. They play rockabilly stuff. Three young lads but great showmen. They don't just play, they entertain. They all sport impossibly large quiffs, the drummers quiff actually points vertically upwards by about eight inches. At times the drummer sets fire to his cymbals using lighter fluid. Then he crashes the cymbals making the fluid jump and it all flares up. Brilliant.
There were the usual bunch of interesting people there. Like the young girl who stood right in front of the double base player arms over her head playing with her hair and trying to look real cute. Or the guy sitting near to me who was so drunk he put his coat on backwards, like an operation gown.

Got an E-mail from the Evening Telegraph, finally seem to have found someone who wants to do something. Looks like I'll have to change my opinion of them. They could be redeeming themselves. Although yesterdays paper announced the hound dogs playing sunday. And tonight a band called Mind the gap. But I know my Friends Pip and Steff are playing tonight. So they've still got a lot of work to do to get it right. It's not as if it's rocket science.

Tomorrow is the Strawberry Jam. Previously we've had the willow festival. But the organisers decided that they'd taken it as far as they coould and gave up. Which is a great shame because it was a great event. A free music festival over three days. Usually seven stages, loads of those ethnic stalls selling T-shirts posters and piercings. Along with marijuana seeds and pot paraphanalia. Tie died dresses and the usual alternative life style products.
But tomorrow we've got Strawberry jam. An unofficial free music festival. Featuring loads of bands playing unplugged acoustic instruments. The organiser Trina (a latter day hippy) told me they expect to be closed down by the police because they haven't got permission to stage the event. So that's gonna be interesting. Think I'll go down and have a nose. Check out the groups and see if I can find any talent that needs to be put on a proper stage.
Trina says my friend Abi will be there. http://www.within-band.co.uk Hmmm wonder if she'll sing at one of my showcase nights? That would be nice.

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Thursday, June 03, 2004

Playing to a dead audience

After seeing my kids tonight I went to the pub. I was parched. I was going to have just the one pint then come home. Andy was sitting at the other bar as usual all by himself staring dead ahead and occasionally rolling himself a fag. He's there everynight, never speaks to anyone. I usually say "hello", just to be friendly. he grunts at best, but usually ignores me. One night last week I slapped him on the back and said "Hey Andy! Great to see you how's it going?"
He ignored me. Sraaring dead ahead and not moving. One hand on his usual pint of kronenberg 1664.
later that same evening we happened to be at the free standing urinals together.
"What's the matter Andy? Would you rather I didn't speak to you?"
He said nothing. So I got pissed off with him.
"Look I'm trying my best to be friendly. I don't want to swap spit or anything. So why are you such a miserable bastard?"
"I keep myself to myself. All you have to do is say hello and I'll nod. I don't need any more than that."
"Ok Andy. We'll just nod to each other then."
"And don't hit me on the back again. I'm not a fucking baby who wants burping."
Well that told me.

Sandra wants me to tell you all about her and her beloved in this blog. God! I hate that word. I'm a writer, not a blogger. The other night she said to me "tell the world about me and Franco"."Write a story about the two of us. Make it up if you want."
But I aint one to make up stories. I write it as it is. So tonight I'm not going to say anything more. Just to tease her. I might write about them another day. When I am inspired. It's almost a teenage love affair. Even though they are not teenagers anymore. So I'll bide my time. Chrikey have I contradicted myself?

Today a woman came into the shop. She said "are you the guy in the band?"
I said "Yes. But which band?"
"I saw you new years eve."
"that will be Ad Hock then."
"yes can you play at my wedding?"
"I'll phone Tony and find out."
I phoned Tony. We're clear for the 3rd July.

Last night I went to Geneva's to check out the scene. No one turned up, just Mike Fowler with the PA. he'd already played by himselkf for three quarters of an hour. So we sat and had a few beers chatting. he said "are you playing tonight?"
I said "No I haven't brought my guitar."
"You can borrow mine."
"I've had a few beers. I can't play."
Now I have this rule I don't play if I'd had a few beers. but then when I've had a few beers I don't care so I play. Badly. But I stuck to my guns and said no. That's the sensible me. So I had another beer. And Mike went up on stage and did a few more. Then out of desperation to get someone to play something. anything. he got this girl Trina to play tin whistle. So she did a few Irish numbers and came off stage.
"ladies and Gentlemen. Mike da hat is going to play!"
What could I do? He'd announced me. I couldn't say no.
So I played Elton John's "Your song" and "Rocket man" followed by cat stevens "Wild world". NO audience response at all. No reaction whatever. So I did Louden wainwrights "Rufus is a tit man" very risqué" still no response. So to take the piss out of the audience I sang "How sweet to be an idiot." I came off stage and people came up to me saying "brilliant"
"So why didn't you clap?"
"no one else was, so I couldn't be arsed."
OK the honest answers are the best. It's tough being a musician sometimes. You thrive on audience response. When they don't respond you die. Or you take the piss. So they paid me. I played, they paid. What's the big deal? A dead crowd that's what it is. It's not the money, it's the reaction of the audience.I would play for nothing if the audience was good. I often go to see other groups play and I sit there in the audience wishing I was up there instead of them. That's the difference. I love to play for my audience. But sometimes my audience don't give a shit.

last year I played support for Gordon Giltrap. He was amazing but it turned out, for logistical reasons, he was on first. So I made a joke that he warmed up the audience for me. I think that really pissed him off because he never spoke to me again.
But that's another story for later. Make a comment if you want to read the full story.

Meanwhile I have a lovely bed that's calling me.
Rock on

May your god be with you.

Mikel

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Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Scorpions on the soles of your feet

The other year we had a Tattoo parlour situated next to our shop. Guys would turn up and go to the corner shop for some liquid anaesthetic, usually in the form of Tennants super, which is quite frankly, almost impossible to drink uless at freezing point. There was this one guy, on the dole and a staunch Manchester United fan. Surprise surprise. He'd been begging Rob the tattooist to do him a cheap tattoo. Rob not been short of work refused. he was inundated for requested for the old spiders webs on the elbow, celtic flashes, "cut here" round the neck etc etc.
Eventually the Man U fan bet him that he was so hard that he could stand having a tattoo done on the soles of his feet. Not only that a tattoo of scorpions. Just to prove he was really hard. Well one afternoon I found him in our carpark slumped against a wall with four empty cans of Tennants super rolling about the carpark by the side of him. He was almost ready to endure the tattoo.
Well apparently he did. because the next week he had a four inch square tattoo of the Man U emblem tattooed on to the front of his neck just under his chin. I haven't seen him in ages. Not since the council took away his children into care. Hmmmm

1 Comments:

Blogger Quink said...

Hilarious! Ah well, at least it wasn't Man City or Arsenal. I wonder if he'd have been hard enough to chop off his chin or something...

7:09 pm  

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Tuesday, June 01, 2004


This is us playing at the Wheatsheaf Peterborough. We never managed to think of a name for the band, well not a good one so we became Mike Da hat (me ) and friends. Bit like Jools Holland and friends but not so good. I think we were just getting into the thrash bit of Freebird when this pic was taken. Whoopeee! Posted by Hello

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Mike da Hat and friends. Posted by Hello

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