1. Flies can survive an awful long time in a microwave. I discovered this when heating milk for a poor man's cappuccino one hung-over morning. I didn't realise there'd been one in there until I opened the door and it flew out, continuing about its business seemingly un-nuked.
2. Having spent much time in the company of our esteemed drivers, I now know that the 1970s English sitcom "On The Buses" was in fact a documentary.
3. Matt, our front-of-house sound man, has the worst musical taste of any human being in history.
It's jolly nice to have spent the last few days in The Netherlands, the one country which I could quite easily consider moving to when I finally get sick of the UK, which when I think about it, is about five years ago. The venues and staff here have been excellent, though the manager of the Patronaat in Haarlem appears to have taken a course in advanced moaning as part of her vocational training. Yesterday I managed to pick up a bumper supply of Chocomel which, for those of you who have yet to try it, is the world's finest chocolate milk. This will fill my fridge when I return home, and I won't mind throwing out all the salad stuff to make room for it. I reckon ten litres should last me a couple of days or so. Got myself a nice little ante-room for guitar world today. It's nice to be tucked away out of sight sometimes.
By practicing the ancient art known as "dowsing for wifi" - basically wandering around with your laptop open - I have found one of the best hotspots so far - down by a river near an arts and museum complex, bathed in yet more September sunshine. It'll be good to get back to work later after two days off - too much leisure time on tour can be a bad thing. Work focuses the mind. The ferry back from Finland tested limits of sanity and self control. There's only so much geriatric Finnish karaoke one can listen to before considering violence. Happily, I managed to rid myself of all my Danish Krone on the crossing to Germany, blowing them all on a fish fillet dinner which was pretty tasty. Unlike other fellow travellers, I eschewed the wonders of the Reeperbahn in Hamburg last night, opting for a quiet night in with a film instead. Going to find some breakfast now.
A hot and sticky gig in a smashing little venue which epitomised Finland for me - clean elegant surroundings, helpful friendly people and damn good food. It was so hot during the concert that during the intermission, in an effort to compose himself, Vincent lay flat on his back in the backstage area. Upon arising he left an imprint in perspiration that I can only describe in the following terms: Imagine Han Solo encased in carbonite, had The Empire Strikes Back been filmed as a gay porn movie....
Pretty close to the Arctic circle here and it's still tee-shirt weather. A coke and a reindeer sandwich were fuel for today's load-in at a huge out-of-town venue that was once a sausage factory. Unlike the converted church in Gothenburg I'm not so sure that in this case it's a better use for a building, sausages being, in my opinion, one of mankind's greatest achievements. Another of those achievements is the automatic washing machine, an example of which I found tucked away in a small room in a far corner of the building, currently cleaning more than a week's worth of manky tour-togs. Bliss.
Sat in the sunshine on the waterfront in Helsinki after an utterly bizarre ferry crossing from Stockholm where we'd been parked for what seemed like an aeon, at least. One cannot begin to describe the forms of musical entertainment provided by Viking Line on the SS Gabriella, presumably tailored to ease our eighteen-hour passage across the Baltic, so I won't bother. Vincent summed it up perfectly though with the question, "have we taken drugs without realising it?" Both John and Les raised the karaoke bar by several notches with fine renditions of Elvis Presley and Tom Jones numbers respectively, leaving subsequent hapless performers to appear hackneyed and amateurish by comparison. The photograph shows Les sporting correct head and eye-wear as recommended for such a voyage.
After last night's nightmare with Vincent's pedals I'm pleased to report that (so far) tonight's gig is passing without major incident, taking place in a venue occupying a building that was previously a church - how nice to see it being used for a more worthwhile purpose. Several fellow travellers reported a fitful rest in their bunks during this morning's journey from Oslo to Gothenburg. I myself dreamed I'd designed a stage set for the band which incorporated a water feature with floating chess pieces, positioned just behind the lead singer. Fuck knows what that means. New arrival Tim is our stand-in driver for the next few days while John flies home for a scan on his knackered back. A day off is to be enjoyed in Stockholm tomorrow.
My glee at ridding myself of the 50 Krone in Copenhagen was to be short-lived, what with it being too late for a kebab after the show and driver John being eager to get on the road and Oslo-bound. I therefore have left Denmark with 97 of their Krone, 47 more than when I arrived. It's a buy out again tonight so knowing my luck I'll end up with a pocket full of Norwegian shitters as well, their sole purpose being to taunt me when I'm skint back home in London.
Getting into the swing of things now, having just finished setting up the stage in Copenhagen. Last night's gig in Malmo was a success, the airing of a new song ("Universal") going down particularly well. I finally managed to get rid of the 50 Danish Krone I've been carrying with me for the past ten months, a local branch of Aldi being chosen both for its proximity to the bus and its plethora of cheap snackables. Normally the cash would have gone on beer but it was early and to be honest it'd been burning a hole in my pocket for the best part of a year. It's a buy-out for dinner this evening so a visit to the local kebab shop, about which I've heard many good things, is in order.
Parked up in Bremen for the night enjoying a beer and currywurst. The ferry crossing was surprisingly smooth, unsurprisingly boozy. Nursing a hangover, Matt left his phone on board. It would be an invaluable find for one planning to make the leap from cabin cleaner to PA and sound reinforcement provider, what with all the contacts he has on there. Let's hope he gets it back. Spent much of today on the bus watching Penn and Teller's show "Bullshit", which is highly recommended, and banging my head on the skylight, which is not. It does take a couple of days to get your bearings on a new bus. I'm growing very fond of the little window in my bunk. I might see if I can find some tiny net curtains and lego window boxes when we get to Denmark, just to make it a bit more homely.
Finally on the road after couple of setbacks. We're now heading to Hull for the north sea ferry (and a pretty rough crossing by the sound of things) - the original Harwich/Denmark plan scuppered due to the bus breaking down twice before it had even picked us up. Still, that gave us ample time to make sure we had all the essentials for the tour, for example: two model helicopters and a unicycle. It also meant we were able to take delivery of one Les Paul guitar, finally reunited with its owner after an extended furlough in Tunisia. The bus is very nice indeed, having a proper downstairs pub and upper viewing deck where I sit writing this. We have little windows in the bunks as well which will make all the difference (or at least half of it).
Incidentally, it has come to my attention that an as-yet unnamed member of Anathema is writing a rival blog for the duration of this excursion. Any acts of blatant plagiarism on his part should be reported directly to me via the comments section on this page. Thank you for your cooperation
So we're setting sail for northern lands, starting tomorrow with a twenty-hour ferry crossing to Denmark and then on to Sweden for the first gig on Sunday. I'm really looking forward to this. As far as I'm concerned you can keep your sweltering Mediterranean heat - I want pine forests, pickled herring and meatballs.
Here is the itinerary:
06 September malmo KB 07 September copenhagen vega 08 September oslo john dee 09 September gothenburg sticky fingers 11 September stockholm klubben 13 September helsinki nosturi 14 September oulu teatria 15 September tampere klubi 18 September potsdam waschhaus 19 September osnabruck kleine freiheit 20 September zoetermeer boerderij 21 September haarlem patronaat 22 September nijmegen doornroosje 23 September vosselaar biebob