Satch Bus, Hurtling towards Rome.
Carsten is looking particularly Beastly this morning.
A long overnight from Milan, leaving the hotel around 03.15, hitting slow traffic somewhere around 09.00, plus the compulsory driver stop (for puffery inhalables & Coca Cola). Carsten will be craving another blast of smoke right about now, his eyes flashing, teeth gnashing & jaw muscles snapping in savage richters of withdrawal. Carsten will be very grumpy about now. This has been a long night for him. At least the players get to leave the bus when the tour is done. Carsten's reward for success is that he gets to climb back on the bus and set off again. And again. And again.
In 1990, when Sunday All Over The World were working modest venues in Europe, at Mr. Alder's office in 63a, King's Road, Messrs. Alder & Fenwick asked me how it was going. I replied that, with them, advancement meant getting a key to the executive bathroom. For the working player, success meant going back to the same places again. And again.
On a League Of Crafty Guitarists US tour in the late 1980s, we had one night in a club where Dizzy Gillespie was coming for two nights. Success, over a long & sustained career, rewards you with returning to the same dismal venues - but for two nights instead of one! Yep. Life can be that good.
In continental Europe, the level of smoking is appalling. The culture is a smoking culture. EU regulations are interpreted here more as guidelines to be followed if they fit established practice. Like, you put up no smoking signs and then smoke beneath them. In the UK, EU regulations are accepted literally, as directives. To many English, EU directives are profoundly disruptive of accepted behaviours & practice, as with weights & measures. But public smoking policy is widely accepted (although not at the BIC). The voluntary code adopted by English pubs & restaurants tends to put the non-smokers out the back, in less appealing spaces; so less successful for me, then.
Smoking restaurants? Fine. Smoking airlines? Fine. I have no objection to anyone smoking, if they choose (if chemical addiction permits the power of choice). But I resent smokers sharing their smoke with me, uninvited, regardless, careless of its effect. On this tour, it seems that smokers have little or no consideration for air-breathers (positively expressed) and non-smokers (negatively expressed).
Stage access: smoke. A backstage corridor: smoke. The catering room: smoke. The local production office: smoke. The performance space: huge amounts of smoke. I look at the stagehands smoking, in quiet disbelief as, one after another, they, and others, suck upon these cynical little ploys for extracting money & taxation, pumping disease & addiction into those who hand over their hard-earned pay in exchange for the right to a slow death.
My Mother was among them.
11.30 Arrived at the hotel, Rome. We have arrived too late for this to be of any use to either Galen or myself, so we will remain on the bus and go on to the venue. Galen, as tour manager, hits the production office. As opening act, I get to practising & line checking. The Satches usually arrive around the beginning of the show. This gives them enough time to use a hotel & enjoy its surroundings.
ZZ says yer tiz!
This is one of several expressions in Dorset dialect I have been teaching ZZ. My expression, in response, is weems yer! with its more affectionate form weems yer mush! ZZ asks how many people speak Dorset? I reply as many people as live in Dorset, providing they were born there. This is not an accent given to incomers, after all: it is only granted to those born & raised within the Sacred County.
Now, smoke is blowing back into the bus from the lungs of The Beast. The Beast is puffing on a death roll just outside the door. The Beast is outside the bus, smoking. The Beast is not on the bus. Therefore the smoke of The Beast cannot affect anyone on the bus because he is not smoking on the bus.
The Face Of The Beast --
01.22 Centrale de Tenis, Rome --
13.38 Oh dear.
One of the local crew has been found stealing from the merchandising truck. The local promotion & production know who he is but won't identify him to our team. They apologise for this happening, but are protecting him.
Thirty-one years of touring Italy prepares a Happy Gigster for the fluid approach to property rights & agreed commercial obligations that accompany touring here. It is a shame that a prejudice is confirmed, once again, as part of doing business in this particular territory.
Lunch has been served. The catering in the UK was superb: excellent food, smiling service, an eagerness to please. The catering since leaving the Sceptered Isle has been modest. The requirements of the rider have yet to be met, even once.
Outside Joe's dressing room, a local production assistant was smoking under the vietato non fumare sign. I took it down and asked for it to be replaced by one that worked.
The sky is blue. The sun is shining. It is very, very hot.
15.14 Yow! 41 degrees C.
18.35 All but three of the local backstage team have disappeared. This seems to be a result of the merchandising theft. Meanwhile, the catering staff are trying to please.
A good, strong audience. Billy came up & stomped through a Soundscape, playing part of Fracture. Very strong sets for both Steve & Joe, and I enjoyed watching them from an elevated position along the side.
The open-air venue worked surprisingly well. The sound was focused and not overly loud. Steff Burns joined the jam as G4. More accurately, Steff joined as G3 & I moved to the G4 position in support of the Front Line.
And smoking continued by the local backstage staff despite the signs.
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