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Friday, April 4


I am one to believe that you can, sometimes, have your cake and eat it. Last time I made a cake it came out a bit weird, but I fixed it and it was delicious. In the case of this metaphoric cake, I reckoned I could do a gig in Bradford, and include my friends in watching it, and do a day's solid work beforehand, without compromising the patience of the friends, the quality of the performance or the amount of work I could achieve.

And so I found myself waking up in my friend's house in Leeds, going downstairs to his kitchen to have coffee as I started up the work laptop and got ready for a hard day in the remote-working office. It was a pretty intensive day. I did a lot of conference calls. Having to do those from my desk in the office would have been hard. In maybe one case, there might have been a physical meeting, but actually, I concentrated better on the phone.

I was still talking battle plans after 6.30pm. Long day.

Then we got ready to go to the gig. There was a little food, very nice, and then the taxi to the gig, via the friends.

At the gig, things weren't quite as expected. The turnout was looking low, the promoter was ill, and the room wasn't as I remembered it. They'd kitted it out with sound equipment for a start. I did my sound check with the opening act operating my guitar while I was on the desk. If I didn't adore the very ground he walked on, I'd choose to hate him for being more talented than I am on the guitar AND choosing not to use that talent to do the sort of thing that I do. That's a double whammy. However, he was an excellent sound-check roadie, and I got the levels somewhere vaguely useful.

The gig went ahead late, but the opening act was just perfectly in tune with the room and indeed, in tune with his music-related performances. I sound-teched for the gig, in the absence of anyone better equipped to do it. My friends enjoyed his performance, which made me pleased, since I had specifically told them how much I liked his stuff. He didn't put a foot wrong. It was lovely to watch.

When it was time to do my stuff, I went out and did it. Some moments occurred, I can't remember exactly which bits I made up, but there were some made up bits. I played with the crowd and it was a lot of fun. I can't be dissatisfied with my performance that night. I did the best I could - even if one of my notes did drop off key slightly. I should have recorded it, but sadly the room was too dark to video and the sound-only recorder was back in Leeds, the other side of the taxi ride.

We stayed until the end of the gig and then went upstairs to the bar. Up there there was a very beautiful girl. She was maybe 21 years old. She was gorgeous and one of my friends and I both remarked on how lovely she was. I was a few pints into the evening, as were we all (drinking and gigging is a rarely pleasure). Emboldened by the success on stage and the alcohol, I leaned over as this young lady passed by to leave the pub, coat on, probably to go home, and I said this:

"Excuse me. This might sound a bit weird, but... you're really beautiful. Now go away and enjoy it."

Her face lit up with the combined knowledge that this was a compliment that was meant and that it had a "don't worry, I'm not trying to get anything" element to it. I felt perhaps a bit patronising with the "run along now" aspect of it, but why not, eh? I'm 34, she's young enough to be my chav daughter or some-such.

We taxied it back to Leeds to get food and then sleep.

At the fast-food place in Leeds, we discovered the other end of the young-girl spectrum, two overweight pudges in the pizza shop in a conversation entitled "Pizzas I've eaten". They were truly awful to talk with and look at, though we had a go. One had quite a vantage point over the flesh on display and it was simply not worth it. Yuck. Still, we had food to wait for so we engaged these beasts in conversation.

I tried my favourite tactic - "guess our ages". I'm pleased to say that I came out older in both their estimations. Both estimations put both of us a few years (up to 10) below our actual ages. The irony was that these girls were still treating us like we were over the hill when they thought were were 28! For a laugh, I tried to pretend that I was older and the same age as right-hand-girl's dad, and that I'd been to school with him. This act of cold-reading started to work. I started sentences and she ended them, as though I'd got it right. I got as far as the rugby playing, and even suggested he'd given me a scar... but then I blew it, trying the name "John" as one of his mates.

Should've gone with Pete.

Back at the house, we ate cheap curry and even more cheap and surreal naan bread. It was enough to stink the house out - for many many hours to come. Curried bottom.

So it was a day of mixing. I mixed work with pleasure. I mixed the sound at the gig. We mixed food with drink and a pretty girl (and you can talk to the prettiest girl in the pub) with the somewhat unpretty urban-talking pizza-lovers that blight the fast food places at night.

A good mix. Balance restored.


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