Thursday, 29 October 2009

Travel by Numbers 17: Ghent - Berlin

Distance: seven hundred and eighty six kilometres
Duration: seven hours and fifty three minutes
Idiot drivers: one (in a Porsche)

This journey is actually part of a longer trip from Plymouth to Oslo, but as I have several homes in several European countries, I'm breaking it up into smaller bits. So this is part 2 of 3.

On this trip I was particularly shocked by the amount of people who throw rubbish out of their car windows. I though those days were over, but I knew I was wrong when I saw various wrappers, cans and plastic bottles being flung out of cars in front of me, especially in Germany. (This is not a racist comment, it is just a report of my observations).

The next thing we're going to do is the trip on the cargo boat.
For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about: 8 of us will travel from Le Havre to Martinique on a cargo ship.
When? Departure is on November 13 (it's a Friday, but I'm not superstitious), unless loading the ship goes faster than anticipated in which case we'll leave on the 12th.
How long? 10 days, if all goes well.
Why? Research for a show we will make in 2010.
Who? Alex, Kjell, Tomas, Elisabet, David, Kieran, Margit and I.

I don't know what the boat will look like, but I think it could be this one.

As we are in the middle of a non-touring period, I have a special treat for you.
During the last couple of months some of you have met Boris and Boris, but prior to that quite a few of you must have met the Ivans as well.
The Ivans posed with audience members during My Long Journey Home, and here is a collection of some of the Polaroids they made. (Unfortunately Polaroid stopped their production of cameras and film. We have some film left, but not a lot...)

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Travel by Numbers 16: Plymouth-Ghent

Driving distance: five hundred and eighty six kilometres
Driving time: six hours and fifteen minutes
Tunnel time: twenty minutes
Total travel time: eight hours and two minutes
Idiot drivers: none

Doing the get-out in Plymouth we were parked next to a big truck. And we could easily image what our name would look like on a big truck.

I took the Eurotunnel, which has become very clever since I last took it. Last time I had to punch in my reservation code to get a letter to hang from my rearview mirror. This time, I pulled up at the check in booths and the machine automatically displayed my name. It must scan my licence plate or something, and I found it very clever and efficient.

Then again, I love the Eurotunnel. I think it's a fantastic piece of engineering. But I think I've mentioned that before...

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Plymouth on a Saturday morning

The World of Tomas Mechacek

Last night. We just finished a fantastic meal Alex had cooked for us.
Someone starts talking about our departure from here and which people I will drive to the train station and at what time.
Iva goes through her train tickets. Tom grabs his wallet and takes out some train tickets.
'Oh no...' he says.

When Cat gave him is Plymouth-London tickets last Tuesday, he asked her if she wanted his used London-Plymouth tickets as a receipt. 'Euhmmm... yes, ok'. She didn't really need them as receipts as she'd booked them and already had the proper receipt. But she took them anyway.

Now, four days later, it seemed that Tom had given her the Plymouth-London tickets. Because in his wallet were the used London-Plymouth tickets.

If you think this sounds complicated, think again. This is just the start.

Alex texted Cat to find out what her memory of the events of last Tuesday night was. She phoned back immediately, but couldn't seemed to remember at first where the right tickets were now. At her house? No. In the office? No.
So where were they?

Alex hands the phone to Tom. We hear Tom say: 'I think we should share the cost of a new train ticket, as we're clearly equally responsible. You took them from me.'
'Yes, now that you mention it, I do remember there was the ripping of the tickets.'

We all burst out laughing. The tickets were not just in the wrong place, they'd been destroyed.

Cat advises Tom to buy the tickets today as they'll still be cheaper than buying them on the day tomorrow.

Phone call over.

Someone asks Tom where this ripping took place.
In our flat. Downstairs. We haven't emptied the bin yet as it isn't full yet.

Tom disappears to the downstairs flat.

there is one small bit missing

tom's making a very big train ticket

then finds out that one is a receipt, one is the ticket

done (apart from the one bit that's missing)

I guess he might have a fair amount of explaining to do, but this story is just too stupid to be a lie, so I think no ticket controller should doubt the validity of this train ticket.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Tom's on

We've been rehearsing to get Tom ready to take over David's part in the show. We started with a music rehearsal in Kjell and Iva's tiny tv room, and went into the space yesterday and today to check Tom's dog. He's a very young dog.
He will play tonight at the Drum. It's very exciting.

Who wants to be a rockstar most?

Does holding the guitar higher help?

Father and son...

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Post 199

I've just noticed this is post 199 and I'm wondering if this means I should do something special for post 200. Right now I don't think I should, as the 100th post came and went without fanfare.

Gideon is with us now and had the full tour of our upper class accommodation. Just to set things straight, we don't usually stay in palaces: Travelodges across the UK have been tried and tested, as have very small and charming B&B's. We like variety.

Gideon and I found this door today. Theatre Royal is a proper big theatre, with Porridge on the proper big stage. I'm not from here and have no idea what Porridge is, but the guy from Extras is in it and I do know him. But as I haven't seen Porridge and probably won't get a chance to, I'm currently more impressed by this big door.

Just above the handle it has this tiny label:

They certainly didn't exaggerate. It is big and red, and it's a door. And it's by far the biggest red door I've ever seen.

Plymouth luxury

We've arrived in Plymouth, have settled into our stupidly luxurious accommodation (I will post pictures at the end of the week, I wouldn't want you all to come down in droves to share our temporary richness), and have moved into The Drum.

Alex managed to buy a new lamp for the show, so the old one is now discarded, will not tour Europe with us any longer.

Tomas is with us as well, to rehearse Dave's part in the show. They'll be alternating this part from now on. Since we live in an enormous house, we can rehearse in the living room.

Fabulous as our house may be, I started off with calling the Gas Man immediately after I arrived. We could smell gas and didn't like it. So for the first 24 hours we were without hot water or heating. But now it's all been reconnected and it no longer smells of gas, so it's perfect.

Cat's been to visit us yesterday and Gideon (Tom Womwell, but already is a Tom so I'm using his other name) is coming to visit us later today.

Friday, 9 October 2009

UK tour so far

We are in Bristol. I really like Bristol.

On Monday we started off in Tonbridge, and played to a crowd of 280. It was great fun. It was also the first time in many months that we had the full lighting rig for this show. All the disco colours in their full glory. So I had a few moments when I ran out of hands to operate buttons or keys or drumsticks, but I got through it without big disasters.
On Tuesday we went to Peterborough. We had quite a tough get-in and worked until the moment we opened the doors to the audience, but the show itself was great despite the fun fair outside. I heard 'We Will Rock You' three times during the course of the show.
In Peterborough we found a very good and very cheap Indian restaurant. As I'm not getting paid to advertise, I feel there is no reason why I shouldn't: The Shalimar on New Road.

Then we were off to Sint Mary's, a place we know and love, so after the hick-ups in Peterborough, we were treated to a much smoother set-up and again a fun show.

Last night we opened in Bristol. As I said, I really like Bristol.
The Tobacco Factory is a great space for us. The only problem there is that we're not allowed any naked flame, which means no cigarettes on stage, but it also means no waving lighters to the tune of Winds of Change. A real shame.
Last night we went to a bar that sold peanuts for £3. I thought that was absolutely incredible. I didn't buy them, but now I wonder what could have been so special about those peanuts that made them cost as much as a beer.

Today I got a full tour of Bristol Old Vic and was taken up to the cannonball track right under the roof. It was a tricky place to get to (and a little bit scary), but it was fantastic to see this enormous construction just to create the sound of thunder.

We're playing two more shows in Bristol, so come and see us.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

The eagle has landed

The next tours have started: we have all arrived in Tonbridge and the UK tour starts tomorrow night. If you're UK based, check the venues in the little box on the top right of this page.

For those with Norway bases, check there as well because the Vestfold tour of the Song starts tomorrow morning.

Parallel touring, but no parallel shows - the Norwegian division plays in the morning, the UK division plays in the evening. Different shows, different casts, different countries, different Caravelles. (I'm back to the Caravelle that needs startgas to wake up in the morning - but at least it doesn't overheat. I'm finding the startgas injection quite a cool thing to do, but it does give me very dirty hands and makes the car roar like a dragon).

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Everything Kept Falling Apart

We have been immensely busy this week, hence no blog posts. I'll try and catch up with this post.

So this is what happened since Horn:

Friday night: a wild night for some
Saturday morning: a rough morning for some, combined with driving from Horn to Prague.
Saturday afternoon: some more NIE people arrive in Prague. Kjell, Iva, Alex, Cat and I had a meeting about the meeting.
Sunday afternoon: NIE meeting in cafe Montmartre in Prague about making a new Montmartre agreement and working out how our mental touring could stay as mental as it is without killing anyone.

This is the meeting.

This is NIE at Montmartre.

(when I have time in the near future, I will do a photoshop job and put in all the people who couldn't make it last Sunday: Lenka, Henrik, Margit, Kieran, Tuan, Honza, Bara, Tarek and Hannah)

Monday morning: get-in at La Fabrika in Prague
Monday afternoon: play the first show at 5pm
Monday evening: play the second show at 8pm
Monday night: strike at La Fabrika

Monday was not such a good day. We were told that the company that would take us across the Atlantic in November is going bankrupt and cancelled our booking on the banana boat. Alex phoned Cat and asked if she could fix something.

Tuesday morning: drive to Jindrichuv Hradec.
Tuesday afternoon: get-in in Jindrichuv with the same brilliant technicians who helped us in Horn.
Tuesday evening: dinner and an early night in Jindrichuv.

Wednesday morning: 10am show to teenagers of Jindrichuv. It was great fun.

Wednesday lunchtime: get-out at Jindrichuv.
Wednesday afternoon: travel home (for me: five hundred and fifty four kilometres, nine hours and seven minutes, three idiot drivers).
And Cat found us a new cargo ship to sail across the Atlantic with. Top job! I've ordered myself a singing saw to celebrate. I will try to learn and play it on the boat, but I might try a little bit before we set sail, otherwise Alex might kill me (or saw my head off) before we see land.

Today I've been chasing a lighting desk for hours. It wasn't fun. I ended up letting go and getting a different one that didn't have to be chased.
Tomorrow I will go back on the ferry to Norway, to rehearse with the guys from the Song of Lost Treasures. On Sunday we're going to the UK with the Dogs.
Three different shows in four different countries in just over a week. You have to admit that's pretty good going.