Christmas is finally upon us here at The Gables, not in a frost encrusted sparkling winter wonderlandy sort of way, but with great gobbets of good old-fashioned Hertfordshire rain which seem to fall out of the sky slower than normal, are greasier than normal, and seem to be possessed of some computer-controlled laser guided system to impact straight down the back of the neck to make a chap wetter than normal. I found this out earlier this morning whilst trying to catch up with the council refuse management mobile office, or dustcart, to donate a tenner to them for their xmas box, or protection racket. It is possible, in hindsight, to reflect on the fact that in my haste to spread a bit of festive cheer, I had emerged at speed from the front door sporting my usual morning attire of Old Rugby Shirt, festive reindeer and holly boxers, and green furry slippers with crocodile faces on, and in running down the street at some velocity, would have taken on the appearance of a raging yuletide nutter. This may well have led to the unusual acceleration displayed by the vehicle in question as it sped around the corner, back to the warmth and security of the Local Re-Cycling and Salvage Grading Station, or tip.
As I have whinged about on these august pages before, since October I have been at the computer screen by day and operating saxophones by night. Whilst I am very grateful for the work, and after the ninety days of toil have just about saved up enough for the bank account to demonstrate a balance of nearly zero- the record for me stands at forty nine quid, in 1983- I’m not sure that a Thatcher’s Britain eighteen-hour day, seven days a week work regime is right for your poor old scribe here. As the xmas deadlines approached, I would generally get in from work at 1.30 am, have a night time snack of Anchovies On Toast and Horlicks, and then get the head down, only to find, to my own horror, that the head in question would wake the rest of me up at around 8 am with a new and complicated to do list imprinted in slightly hurty letters on the inside of the skull. Yesterday, was the last day of all that, and by 5pm I was happily in the bath with the Airfix Tirpitz with the slate, and therefore the head completely cleared. All I had to do was to finish the xmas run at Ronnie Scott’s with the big band, and then settle down to enjoy the festivities, which this year are taking place for her Indoors and I in the grand city of Wigan, which is in the north.
It was a bit of a funny old gig last night. Soho was quiet, and the whole proceedings had a decided end of term feeling about them. Clearly most of our audience had their mind on Christmas, with all its incumbent turning down of spare rooms, worrying about Aunty Sheila getting on the sherry a shade too vigourously and wrapping of Ninja Turtle key fobs. You could tell- I’ve done enough gigs down there over the years to know which series of controlled musical detonations will have which specific result, but last night it was as if the whole audience had assumed the role of 15-year old Monica Smith at the Croydon Youth Orchestra 1981 xmas Party, and the entire band had assumed the role of 15-year old me at the same do, desperately flailing around trying anything to get her attention. In fact the parallel works on a number of levels, since the medium of the attention getting was in both cases a gallant attempt at generating interest by using Jazz, and was only a notch more successful in Ronnie Scott’s than it was in St. Saviour’s church hall, Addington. Maybe I should have charged Monica an entrance fee. I might have got a snog.
After the unexpected teen angst flashback experience which was the main set last night, Her Indoors had decided that she’d like to celebrate xmas with a nice end of run sophisticated west end cocktail at the bar. Normally, like a safe cracker who has just wired the ticking alarm clock to the clod of Gelignite, I display a keen enthusiasm to immediately vacate the place of work as soon as the job’s done, but I fancied a small celebration too. As I was at the helm of the Volvo, I elected to wax a little Sapphic and go onto the carrot and apple juice. In addition, there was to be a late set and Jam Session hosted by young Callum Au, a trombonist who is fast turning out to be one of my favourite musicians of all time. Furthermore, there was the intriguing possibility of a lie-in this morning- no flight time spreadsheets, no emailing of tech riders, no cobbling together of vocal demo audio in the home studio. Knowing how my mind works, I thought that in order to achieve a decent lie-in, I’d benefit from tiring myself out with a sit-in, and so buoyed with natural goodness from the Lesbos Drinks company, I played until about three in the morning with chaps half my age playing twice my speed.
As we were promised in the leaflet about attending cubs camp in 1974, “At the day’s end your head will hit the pillow, tired but happy”. By the time Her Indoors and I had reached the portals of The Gables, I was right ready for bed, foregoing even the Horlicks and Anchovies and indeed I went off to nod exactly as prescribed by Baden-Powell. There the idyll ends though, because as I mentioned earlier, the old noggin has clearly got used to processing a load of information whilst the rest of me tries to sleep, and so, bang on cue, at 8.01 a.m. I was awoken by my own head. Unfortunately for me, as all the to-do lists have been to-done, all that was going on in there was the flywheel whizzing round in empty space making such a din as to try and render any form of sleep worthless. It’s going to be a while before I come down from the adrenalin, I fear.
Shortly, Her Indoors and I will be climbing aboard the Volvo for the journey to Wigan, to spend the festive season with her folks. For the first time in my life, I’ll be spending Christmas in an Hotel. How’s Santa going to get down the chimney there then?
Have a lovely Christmas- Airfix Halifaxes for one and all!