The next day I am caught underground in darkness on the tube at Earls Court, a body is on the line, and they have turned the electricity off. The train is silent in the way only embarrassed English people can be. The only noise is from excitable Brazilian tourists. If you are more than five feet tall, then flying is a nightmare. The instant we take off, the seat infront of my zooms backwards and cuts my kneecaps clean off.
Our sound engineer Rex is tortured by some drunk kids in front of him. We finally arrive at our hotel, but not before a bizarre circular route evolving returning to the airport. The gig is zooming along, and we leave the stage and see if the people want anymore. The four of us are stuck on a staircase with a door at the top. Someone knocks to be let back down the stairs. The legendary Chic mastermind holds me hostage. Liam saw David Bowie and Iman in the street and was going to ask him to take a photograph of him and his wife Gaynor.
Me and a friend once chased around Camden Town to get a photograph of ourselves with Alice Cooper. Go to Central Park and discuss America, specifically cheese, standing on a massive rock. American food is fantastic, except for cheese, which was also pointed out by Lemmy from Motorhead, so we are in good company.
Jet lag is beginning to kick in. I hallucinated seeing George Lucas at the gig last night. I subsequently dreamt that he had taken me against my will to Skywalker Ranch, which was run not by George Lucas but by Luke Skkyywalker from 2Live Crew. What can it mean? Absolutely nothing I say to myself as we board the plane to Los Angeles. In a city where nobody ever sets a real live human foot outside a car, Halloween has cast a million nutjobs in non-Halloween related costumes onto the streets. We are crammed in a people carrier as a flood of freaks drool up against the glass.
This is one giant cocaine comedown of a town and its opened its Gucci Again arms up to us. The gig is suitably fun. We return to the Standard hotel, which has a glass case behind the reception desk in which contains a naked girl reading a book under a sheet. In to the bar walks a Goss brother, whether Matt or Luke I cannot tell. He looks stretched, tanned and glossy, like a World of Leather sofa. I want to recline across his face. One of my friends believes that this remake was made specifically to hurt him. Brain Wilson believed that his arch enemy Phill Spector made a feature film to freak him out too.
This was witnessed by Gary Kemp who was standing a balcony counting his royalties from "Gold" and other Spandau Ballet classics. We record a radio session for an LA radio station without mishap and the fly to San Francisco. Nothing happens here except we get messy with Jagermeister. Pretty town though.
By bizarre coincidence we have a record called "Miami Counting " which is now being played a lot on the radio.
Just call us zeitgeist. Back in the U. K it is very cold. My flatmates appear to have got satellite TV while I was away. A 2 in London. We played here a long time ago, supporting the Super Furry Animals. The gig was only interesting due to the fact that David had blue hair. Having blue hair seems to induce people to state the obvious, i. Blue hair quickly becomes mousy brown hair, with additional blue streaks upon face when it starts to rain.
I myself have had similar disasters on many different occasions, but this would usually occur around the same time as would also follow the twisted logic of a fourteen year old, e. On a train.
Packed full of commuters. Weather is extremely filthy, lots of wind and rain. New years eve revolved around a lot of the Fear. Absolutely driven into the ground and paralysed by the stuff. I have made a major decision and decided to get hold of a bed. I have not had a bed since I was a child. With the band I was never in one place long enough to make a home for myself, so by default, I never had a bed either. But now its , it seems ludite to continue to snooze openly on the floor.
I buy a futon, in an attempt to make the transition from floor height to crotch level as short as possible. A man phones back to tell me that a "fatal tragedy" has occurred, and this has prevented the delivery of my bed. I have no choice but to watch TV as he says the bed will arrive anytime "before 11 PM". I watch "the Godfather" parts one and two.
He would have known what to do in this situation; there would no excuse allowed to prevent Brando lying down in moderate comfort. He would certainly have come up with some mildly diverting confidence trick to repay the Futon Company for their shoddy delivery service. Tv in the afternoon gets no better, "as time goes by" a piss-poor attempt at comedy, staring Dame Judi Dench and Jeffery Palmer. The plot revolves around the construction of a wine rack. They both should be ashamed. The only expected thing must be the delivery of the fucking bed. There were apparently only two episodes of this show, as I saw only two as a child, and now I see the same episodes twenty years later.
Its also is one with a brain in a jar, and some guy breaking his spectacles on a desert island. I have actually managed to make it sound better than it was. Why can I never see "Sapphire and Steel" anymore? I was on a train and people were practically chucking themselves under the rails to see the event. He shouts," Quick, look at that! The cramped conditions, the sweat and the panic as the swaying of the bus propels baggage, books and booze tumbling. You wake in the night as it crawls up a sharp German incline, the clunk of gears jolting you awake.
Your bowels twitch, longing for a non-moving toilet that can process the release of solid human waste. Up you get, trying not to wake the ten other people around you and make your way to the loo. The stench of blue chemical rinse hits you as you piss and for a moment you are grateful. Then you grumble back down the bus bumping shins and forehead on the swinging straps and handles that line the bus like jungle creepers. Other than these worries, it is a great opportunity to travel and meet people.
We are still en route to Dresden, the endless road. I walk up to the service station and buy wine. I like to think of this as the new Holy Trinity. I suspect that football hooliganism could never really have taken off without the network of services. When I left England I had a Stalinesque purge on underwear and socks, any with holes thrown away.
Imperial Clock by Robert Appleton
The Manager has appeared with a bunch of new socks. I think this is out of pity. I gratefully slip them on. We wake up at a different service station altogether, which makes me think somehow I have dreamt the whole experience, but no! We meet up with Placebo for the first gig of the tour.
Talk turns to turds. A commonality of touring experiences is the universal horror of shit. It is the lowest common dominator of all bands and crews. You wake up, you need to shit, and you are prevented from doing so. Imagine that, Ralf and Florian, getting off their high geared, precision tooled bicycles, hugging and then complaining that there is nowhere to loose their precision tooled arseholes.
Sitting in yet another car park I suspect I am losing the will to live. We are outside the German city of Offenbach. We had our first gig with Placebo, flown from the seat of our pants. Technical difficulties almost meant complete collapse, but thanks to the Herculean efforts of our outstanding crew we escaped unscathed.
And Chris dodged death, which is nice. He tripped over a concrete bollard and fell directly underneath the front wheel of an enormous articulated lorry. It was cinematic. If this had been a blockbuster, and Chris had been a screen villain, it would have been the perfect coup de grace and his head would have exploded into a million pieces. As he is not as far as I can tell a supervillain, we all scramble about and are greatly relieved that he survives unharmed.
It would have been the kind of death that the actor Michael Ironside would have experienced. It is worth noting that throughout several acting decades, he only experiences gore-based death. I would like to be an actor and have that kind of range. I would specialise in having my eyes popped out and it would be a theme that the audience would really enjoy, like trying to spot Alfred Hitchcock at the beginning of "Psycho" etc.
Stumble to the service station unable to read the signs. We are in France. Random acts of kindness are in my head. Last night Steve, the drummer from Placebo rolled up a piece of tape and used it to remove fluff from my suit. This seemed unreasonably tender and I was genuinely moved by it. The suit was pretty pleased too. Some sweet Parisian pigeon saw me gazing thoughtlessly at a metro map and decided to empty its diseased colon onto me.
Shock generated from abject rage led me to curse the sky and any being capable of the merest flutter or hover. David had just bought some new socks and they were instantly sacrificed to wiping shit from me. I expect when Elton John wrote "Sacrifice". We are playing in a massive tent next to a French science park. Super Furry Animals used to have a tank and I want us to own a submarine. Now that would be cool, surfacing at each gig in a plume of water.
Yesterday we stayed at a grim motorway hotel outside the ring road around Bordeaux. There was nothing to do except sleep and watch dubbed television. Dubbed films raise several points. Does it mean that in France nobody actually knows what Sean Connery really sounds like? And does that also mean that maybe the same voiceover actor is used for Sean Connery since time began. I watched "Dirty Harry" with dubbed voices and it then occurred that perhaps an unscrupulous actor could pervert the courses of a career by supplying a stupid voice, or speech impediment to a famous face.
As I write we have just crossed the border into Spain, the sky is blue, the sea is azure and I need to piss like a championship racehorse. This happens easily with a bus full of fools. We have played Bilboa, which was a magnificent place; really beautiful with great wide streets filled with cafes and cheerful people. As usual we managed to spoil it by arguing and being filled with hate for each other.
- Must Read Children's Books Set in New York City.
- La reina Isabel cantaba rancheras (Spanish Edition).
- Beyond Symptoms.
- Robert Appleton | LibraryThing.
- A Staten Island Ferry Tale.
We played Madrid the day before yesterday and yesterday we played Lisbon. The bus was blocked in at the end of the night by the streets being hemmed in by double-parked cars. The Spanish police escorted us out through one-way streets, and like royalty we bolted out of the city. I thought Lisbon was pretty cool, all narrow streets and faded glamour. It rained heavily all day but was very hot, steam rising off floodlit balconies into the fizzing rain.
The crowd was the best we have had all tour, like a massive rolling football crowd. When I was on stage, you could see the humidity make a fog through which thousands of arms poked. Later on, watching Placebo, you could see how the crowd had become one single tidal mass, ebbing and flowing with the music. Now we are deep in Spain again and the landscape has turned to red clay and giant mesa rock outcrops. We are on a hour bus drive from Lisbon to Barcelona. The only living thing near us is a Hercules aeroplane flying parallel to the bus, other than that we could be alone as we zoom through Spanish desert.
I miss too many things to count and the fantastical nature of the landscape only reminds me of the fragility of bus existence. I have finished all the books I brought with me already, so I cannot slink back to my bunk and read. We are nearing the two-week hiatus. Usually on a big tour, morale, fatigue and hangovers reach their lowest points after two weeks. That is the point when you think you cannot do this anymore, when it is just not enjoyable anymore and you hate yourself more than you hate other people.
Then two weeks past and mysteriously it is all right again.. We are nowhere and it is hot and "Guns of Brixton" is playing and it is like Paul Simion only wrote that song so that it could be played really loud on a hot bus in Spain 20 years later. I feel calm and everybody fades from me and it is just sounds and me and the Clash, I am filled with a cocaine like psychosis of being invincible.
I thank the Clash for temporarily relieving me from the sheer unadulterated fucking pissing boredom that I feel. We are not on fucking holiday today; we are a workhorse like the poor nag whipped to death at the beginning of "Crime and Punishment". Ha ha ha ha. Forget that we had a hotel room last night and that the shutters are still down, removing any sense of time or place. I am sharing with David and he opens the shutters and bright Mediterranean light splashes in.
It is hot, but with a cool breeze and my head is foggy with sleeping tablets. I feel guilty that I do not even know the name of the town today. We walk into the tiny Spanish town and wander around tight little markets, selling over sized underpants and t-shirts with weirdly comic English translations on them. I want to buy stuff but I know it will not fit or the sleeves will be too short, but I am consumed with a need to consume.
We walk back to the hotel, through streets coated with communist slogans and hammer and sickles. They seem strangely comforting, a sign that somebody somewhere is interested in something, rather than a total English apolitical apathy. The bus leaves and we hurtle back into the void, off to Barcelona. The coastline follows on our right, little inlets and jetties, occasionally opening out into sparkling marinas. We tend to all gravitate to the front of the bus on days like these, when there is a landscape, a horizon, a moving tourist postcard, something to "ooh" and "ahh" at.
I sometimes hate the fact that it seems so difficult to detach oneself from the direct effect the climate has on one. The sun comes out and the smile appears, the rain drops and gloom scurries on to my face. I wish it were possible to even out the mood swings into a more temperate profile. I can only think of Nic Cage eating cockroaches in something or other, or Divine in Pink Flamingos eating dog shit. There must be more, and I want a list compiled. The criteria is this, the eaten item must be absolutely authentic, i.
The day before, we played in Barcelona and went up to Gaudi Park to see the architectural folly. Spanish cops buzzed about on tiny police motorbikes, flirting with the local girls. Gaudi Park was the must kitsch piece of architecture I have ever seen and it was fantastic. Yesterday, we were stuck at a service station in the middle of Italy. The driver can only do a certain number of hours driving at a time and has to stop when his time is used up. Unfortunately this meant we were stranded in the middle of nowhere, on a bus with no electrical power.
Myself and Andy the tour manager make a break for it out of the station into some nearby hills. We walk up and up rubbery roads by a large crematorium. Again I have no idea where in the world we are. It gets hotter and the clouds clear as we climb higher and higher. Eventually we reach a walled villa surrounded by trees.
The walls are a faded orange and are very high. As we look up, we become aware of the silhouette of two large black Doberman pinchers. They growl as we get closer, until they complete freak out, woofing and yelping and spraying saliva. I point out that as Tour Manager, it is his responsibility to hand himself over to the dogs and allow them to rip him to pieces whilst I make good my escape. The rest of the day passes uneventfully, getting drunk on a blacked out bus until it finally leaves in the middle of the night.
We arrive in Naples in the pouring rain and thunder. It is also extremely hot. I walk out of the venue into Naples through the heavy downpour. We seem to be in a giant car showroom. I buy a coffee and wait for the others to get up. We travel into town and watch David buy a charcoal grey suit. The staff laugh themselves silly at his flares. Strangely in Naples, the usually aloof local security and emergency crews behave like rabid teens, milling around and asking for autographs. The dressing room is overrun by ants.
They start a little column from one corner and merrily stray over to a large bowl of sugar, in the opposite corner. This momentarily sends me back to my youth. When I was small I spent three months in traction in Stoke Manderville hospital. I had dramatically broken my leg, strolling down a football pitch. My reward was to have my entire body held in a state of paralysis. As I would lie there, cursing the world, I would watch columns of ants troop up my bedside table and into my bottle of Ribena. Whenever he came on the ward I would demand the bedpan, and pretend that my bowels were on the move, so as to avoid meeting the man.
The police turn up, twirling machine guns and waving their berets about, like a little troop of Frank Spencers. There is an urgency to leave, as it all seems to be kicking off, and we hurry back onto the bus for it to scuttle out of Naples.
We wake up at another service station outside the town of Perugia. There is a lot of moaning about the bus falling apart or being hit by other vehicles in the night, but it seems to be okay. The only other thing to differentiate today from any other morning is that everybody seems to trying out new types of coughing.
Some of these are quite phlegmy, some dry and brittle. I myself am aiming for a mucus-based rumble, with a dry after tickle. This worked quite well on stage yesterday, I thought. Everybody in the venue, every band every crewmember every security member and ambulance staff was smashed out of their head.
The day starts out badly, with me falling down a bank and getting covered in mud. It is hot so soon I am caked in a fine crust of crap. I break out of my shell, and look at the life size cast I have made of myself. Our gig is fairly uneventful, apart from being blind drunk and getting the giggles on stage. I go outside and get some fresh air. Prostitutes surround the bus. It takes me by surprise. There is a queue of cars unloading and picking up girls the length of the street. I go back inside and notice that the venue is again stuffed with armed Italian cops. They look very smart. Placebo go on and then two songs in one being "happy birthday" the barrier in front of the stage begins to collapse.
This could be potentially fatal, and Placebo leave the stage. A heavy cloud of resentment enters the air and everything starts to go wrong. I hide out in the dressing room and decide to cut my hair to pass the time. Fortunately I am too drunk too control scissors properly and thus end up with an asymmetrical piece of hair sculpture. I cannot remember anything next until waking up in a service station outside Rome.
The manager has just gone off to try and find some mice to feed with cheese. I cannot see any reason why today is going to be good at all. I am fed up of living on a bus and I am fed up of my band mates. The crew and the Tour manager are the only ones keeping me going. Next to the bus is a flotilla of redundant pedalos. It resembles post war footage of dismantled or retired aircraft bombers. They stretch away into the distance, their white plastic surfaces coated in algae and fungus. Some are upturned, some are propped up on sticks of wood, and all look thoroughly miserable.
I walk down to the beach. The sand is immaculate, except for the odd syringe or bleached out plastic bottle. This is where we will have our day off. This will actually be our first proper day off, since all the others have been in moving bus or at a service station. We have stayed two nights in a hotel in three weeks.
Slowly the bus inmates get up and gravitate towards the sea front. The town is deserted, an out of season Italian holiday resort near Venice. A flock of children suddenly appear, swooping up and back into the sea, led by two adults in ties and tweed jackets.
They offer sweets; "Now you can take any colour you like" I realise that they are not shockingly well organised paedophiles, but actually a pair of British Public school teacher with their pupils. It soon transpires that the only other inhabitants of this town are various parties of school kids. We lie on the beach and argue about whether a boat on the horizon or a tractor up the beach is responsible for the background noise we can hear.
This is level of boredom we operate on. We talk about the same topics, day in, day out; drum triggers, girls and the band. You go on tour and you are reduced to the level of a moron. I am going to sell my brain before I go on tour next time. It is obviously an unused commodity excess baggage? The night is much the same except for the parties of UK school kids are slightly older and desperate to throw bottles about and get drunk.
It is a nice beach though. Nothing puts you off travel more than dealing with cross-country interaction. Italy is far behind as we go into Croatia. We are poked and prodded by miserable border guards. I think we could be at any border in the world. They are all exactly the same. The same poor sods who have been awake all night, waiting for something to happen, some attempt at smuggling or international crisis.
The result is that they pick on poor sods like us. So as I wake to someone shouting that they must see my face I thank God that I have joined a band. No, really. I have never been to Zagreb, so am rather excited by the prospect. I walk about with David and help him choose some shoes to match his grey suit. I manage to buy the new Ladytron album, which will make a change from listening to the same two Stooges album over and over again. It is hot, with blue skies against the background of the battered buildings.
We walk back over open train tracks to the daily routine of soundcheck and eating. I am wearing a suit which I plan to ritualistically burn at the end of the tour. If things go badly I might stay in it. I certainly do today. The stench from clothes that I have been unable to get washed for three weeks is becoming unbearable.
The night before last we played in Zagreb and then we and Placebo managed to get as drunk as possible. It is unusual for a bar or club to be intimate or relaxed enough to get Placebo into it without them getting hassled stupid , but tonight is such an occasion and Zagrebians saw both bands being drunk and silly.
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Placebo have the following day off, unlike us who wake in Ljubljana with disgusting, eye-popping hangovers and a headline gig to play. Nothing happens. I eat a banana. David and I find a shop that sells only flares. It is utterly fantastic. We begin to wonder if it really exists at all -perhaps it is a magical shop that appears only at a full moon. I purchase a pair of tight green flares that outline my penis alarmingly. God help me, or anybody else, if I get an erection. I later find out that David had the same thought about the shop, not my erection.
The gig is filmed so we are slightly more reserved than usual. I am having trouble. I finish gigs and am immediately filled with gloom. It takes a good hour before I feel that I can be civil to anyone, especially those around me. It is chucking it down. I feel more miserable than usual. Manage to actually get out of my bunk, more by habit than desire. Then do a series of interviews with Chris in a conservatory, which leaks. As the cameras roll, drips plop on my head. This seems to sum up the day and I wonder if the interviewer thinks that I am crying.
Slightly better mood today, despite bumpy roads and rain battering the bus. I seem to have pulled back from the brink, on which I was teetering on yesterday. Very good gig with lots of smiling faces in the crowd. There is quite a fun party afterwards as well, with everybody single-mindedly getting as fucked up as inhumanely possible. Finally get hold of the new Daft Punk album.
I spend the evening listening to it and find that I love it. He said, and I paraphrase heavily, "It seemed in that moment, Joy Division had put a final full stop on youth music", that "in that moment all had been said about teenage adolescence". A lot has been made of the fact that the Daft Punk record is so heavily indebted to the eighties, as is that of their contemporaries Phoenix. The record has reminded me of Paul Morley and his vox pop.
I think "Discovery" sounds like a definitive full stop on the idea of voguishly referencing the eighties. Their use of vocoder seems to indicate a self-awareness of the lazy fashionable use of that instrument. This seemed to be the whole point, a track about popularity, about making smoke from fire. It also seemed to be a track about dancefloors rather than homehi fis. This was indicated by the massive use of compression over the whole track. The music literally is sucked into each bass drum, an effect that will only really sound as intended on a big club P.
The bus has broken down. In the middle of nowhere, a hundred miles outside Warsaw, on a Sunday. No emergency services are answering our phone calls. We are stranded in a bleak forest. It looks like the wood in the film "Millers Crossing" where John Tarrturro begs for his life to be spared.
We have no food, no booze, no power and no local currency. After two hours Gaz the genius guitar tech and Lloyd the driver manage to patch the pipe and get us limping towards Warsaw. Whether we make it remains to be seen. As night drops like a black blanket over a grey wet day we find ourselves at a small hotel. The staff seem over friendly, to the point of offering us prostitutes and cocaine. I decline and go up to a weird room with beds that are too short for me. I am sharing with David, who immediately breaks the toilet. I watch dubbed Russian t. Instead of different voices for characters who are different sexes and ages, all voices are dubbed into Polish by the same male monotone.
The grumbling drone from the TV is only broken up by the sound of David trying to fix the toilet. We all meet downstairs for food and eat fantastic Borscht and dumplings, with Polish beer. We do appear to be in some kind of brothel, but a mildly unthreatening one. The walls are covered with stuffed animals, strangely inappropriate, like tiny badgers. The pride of place seems to go to a stuffed weasel.
Christopher sits with the weasel hovering above him like some saintly patron protector. I go to bed and watch "Police Academy" dubbed by the same gruff man. He sounds like he hates the film as much as I do. The same monotone serves suicidal drama and wanky comedy. David comes in later, white with fear and loathing having been forced to down Polish vodka repeatedly.
In the morning a man comes to fix the bus. Outside the bus the water-covered pavement is covered with thin pink worms. This I take to be a sign for the impending day. We do lots of interviews, the first man telling us that "You are unpopular in Poland". I assume he means the band rather than me personally, but either way it seems a little unfair. Help us improve our Author Pages by updating your bibliography and submitting a new or current image and biography. Learn more at Author Central. Previous page.
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- Robert Appleton Book List - FictionDB.
- Passion Over Presley: Based on a True Story.
- The Best Australian Trucking Stories.
- Os factos (Portuguese Edition).
- A (Relatively Comprehensive) List of Modern Steampunk Novels; help requested;
Write a customer review. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. July 3, - Published on Amazon. Verified Purchase. Liked the story as well as the surprising ending. Would recommend for kids or for those who enjoy revisiting their youth occasionally. Don't remember any glaring grammatical or spelling errors. May 4, - Published on Amazon. An interesting story, though I believe the author engaged in omitting some important details presenting a mystery without giving all the clues to figure it out. There are parts of the story that I would have liked to see better fleshed out.
I would probably read future works from this author