Sitting on a bench in the village of Ockley, enjoying a sandwich on my first ride since the tour I muse the great questions of my life……… what should I do next? Settle down, or go and live in the woods? Start a family? How do they make marmite and when it was first discovered who decided whether it was edible or not? What’s the problem with beards? I can think of a few good ones that no one complains about, Confucius, Abraham Lincoln, Jim Morrison, Ernest Hemingway, Sigmund Freud, Zeus, Jesus. No one laughed at the breakfast table when the milk ran off their spoons and into the follicle forest unnoticed.
It occurs to me that my internal dialogue is starting to sound alarmingly like Morgan Freeman. Maybe I’m getting old. It certainly seems that I go to the dentist more often. Is that because my teeth are getting worse or because the time in between check ups is trickling away through the gaps in my busy life? Is that why old people go to bed at 8pm and get up at 5am? Are they searching for lost hours in the early hours…… or does the dentist steal them with that noisy saliva sucking machine? I had to have a crown on my last visit the dentist. My joke about being able to wear it on my head considering the cost was not well received…. neither was the bill.
My friend Kev is happy when he has toothache. The lucky devil has a blond, voluptuous, young Swedish dentist and I swear he neglects his teeth on purpose. I visualise him smiling as the little whirring motor inside the creaking plastic dental chair gracefully reclines him towards her glorious bosom. My dentist however is a small Indian lady in her 50′s with thick rimmed circular classes that give her a mole like quality and who has a high pitched battle cry of FLOSS…. FLOSS….you must… FLOSS. She asks questions that cannot easily be answered when you have the contents of dental tool box in your mouth, not to mention some little mole hands.
If you were to ask me what I learned from my bike trip. My reply would be simple. Apply Sudocreme before riding, eat porridge, with few exceptions, things are rarely worth the time you spend worrying about them. Remember how short and mercilessly unpredictable life is, change your pants and call your mum. If you’re thinking of doing something adventurous, do it……before your next trip to the dentist.
I’m back in the world of coffee and internet. I hope you’ve been enjoying the video logs from the tour. There are plenty more to come but it’s going to take a while to go through all the footage.
An interview i recorded before the ‘Blues Gone Green’ tour for the James Hodder show will be broadcast tonight (Tuesday) on Resonance FM at 7pm. It will be repeated Saturday at 6.30pm. Within the capital you can tune in to 104.4 FM or you can listen online at resonancefm.com/listen
Also i’ve got a new few solo shows booked and they’ll be up on the listings very soon.
02/10/10 Blue Sky Cafe-Bangor
SOLO TOUR DEC
10/12/2010 Cornerstone Art Centre-Didcot
11/12/2010 Boston Tea Party-Barnstable
12/12/2010 Miss Peapods-Falmouth
13/122010 The Greys-Brighton
16/12/2010 Boston Tea Party-Honiton
17/12/2010 Boston Tea Party-Bath
18/12/2010 Boston Tea Party-Worcester, Worcestershire
19/12/2010 The Dukes Arms-Presteigne
All the best,
My days through Dorset and Devon are punctuated with coffee and cake stops. Somewhere along the line a lost my map and I though from now I just stop and ask the best route for the next few miles. Never underestimate the usefulness of local knowledge…… and cake. Yesterday, on good recommendation I rolled peacefully alongside Chesil beach, part the Jurassic coast where fossils can be scooped up by trained eyes, polished, and find themselves on sale in tourist curiosity shops. Small children showing there own teeth and snarling while examining the million year old sharks teeth lined up next to the Ammonites and Trilobites. There’s been a strong wind out of the west for most of my ride along the south west coast and usually it bothers me but yesterday it kept my pace slow and the my day was a better place for it. No rush just taking it all in, enjoy the last quarter of the trip.
There’s a slightly low feeling that some sinister version of the real world is waiting for me at the end of this journey. The destination really has nothing to do with it. I’m confident about finishing now and the apprehensions about fitness and distance have all faded. What’s left is a glorious scrapbook of memories and some fitter skinnier legs. The thing I’m worried about most is stopping. The breaking of the rhythm of the roads, the wind in my sails, room to think, far from the ‘maddening crowds’ and mind numbing TV shows that we watch to help us recover from ‘stressful days’. I feel like I’m just getting started but I’m running out of road, out of time. Inevitably I have these kinds of feelings quite regularly, I’m a hopeless dreamer. The dust will settle, the panic will pass and this carved out hollow feeling will slope away quietly like wounded dog. I guess the very thing that makes these adventures so much fun is there lack of permanence, the world in a state of flux, observed from the top of a pole, just for a while.
After the show on Portland I got talking to bright eyed fellow musician and before long we were wondering down the hill to have a look at his guitar collection. Mickey Starky has an eye for a bargain and his collection ranges from five quid guitars acquired in junk shops (a man after my own heart) through to a 1931 National Tricone Resonator that could have been made yesterday ( also annoying bought for thirty quid in a junk shop). Its cold shinning metal body sang away on my lap as if it had never been played before. Robert Johnson and Doc Watson tunes leaped out from under Mickey’s fingertips as I sat back and enjoyed listening. Some players have deep understanding and connection to this kind of music that runs way beyond the technical difficulties it presents. Some players are plugged into some unseen coil stretching out across the years. Comfortable wrapped around the guitar in no other moment than the very one you are witnessing. Lots of technical players spin off into dizzy heights of what may be possible with arduous practice, I can appreciate this too, but some people simply………..play.
As I left a gift was made to me of an Alan Lomax album. It was an early vinyl compilation of Blues recorded from within prison walls, a record that has been a constant companion to Mickey for forty odd years.
“Just find a feeling and pass it on”
The Billboard model stares out over the river. Airbrushed features stain her eyes electric. The only wrinkles on her porcelain skin are the paper ones that swell in the rain. Snapshots leap up from the pavement between the buses with the jerky motion of a black and white newsreel. A snarling dog, a comfy chair, red shoes, an outstretched hand. Advancing armies of suits bleed coffee through the city. Stop. Go. Headphones in, eyes down for a full house, laughter on the phone, the world at large is getting smaller, the buildings are growing taller. Make up in the rear view mirror, no repeat Tuesday, again and again and again. Sirens howl like lost dogs over the chaotic symphony. Somewhere between me and the invisible horizon, shoes hang on the power line.
London is the gold tooth in a crooked smile
The first spitfire and the last kiss
Cold coffee and a warm bed
London tells its own stories