Tales from the Rails – my tour family and the night bus

I must have been in a weird mood when I booked that overnight bus. I have very lovely friends in Leeds and could have easily stayed the night with them and embarked on the journey back to London at a more sensible hour. Instead I chose the trusted Megabus that leaves Leeds at 1am and gets into London at the distinctly insensible hour of 5:40am. Perfect, I thought misguidedly, just in time for the first tube and besides, when was the last time I came home after sunrise..?

I ask the driver whether I can take my guitar on board with me as a matter of course and he suggests I sit in the little seat right behind him so the instrument can rest safely next to me. Despite all well intent, this proved to be a bad decision, as the constant stops (Sheffield, Leicester, Services, Rugby, Milton Keans) meant that I was to endure driver banter with all its jargon as well as the draft of the open door, letting in the night’s cold and clearing out any hints of sleep.

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As we pull into Victoria Coach station the day has indeed arrived and the streets of London town are empty. In one last effort, I heave my many bags over my two sore shoulders (if only I had more of them), and take to the underground. Although Victoria station is deserted, the first central line of this particular Tuesday morning is packed. I’d say about 50% are coming or going to London’s many airports, cramming suitcases into the overcrowded carriages. 30% are poor soles actually heading to work at this hour and the rest, myself included, are victims of the night before, some with head in hands, others still in full gear, laughing and gesticulating wildly to one another.

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So here’s to my night before. A storm was brewing as I left Hull. The clouds over the docs were heavy and I made it to the station just in time before the rain came. A very short hour later I found myself on familiar turf. I’ve played at Oporto in Leeds a couple of times before, so the route from the station via the obligatory chain coffee shop is well known to me. You develop a routine in these places that is very hard to break from. Somehow you always take the same turnings and sit in the same seats, as do the hosts of the Gaslight club at Oporto. It’s as if they haven’t moved since I played there last time. Without fail they sit, laptops open in front of them, in the booth at the far left of the room. Leeds has a really close knit family of music advocates and I feel very fortunate to count them to my little tour family. They are so supportive and work with a lot of really exciting artists (Witch Hunt, Harry Ridgeway, Gaslight Club’s host Gary Stewert, Goodbye Chanel and my current favourite, Cottonwoolf, just to name a few). Really, you Leeds and Hull lot should get together – you’d get on well and you’re only an hour apart. Simon made a start, follow his lead. Simon? Who’s he, you ask? He is one of the lovely people at the Speakeasy in Hull, who also came along to the show in Leeds (thank you!!).

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All in all, I felt fine when I slumped down in front of my couch at 7am on Tuesday morning. A little out of breath and obliviously tired, but otherwise unscathed. Still, when I awoke several hours later, I was ill – as if someone had just turned a switch. These things happen, maybe it was the megabus doors opening at night one two many times, or maybe it was indeed the weight of the last days taking its toll. If you’re waiting on an email or call back form me, it’s because I’ve been in bed for two days straight! Thank you for the well wishes from those of you who knew I wasn’t well, I’m feeling much better now!

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