I wonder how old I’ll be when I regret this or if I’ll regret it at all. My shoulders hurt and I fear the crunch in my bones is here to stay. I carry my guitar and a ridiculous amount of bags on them, which is partly down to bad planning and insufficient time to pack (you know those ‘oh shit I have five minutes left or I’ll miss the train’ kind of mornings), but also down to the fact that I do travel on my own and I don’t drive. So when I arrive at the train stations, I can either walk to the gig, get a taxi or catch a bus. I always walk.
I know my way around English towns now, they’re almost all the same. Down the less desirable station road boasting weathered fish n chip and kebab eateries, through the concrete high street shopping centres and then turn left or right towards the student district with the bars and the music venues. Hull’s layout is a bit different, but my approach is the same. I ask for directions, which I do as a matter of course, even if I think I know the way, and a man with a glass eye points me in the right direction, but add’s “That’s a long walk, a good two miles” as I try hard not to stare at his immobile eye that’s staring right through me. As a kilometre kind of person, this means nothing to me, but his face expression is the same as that lady’s in north Germany who had said: “Aber sie tragen doch so viel, nehmen sie doch lieber einen Bus!”.
As I walk down the wide Spring bank, I remember why I walk. Ok, so partly to save money, but also because of the sites I see. Baghdad Kebab, Hair dressers with silly puns for names (“Deb’n Hair)”, gambling shops next to cupcake bakeries and of course, the ever prevailing eye of the camera… Oh England, this sums up so much of what you’re doing wrong:
It may be difficult for you to understand, but these cumbersome walks in strange towns add something to my tours that I would not want to miss. That’s a lie, I’d be happy to trade them in for a comfortable ride in the backseat of a van, but for now, it’s fine.
I turn into Princes Avenue and start looking at the street numbers. People are smiling at me. I briefly stop outside a cafe and three boys behind the glass wave at me. I wave back and move on. That brief feeling of achievement when you finally find the right place: Fudge is a very sweet (pun intended) restaurant, full of pinks and pastels. The speakeasy acoustic nights are held upstairs. I’m greeted by Jody and Adam, who are both musicians themselves and hosts of the night. From that moment on, I was made to feel at home and I knew itwas going to be a good night.
The audience filters in over the next hour and everyone was joky, jovial and there to enjoy music.
I also learnt a thing or two:
1. A good lyric turns into a great one if performed in a good room.
2. Tea is the new beer
3. people in Hull are awesome
Also performing were Stewart Baxter and Emily Moulton as well as the hosts themselves who opened the night. Jody’s songs reminded me of New York as everyone in the room knew the lyrics and harmonised freely. The quality of songwriting was astonishing… or maybe the room was just a good one. Either way, the evening was pretty memorable. I got to sign the house guitar at the end of the night and guess who’s signiture is right above mine… my friend and super talented Singer Songwriter Jess Morgan!
I leave Hull feeling I’ve made friends. If carrying all this weight on my shoulders throughout England means I get to feel this uplifted by wonderful people and their music, then that’s fine by me.