Today is the final day of what has been an epic mission. I’m in the library of Marple – near Stockport. Im slowly meandering toward the centre of Manchester for my evening bus to Edinburgh, my duvet & 6 months worth of videotaped Eastenders!
Last friday Andy & Tereza – who I’d met in the Himalayas – drove over to Burnley with a couple of their mates. After a whistle stop tour of the pubs we then drove back to their mates’ house in Rochdale. The next day I was thrust into the deep end at Andy’s sisters birthday in Mosston, north Manchester, with lots of kinds & adults to talk too, plus plates of food – quite surreal. Then they drove home to a caravan site south of Marple. They pay 800 quid a year for a pretty palatial caravan sat right by an idyllic canal. A great place to unwind after my epic voyage.
Yesterday Andy took me on a walk up Kinder Scout – the highest point in the peak district, flanked by a vast peat bog plateaux on one side & & the plains of Manchester on the other. The sun was simply lovely & we had the company of Chip, a bouncing fleece-ball of a dog. It reminded me of my pedestrain hauntings of East Lothian & I became excited about my homecoming. But first Ive got to perform a wee hike through dodgy Manchester…
PS Here’s a link to my finished Indiad – its taken 9 years, four visits & 13 montsh of my life to write, but I’m happy to have finished it
I am currently sat in Burnley library, on the edge of two epochs in my life. Behind is the chaos & adventure of India & all that led up to it. Ahead is a future of focus & rockera. Right now, though, Im in the middle of buying shoes & sorting out my new phone which I found in Abbu Dhabbi airport a new sim card.
The journey to England consisted of long waits – ten hours at Chennai & 6 in abu dhabbi – & drunken flights being fed by proper fit hostesses & watching movies such as The King’s Speech & Made in Dagenham. In Abu Dhabbi, with not having any sheckles, I did a sneaky move on a coffee shop sandwich. With hindsight it wasnt the best idea, as I’m sure you lose a hand or something for stealing in these sandy desert kingdoms.
We finally arrived at Heathrow as the sun was setting on the hottest British day of the year – 20 degrees. I guess when you winter away theres a sense of mission accomplished. Arriving at the airport was funny, but not funny for Charlie. Way back in Hampi he’d set his bag on fire by throwing away one of those Indian matches that are really difficult to blow out. On that occasion he just about rescued his passport from the flames, though it was covered in black plastic crud. Anyhow, it was enough for him to get through Chennai immigration, but at Heathrow he hit a snag of suspicious looks from the border guy. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, cos the police called over to look at said dodgy passport it were waiting for Charlie anyway! The long arm of the law had flagged his flight & the cops arrested him there & then on charges of drunk/drug driving & failing to turn up at court. It was mad watching him walking away with the cops.
Suddenly I was alone again, the sun just setting & me, back in Britain after a long poetical sabbatical! In comparison to India the streets were practically gleaming, so clean they were, & so, so empty. Then I did what I always do on hitting London- go & see Cliff. On the way to Leytonstone I was sat on atrain thinking, wow, I was in Chenaai that morning & all teh guys had probably had one of theose same-same days that mark modern existence. But not me, I’d just had an epic mission, & though I was arriving with nothing to my feet, my head was full of the future of music!
It was good to see Cliff, & I joined him & half of the gallery on a trip to the seaside. There were three gallery bands playing at the Tubman in Hastings for this guy Mikey’s birthday. They were all on acid (which I didnt partake in) & cliff was personally funding his bands – & mine – tickets, beer & drugs. Quite a feat, considering there were five of us for three days. I sang a few songs at the beginning of the gig, but I did my own thing most of the time I was in Hastings, which was gleaming in south coast sunshine & very attractive on the eye, from partying with a random family – the daughter was doing ketamine with her mum – to studying Homer in the local library, to scramblin into the castle for sunset. It was rather apt, actually, for it was where William teh Conqueror first set up camp before the battle of hastings – I feel a tad like him at the mo, bursting with energy as to my new art form, Rockera.
From Hastings we went back to Leytonstone for a night, from where I set off next mornming for the north. The journey involved a lovely early morning hike along the Thames – a great way to reaclimatise the psyche with my own land. Then, at Victoria, it was the one pound mega bus to manchester, & the x43 to Burnley & at least four portions of proper chips n curry thus far.
Its early morning in Chennai – 8.30AM – & its my 153rd & final day in the sub-continent. My plane leaves tomorrow morning at 4AM, so we’re hoping to be at the airport for tonight – we can watch the Spurs-Real Madrid champions league match in a bar there to keep us awake. By now I’m totaly India’d out & looking forward to getting home – Eastenders & some proper chips n curry awaits awaits. Still, its been a pretty cool do.
A few days back I was in Calcutta, when India beat Pakistan in teh world cup. I was watching it in this mad wee political party office – for the vibes – & after they won they ‘war’ the streets of Calcutta exploded into life (not bombs); 5 guys on a single bike streaming past, the flag of India fluttering behind them – groups of young lads running down every street cheering their head off , & the massive jam of people & cars & people on cars down Park Street, screaming & singing & all sorts. A proper awesome display of ecsatsy, like a squat party without the drugs.
Just as we were leaving Calcutta for the thirty hour train ride south – I had my wallet stolen & Charlie got Dysentry. The dream is over eh? Honestly, I woke up to Charlie pathetically hanging off his sleep bed with his undies round his ankles & an Indian mman hovering above him menacingly wanting to chuck him off the train. The dysentry had floored him -literally, pinning him to the skanky train toilet while his entire body gushed fluids. He was so weak & confused that he sat down on the wrong sleep bed – stinking of shit in his undies remember – right on top of menacing guys wife. I soothed the situation & once we got to Chennai got him sorted. I’d had dysentry before & knew what to do, y’see. This is Charlie’s version of events;
THE LEAVING OF CALCUTTA
By Charlie Fairclough
We left old Calcutta the way that we came
Three weeks later on the midnight train
We said our goodbyes & paid all our tabs
& walked to the busstop avoiding the cabs
The night was dark & the bus was hot
As we left the city behind
Then crossing the Hooghly
Life chuck’d us a double googly
We gobbled a snack & boarded the train
But soon one of our party doubled in pain
& staggering off to teh dunny
& whilst he was gone
And to make matters worse
the other one’s lost all his money
Genius again. We arrived in Chennai last saturday. India won the cricket world cup later that day, but the celebrations in Chennai were about ten percent of those in Calcutta. Since then Ive just been killing time writing this essay on Homer of all people (I think I’ve solved the mysteries of the Illiad). Its all good. I finally feel I have completed my education in poetry. Its taken the good part of 15 years to do, but I finally feel there – I guess i’m like one of the sitar disciples learning his ancient instrument at the feet of his master – only my masters are all dead & Ive had to teach miself. Still, i’m there now & I’m ready to join the ‘adult world.’
So there’ll be no more e-mails – Ive gotta stop some time & ive been sending them out on & off for nine years now – some of you are recent readers & some have been there since day one (hi Baldy, hows the kid?). From now on I’m gonna use my blog, so this was just a wee swan song – I started them in India in 2002, so it was apt to finish them here. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed some of the descriptions of exotic places, thanks for your ears guys & see you around sometime.
PS – Ive been writing some proper songs over here, like, full of Indian melodies Ive been bombarded as I travelled aboot. 5 months is a long time to craft a piece of music that you’d normally crack out in a few minutes. Its like the tantric sex of song-writing. Anyhows, Ive got a gig in Hastings, Sussex, of all places, this Friday, supporting London Cliff’s band at THE TUBMAN. Apparently Im gonna get well off mi head so happy days.
Heres the music video that his band made
Then, on Saturday 23rd April I’ll be playing a gig at THE FOREST CAFEin Edinburgh, supported by Steve’s new band – Ginger & the Tramp. Then it’ll be time for the massive jam thats gonna be my first Rockera