Monthly Archives: October 2011

Sightseeing

Saraswathi on Tour

Writing mi blog this morning, we proceeded to have a lovely walk around Rome, basking in endlessly cloudless skies. Tramming it into town we hit the Colosseum, Circus Maximus, strolled up to the Vatican on the west bank of the Tiber, checked out the holy see, had a picnic on the Spanish Steps (where I discovered Paul is a dead ringer for Keats), tossed coins into the Trevi fountation begore tramming it back to the fort & some well earned comfort & rest. I wrote a poem en route & Paul went snap-happy with his new camera, a few of which are below;

What massive edifices pass to marvel at & muse
On Rome’s momentous glory as her lively streets diffuse
The Spanish steps, the Vatican, what triumphs of endeavour,
Til man has met his destiny Rome’s name must live forever!
Now by the em’rald Tiber flash’d a book of Pushkins poesy,
Read by a flaxen maiden with her hair & cheeks all rosy
& spotting sonnet-sculptures I approach’d her with a smile,
& show’d her mine own artistry in quattordici style
So walking fourteen bridges from the triplet Tiber island
To Ponte Risorgimento, so many miles from Mile End,
Engaging ghosts of ancient dames who once walk’d here beside
Returning from the slaughter of our early Christians
I steadied soul for London’s games, I hope that they shall glide
As easy as this gentle flow where grow fair nymphaeaceaens

Trevi Fountain
Tiber Island
God
Forum
Colloseum
Forte Prenestina

Enter Mr Underwood

Braveheart Arrives

The last time I wrote a blog me & Victor were all set for a salbrious night’s nobility, camping in the grounds of a stately hunting lodge. Unfortunately, the owner’s daughetr came back & discovered that, as Id moved the chairs from the porch that her mumd had hidden the key to the house under one of the pillows on the cgair, she couldnt get in! Cue a wee bit of pandemonium & fast-thingking itlain chat from me, & before you knew it the police had been called, but a few moments later the key was found, & a few minutes after that me & Vic had packed up the tent (in the dark) & were out of there before the police could arrive. We ended up back on the beach for a pleasant enough night.

hunting lodge

From there we jumped trains down into Pescara. Its a solid enough city, with glorious long golden beaches & a relxed vibe. After watching the Manchester Derby, we headed out of the city & up into the hills, to Loreto Alfrunti. My word, what a lovely town, the royal ruby set in a world of olive trees – the place is famous for its olive oil I guess. The first night we camped, & the second night we sqauatted a very cool old house, which gave us a our first proper beds in two weeks – much to Victors home-comfort seeking delight.

squat
english

Also in the town we met an English ex-pat, who recently sold his house in Bolton & entered the property market in this region of the Arruzzo – the new Tuscany apparently. He was a likeable chap & was from Rawtenstall, near Burnley. Indeed, in his l;ifetime he has been the last stall-holder on Padiham market & even taught at my old secondary school – Gawthorpe High – as a supply teacher. He was half Italian &, at the age of 47, had gone off in search of his roots, whose Itlain language is laced with a very thick Northern English accent. It was chuckling to see him teaching some Italian toddlers English in the local library, who now thing ‘but-tee’ is the proper word for a sandwich!

chip pizza

& so for the arrival of Mr Underwood. Me, Vic, the Bendrix & him had all been a part of Saraswathi – whicvh will be reforming in the new year, so its nice to have him over. A couple of days back we’d gone down to Pescara airport & camped a mile away in some lush countryside. Then Paul arrives on a late night plane & we went off back to base full of high spirits. These were hardly dented by teh arrival of the carabineri, who told us to put out our fire & turn the music off, checked our passports & left us to it. ‘Benevenuto in Italia’ I told Paul, & meant it.

cards

Yesterday we caught a coach from Pescara to Rome (15 quid), foraging through the glorious scenery of the Appenine ridge; a mix of hilltop towns, castles, narrow ravines & soaring peaks. Id took my shoes off as I got on, to dry off mi socks a bit – but the guys sat behind me told me to put ‘em back on – i guess thats two weeks on the road for ya. However, things are now looking up. Ive took the guys to teh Forte Prenestina – a great hippy instution in the Roman suburbs. Theres about 20 regulars who sleep in the old barracks, plus bars, stages, arts spaces, studios & the such like. Wer are staying in the dormitary here, for free, & by catching the nearby number 5 tram we’re in the centre of Rome in 25 minutes. So its on to the great city of Ceasar, Augustus & Nero – & of course, Damo!

Rome
28/10/11

hot food at last

Crossing the Sibbilini Mountains

The GranSasso

Sonneteering is something akin to stargazing. As the Gallilean telescope discovered the moons of Jupiter, so does the sonneteer discover new forms of sonnete. My latest invention came about from a couple of hours studing the works of Guicarmo Leopardi in the library at his home town of Recanati. I wrote in a mixture of Italian & English (mescalto=mixed) & used the ebb, flow & rhyming scheme of some of Leopradis work.

Citta del molto chiase, tali richezza!
La mia notte solinga il color della speranza,

My microcosmic mind

Is pierced by a fresh romantic dynamism

For some Magnus Apollo of Byronism

My wanderings here find

Siamo amiche, Guiacarmo Leopardi

Vedo la sua mura, gli archi e le colonne

& belvedering bliss

Where, desiring infinity in an astro mirabil

Il pensier del presente do race & reel

As amorose kiss!

& as nations create their native poesy forms

Into my mind new predeliction storms

Thus armed with my new sonnet fom I decided to head to the Monti Sibbilini mountain range. A bus ride, a train & another bus ride later (all free) we had entered a world akin to the English Lake District, climbing 700 metres to the university town of Camerino. It was a fine, spacious city, with commanding views & an air of high intelligentsia. About a hundred meters below the city Victor found us an old farm house, where we pitched tent, lit a fire, drank booze & chatted once more into the night, the soft sillouhettes of the mountainscape rising across the valley before us. The next morning we were off again, & what a day. We followed a steep narrow, tree shaggy valley ever & ever upwards to Castelsanteangelo sul Nera. It is a lovely spot, with crystal clear river water & the fresh air of altidude. The wee town nestles at the foot of a triangular defensive wall system which pyramids up the slopes. After stocking up on spam & bread we set off on our hike up hill, & were lucky to be picked up by a middle aged couple from London!

castelsantangelo
Where am I?

They were quite surprised to find out we were from Burnley, but were lovely sorts & we were connected by the town of Thiruvanamali, where thir daughter had set up a school & I had translated Thirukkural. They dropped us off at the town of Castelluccia, an amazing wee town at the center of this extremely flat plateaux. Above it, covered by clouds, towers Monte Vettore, which at 2476 meters is almost twice the height of Ben Nevis. Bidding our countrymen adeiu, Me & Victor continued our hike, crossing the mountain circled plateaux then climbing a not to steep road. As we went, tho, the rains came, & believe me there was no shelter at all. We finally hit the ridge, however, where a rifugio (hostel), tho closed, gave us a little shelter to eat our lunch out of the mountain winds. Not far beyond that the road finally began to drop & we were rewarded with vviews of the valleys below us, stunning in autumnal glory, & thro a break in the clouds, the Gransasso itself, a mountainous 3000 metres. In WW2, after a coup ha deposed him, Mussolini was imprisoned in a hotel near the Gransasso, but was famously rescued by Germans in gliders.

plateux
Dora's Bar

The walk into the valley was beautiful, the rains had stopped & the road was lined with berreis & apple trees. Then the rains came back again & we finally reached this wee village soggy as fuck! For shelter we entered this wee 1930s style barran by the elderly, but adorable Dora. She made us feel very welcome, as did her wee squat customers, four oldish guys who just sat & played cards & didnt even buy a drink. From there we made a futile search for a B&B, & were forced to camp in the dark a few k downhill – a very uncomfortable night on hard ground & nippy with dampness. Waking up cold in the middle of the night I was suddenly inspired to pen a sonnet to help soothe the situation…

Where are you now with your beautiful lives
& your beautiful wives, & your horses
Where are you now with your beautiful knives
As you dine on your beautiful courses.

Leap up & reach for the world open road
Where the antlers of stags are still living
Face up to liberty, free up your load
For the chill of the night unforgiving

On waking & feeling the splendour of morn
We aspire to the days new adventure
Our feet are stll soggy, your clothes are more torn
With a vision of God in each vista

With beautiful music in curses youve sworn
As you pace off your beautiful blister

Despite the amzingness of the previous day, the next morning we called off our further mountain adventures & resolved to get back to the coast. While waiting for a bus at Arqua del Tronto, I got chatting to this 87 year old man -Tony – who had an amazing tale. During world war two he & his family had hid a certain Jack Macshiel from Glasgow, who had found himself on the wrong side of the Gustav Line. For seven months he avoided the Germans & the story as astirring start to the day.

The bus we then caught provided us with the first sting of the tour – our tickets were 2.70 euros each. Still, its not bad considering weve been on the road ten days! The bus took us to Ascoli Piceno, an industrial type city at the foot of the mountains. While waiting for the train out of there we met 26 year old Danilo Battistelli, a handsome architecture student who I had my best Italian conversation with Ive ever had, by the end of which he was offering to put me & Victor up for a couple of nights. We told him we would return after we picked up Paul from Pescara airport (Wednesday). Talking of which, we are now only 20 k from there, a little premature, but happy to be in a town called Pineto. We camped on the beach last night, cooking hot food for the first time with some pans we found back at the farmhouse in Camerino. It was mackeral, eggs & what turned out ot be yoghurt, creating a new dish Ive coined Fishyogegio. The yoghurt was supposed to be milk (Victors bad italian at the supermarcato), whose true identity I discovered this morning when, after stoking up the embers of last nights fire & looking forward to a good cup of tea, oon pouring the milk into the pan, it all congealed! Still, I guess yoghurts a good way to start the day. It continued with us trying to find an apartment or hotel for a night or two to clean up, but everywhere is closed for the season. The place is lovely, but I gues touristy, & depsite there being several hundred empty rooms all around us, all are closed. Instead weve camped in the paltial grounds of a nearby hunting lodge, complete with an overgrown tennis court & just ripened orange trees. Close by is a bar where I am writing this blog, recharging the laptop & having a jolly good rest from the mountains.

Pineto

22-10-2011

The Black Madonna

Loreto piazza

Good morning from a poet in the City of Poets. I am currently sat in the glorious central square of Recanati,a great old town perched on a hill between the sea & the Appenines. It gets its name from a poet called Giocarmo Leopodi, a great romantic-era soul who died at a Burnsian 39, yet left behind a very impressive body of work. I’ve never heard of him before & am looking forward to visiting his museum & the local bibliotequa to study his works.

Sirolo

Getting here from the Ancona has been a joy. Ancona itself – a port – was full of undesirables… nasty-looking arabs with red eyes & wobbling on their beer. Luckily, Sirola a few miles away, was perfection in itself. Most of the Adriatic coast-line has been identical, a not very attractive mix of hotels & bars along a seemingly endless stretch of sand. However, Sirola’s beaches arae gorgeous, nestling neath the backdrop of a great beachy-head style promontry, & difficult to get too. We spent two nighs there, the second of which was encomfortablised by the aquirement of matresses from a couple of caravansa from a nearby, but closed, camp site. Drinking wine to the roar of a driftwood fire, we witnessed each night the rise of a blood-red moon. Between these two moments I sat on a chair by the turquoise waves, working on my book about the homeric question (I’d charged my laptop at a guys work-hut by the beach) – a sublime office indeed! There was an interesting human touch – a guy in his middle 40s was the local beach boy, & grew angry when speaking of his wife, an Englishwoman who’d left him with their kids over in Penzance where he used to work. He made a sad figure, slumped over as he told me his tale.

gathering wood

But every broken parent begins with the excitement of having a child, I guess, & so onto Loreto, whose cathedral contains, after the Vatican, the most serene & startling interior of a church I have ever seen. Great fresco’s & paintings cover every wall & alcove, tapering up into the sisteenly painted Dome. Underneath this we find a wee chapel, whose walls are said to have come from the very chamber where Mother Mary was born, & transported here during the Byzantine era. Inside is the famous black madonna. It is a new version (1921) of an ancient idol, & is said to make pregnant a woman who prays to it. The cathedral itself forms one side of Loreto’s main piazza, with a Papal palace forming two others, observing a glorious fountain & creating an amazing picture for the mind to recall. The rest of the city is typically Italian, narrow streets & sleek boutiques, far from the likes of Rotherham, Barnsley & Luton. Yes! This is indeed a glorious nation!

Loreto

Recanati
19/10/11

Onto Ancona

Me & Victor

The internet is becoming an increasingly useful life-tool. In a recent murder case down Bristol, the police analyzed the victim’s neighbour’s browisng habits & struck gold. He’d been looking up body decomposition, google-earthed the location where the body was found (before it was found) & checked the police website every hour! In the same age, & yet another world entirely, I was working out the best way to get both me & Victor to Stanstead for free. Not wanting to risk a ticket check at the airport rail station, I thought I’d use last time’s methods & walk the 5 miles from Stanstead Mountfitchett, which is easy to jump from Tottenham Hale on the Cambridge stopping service. However, google earth kindly put a rail sign over a village called Elsingham, only three miles from Stanstead. With the plan resolved, the next day we set off at 7AM & with the London bus drivers still baffled with Victor’s bus pass, & armed with our new knowledge, we got from Leytonstone to Stanstead completely free, enjoying the fresh Autumnal walk from Elsingham to the airport through English greenery & hedge-row roads sporting splendidly thatched cottages.

We’d arrived early at Stanstead, & our loitering brought down the cops on Victor Pope – it was a funny, heart-thumping moment as I’d just stolen a continental plug adaptor from Boots! It ws also cool to come across as the decent citizen for once & not the terrorist-tramp! Finally on the plane, Victor then began to verbally imagine all the ways we could die on a plane in some effort to exorcise them, finishing it with the fact that despite Ryanair having never had a crash, each flight counts down ominously & inexorably to the moment when they will – & were we on that flight, perhaps? Nob-head! His ritual anxiety was confirmed when he looked at his phone to discover the tune playing at that time was called Death. Very Final Destination! The flight itself was rather uninteresting – a yellow-blue no frills cruise through the clouds interrupted by the occasional trolly dolley.

Arriving in Italy was a sensation. The plane followed the forked jade lightning bolts of the River Po until they converged on their Adriatic estuary & we out over the open waves. The coast dissapeared behind us into the mists, then reappeared as we banked back again, crossed the coast line & descended over the rooftops of Rimini onto the tarmac of Ausonia! The airport is just on the outskirts of the city, & a wee (free) bus ride later we were in the centre of town, my Italian flowing essato! Another couple of (free) bus rides later we were in the central piazza of Verruchio, an ancient hilltop site complete with castle & wonderful views of Rimini & the Adriatic. I’d googled it a few days ago while researchin my theory that the Etruscans were originally the Trojans, & was delighted to discover it was only 17k from my litological mission’s starting point. Once there, we bought some salmami, cheese, bread rolls & beer & camped at the foot of the castle in a tranquil slice of greenery, the street lights of the Rimini plain twinkling below a full moon, chatting about life & the adventures to come.
The next day we set off south a piede (on foot), heading for the castellated mountain of San Marino. We had to descend a steep valley & the hike up the other side was real nasty. Still, the journey was a pleasant one, helped by the one euro litre of wine which I’d started at breakfast. Its the traditional juice of poetry & when gushing about my verteux mind & set off by the catalytic Italian sunshine, all hell breaks loose on the written page. Here’s one of todays Axis & Allies stanzas – my dedication to Prince William (its traditional).

Five hundred years ago, my gracious prince,
Oer thirty thousand ancestors were yours,
& of them Victoria must convince
Ye art right worthy of the Troubadours;
Tho Empire gone
Her essence still remains
Led by the chosen one that destiny ordains.

As I remember thine own birth
When I was only seven
Thou art my majesty on Earth
Born of the Sons of Heaven,
New to the world ye’ve shewn thy worth,
Aye, & thats a given,
Maturity has bless’d thy diadem
At heart thou art of us & less of them.

With praise, my prince, I offer thee,
This little book of words,
From Mnemone to Melody…
Midst lines of waltzing thirds,
Such feeling shimmers phosphorous as if t’were sufi birds.

[caption id=”attachment_1116″ align=”alignnone” width=”584″ caption=”san marino”][/caption]

San Marino is the third smallest nation in Europe – after the Vatican & Monaco. In return for housing Garibaldi’s army during the Risorgimento (the unification of Italy) it maintained its independence. It consists of 60 square kilometers of lovely hills & valleys, housing 30,000 citizens, from which its small army is drawn from. Its main town is perched on a mountain top; a clean palace of beige brickery, undented fortifications & narrow streets. The views are awesome, from the Rimini plain to the east, the Appennines rising to the west & the serried rows of hills rolling north toward Venice (a wonder at sunset). Me & Victor camped once more at the foot of the fortifications, & strolled about town, checking out the guns, swords & crossbows you can buy here. The British government knows its citizens are beer-swilling barnpots, & such easy access to death-dealing equipment would bring the nation to its anarchaic knees. However, the Italians are a much more sophisticaqted race & can be trusted with these implements of carnage. Here’s a plaque I found in the town, commemorating Garibaldi, which Ive translated to the best of my abilities;

Ordine Del Giorno
(Militi)
S Marino 31 Luglio 1849

Noi siamo sulla terra di rifugio e dobbia il migliore contegno possibile ai generosi ospiti. In tal modo avremo meritata la considerazione dovuto alla disgrazia persecuitata. I vi scioglo dall’impegno di accompagnarmi. Tornate alle vostre case.Ma ricordatevi che L’Italia non deve rimarere nel servaggio e nella vergogna.

We are on the land of refugees & the best behaviour possible of generous hospitality. Through such manners they have merited the consideration that must disgrace persecutors. I urge you to commit to the company. Return to you homes. But remember that Italy must not remain in service or in shame.

Guiseppe Garibaldi

The next morning was a windy un,’ propelling us back down to the pleasantness of the plains. This involved a bus ride down the chicaning blade-runner-like road system of San Marino. Reaching Rimini, we jumped the train a fe stops down to the resort of Misano Adriatico. However, the place post-season is a ghost town, full of boarded up windows & shuttered hotels. The Adriatic herself was a raging wave-world & not appetising at all. Still, the turquoise stirred the soul & that night, a hundred meters inland, we found an abandoned farm house to camp beside, whose owners had kindly stacked a pile of fire-wood for us to use. It was another nice night, drinking wine & chatting with Steve – its funny how after 15 years of friendship we can still chat as if we’d only just met!
The next day brought us down to Ancona. Our first train was an express & we were cobbled by a conductor. A quick siamo poete inglese (we are english poets) later & we got off at the next stop scot free. This was Catholica, from where, an hour later on the next train, we reached Pesaro. Having another hour to wait we hit the splendid central piazza, where teh Italian version of a flea market was kicking off. One guy was selling VHS tapes of flims he’d copied off the telly – something the British would just not do! From Pesaro we caught a nice stopping train (no conductors) & followed the line south, just a few metres away from the sea. Eventually the hilly headland of Ancona appeared & here we are, waiting for a bus to a place a few k away which looks nice on the map. My Instinct was earlier confirmed by an elderly English lady who is resident here. Have I stumbled upon another Tuscany perhaps?

Ancona
16/10/11

Let The Games Begin

A wee film I made just before setting off about empowering teenage Sikh girls!

I guess all great quests begin with a wee kick up the ass, something to energize the mind for the trials ahead, to harden the spirit & to fortify the body. For me it came last Saturday with a right royal kerfuffle with the bouncers of Edinburgh. Three weeks previously I’d arranged with the hip young manageress of the Tron Bar to put on my Tinky Disco in their basement. Unfortunately, for the night in question she had been replaced by a dragoness of a manageress, fortified by a proper nob-head of a bouncer. Thus, when vodka-soaked Luke & an unshaven Victor Pope arrive with their gear to set up, I was suddenly confronted with you’re not the right clientelle & rudely shown the door.

This wound me up & I just had to wipe the smug grin off the bouncer by knocking his steaming mug of tea out of his hands & practically ordering him to attack me so I could save future punters from his neanderthal nobiness. He refused, however, & so I had to begin the awkward task of telling folk the gig was off. One of these was my lovely new ladyfriend, the Mary to my Shelley, who I noised up a mile or so away from the Tron. Unfortunately our return to town passed right by the Tron, & when a riled Burnley lad on a few bevvies feels hard done by, he’s always gonna have a pop. So I rushes up to the bouncer, gives him five seconds to apologise, slow-counts down, then gives him the gentlest tap on the cheek. That was the final straw for his infantile mind & in a flash theres several bouncers giving me armlocks, punishing my pressure points & calling the cops. Luckily mi bird & her mates, along with about twenty bystanders, were eager witnesses to the heavy-handed steroid-addicts & on the cops arrival, the bouncers were told, in no uncertain terms, that if they wanted to prosecute me, they’d all be coming too! A triumph for people power I believe! During all this it was funny to see folk arriving for the Disco only to see me cuffed up in the back of a cop-car. Mi bird was magnificent, mustering the troops & annoying the cops, & even bantering with my ex, Glenda, who’d arrived on the scene, saying, ‘I bet ya glad ya dumped him now!’ Priceless!

A free man again I raved it up for a couple of days then set off on my new mission. This time its the med & I know its just gonna be buzzin! For a start I’ll have a couple of companions. There’s the ertswhile Victor Pope, long-term buddy & benevolent housemate, who’s coming to Italy for the whole month. He’ll be a bit like Byron’s Hobhouse, while Paul, who joins us after 10 days, will be the groups troubadour. At Brindisi, in SE Italy, Victor flies home while me & Paul will then sail onto Greece. There the Byronic parralels continue. I’m 35 at present, the same age Byron was when he went to Greece to help them fight in their war of independance against the Turks. Unfortunatley, before the action began, he contracted malaria & was bled to death by his doctors, a fate I hope I shall avoid!

Whereas Byron was funding an army with the proceeds of the sale of Newstead Abbey, Im living off fifty quid a week, but i believe my own mission is rather more noble. While in Greece, I have a number of objectives, of which the principal ones are;

1 – To compose the latter portions of my 12-year epic poem, Axis & Allies, on the slopes of Mount Parnassus.

2- To Drink the waters of the Helicon Spring

3 – To finish my book on the Homeric Question, which includes identifying the site of Odysseus’ palace on Cephalonia (which I’ve already done this summer in the National Library of Scotland)

4 – To DJ Tinky Disco at various party bars across the country

5 – To Visit Olympia in preparation for next years London Games, where I shall be writing Victory Odes

6 – To Visit Hissalrik – the site of ancient Troy – in NW Turkey (its not that far from Thessalonika, our depature airport)
As journeys of a thousand miles begin with a single step, I was helped up Leith Walk by Victor & his plus-one bus pass. I was carrying weight, including a bag full of Charlie’s clothes he’d left at my pad last year before our soiree round the Raj – after buying me a ticket to India it was the least I could do to drop ‘em off back down the capital. I left him at Waverly, jumped on a coupel of trains & pulled into Burnley by 11PM for a couple of beers with my dad. I’d told him I’d told the bouncers while they were trying to inflict pain on me that I’d told them I was from Burnley & they couldn’t hurt me & could the gay bouncer please stop rubbing his cock up against me – which brought a flourish of Lancashire pride to our father-son bonding session. It was one of those family moments, I guess, for he’d just found out my sister’s preganant with her second kid, & he was all over my birthday sonnet to him – which I give in full…

MI’ DAD

Yes, I’m really glad yer mi dad, dad,
Yer the best that a young lad could have, dad,
Far better than the king of Baghdad,
Yer mi dad, dad!

Aye, I’m really glad I’m yer lad, dad
Cos I get to crash in yer pad, dad
& chat to yer when I’m all sad, dad
Yer mi dad, dad!

Yer always so bloody well clad, dad
& make the best eggs that I’ve had, dad
But yer brews, bloody ‘ell, they’re so bad, dad
Yer mi dad, dad

& better still, yer mi mate, mate
& I love yer, an that’s fuckin great!

After a morning with mi wee niece Becky & a couple of hours with my best mate Nicky & his wee lad Lei-Bau, I caught, for the first time, the mega-bus from Burnley. I’d got it a couple of weeks back for a bargain quid, & awaited my London-bound course with excitement. What I was presented was a mad-cap ride round West Yorkshire, via Keighley & Bradford, before ending up in Halifax – only twenty miles from Burnley – two & a half hours after setting off. Then we finally got moving, via Huddersfield, & arrived at East Midlands Parkway in the October blackness of 9PM. There I changed onto an inter-city train & finally chugged into Saint Pancras at 11PM. A mad amount of travelling for the price of a king size can of Iron Brew.

Waiting for me in the megalopolis were Victor & Charlie, passing on the damo-travel-companion baton over a beer. After giving Charlie his clothes, I bid him adeiu with a hug & hiked off with Victor down to Holburn where we caught a bus with his free Scottish plus-one pass. The driver was completely baffled by it & let us on, & not long after we were in Stratford, under the shadow of the new Olympic Stadium, a rather apt moment considering my forthcoming odyssey to the home of the Olympics in Elis, Greece. It was midnight ny now, & we set off along the dark roads to Leytonstone, picking up cheap beer from dodgy Turkish 24 hour shops – I mean if you could get two bottles of wine for a fiver after midnight in Edinburgh, my world would be a better place.

At the 491 Gallery Cliff was his usual sparky self. He’s had a mental summer, getting arrested on ketamine while pushing his mate’s baby in a pram. This completely jeopardised his illegal status (he’s over run his visa by 10 years), but somehow I think he’s got away with is & the sword of Damocles thats been hanging over his head for so many years has suddenly dropped to his shoulder & knighted him Sir Citizen!

So its now Wednesday afternoon, & me, Victor & Cliff are about to record a one-off live album in among the bohemian surroundings of the Gallery – a fine way to kick off the tour.

Leytonstone
12.10.11

You can check Cliff out in action at the start of this film…