The voyage of the apocalypse.

I was looking forward to the first festival of the summer, because I love Devon. May in Devon is just heavenly, as a rule. I’d been travelling a lot and fitting in a lot before getting to London to finish making a bunch more stock/flyers etc. But there was a definite lifting in spirits as I set off early on Sunday morning, snacks and flasks and other hobbit rations within reach, empty roads, adventures to be had. I had to be in Devon by 1.30pm so I was hoping for smooth travels. All was fine until the last leg, when the main road was inexplicably closed. The diversion took everyone into a gridlocked town centre. Half an hour passed agonizingly without any movement. 
I extricated myself and took the cross country route, hoping iphone battery would last. Gorgeous hedgerows full of bluebells, cow parsley, primroses were sufficiently fulsome in the sunshine to take the edge off mounting anxiety and I rattled into Clovelly 30 mins before set time. It’s a stunning village on the North Devon coast. I had time for a cup of tea and then got on to a stage that overlooked the Atlantic and the curve of the beach. 


There was a general mellow atmosphere of enjoyment, there was a hog roast, there were crayfish sandwiches; in short all was delightful. I used my loop pedal. People were nice and seemed to like the songs. I handed out some fliers and heard some great blues from Jim Crawford before my kind hosts spirited me away.  

The next morning I left at about 11 having visited a long lost great aunt. Felt quite smug, thought of all those folk who’d be stuck in traffic later and congratulated myself on leaving early.

The first stretch of road had temporary traffic lights and a bottle neck. I approached the first motorway thinking, now we’ll get going.

I got round the first bend and saw epic tailbacks stretching north towards Bristol, which was still 30 miles away.Image

I can’t STAND sitting in traffic, so I left the motorway and decided I’d go on A roads and bank on the city centre being deserted on a bank holiday. A roads were deserted. Why were all those people so accepting of their fate at spending the day in the car? I never understand that kind of default mentality. 

I was starting to get a little smug again by the time I whisked through Bristol. ‘Well, now I get to see what Bristol’s like. This is fun! As soon as I get to the M4 I’ll be back to London in a couple of hours’

As I approached the motorway, a huge panel flashed ‘M4 shut junctions 14-17. Long delays.’ Oh dear. I settled on an alternative route via quite a long detour, but I just can’t hack sitting on the mway doing nothing. Of course! Leave extra time in case major motorways suddenly close completely a propos de rien! Off I trundled, slow but moving traffic through dense drizzle. Eventually I reached my turn off to go cross country. The drizzle intensified into enormous gobs of rain. Image. After crawling through pretty villages in the Cotswolds, still selling this to myself as a great adventure and an opportunity to see the countryside, I came round a bend to find more tailbacks, only this time they were all sitting in inches of hailstones. The hail came out of nowhere and pelted ferociously down on the roof of the car (I recorded it on my phone and might use it in some kind of abstract soundscape things at some point.). The day after I saw in the paper Oxfordshire had been site of freak soft cell super size storm of the kind more usually found in wild bits of America, complete with tornados. Of course! Leave extra time in case of tornados!

I was started to wonder what kind of fresh hell was about to be visited upon me. The radio in the borrowed car wasn’t working, so I had no means of checking on all these shut motorways and apocalyptic storms. I was starting to hope very fervently that people’s enjoyment of the gig was commensurate. 

Just as suddenly as it started the hail storm stopped. The rain became merely heavy. I circled Oxford and the rest of the journey passed relatively smoothly, dwindling eyesight/energy notwithstanding. I did an hour of yoga when I arrived, because I have turned into a parody of my demographic, and because I have middle aged aches and pains and it gets rid of them. I was also wired from caffeine and yet intensely spaced out in the way ongoing concentration makes you. 

So I had plenty of time in the silent car to reflect that there’s no possible rationalizing this music thing; I don’t think any of the folk who took fliers or expressed their agreeableness to the candythief thing have downloaded music or come on to the facebook, but either you are getting out and doing gigs, or you are not.  It was very enjoyable as an adventure. 

The next morning I woke unsociably early to get the train back to Edinburgh. I had ordered a minicab to take me to the train. The minicab pulled away from outside my mother’s house. At the first junction, he slammed on the brakes and to my horror I saw a moped tip over. (It was still raining by the way.) He jumped out-the girl was thankfully unhurt but of course in a state of shock. He gave her his details and made sure she was ok. I watched the minutes tick forward, trying not to think about the train. 25 mins later we’re on the move again. I leave extra time, but this was definitely tight & I had guitars and bags so couldn’t really run for the train. *Of course-always leave extra time in case the minicab driver knocks someone over*. 

I did make the train in the end, and sat opposite a very charming business man from New Orleans, who had wonderful southern manners. 

This is weird but strangely compelling. 

is freaky, but kind of cool.


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