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Blog: Hey Hey Nottingham

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On Saturday Mr S Hewitt and I met at Kings Cross Station to travel to distant Nottingham, where we were due to do a preview of Hey Hey 16K. We were both feeling a bit "tired" so agreed to spend the first leg of our journey in quiet contemplation and then do our LINEZ practice when we got to Grantham - it being a bank holiday weekend the rail networks had, of course, decided to muck about with all the trains so we couldn't go on our usual direct route.

When we got to Grantham we were distracted by the sight of many many families trying to get themselves and their copious luggages onto a small train heading to Skegness. It was half term so they were all heading off on their holidays, and CRIKEY I felt like I needed one after watching the struggle. Steve had to be restrained from going BERZERK and screaming "JUST get ON the TRAIN!!!" as they dashed up and down the platform trying to find a completely clear vestibule. It looked like some of them didn't manage to get on, which was odd because when the train pulled out of the station the last carriage was half empty!

Anyway, we got on our train, arrived in Nottingham, strode through town and found the gates next to the alley leading to The Chameleon LOCKED, with a "Planning Application" sign attached to them. Were we at the right place? Was this even the right day?!? Luckily PANIC was abated by the arrival of Mr Joey Chickenskin, who was also playing, so at least if we were wrong we were all wrong together. We popped to the pub next door for a swift half, during which our promoter Mr A Hale texted to say he'd arrived and the venue had been opened. PHEW!

We got in, got set up, sat around for a bit, and then welcomed Mr Peter Knight and Mrs Marina Knight. Pete used to be a regular at Totally Acoustic amongst MANY other things but I'd not seen him for YEARS, so was delighted to be doing so again!

Joey got up and did his set of MEATYARD songs which I enjoyed even more after learning the true story of their history, then professional Alexander Hale lookalike Alan Poirot did an excellent set culminating in a new NON-SHAKIRA cover which I heartily endorse (NB: Spice Girls!). At this point the Machine family arrived, also Sarah and Geoff, and we were set for SHOWTIME!

Well, we were NEARLY set for showtime - Steve and I realised that we'd not actually worked out a new way to do History's Re-written to make it more SPRIGHTLY, so we had a quick go and THEN it was showtime!

It all seemed to go pretty well - there were SEVERAL moments when we forgot what we were meant to be doing but I think that adds to the CHARM, and people appeared to follow what was happening, also LARF!

Afterwards there was hugging and thank yous and then a small group of us went round the corner to the Ned Ludd and some PINTS before Steve and I had to wend our way back to the station for our first train, back towards Grantham. Things didn't look too good when we arrived as the platform had a liberal sprinkling of VERY DRUNK PEOPLE. The ancient legend that Nottingham has 7 times as many women as men (which, apparently, WAS true-ish back in the days of the Lace industry) attracts a lot of Stag parties, many of whom had clearly started VERY EARLY. The train was full of beer and sick and sat on the station for what felt like AGES. An announcement came over saying we were delayed because another train had had to call THE POLICE due to people being drunk, so we set off about 12 minutes late... which meant that we, and about 200 other people, were going to MISS our connection to London! ARGH!

When we all piled out at Grantham the driver was very annoyed by the fact that a couple of people were politely asking him what they should do. "It's a different train company," he snarled, "I've no way of knowing." Now, I'm pretty sure that he could have GUESSED that a lot of people would be having this problem, and that he could have rung Network Rail to ask them, and they could probably have held the connecting train by approx 4 minutes to make sure we all MADE this connection, but as SO OFTEN happens with trains he seemed to have not thought of it. MORE annoyance came as we all trudged over to the other side of the station where more staff looked perplexed and harassed to find that, on a bank holiday weekend when hundreds of people would be coming through their station due to planned engineering works, there were hundreds of people coming through their station. They seemed ANGRY that we were doing so and then having the cheek to ask them questions about a situation that they would have had full knowledge of for at least half an hour.

As you can probably tell I found the whole experience a) EXTREMELY ANNOYING and b) a reminder of how train travel used to be when I first started gigging around the country. To complete the experience a tannoy announced that although we had arrived late from Nottingham (i.e. it was our fault for being tardy) and so had missed our reserved seats, they would allow us onto the next train, coming through in 40 minutes. SO KIND!

The next train was a lovely, massive, mostly EMPTY Hull Trains train so we had an entirely pleasant journey back home again and said our goodbyes at Kings Cross in the full knowledge that we'd be back a week later for our next gig, in historic YORK. The preview tour had very much BEGUN!

posted 26/5/2015 by MJ Hibbett

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