It’s 4am but I’m resisting sleep in case any UK-based people I love decide to email me.
I’m in a motel somewhere in Arizona. Anything American sounds glamorous but it’s no different from a travel inn off the M6. No, scratch that, it is totally glamorous: three hours ago we stopped the car on the freeway to swap drivers and, as we stretched our legs, we realised the night sky was totally incredible. There’s nothing between the cities in this bit of desert scrubland, just this immensely long straight road (in our case, the 10) and the occasional nuclear power plant, so hardly any light pollution. The stars are overwhelming. For Stephen too, because he’s in LA, where there’s no night sky. Earlier today we drove back down into the north-east corner of LA, coming off the 5 to head east. And the smog was thick as a tidemark on the horizon, high above the hills.
Isle Of Man
To give you an idea how small the plane was, to fly between Belfast and the Isle Of Man, the safety instructions were given by the pilot swivelling around in his seat and just telling us them. 14 passengers. 22 minute flight, very, very shaky. Fucking Steam Packet ferry company bastards, not running a service til April.
We’d upgraded to a ‘gold’ ticket (about £15 extra) because I was worried about taking my guitar on the plane. This turned out to be a blessing, because it gave me access to BMI’s ‘executive’ lounge at Belfast Airport, where I piled into the free bloody marys for breakfast. Unfortunately Manx2 flights aren’t called in the BMI lounge, so I couldn’t relax in case I lost track of time.
IOM was awe-inspiring, thank-you Ballagroove, as always fantastic hosts. Ate at The Sound twice, the cafe overlooking the Calf, which is my favourite place in the world, official. Didn’t go there this time but will when the weather is warmer.
I always leave the Isle Of Man determined to move there. I’ve been lucky enough to visit some of the most beautiful places around the world but somehow IOM takes the cake. Actually, the only thing wrong with the trip was I was dying for some cake after the trolley at The Sound looked yummy, but I never got any.
In and out and a bad set choice. Earlier in the day Rifa and me went to Deane City Farm, where they have a white peacock.
Later, for the Gaza gig at Kings College, I played the role of the political protest singer, rolling out all the lefty anti-war stuff and I wish I hadn’t. Some softer or more psych material would’ve actually really offset things. They didn’t need more politics. Jeremy Hardy was on just before me and he was terrific, still the same chap but harder-edged than his Radio 4 persona. He said ‘fuck’. The organisers were very sweet and the BBC acts were charming, so despite the usual chaos of a political event, a good time was had by all. Lovely to briefly see Skulls McMurphy and his charming new Missus. Odd culture/generation clash between the KCL union organisers and the BBC staff but everyone just seemed to enjoy it.
When I got home from the Isle Of Man I accidentally put my brand new passport in the washing machine. You can read about the outcome of that little moment in my new Morning Star column.
I’m going to sleep now, nobody emailed so it’s zzzzzzz time and I’ll write about San Diego and San Francisco tomorrow.