And so its the fourth week of the tour and everything is rolling along smoothly and happily like a big smooth and happy musical juggernaut and, reoccurring colds and flu aside, everyone is doing great. I feel very happy and settled into the routine and am absolutely loving all of the gigs and all of the guys. Everything I need for each night I have in the boot of my car, and life as I knew it before seems like a million years ago. This leg of the tour would take us to Yorkshire, Lancashire, Hertfordshire, Leicestershire, East Sussex and Kent and here is what happened in week four!
Friday 21st February, City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds
‘Woke up at the crack of 2pm after a big sleep to the cat licking me on the nose and meowing very quietly in a ‘please will you get up now’ kind of way. Two seconds later my big wind up alarm clock went off and I hit the ceiling and am now up having coffee and coming round ready for setting off to Leeds soon with lovely Miss Leila Moonbeams! Very much looking forward to seeing Gerry, Ani, Rob, Amy and John W tonight at Leeds! Looking forward slightly less to finding somewhere to park as the nearest car park to the City Varieties is I believe in Bradford, but its a gorgeous venue so will be worth it! :o) xx’
After setting the alarm for 2pm I woke up feeling a little bit bleary, stumbled down and made a pot of coffee and started getting ready for Leeds! I was very excited that my lovely friend Leila was coming along with me, a longtime Cropredy goer, the lady behind the amazing Moonbeams acoustic gigs and Moonbeams Wold Top Festival in Driffield and one of my best friends. Leila arrived at 3.30pm with a bag of Wold Top Ale for the guys and the most wonderful pork pie I have ever seen! She ordered it from Tindall’s in town and had them bake Fairport Convention on the top of it in pastry and it was a beauty!
Car loaded up with pie, beers and guitar, we headed off and after a quick stop at Stamford Bridge post office to send off my sister’s Birthday pressie, we made it to Leeds fine and decided to pull up and unload in the narrow alleyway by the venue that Andy had managed to squeeze the big blue truck down. With the theatre being slap bang in the middle of town, it was going to be quite a hike to find a car park so we parked up and made our way inside with everything and after a chat with the lovely venue managers, I found out that there was a 50/50 chance of getting a parking ticket if we left it there the whole night, and that they definitely didn’t clamp and the tickets were about £25. It took me about 4 milliseconds to decide to risk it! It would be worth £25 not to have to schlep miles to a car park and back to park up the car, and then to do it again to go get it after the show! I went out and pulled it over a little tighter to the wall, popped my ‘Artist Vehicle’ sign from Mick in the window and headed back in!
I was also excited that the lovely Gerry and Ani McNeice were coming along to the show that night, as was our lovely friend Drew and his daughter Emerlee, and also John Waterson and his son Alex. Leila and I spotted Drew, Ani and Gerry in the pub next door when we arrived and we all arranged to meet up in the interval.
The City Varieties has had a huge makeover since I last played there in 2005. They have kept the theatre itself as it was, a beautiful Victorian music hall concert room, but have redone the backstage area and made lots of lovely cosy and modern dressing rooms.
The band had already arrived and were soundchecking and after my soundcheck everyone took loads of photos of the lovely theatre and the atmosphere was fun and very jolly. The pork pie was a huge hit with the guys and they were really thrilled with it, it really was something to behold! We had some fun backstage taking photos of that too!
Knowing that so many friends were going to be in the audience was a little daunting! I felt pretty nervous before going on, it’s always so much easier to sing when nobody you know is there I find. For all its beauty, it was a tough room sound wise, and on top of the nerves I had to rise above it not being quite as brilliant a sound as usual, which was nobody’s fault at all, just the way it is in that room. It was such a pretty room though that the beauty of it totally made up for the acoustics.
It was lovely to play regardless and after my set Leila and I headed down to the foyer to find Ellen and Martin and I set up my CDs. It was a very tiny area that we had for the merch table, and we all squeezed in as best we could! John and Alex were down there as were Drew and Emerlee and much fun was had and more photos were taken. So much fun in fact that the house manager came along and shushed us all for being too loud which was a little bit embarrassing!
The interval came and the tiny foyer was soon swamped with audience members and after a flurry of CD signing and lots of chatting, the second half began. After a bit of fun with Peggy, Drew, Mick and Leila in the Green Room, where I was very tickled by Drew and Peggy’s story swapping and joke telling, I went up to get ready for going on again to join the band. I really loved singing Who Know Where The Time Goes again, its such a treat every single time, and also loved the finale with everyone, which is also a treat and brilliant fun every night.
With the show all done, everybody headed down to the foyer to join Ellen and Martin, and after another flurry of CD signings and lots of chat, we all headed back to the dressing rooms to pack up. As Owain, Andy, Mick and the theatre crew were loading the lorry, Leila and I loaded the car, which wonderfully had not got a parking ticket (yes!) and I asked Owain if he would check my lights as a funny symbol had come on in the car on the way there, one I hadn’t seen before, and I was hoping very much it was a light or something, and not the engine. Sure enough, the right headlight was out, which was a relief on the one hand but made for a very dark drive home! After a round of goodbyes we were on the way and I dropped off gorgeous Leila and headed home to bed after a truly lovely and proper Yorkshire night indeed!
‘Luxuriously home and in pyjamas after the Leeds gig tonight which was so nice! What a pretty theatre, and what a lovely night for me having gorgeous Miss Leila with me, and Drew, Emerlee, Gerry and Ani there too, and it was so nice to finally meet John! :o) The old saying that its easier to perform in front of people you don’t know really is true as I was extra nervous tonight playing to so many people I know, but all went great and everyone was so nice! Special Thanks to Martin for being so lovely on the CD table and making it all okay even though it was a very teeny area at tonight’s venue and a bit squashed for space. Highlights of the night for me were listening to Peggy and Drew swapping jokes about gigs that have no bar, Leila’s magnificent pork pie, not getting a parking ticket and Simon taking my photo! Loved it :o) xx’
Saturday 22nd February, Burnley Mechanics
‘Off to Burnley with a plate and a fork :o) x’
After a really fab night’s sleep I had what felt like gloriously ages to potter about and get ready before setting off to Burnley Mechanics. With Burnley, like Leeds, being within two hours drive from my house, I was going to be able to go there and come home afterwards again which felt really luxurious.
I had been told about the wonderful Indian restaurant The Kashmir in Bradford that the band stop and have lunch at every year as a tradition before the Burnley gig, and as Andy, Owain and I were going to be missing it, Simon and Mick had very kindly offered to get us all a takeaway instead, so I packed a plate and a fork, and a serving spoon too before setting off, all ready!
After a quick stop in town at the motor shop to get my headlight bulb replaced I got on the way. I knew from my venue car parking sheet from Mick that tonight on arrival, I would have to pop inside and get a permit for my car, so after finding the car park and pulling up next to Andy’s blue truck, I got out of the car and was just wondering which back door was the right one, when one of them opened and a venue manager came out and said ‘hello, would you like a permit?’ Perfect timing! :o)
Car sorted, I unloaded my guitar and bag and CDs and headed on in, and made my way to the dressing rooms where Mick had already allocated us all one each, signs up and all, he really is brilliant, and in my dressing room was my Indian Takeaway! I felt very spoilt indeed and decided I would have it later, after my set, and got my plate and fork and spoon out ready, and started getting ready.
BBC Radio Lancashire were recording the concert that night and I bumped into the lovely Phil Brown whose folk music show The Drift I have played several times over the years. A really lovely guy, he told me it was his team that were recording the show and that it would most likely be broadcast sometime in March, after the tour. It was so lovely to see him and after a bit of a natter and a catch up, he went off to set up and I went to finish getting ready.
After wrestling into my tights I went off to find a cup of coffee in the Green Room and found Chris in there having a little play on his mandolin, and had a lovely chat with him. Often after soundcheck, while Im getting ready, I hear the sound of Chris’s playing drifting down the corridor, and Ric’s fiddle sometimes too and its really lovely. After soundcheck every night, Owain puts on a CD called Take Three by a trio called Take Three, made up of Gerry, his wife Jacqui McShee and Alan Thompson. It’s a beautiful album and has become a part of our tour routine that I really love. Hearing Jaqcui’s gorgeous voice start to float around the building every evening means that all of the preparation for the gig is done, all of us are here and soundchecked, all we have to do is get dressed and ready and that the countdown to showtime has begun. I have bought myself a copy of the album as I’ve come to know it so well now, and the rest of my whole life, whenever I listen to it, I will think of all these evenings getting ready backstage at all of these wonderful gigs.
While in the Green Room I also spotted two plates of the nicest looking sandwiches ever on the side! Big Lancashire baps with loads of lovely fillings all cut in half and on a tray! This was clearly one of the venues that provided refreshments backstage, so I decided at that moment to take my Indian takeaway home and have a sandwich after playing instead! A wise decision really, as in spite of having a fork, spoon and plate on hand I would still probably have got it everywhere knowing me.
I was looking forward to the gig, and was excited and happy getting ready. Of all the gigs so far, it felt like at this one that everything was clicking and that I knew what I was doing onstage without being complacent, and that I was getting on with all of the guys okay and that all was going really well. Everyone was in a good mood, camaraderie felt great and I really loved being there.
A lovely friend Jane from Uni days had let me know she was coming along and after a really enjoyable set and a fab first half by the band, I spotted her in the interval and arranged to meet up with her after the show as it was pretty busy and hectic at the CD table as usual.
With the second half done, and a fab show all round, I headed back down to the foyer and again met some lovely people during the post show meet and greet. Jane went off to get her programme and CDs signed by the band while I signed CDs at the table and at one point while signing a CD, a big sponge round thing appeared in front of my nose and I looked up to find Phil from the BBC pointing a mic at me and saying ‘Edwina, just say for me very quickly “Fairport are absolutely fantastic and I think they’re brilliant” would you love?’ It was so comical and fab I of course did so and he then shot off across the room to interview someone else and the person whose CD I had been signing while all of this happened started talking to me about how much he loves Fairport, and also Mica Paris! The random combination of his two favourite artists really tickled me and gave me an urge to interview him, quick-fire style, like Phil had just done! So I grabbed my phone and asked him if he would mind, and he said no, and so I recorded a little interview with Steve! Who loves Fairport – and Mica! :o)
After the audience had made their way homewards, I packed up my CDs with Ellen and Martin, had a roly and a natter with Jane out front until her lift arrived and wandered back up the dressing rooms to pack away.
Backstage I discovered that the guys had cut up Leila’s fabulous pie and had all been loving it! It was so popular with one friend of the band who came along, a lovely chap called Mike Bell, who tickled me greatly as he was such a character, that he insisted I write down the name of the shop it had come from as he enjoyed his second big piece! It was so lovely, definitely a superstar pork pie of the highest order!
I got all of my bits and pieces downstairs, rather wonderfully in the service lift that the guys were using to load out all the band equipment which saved me a huge trek, and after a natter and a roly with Andy, Owain and Gerry by the back of the truck, went to my car and realised Id left my keys up in the dressing room! So much for the easy exit! I went back in and up to the dressing room and found them and came back down again and was amazed to see Owain with a couple of small oranges. He told me that he really loves them, a particular kind in fact from Marks and Spencers, and I was very impressed with the healthiness! It can be really hard to eat well on the road, I know I live on sandwiches and crisps most of the time, so I was really impressed with Owains oranges! Got a fab photo of Andy on the back of the lorry too!
Car finally unlocked and packed I headed off home and very unhealthily had my Indian takeaway when I got there (although in my defence I only had half) and it was amazing! It also almost blew my head off it was brilliantly spicy and it felt like it was blowing away a few cobwebs and hopefully some of the lingering cold that was still kicking around in my nose and throat. With the other half cling-filmed in the fridge, I headed to bed with my alarm set for St Albans.
‘Home from the most lovely night in Burnley, cat fed, washing in, pyjamas on and having the most amazing Indian food Ive ever had courtesy of Simon, Mick and the guys who made their annual visit to the Kashmir today and very kindly got Owain, Andy and I a takeaway. Wowee its good! It was lovely to see Miss Jane, and Phil from The Drift and was yet another gorgeous gig. Everybody had a long drive home tonight and I hope all the guys made it okay and really looking forward to St Albans tomorrow xx’
Sunday 23rd February, The Apex Theatre, St Albans
‘Getting ready to head off to St Albans for the last show of the week. Its blowing a gale outside here in Driffield, Ive gone to answer the door twice thinking someone was knocking but its just the windows rattling in the wind. Really looking forward to tonight but wishing I could shake this dry throat. I think a few coffees and waters on the way down will help! In other news am excited that its Rosie’s Birthday tomorrow! I can’t believe my little Sis is going to be 27! :o) xx’
Woke up to a very windy Driffield sometime around eleven and made coffee and did a bit of admin and set off to St Albans in good time and then hit the M1! Being a Sunday I thought traffic wouldn’t be so bad but there are so many roadworky bits on the M1 at the moment that its pretty grim any day of the week these days it seems! Peggy had emailed that morning to tell me that Ellen had come down hard with the band cold, and would not be joining us all again till London, so I gave her a call on the hands free on the way and had a natter with her and hoped she would feel better soon.
I made it to the Northampton area and just as I thought all was going okay, I got stuck in a jam! I was inching along in gridlock for what seemed like ages, and I knowing that tonight that a good friend of the band, Leon Lewis, was coming to cook for everyone and that Peggy had said we would all be eating at 6pm, I was kicking myself stuck there on the motorway at the thought of missing it. However, after losing the will to live about 17 times, the traffic eventually started to move, and I somehow managed to arrive by half past six, after a small detour round the council offices next door Thanks to the sat nav not quite hitting the spot. I finally found the big blue truck and was greeted by Mick coming out to meet me, a very welcome sight indeed! I wasn’t quite sure where I should park up but with Mick’s help found a spot and he helped me carry my things in and to my amazement and delight I found that the band were still soundchecking and that no-one had started dinner yet! Hurray! I was introduced to Leon backstage and met his lovely family too, and Mick showed me to a dressing room and I was so glad to put my things down and relax! I did my soundcheck and started to get ready and Leon helped me put together an amazing plate of food from his wonderful veggie buffet that I saved for later. Leon has the vegetarian food stall at Cropredy and his food is incredible! It was such a treat and his puddings were also to die for!
The guys were all milling about backstage and there were some guests there also, and it was all very bustly and fun. I saw a jolly looking guy laughing with Simon but didn’t know who he was and Gerry had told me that hs wife Jacqui would be coming that night so I was looking forward to meeting her, but hadn’t seen her anywhere about yet so having arrived a little later than usual I concentrated on getting ready. I decided to take my CDs to the foyer after playing this night as I really didn’t have long to get ready and it was a long way to the front of house and back. Pushed for time I thought that it didn’t really matter about taking them down beforehand this once, as I would have lots of time after my set to go find Martin and the CD table, so I got ready and met Peggy in the wings ready to go on.
I really enjoyed playing and one of my oldest friends Andrea was in the audience, along with her husband Phil and some friends, so it was lovely to give them a mention and especially enjoyed the sound in the theatre, it was really nice and Owain’s sound as always made singing a joy. I met Andrea on the first day of high school in 1984 and seeing her in the interval later I was reminded of how little she has changed to me in almost 30 years! She’s a gorgeous girl and a wonderful friend and we have in all those years, never once fallen out! She works in London doing something fabulously high up in banking and has two gorgeous children and we don’t get to see each other much so I was so honoured she came along and it was so nice to give her a hug in the interval.
I slipped into the theatre just before the interval to get a photo and video clip of the band onstage, and was asked to leave by a lady member of staff! I couldn’t think of a way of telling her that I was in the show without sounding all diva-like so I whispered to her instead that I was writing a tour diary and just wanted to get a quick photo and video if it would be okay and she relented and said ‘oh go on then’ and allowed me to stay. :o)
After the interval and the usual flurry of CD selling and signing, I made my way back to the dressing rooms and backstage area and I met Jacqui! It was so nice to meet Mrs Gerry and I was able to tell her how much I enjoyed her music every night. She was full of the awful cold that was still going round the band like a dose of salts, and I felt for her being so bunged up and didn’t bother her for too long but she was beautiful and gracious and I was thrilled to meet her. Peggy came and showed me a fab magazine article that had just come out about the band which was wonderful to read. Matt looks so much young Peggy its amazing! I loved seeing all the photos in the article and took some pics which you can see below. Speaking of Matt, I don’t think I have met many guys as laid back and good-natured as he is. He’s always in a good mood and is a pleasure to be around anytime, I really am enjoying his company and he’s pretty fab on the bass as well. With the guys all having lunch most days courtesy of Simon the lunch Maestro, the first thing Matt often does when I see him on arrival is pat his tummy and groan about how is is growing with all the lovely food! The first time he did it I thought oh my god, he is joking about my tummy, which seems to stick out most days in spite of my attempts to hem it in with a variety of Bridget Jones style undergarments, and I was mortified for about 3 seconds until I realised he was talking about his own tummy! He’s the nicest lad you could hope to meet and I really do like him a lot. :o)
Leon’s little girl was backstage also and was so cute! A budding violinist she was really funny and chatty and I was also introduced to the man Id seen laughing with Simon earlier on, who turned out to be an ex Fairport member Maartin Allcock and who I liked instantly! Full of fun and with a twinkle in his eye he was a riot and it was a great atmosphere backstage all in all. I was introduced also to Maartin’s wife Jan also, a lovely lady who was sat chatting with Jacqui, and I had a really lovely chat with Mick too, who amazes me more every night with his kindness, ceaseless hard work and wonderful personality.
After a very jolly time I went up to sing Who Knows Where The Time Goes, and especially loved singing it in that gorgeous sounding room. Then it was time for the encore and Maartin came out onstage with Jan to join in which was really nice! Maartin did an awesome guitar solo and I shared my mic with Jan and loved singing with her, what a treat! It was my favourite Meet On The Ledge of the tour so far!
After the show I headed with Peggy back to the foyer, which was very funny and lovely as he makes me feel like TIna Turner every night shouting ‘the lovely Edwina Hayes is here with me, on her way to sign CDs, come and meet the lovely Edwina Hayes!’ :o) During the whirlwindy meet and greet I met a lovely lady called Sophie who told me she has a blog too and that she would be mentioning tonight’s show in her next posting! The Blog website is called The Lost Fox and is ‘One woman’s experience as she turns her back on 44 years of supporting Leicester City and instead turns her affections to her local football team-to-be, St Albans City FC.’ True to her word, the gig was given a lovely mention by Sophie on her website and here is what she has to say, Thankyou Sophie!
“And before you know it we are headlong into Sunday where there is a parental visit (always entertaining) as we all make our Alban Arena debut. Here we cheer on the mighty Fairport Convention. Who if they were a football team would by my reckoning be called FCFC. As a somewhat…ahem….more mature bunch they are more, shall we say ‘experienced’ than the mighty Saints and it does make a pleasant change to be watching a team of people that are not younger than you. They do suffer injuries just as any football team, their bass player facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to a dish-washer-unloading injury (tres rock n roll). Just like Saturday I witness a match-winning performance. Similar stuff from the support act too; the very talented, very nice, younger than me; but I will forgive her, definite northerner, Edwina Hayes.”
Andrea and Phil had slipped away after the show as they had a babysitter to get back to and Andrea had to be up for work at 5.30am, so after packing away the CDs I headed backstage to get changed and pack up my dressing room and headed out to the car. I tallied up the contents of my CD money tin and found I had sold a record amount of CDs on this night, loads more than usual which was astonishing and a lovely surprise!
Car packed and sat nav set I made a few calls before setting off as I have come to find that in the car after the gig is the only chance I really have to have a few chats with family and friends before they go to bed. Doing proper jobs for a living, they go to bed at a reasonable hour rather than swanning about at all hours of the night like me, so I do love to check in and have a bit of a natter when I can. On this night I talked for so long that Andy’s big blue truck was loaded and on its way down the road while I was still sat in the car, as were Mick and the guys in the band van! Last one to leave I finally got on the road and made it home around 4am after a much smoother ride, mainly because I went up the A1 this time instead of the M1! It was a brilliant night and I went to bed knowing tomorrow was a day off which felt wonderful!
‘Homeward bound from St Albans where it was wonderful to see my gorgeous friend Andrea, who Ive known for 30 years now (blimey!) and her lovely hubby and friends. Thankyou so much for spending all that money to come and will see you for an afternoon in the pub very soon! :o) xxx’
‘One more cigarette from home x’
Monday 24th February, Day Off!
‘Wishing my lovely Sister Rosie a very Happy Birthday today and Cagney and Lacey is finally back on BBC 2 in the afternoons after weeks of golf and darts and snooker and other boring things! A happy day! :o)’
After a mega sleep, I again stumbled downstairs, made coffee and fed the cat sometime after Noon and once I could speak, I rang my sister to wish her Happy Birthday! My Mum had my sister later in life and I am 13 years older so she is very precious and still very much my baby sister who I adore. Unlike me, Rosie is very tall and blonde, effortlessly cool and totally fab. She is the Spa receptionist at the very swish Corinthia Hotel in Mayfair and is a fabulously talented beauty therapist. All the celebs go there and she handles them all very coolly, finding bags for Sienna Miller’s shoes, showing Oprah Winfrey around the Spa, chatting to Jennifer Aniston, dealing with Johnny Depp, all of this is just a days work for Rose!
I had arranged to have dinner with my lovely Mum that night and planned to start work on the Week Three blog in the afternoon, but after going to the bank, doing some emails and admin, the day somehow disappeared, and after spending a lovely few hours with my Mum, I came home around 10pm to find I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I watched an episode of Cagney and Lacey that I had recorded, as it is currently on BBC Two every afternoon brilliantly, and decided to go to bed and get up early to start the blog as I was so sleepy, and was out like a light!
My lovely elderly black cat was happy to have me home and again sat on my laptop bag a lot as if to say, I’m sitting on this so you will stay here with me instead of disappearing off! Again I must Thank my Mum and my fiend Alastair for looking after her between them all these weeks, they have been amazing and it has meant that my lovely old girl has been able to stay home rather than be in the cattery, which is wonderful.
‘Where has the day gone? Its dark now and Ive done nothing! xx’
Tuesday 25th February, Loughborough Town Hall
‘This week’s blog almost done, am heading off to Loughborough for the start of week four of the tour. Sunday night seems like a million years ago instead of the day before yesterday, really looking forward to seeing everybody xx’
After getting up and working on the blog for a few hours, I had to down tools and get ready for the show in Loughborough. I was worried about not having finishing it in time to post that day, as I had done the previous two weeks, and emailed the guys to tell them it would be a day or two late, and set off to Leicestershire! On my way out of town I called at the post office to collect a parcel that had come while I was out and had been left at the post office for me to collect instead. The only trouble was the post office had moved, and I couldn’t find it! I put a note on facebook asking if anyone knew where they had put the post office please, and I found it in the end and picked up what turned out to be an enormous parcel, all wrapped up in brown paper, from my friend Tony in Nashville. With no time to open it yet I popped it in the boot and got on my way to the gig.
After finding the venue I parked up in the car park and made my way to the back door and rang the buzzer and nothing! I went round for ages with my bags and finally found a back gate and rang Mick, who came out to find me right away! I was uncharacteristically in a really grumpy mood for about 5 minutes until Mick told me what had happened to him on his day off! Mick is staying in Banbury for the duration of the tour, near Fairport HQ so that he can pick all the guys up and drop them all off easily, and on his day off he had been driving his own vehicle and had hit a pothole which had caused over £500 worth of damage to it. The last thing he needed on his day off! He had also come down with a horrible virus, one that he had once had before and which was very serious, and had been to see a doctor and had been prescribed some very heavy-duty antibiotics. Upon hearing this I felt ashamed of myself for feeling grumpy just because Id had to carry my bags around the building for ten minutes and resolved to try to put my ridiculous worries into perspective from then on!
Mick had told me earlier in the tour that its really important to look after yourself as much as possible when on the road, as its very easy to go and go and go and then suddenly collapse if you’re not careful. He had seen it happen many times and on the strength of this I had invested in an array of vitamins from Boots to try to stave off any major coldy things and also some tablets to improve my brain which I have incidentally lost. That night though I felt pretty croaky, and to my horror I felt like my voice was going to go a couple of times during my set, a very rare thing. After coming off, I though wow, what happens if I lose my voice? The thought was horrifying and sobering and I hoped very much that it wouldn’t happen.
Backstage I gave Chris and Ric some Quorn savoury mini eggs as they has been on offer in Tescos the night before, three for two, and was thrilled to find that they liked them as much as I do! Mick, in spite of his horrible day and feeling so poorly, had bought some Dreamies cat treats for my cat which was lovely, and had also made me some ‘Display Copy Only’ labels to put on my CDs which was lovely also and made my CD display feel very executive!
Speaking of Mick, last week I promised you ‘Mick the Movie Star!’ and so I will tell you now that as well as being a Tour Manager, Mick also is very experienced in working in the film and television industry, and has worked on many films and TV shows. His nickname in the music world is Pingu and he is known in the film and TV world as Minn! He really is an amazingly interesting guy and here are just some of the things he has worked on:
Cyw Heul – S4C Drama . Transport & Genny Op. Appeared as himself – Biker
Y Palmant Aur “The Gold Pavement” – S4C Drama. Transport & Genny Op. Appeared as farmer, policeman, undertaker
First Knight (Richard Gere, Sean Connery, Julia Ormond, Ben Cross) Safety Lighting Crew. Had 13 Days on camera as a bad knight in varous scenes
Mortal Combat (Angelina Jolie). Transport & Genny Op
Dinotopia – Safety Crew
House of America (Sian Philips, MattRhys, Steve Macintosh, Lisa Palfrey) Transport, Motorcycle engineer, Motorcycle stunts.
Re-inventing Eddie (John Lynch, John Thomson) Transport.
Tair Chwaer “Three Sisters” – S4C Drama. Transport and Genny Op. Appeared as Mechanic, Biker, Drug Dealer.
Batman The Movie – Genny Op
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter) – Genny Op
Bright Young Things (Stephen Fry) – Transport and Genny Op
Only Fools and Horses – Last three shows – Transport and Genny Op
Casualty – Transport and Prop vehicles
Y Graith “The Scar” – S4C Drama – Transport and Genny Op. Prop vehicles
Down To Earth (Pauline Quirke, Angela Griffin) – Transport, including driving Amanda Holden
Blue Peter – Live building of studio ice rink (was given Zoe Salmon’s dressing room to sleep in!)
Top of the Pops – Two shows – Standby Rigger
Pop videos including: Siouxie and the Banshees, Boys To Men, GMX Stuns, Falco, Spoilt Victoria, Miec Stevens etc…
Y Parc “The Park” – S4C Drama – Transport, Vehicle stunts
Blue Juice (Ewan McGregor, Catherine Zeta Jones) – Transport
Torchwood Series One (Eve Myles, John Barrowman) – Transport
Happy Now (Ioan Gruffydd) – Transport and Genny Op, Vehicle stunts
Skins – Transport, Rigger
A Mind To Kill (Phillip Madoc) – Transport
Arthur’s Dyke (Pauline Quirke) Transport and Genny Op
Framed (Eve Myles and Trevor Eve) Transport and Safety
Human Traffic (Danny Dyer) Transport and Genny Op
Theory of Flight (Kenneth Branagh, Helena Bonham Carter) Transport and Genny Op, Prop vehicles
Soloman and Gaenor (Maureen Lipman, Nia Roberts, Ioan Gruffydd) Transport and Genny Op
Heartlands (Michael Sheen, Celia Imrie, Kate Rusby, Jim Carter) Transport, Motorcycle Engineer
Copenhagen – Transport
The Calling (Frances Magee) Transport and Genny Op
Willow – Transport and Rigging
Braveheart – Transport and Scots Rebel
What a list! :o) My favourites on there are the undertaker one and also Braveheart I think! He really is quite a guy and every day its a huge pleasure to be working with him.
The gig went great and the audience were super lovely. It was my first time ever being in Loughborough let along playing there, and vocal woes aside, I loved it. I got off home as I had a dentist appointment at noon the next day and had planned to go to that on my way to Worthing, which was the first of a run of 5 shows I would be away from home for, so had to make sure I was up and packed for 6 days on the road and all ready by noon!
I made it home around 2-3am after a very lovely stop at a services on the way for something to eat, and finally opened the huge parcel from Tony and was stunned by all the lovely pressies inside! Tony is a wonderful artist (Tony Armani) and inside the giant box were a lovely painting he had done of the cat, a set of Egyptian cotton sheets, coffee beans from my favourite Nashville coffee-house Bongo Java, chocolate, cookies, lovely posh smellies and a mug. I was overwhelmed it was so very lovely and I headed to bed feeling very happy and lucky indeed.
‘Just stopped for tea on the way home from Loughborough and theres only me and the man serving called me ‘me duck’ which was really nice :o) A quick zip home tonight after a lovely gig although my voice has gone croaky as heck which is a bit worrying. I felt I gave the worst performance of the tour tonight singing wise but then sold the second highest number of CDs so far in the 21 gigs we’ve done so am very bemused indeed! Maybe they liked my shoes? Feel very lucky anyway jeez! Loved seeing the guys again after the day off, I adore them all! In other news I picked up a gigantic parcel from Nashville at the post office on my way out of town this afternoon, when I finally found it, and cant wait to.open it when I get home, Thankyou Tony! :o) xx’
Wednesday 26th February, Connaught Theatre, Worthing
‘Getting ready to head down South with the tour for the next five days starting with Worthing tonight, via a trip to see Trevor the dentist in Beverley where he will change the wire in my braces and ratchet them down another notch. After taking my laptop out to the gig last night to work on the blog backstage, it reset itself to 1.02pm on April 8th 2008 again when I opened it up this morning, I don’t know why it keeps doing that, its like being in Back To The Future or something x’
Aware that I still hadn’t published the latest blog, I got up as early as possible and worked on it for as long as possible before having to once more admit defeat and leave it in order to get ready to head off.
After flying about a bit I somehow made it to the dentist for just after 12pm and Trevor the dentist set about tweaking my braces! After turning 40 last year, and inspired by my lovely friend Astrid who had amazing results, I decided to go ahead and have lingual braces fitted to correct my very overcrowded bottom teeth and to close in my gap and overbite that I have always had. Lingual braces are like train tracks but on the inside of your teeth rather than the outside, so they don’t show! They really are invisible which is great but the downside is that they cut your tongue to ribbons at first until you get used to them, so last October when I had them put in, I had the worst two weeks of mouth pain I have ever known! I go to an orthodontist in Beverley and the treatment will take 9-18 months followed by a few years of a fitted retainer. Three days after having them fitted I thought what have I done? It hurt so much and for the money it costs I probably could have hired a personal trainer for a year or Gordon Ramsey to come and shout at me for a month not to eat rubbish instead, after all when it comes to improving one’s appearance, the mantlepiece is rarely scored higher than the fire, but it was too late, I had them put in and so I must see it through!
I must admit thought that the teeth are all moving really well and I’m so happy about it, and will be super-happy when they are all straight, but to my surprise Trevor decided to add four more train tracks to my bottom set of teeth, which was fine, but felt a little odd and I wondered if they would take much getting used to.
Dentist done, I didn’t hang about and got off down to Worthing. With the M1 being so awful, I decided to go the other way, and chance the A1 one and Dartford Crossing rather than risk the M1 and M25. It was a gamble as it was 25 minutes longer on the sat nav, but I chanced it and wonderfully it paid off and I somehow managed to arrive in Worthing minutes before the band!
Happy to be in the venue and on time, I set about getting ready and when the band had arrived and were soundchecking I popped to find Martin in the foyer to set up the CD tables. I found him in a very drafty spot by the main doors where the venue had allocated us a medium-sized table and a tiny table that was comically small! After a quick perusal, we decided to move everything to the other end of the foyer instead where it would be less drafty, and the lovely venue manager Mark rustled up a second tiny table so that we could put the two together and make one slightly less small one! Brilliantly, the two tiny tables were different heights though, just to add to the fun, but we got it all sorted and I dashed off to get ready, passing Owain and Andy on the way sorting out something with the PA which involved Andy having to lie flat-out on the floor, which tickled me.
I did my soundcheck and was delighted to find my voice felt back to normal again, as I had been very worried about the croakiness of the night before. The show went really well and it was lovely in the interval meeting some of Peggy’s friends who had come along, and also a lovely lady called Yvonne who is the official fundraiser for Fair Mobilty which is a charity who provide electric scooters/wheelchairs for hire at major events and festivals. The charity is run by volunteers, and is at Cropredy every year and Yvonne collects CDs and autographs from all the artists each year to have as prizes for their Conventionalists raffle. You can find their stall every year at Croppers up at the top right of the field. I gave her some signed CDs for this year’s raffle and had a lovely chat with her and it was a wonderful night all round. The band were fab and I really loved the whole evening.
At the post-gig meet and greet with band I bumped into a lovely guy called Ian Judd who has been coming along to my gigs for many years, it was very nice to see him and he kindly allowed me to take his photo too! I also met a lovely musician called Dan Ogus who I had met before and we had a lovely natter too and he told me about his new band, Bemis which sounds fab.
For the next three gigs, I had booked myself into a Holiday Inn near Gatwick which was central to the three venues, and so after a round of goodbyes and see you tomorrows and a roly out front, where I saw a hatchback taxi across the road, not something I can recall ever seeing before, (a haxi?) I headed off up the road to find the hotel and on the way started to realise how sore my mouth was! My tongue had been rubbing against the new braces all day and night and was suddenly feeling swollen and very sore, great!
After finding the hotel and following a bit of a hoo-ha at the reception desk due to them not being able to find my booking, I was given a key and made my way to my room and decided to set up my laptop to finally try to finish the blog! Once settled in I realised I was simply too shattered and thought I better sleep instead and wait till I was more refreshed in the morning. Again, this was not a patch on the Chester Holiday Inn! The wi-fi was £10 per day, as was the car park and the room was freezing and had no sockets anywhere other than on one wall, where I finally found two! Due to the dashing about at home that morning, I realised I had picked up a pile of clean washing without looking, and had in fact brought 17 pairs of knickers with me. I thought it was 16 at first and then found another pair! It was definitely time to sleep so with a throbbing mouth I hit the pillows!
‘Made it to the Surrey Holiday Inn which will be my home until Saturday and while its not as good as the Chester one a few weeks ago where you could smoke, there is a complimentary Kit Kat and sparkly water in my room and the bathroom is miles away from the smoke alarm so am happy. I loved the Connaught Theatre tonight in Worthing, it was red velvet seat heaven with lovely staff and the sound was wonderful. I especially liked the house manager Mark, an incredibly nice, tall, thin man, full of so much nervous energy you could have run a wire from him and powered the lights along the promenade, and the older man behind the ‘refreshments’ counter who seemed to be permanently counting his float all night which tickled me. A lovely place and lovely people and a really lovely show. In other news I unpacked my bag to find that scooping up and throwing in a pile of clean washing at 10am this morning in a hurry has resulted in me bringing 17 pairs of knickers with me for 5 days and Trevor the dentist turned the screws this morning and added four more metal squares to my braces so Im reliving the scratched tongue pain of the first week all over again which I could do without. I think its back to the oral wax and double strength nurofen till I break them in. Happy and tired and cannot wait to sleep x’
Thursday 27th February, The Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells
‘Wowee, best sleep ever. Making coffee and so pleased I remembered to bring the bag of coffee this time instead of just the cafetière and milk x’
After a huge and very lovely sleep, I got up, logged on and finally got my blog finished and posted! It was such a weight off my mind as it had been bothering my greatly that I hadn’t done it! I was then very amused to receive the following email from Mick…
“Greetings everyone. I trust you are all recovering from the plague! Those of you who have performed in Excaliber may be pleased, or indeed perturbed, to find that tonight’s show will be within the set of Birdsong, a play set before, and during the First World War. Pity it’s not “Blackadder goes Forth” as I make an excellent “Baldrick”. I have spoken to Mike Powell the head techie, he assures me the P.A. will fit ok and that sight lines will not be compromised. It is a 7.30 show, there is no rider. See you in a bit. Mick.”
Mind boggling with what to expect, I set off to Tunbridge Wells and arrived and parked up in front of the blue truck and the band van, in a spot that Mick had super-kindly coned off for me. Once inside I was very tickled to find that it was indeed a full theatre set onstage and I was very impressed with Owain and Andy’s handiwork in fitting all the band gear and instruments around the set, they did an amazing job!
‘Backstage at the Assembly Hall in Tunbridge Wells and its super chilled and relaxed and am delighted to find that we are sharing the stage with the set of a WW1 play called Birdsong. Gerry’s kit is nestled nicely in front a paper mache trench complete with barbed wire and I think tonight is going to be fun :o) xxx’
Backstage I was given a very cosy little dressing room by Mick that I loved, which had its own loo (luxury!) and got ready and soundchecked feeling very happy indeed. The CD table that night was at the back of the room, so it was lovely for Martin and I to be so close to the concert room, and I knew that a lovely promoter called Keith would be coming with some flyers for a gig I am playing at his folk night on the 30th May at St Edith Folk and sure enough I spotted him while setting up the CD table and gave him a big hug.
Also coming along that night were a lovely couple from Bexhill-On-Sea called John and Sue, and it was lovely to see them in the interval and at the end, they are such a lovely couple. Also there were Matt’s wife Tammy and their son Austin, who I hadn’t seen since Milton Keynes, so it was super nice to see them and I loved hanging out with them and Peggy backstage.
With all the costumes lying around, great fun was had dressing up in them and being silly, especially by Mick who called the band to the stage dressed at a German soldier and later on popped on a habit and pretended to be a nun :o) It was awesome!
It was a brilliant night all round, and the sound was incredible! I LOVED it and Thanked Owain afterwards as it has been so very lovely! Lots of CDs were sold and I headed off back to my still-not-as-good-as-Chester hotel very happy, floating all the way. On the way out of Tunbridge I stopped at a garage for petrol and was stopped in my tracks by a newspaper billboard that said ‘Potholes wreak havoc’ and though of poor Mick and his horrible pothole car accident on Monday!
‘The show in Tunbridge was really lovely, my favourite stage sound of the tour so far and great fun was had with all the theatre props and costumes! It was lovely to see Tammy and Austin and also lovely John and Sue and despite most of us suffering with colds, all of us did brilliantly I thought. A wonderful night xx’
So that was week four! It was so much fun and I again loved every second! There is one more week to go and coming up next time among other things will be fun facts about the band and crew… my thoughts about all of them… the final run of shows… and more lunches!
I have again had lots of lovely emails and facebook messages and comments this week, and will be replying to every single one over the next few weeks. I was tickled by one chap at a gig who asked me if I had shares in the Chester Holiday Inn after raving about it on here so much! :o) One of the reasons I love Holiday Inns so much is because of the Elton John song Holiday Inn, from his 1973 Madman Across the Water Album. Its one of my all time favourite songs about life on the road and I play it all the time in my car and I love it to bits!
Until then, Thankyou for reading and see you all next week!
Love Edwina xxx