October 30, 2017
Coincidently, when I wake up, it is morning.
I love that kind of synergy.
The day that follows is a blur.
One day seems like the next.
Already I have forgotten that room and struggle to remember this.
I know I went to breakfast.
I know getting washed and dressed happened, but I know these things because I am in a dead-eyed routine.
Hours dissolve this way.
On my own.
There is no sorrow in this.
I know I met G and Vinny downstairs because cars aren’t allowed in the lifts.
I know we drove.
I know I wrote.
Our Belfast hotel boasts a spectacular view that no phone of mine does justice to.
It is a short drive out of town and I have been appointed a fine room.
The radio spills classical music as I enter it and I don’t turn it off.
I sit instead in a tall backed chair by the window and stare inwards, sightlessly, until it is time to telescope out my gig case and meet downstairs.
Which is, in fact, here – upstairs.
My sister is coming tonight with my brother-in-law, and a gang of her Belfast Buddies.
I know she will always stand my corner.
I can only hope no one tests her.
On a shorter, less dense tour, we would hang and celebrate finding ourselves abroad together, but even now, I have to settle for trying to find her somewhere out there in the murk and smile our together smiles.
The hall is a vast oblong. With a tall high, high ceiling domed the length of it.
It has classical ornamentation that is intricate and sparing.
Not ostentatious. It feels both grand and sober.
Behind the stage is installed a magnificent organ that will not sing tonight.
There is a mezzanine balcony running a third of the way up and around the room, becoming a tier at the furthest end.
It is a convoluted route we must follow in the dark from backstage, around the risers to my stand.
We have to recalibrate our walk-on times in sound check to allow for it.
The sound booms.
James adjusts my EQ to control the swamp of it for me.
As always he does just that.
There is no air conditioning so the smoke hangs in the air like fog across a grave yard.
Apt for this Halloween weekend.
I have had mixed receptions before in Belfast.
There has been occasion when the audience has seemed too conservative than is comfortable with my wayward ways.
I sympathise with their confusion over who they are to meet.
Perhaps it is that I have returned enough times now to persuade most of them that they don’t like my live choices, that they have voted with their feet and stayed in for the Strictly results programme.
I am glad because tonight’s sold out show is populated by people who have come to listen, and I forgot any previously held reservations.
They were needle-drop quiet in thoughtful passages and uproarious when the songs allowed.
I saw a couple of women leave when I gave my Rarest Birds pro-diversity affirmation, but that is no skin off my nose.
I’d wave if I wasn’t holding my mic and stand.
If you don’t know me by now…
I have wine and a ham sandwich in my room.
My bed is glorious.
I fell asleep without knowing when.
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