I have a new desk-neighbour at work. It’s always fun to make new acquaintances, but I dread the moment someone finds out I’ve spent a good proportion of my life touring in bands. People tend to immediately press you for tales of excess, and don’t let up until you provide a story that ends with a trip to a hospital, a police station or a chiropractor.
This makes me uncomfortable, as, like most people, I only like drawing attention to myself at times of my own choosing. I do have stories-aplenty, but they’re better told spontaneously in relaxed company than on demand in an open-plan office.
The question that always ends the conversation is, ‘That all sounds amazing. Why don’t you tour properly anymore?’. There are many and varied reasons, but my usual answer is ‘Travelodge hotels’.
A band staying at a Travelodge at the side of a motorway can expect to sleep four to a room. These rooms all have one double bed, a sofa, and a pull-out bed suitable for a small child.
You might express a preference based on the following cost-benefit analysis.
Pros : You sleep alone. You can rest your bag and guitar at the end of the sofa so it’s close to you at all times. You can gaze out the window longingly.
Cons : The draught from the window. The absence of a proper mattress. You’re also the furthest from the bathroom, and you have to step over many hazards in the dark to get there.
Pros : It’s a bed.
Cons : It’s fucking shit. You will be stepped on by the guy on the sofa-bed when he goes for a piss at 6am. You won’t get back to sleep after this happens, as you’ll notice that an ashtray has been spilled over your pillow, and your duvet is soaked in what you’re beginning to hope is beer.
Pros : It’s the most comfortable choice. You have the best view of the TV. You have a lamp and a bedside table, containing a Gideon bible which will give you something to vent your frustrations on later. Also, every now and then you might get the bed to yourself.
Cons : You have to share it. Your bed-buddy could be a snorer. He could also unconsciously mistake you for his girlfriend.
Having put dibs on your bed of choice, you will then ingest a steady supply of alcohol and drugs while half-watching the shopping channel and yacking hysterical nonsense. You may also contribute to ill-mannered behaviour that is too lacking in discrimination and sensibility to be adequately described in words.
After a terrible night’s sleep in a bed you perhaps even unwittingly helped to destroy before taking to, you are faced with your next dilemma.
a) Spend your entire per diem on a shitty but calorific breakfast at Little Thief.
b) Eat an elongated Ginsters Scotch Egg for breakfast and wash it down with a can of coke and a cigarette bought in the petrol station.
Either of these options will provide you with the energy you need to drive an indeterminable number of miles in a piece-of-shit van with a forged MOT, four gears and a straining top speed of 70-mph. Repeat x 500 and you arrive at the long version of why I don’t much fancy an imminent return to the touring lifestyle.