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Thus far it's been a bit of an adventure. Up at 6am yesterday. The train from St Pancras to Gard du Nord took about 3 hours. You wouldn't want to take the Paris Metro and then negotiate Montparnasse station if you were a disabled person, but that aside....

The TGV down to Irun was pleasant. The Trenhotel from Irun to Lisbon was delayed by over an hour, but then we had our baggage x-rayed and embarked on the overnight sleeper at 11.30pm. We arrived in Lisbon at 10.38am today and have to wait now for our connection to Faro at 1.20pm.

Met a few nice folk on the train. One, a Texan called Scott had just run with the bulls at Pamplona. Shades of Papa Hemingway. Apparently he has a blog at blogspot: scottstriptospain. I shall have to look it up. Another, a lass from North London, who had earlier in the week had a panic attack on an airplane, was taking the train to meet up with her family.

A couple of nice Canadian lasses also got in on the general conversation.

The people one meets travelling are rather fun; but the travelling itself is a bit of a pain.

We pick up our hired car at about 6-ish this evening. It's been a long couple of days, and I'm looking forward to lying by the pool for a bit when we get to our villa.

I hope summer is wonderful for you all.


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Pick mother up from Wales tomorrow and drive home. Pack. On Thursday we take the train to Portugal. Today I shop for maps of the Algarve and holiday books.

Won't be on LJ for a couple of weeks.

Go well, do good things, and if going on holiday, have a damn good time. 
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So I had lunch with Felix: who was especially sane today, baring the odd blip or two. His most impressive quote was:
"I saved one....four....two-thousand-six-hundred-and-three planets from criminals last night." Followed by:
"So is it true that I won the Booker Prize and am on the cover of 'Guitar Player'?"

I want to record what Felix says on my iPhone and transcribe a complete conversation in all of its non-linear glory....but it seems intrusive and making of him a spectacle, so perhaps not. I want never gets: and as Felix is an adjunct to this blog, rather than its central character, I have a moral dilemma here.


On the way home I stopped off at Forbidden Planet to meander amongst the comic-books. I came across a British first of 'Persepolis' (hardback dust-jacket - Jonathan Cape, 2003) for £12.99, which will replace my paperback. About the right price, though some in the US and Canada are charging $175 for the same book.

Sorted the Mother's few little computer problems. Booked her holiday in the Republic and my train tickets. As an aside, the Mother can't fly, being disabled, and the drive from London to the edge of Wales to catch the ferry is a bit much for her, so I do the driving to Swansea, whereupon I pass the last stage of the journey over to her, and board a train for London. Then, when she's returning, I do the journey in reverse, and she picks me up at Swansea and I drive back to town.

This year, as soon as I'm back in town, I'm packing alongside the missus in order to catch the train down to Faro in the Algarve, where we have booked a villa with a pool for a week. Through the Chunnel then change in Paris and (probably) Lisbon; though there may be an alternative route via Madrid. No more planes for me thank-you-very-much. There's something so much more appealing about the train, especially if you're travelling first class.

Of course, next year we'll probably go to Calcutta (as was) where I have an appointment at a family graveside: so we'll have to fly. I will also have to try to find a bit of spare moolah to employ someone local to look after the graves. But this is in the future: for now my ears are safe from the pressure differentials occasioned by flying for another whole year. Yippee!
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So the Bro and his Mrs are stuck in Andalusia. My Parents-in-law are trapped on Minorca. No flights back to the UK for another day. I have to man the phones here as, between the Mother and I, we have to try to sort out various stuff that has to happen for all concerned.

The EasyJet site isn't very helpful. (Strange, that.)

There is some talk of a Dunkirk style rescue for the poor Brits trapped abroad, but I'll believe it when I see it. Anyway, we hope to have our chaps back home by then. Fingers crossed. It'll be all over by Christmas.

Good ol' Mother Nature still knows how to brew up a storm, and as a society or species we never plan for this sort of thing. Collectively it seems we have the survival instincts of the proverbial lemming, which differs from the real one in as much as it doesn't need driving over cliff edges, and is perfectly content to hurl itself into the void.
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Will get picked up by Nikki and Mark (sax player and bassist) at 5am, that's nine hours. Setting up my No 2 Strat. Trying to get the intonation right. New strings (+1 spare set + spare top and fourth). Bag packed. Hardshell case for the ax. Remember to detune strings to slack for the flight. Euros....Our Leader (Martin, the drummer) has been doing sterling work organising all of this. We don't appreciate him enough. I have to remember that he does all the admin, poor love. We're lucky to have the gigs, apart from the fact that we're damn good given the limited palette of the form: wedding bands are about getting drunk folk dancing their asses off to recognisable tunes. It's all about groove and vibe.

Fifteen years ago I would have spurned ever doing 'covers' of any kind. I'd teach folk how to play songs, but....'covers' was for folk that couldn't write and couldn't compose and couldn't get on with other people enough to collaborate effectively. Not that I'm being snobbish about it now, though I was at the time.

Now, the most superior person I know, about fifteen years ago too (coincidence or what) suggested that I should concentrate on the 'craft' aspect of what I did, which was not to talk of technique, because although not flawless, my technical abilities are.....I'm pretty accomplished, though I'll never make a first-rank classical or flamenco player: but was about repertoire and the craft of learning.

Performing musicians are like actors: vast chunks of information have to be committed to memory to be regurgitated at the appropriate microsecond in the right way.
Sometimes my brain feels full, and I just can't cram that last (probably vital) bit in.....


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