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off the wall



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As you probably know, Lolly was quite a storyteller, and had a tendency to occasionally “ramble on” a bit. We all loved his stories nonetheless, and were often lucky enough to receive e-mails from him while he toured around the world, detailing his many adventures. What follows is a selection of those stories that we'd like to share, but be forewarned — some of them definitely do ramble!

Well, it's been a pretty busy 6 days of gigging but we had a day off yesterday and we are staying in the same town (Invercargill) for 2 nights of shows so we have a reprieve. Christchurch was good fun. Big Theatre 2 nights, full houses. On the Friday night (the same day as my last email I think) a few of us felt like going for a couple as there was no travelling or soundcheck required the following day. Obviously we headed for an Irish bar.

But as with a lot of 'Irish Pubs' there was a distinctly un-Irish vibe to the place. There was no way these boys would normally have entered. It was crowded, loud and the band was playing a Split Enz tune. However a guy near the door was at the show and ushered us in. A round of complementary pints on the house then emerged. It was pretty funny though. Joe was hoping the band would take a break and no sooner had he said it when the singer announced to the bar that The Irish Rovers were in the house. They raised a glass to us so there was no getting out of it. A round of whiskeys soon followed and so it began. The band did take a break and Joe checked out. They came over and said hallo. Nice guys. The drummer Al was saying to me you've got to get up for a number. I wasn't that keen because it was all covers so not that easy to fake but I eventually agreed to playing “Message in a Bottle” for the first number of the next set. It went over well and I realized it was the first time the boys (apart from Geoffrey) have ever seen me play anything other than “diddley dee diddley dum”. The band were actually great players. They were two men short of their line up so the guy who was normally the sax and keyboard player played bass all night AND sang. Impressive. John went up on the next set and did a stellar job singing 'Brown eyed Girl' We stayed till the band finished at which point we decided to go to this other bar we were told about called Mickey Finns. The band and this hanger on dude who we ended up referring to as the hobbit took us over there. More whiskeys, more pints, ready camera one, prepare to discard 'OFF' button, and.....discard 'OFF' button. Fade to black and....THAT'S A RAP!!

Feeling a bit on the rough side Saturday. I was not alone. Made it through the Saturday show barely. Had to get up at the ungodly hour of 5:30 am to catch a flight to Wellington Sunday. The good side to that was we were treated to the breakfast buffet by the promoter, as we had to wait for our rooms to be ready. So I pigged out and then went up to my room in time to catch the Manchester United/Newcastle game at 10 am. After a couple hours kip Geoffrey and I rendezvoused in the lobby for the eagerly anticipated visit to Real Groovy Record's sister store in Wellington. After much digging and diving I came out with another healthy armful of groovy discounts. Wellington is the nation's capital and it was a funky little strip we were on. I was disappointed we couldn't have more time there. We played in a very cool theatre (2500—it was about to thirds full) but they kept all the seats together so that the empty ones were all at the sides which made for a difficult night for Murray on sound and for us.

Up at bloody 5 am the next day to catch another flight back to Christchurch followed by a four and a half hour drive to Greymouth. Grueling as it was the drive over the southern Alps was awesome. We drove past a spot where a lot of footage for The Lord Of The Rings was shot. By this time I was the fourth victim of a cold that's being passed around. It's an unfortunate inevitability with touring. Cold winter weather, sleep deprivation, close quarters ...ok, ok and partying.

Didn't even bother checking out Greymouth (it was another one-horse town anyway). I just put my electric blanket on (a fine feature of the hotels here along with Kettles in every room) and settled into the Portsmouth vs Aston Villa match conveniently being shown at 3pm. The audience were so dead (though it was a full house) and the theatre was bloody freezing but they came around by the end and we got some rousing applause. Which was pretty good considering they were a frail old lot probably up long after their bedtimes.

Another early start and a long drive back over Arthur's Pass and the southern Alps to Timaru. After we got over the mountains we passed our truck on the side of the road. We went back and it turned out something had busted on the brake pedal and they lost air in their breaks. Instead of being the kind that lock on after losing air they were the kind that stopped working! It was extremely fortunate that it happened on flat ground and not in the mountains. They managed to make it the rest of the way using the handbrake.

Went for a great run in Timaru all around the cliffs. The show was sold out and the crowd loved it. The next day being a five and a half hour drive to Invercargill and the first evening off for six days we decided to go down to the little bar in the hotel for a nightcap. The bartender was a nice bloke. He bought a couple of rounds on the house and brought out a massive tray of sandwiches. He had this great video on which was showing vintage footage of old rock n' Roll videos going way back to the sixties. Freddy and the Dreamers, Petula Clark, TheAnimals, The Byrds, Procol Harem, Nancy Sinatra. By the time I called it a night they were up to the mid seventies showing Mudd and The Jackson Five.

We arrived here in Invercargill yesterday for the day off. This is the southern most city in the world only an island separates it from the Antarctic. I have been warned about the cold weather here but so far we've been lucky and had sunnyish weather about 4 degrees. The boys were chomping at the bit on the drive up to start into the pints as soon as we arrived about 2pm. but I decided to wait till the evening before escaping the tyranny of conscious thought. This proved to be a terrific plan.

After a bit of a walkabout I was determined to find some fish & chips I've been craving for them for ages but have resisted for fear of flawing my pristine figure. I went to this recommended place but as the guy ahead of me took out his order I could have sworn I saw a FROZEN chip. Before I put my order in I enquired about the status of the chips and was informed that they were in fact the frozen crinkle cut variety. Shocked, stunned and rendered speechless I managed to shake my head through a vacant stare and promptly left the premises in search of another chippy. The next sign I came across said Take Away fish and Chips but it turned out to be a convenience store with fish and chips sitting under a heating lamp. Gutted and visibly shaken I barely managed to resist and dragged my disconsolate carcass four more blocks to another 'recommended spot'. On opening the door to kings Fish n' Chips I got that old familiar smell that tells me I've come to the right place. That was till I looked at the menu and discovered it was 22 dollars! Slipping lucidly into shock and buckling with the hunger an angel of the Lord appeared with crispy beer battered wings and pointing next door to the takeaway version of the same restaurant. It turns out that to take away the same meal it only costs $2.90. After several minutes of euphoria and ecstatic visions I collected myself and became resigned to the fact that although I wanted to get out of my room and read my book I could still achieve my goal and save a pile of money if I took them back to my room. Besides they taste better taken home anyway (there's nothing better than a single greasy mound of coagulated chips). I got back to my room opened the bag and to my absolute horror....frozen chips!!!  Defeated and losing all will to live I decided to take a the glass half full perspective that reminds me that in spite of my high standards there is no such thing as a bad chip.

I ended up going up to my room, opening a can of lager, putting the headphones on and listening to my new Roy Hargrove CD. A good night all in all. The rest of the tour looks like a continuing trend of long drives and back to back shows.

Bye for now, snivel snivel, cough cough.