Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Have we got everything?

Wake up.

These grunting, mucky bastards are your family, now. It's time for a family outing to Basel. Love your family, immediately and forever. Family delights. Family cares.

Shut up.

It's early morning and everyone's forgotten something. Grandad's forgotten his drum pads. Mum got too involved in something and left the immersion on. You aren't wearing any underwear, but you don't tell anyone.

Locked up.

Put a scrunched up bit of paper in a shoebox and shake it around. Shake it around for hours in joyless monotony. Shake the travel maraca.

Cheer up.

The hours pass like a dripping tap filling a swimming pool, but at least you're all here now. It's the Phoria-Smythington's family outing to Basel, and your first stop is some French place called Mulhouse, where you stumble out of the van and into a chrome and neon karaoke bar with a live performance of “A Whole New World”, inspiring you into wellbeing again along with a “beer”, which is a device you attach to your arm with a mechanical tongue that licks a little patch until it turns raw, which in turn tells your brain to release a new album of endorphins so your body and stuff can enjoy it all and the family can have something in common: a raw, bleeding patch on their arms that makes them feel great.

Roll up.

What's that? It might be a new day in a new country, but this family hotel has stars outside.Mum is happy she'll have a clean floor on which to do her ironing. Dad is happy he can put his slippered feet up and watch TV and pipe up intermittently about the state of the road. Little brother James has a soldering iron, two kilograms of semtex, and a behavioural problem. Grandad needs somewhere to settle in, and your room isn't ready yet. It's Room 101. This makes you happy and apprehensive, as you wonder what they're preparing for you in there. Turns out life in there is the same as life out here. Go figure.

Set up.

Out for a family meal. A day and a half of travel with sweating, grubby skin. Set-up, thunderstorms, bad packets of meaty euro-tubes and weirdness. The enveloping, soapy bubble of family in a totally new place (a whole new world), now made fine by clean and smiling hosts and a truffle dinner in one of the twisting gullets of the town. A smiling waiter who's had ones-just-like-you in all day, and sniffing clientèle who make haste soon after your arrival. Is that the ricotta, or those boys? Either way, it's blue. Eat your boeuf and let's get out of here. They're tickling each other and doing things with the breadsticks.

Mess up.

Manson had a family.

Yours barely know where they are. A square, somewhere. A growing crowd of people. You're setting up equipment that looks like a telephone exchange and one link in the chain keeps stuttering. Not now. Even the sound technicians have a nervous smile on their faces. The heat and the tiredness. You're not on edge so much as standing on the fronts of your ankles. This is new. Why do it new, now, Equipment? It can work. It will work. Do an interview with mum - moments before you get onstage - in a daze, being asked to comment on the state of inequality in Switzerland with a fresh mic and a big glass eye in your face, going out to people in their armchairs who have the option to change the channel; to change their immediate company.

You say you could do more about the issues, but right now, in this state, you don't know if that's true.You look like a hayfever-stricken frog.

You start playing – the family sings its Christmas songs – and you demand a Red Bull and chug it onstage. Your vision spins. The crowd gathers. The cameras are on and running you out of town in thick wires. Everything works, but instead of tiny keys and skinny strings there are bell-ropes and pulley systems and old mechanical workings that you have to heave and push and grind and wade through. Your performance hangs by a single thread string in a knife-throwing practice room.

Pack up.

Take it down and put it away. You did it and it all ends with a raucous cheer. Now the sun starts to set and you need that tongue-comforting thing to start licking your arm again. Head out into the cereal bowl to see what's happening and who's dancing. Another band finishes. “Thank you so much, everyone! We'd love to stay and party, but we have to go and catch our flight.” You recognise them. They're that family from down the road who puts the cover over their car and has a rotation of doormats. Their front door is spotless.

Your front door is a length of tin foil hanging from the ceiling.

Some people in the crowd suggest you're famous in this place; that Dad has taken you by the hand and dragged you onto the rollercoaster. You don't know about that. People are nice, though. Meet people and make them feel uncomfortable.

Walk across the city to a club. You don't go underground, but you regret that in the morning. Stroll back through to the hotel and watch everybody do like they do everywhere else. It's Friday, and the family takes a break from one another. The kids are in the crèche; the adults are in the lounge.

Fuck off.

Fuck off to the family home in the morning because you've all had enough. Sing a song or two and whistle up your own arse to enjoy the echo and put a plaster on your arm and on others' arms with a Nightingale smile. Sit in a chair and waggle your legs and get a boat.

Do it again.

Get some new equipment and get ready for Piknik festival in Oslo.

It's a long, long way away and there'll be other things to do.

How are we getting there, Dad?

Monday, 1 June 2015

How to live floorlessly.

“What needs doing then, lads?”

That room isn't quite an icon to me, yet. My own room, many Bridgestone spins away and which I share with the most messy and clumsy “wife” in the world, has seen so many deep cleans and give ups and accidents and covered spills and religious notes pinned to the walls and scuffs and weird collections started on unbalanced surfaces that it cannot now be changed from having had us live here. It is no longer a cave with our stuff in, but a little home carved out as a direct result of our activities. A tiny home, the size of a key cutting shop, that houses two people, two businesses, five guitars, a million feet of fabric, a mannequin, an industrial sewing machine, about five-hundred books, about two-hundred DVDs and games, my hair, and several years worth of crusted, narcotic-infused sweat.

It's also got a garden. Full of weeds.

I look around in the morning and see this place as “my house how I have it” – a symbol of two lives in the twenty-first century – rather than as a problem that needs to be fixed because the gold on the door handle has corroded, or because that un-binned empty box of luxury chocolates is hindering the passage of my hand as it reaches over faded-brown bed sheet stains for a similarly tinged shin-kicker.

Trewin's room, however, where all still has a touch of clinical purpose about it (moreso than my cave, anyway), likely for his sanity, manages to infuse any given memory I have with that feeling of “other place” – not a sense of homeliness or even familiar workliness. All this despite the number of meetings, drinkings, listenings, and other debaucherous rebellions against sensibleness that have gone on up there that should make it feel like an old friend.

Sofa bed piled with cushions, some of us perched on fold-out chairs with rusting hinges, paint peeling, and padding long since disintegrated by the sweat of a thousand arses. The twinned smells of stale white butts and yesterdays M&S yellow-sticker-reduced Platchula Bean Salad with Cuban Roasted Pecan Tudenza Leaf Puree and Fresh Chombo-Style Kale and Distilled-Water-Fed Quinoa Passata fill the room. The food looks like a half-arsed rockery and sits half on the floor and half in its plastic bowl. Trewin will occasionally turn from his computer to pick up the bowl, lick the congealed butter-death off the fork, and tuck in again. It must be good.

“We need to get the pre-mix of the album off.”

Yeah, and we need to buy some gear.”

“I don't have any of the stuff I need.” says Seryn.

“When's the next gig?”

“We need to book a practice.”

“Are we having a tech-rehearsal, later?”

Jeb's in the next room, his clicking mouse sounding like the desperate pleas of a soldier who, upon finding himself stranded in a gutted comms room, wishes he'd paid attention when his unit was learning morse code rather than copying off Neville and sneaking a peek at a cigarette card of Rita Hayworth.

“How are those videos coming along?”

“Oh...yeah...I'm just...it's just rendering.”

“Oh, and we need to get some publicity photos done.”

Oh God, yeah.”

“Who wants a tea?”

And everybody oooooooohs and says oh, yes please – and relaxes as someone goes and boils the kettle before drying it off and putting water in it. It was stormy outside while all this was going on, so it was just right. It was dark grey at midday, the windows were streaming with rain, and I'd just had some soup and a cigarette. We all felt like cats in front of fireplaces. Droopy eyed and comfortable.

“So [yawn] that's a list of what we need to do, right?”

“Right.”

“Great, that's that done. So, have I shown you this video yet of a neon-painted deer riding a powerboat engine attached to a human skeleton?”

“No!”

Chomp.

TBC


Saturday, 9 May 2015

Preservatives.

Well.

Well, well, well.

Well, well, well, well, well.

Right.

As it were.

Worst Christmas ever.

We were so enthralled, that, even if we wanted to, we couldn't sleep. We stayed up all night waiting for Santa to come and put a little gift-wrapped box of hope under our second-hand tree.

Turns out we didn't even get a lump of coal. They didn't want to bring that old chestnut up again.

So yesterday we had our final practice before a trip to Belgium tomorrow. Tired and out at the studio 'til midnight. That saw us well. Dough-eyed, as usual, and with tails as low as the Lib Dem vote. New material? Che e eck. Playing the songs? Ch e e ck. Everything working? Ch e e e ee cck.

Enthusiasm trickling. Put it all back together like we haven't in a surprising while. We've all been holed up in our respective caverns, working on music and movies. Trying to balance the creation of the new with the return to the standard is a funny old see-saw of satisfaction. Tweak this and tweak that. More coffee. Keep it up. We descended a few times into lazy jams. The songs stumbled a little under our collective psyche.

BUT don't let that worry you. We're still attempting to keep our pride intact, and we don't take this stuff lightly, and we always look forward to it and try and do everything the best we can.

It's like when you've bought that new loaf of super-seeded incredi-bread, but you've got to use up the loaf you bought the other day. So long as the jam (hey!) is right, you're still having breakfast, but you kind of can't wait to open that other loaf. You fall asleep dreaming of unwrapping it, of reaching in past the end piece and running your finger along the strongly seeded top. Mmm. And a whiff of fresh. And you take the slices out, only two, and squeeze the little plump sponge canvasses and see the air pockets bulge and give way, gleefully.

Oh, bready bready bootsy.

And while it slowly cooks in a little box, and the room takes on the scent of history - of a million little repertoires performed throughout the ages and still, to this day, in most households with a heart and a Hovis - you pick up the bag and spin it, and it twists in the air like a ballerina, and you swing it around and it hovers delicately until you stop it with a thud, and this delicate and beautiful parcel gives you a noetic sensation of power and authority – the very thing that makes that well-baked coquette so restlessly enchanting – and to save the thing and keep its definition you tack the little label on the neck that runs to the bunched up bag like the stem of a rose, and you seal it. A little yellow leaf. And the sell-by-date is still days from now. There will be mornings more than this sweet sunrise. So you smile, and as you do two warm, golden brown hands pop up and wave hello, and they fall onto a plate and say how happy they are to see you.

And then you take the butter from the fridge. Butter so soft. Ripples so enveloping, she could churn heads (...). And then you take your knife from the drawer that rings like a treasure chest of an Emperor's silver, and you...

...you...

...the knife...

...the butter...

...it all...

...spread about and messy and...and...

...dripping...gold...

And then you wake up. It was a dream. And your real life kicks in. And the loaf is sat on top of the microwave, bulging at you. Plump, like a cat.

But you know you have to use up what you already had open; the loaf you bought on your way home the other day and you only had 50p in your pocket and didn't need enough stuff to spend on your card.

And the butter's all hard and unworkable and there are no clean knives, so you just find one sticking out the side of a pizza box and you wipe it on your pants and figure you're going to die one day, anyway.

And then you eat this weird biscuit that smells like pants and stare into the middle distance, thinking about the emptiness of the pain of thinking about nothing.

That's what it's like.

That's what it is.

That's where we are.

See you in Belgium.

I swear it's going to be fine.


Tim

Monday, 30 March 2015

Number nine.

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. - Jubkins Lossletops.

[That is, of course, a rationale that if taken seriously can just as easily be used to defend the worst kinds of violent fascism.]

We didn't dream at all, actually, managing to nab about twelve hours of sleep over three days, despite this being one of the better organised of our trips across that stretch of tarmac and furrowed field so flummoxing to island minds such as ours: Europe.

The street and shop signs may well have been in English. We have no idea.

The way we were it's entirely possible that we just drove to the end of the road and started hanging out the doors of the van in fits of jelly-bodied childishness, imagining entirely our exploits; taking the blue sky below us inverted as the sea of the ferry crossing and the pressing faces and queries as standard side-effects of being over there where things are upside down.

No, we went to Zurich.

Fifteen hours only evented (events must happen on a fifteen hour journey, lest the minutes and their tiny drills with which they bore into every imperfection in your powdering skull finally take hold and turn you into an ant farm; hollow chronological threads extended through only bad memories and becoming the very mercurial substance of every grim reflection upon reality that such sojourns in cold and leaky vans allow) by a couple of stops at which we dealt with some surprisingly friendly faces of authority. The police stops are always more fun than the customs stops, which are, of course, customary.

Looks like I got a wink or two last night, doesn't it?

Oh yes, I'm refreshed.

'Pop a few more like that in, Tim, and I might start to enjoy myself!'

And you might think it takes thought to take a tangential turn such as that (and this), but the fact is, as I'm sure you've anticipated, those words have been so aurally scarred into the upper corners of the room in which I'm flopping this log out that their inclusion is actually a concession to the world's impetuousness in forcing its collectively unsatisfied will on my ever frowning frame.

They look at you different when you say you are a musician, and I am not sure if it is pity or a kind of orgasmic awestruck effect at the kind of being they are presented with.

The officers of the law, I mean.

Despite the long hair, despite the eyes that looked like engorged flies dead on top of the poisonous strawberries that inspired their gluttonous passing into the great family picnic or dog shit in the sky, we made our preparations, for a great lol.

'Sunglasses off, lads.'

'Just look friendly.'

'Be quiet, Tim.'

And they took a quick check and let us pass, peering into my little porthole at the rear and judging that everything was alright, as I smiled and waved along with Seryn.

Me and Seryn waving at you through a grubby window in a shaky van.

You wave us on, unwilling to face your fear that the actions of the world upon itself may be far more broad than you ever dared imagine.

The world must be knowable, else all is lost.

-

I mean, everything was quite nice. We had rooms with beds in and a bit of booze here and there and a couple of friendly faces and smiles and helpful people and clean streets...

But the main thrust of the journey, for me at least, was the inducement of a static-caravan of sanity that parked somewhere on our collective neural carriageways but was kept at bay from the town centre of our actual minds.

The road – in particular the sheer length of it – transforms you from debonair fellow-about-the-scenes into a kind of travelling circus animal; locked away until it's time to piss or go and forage for food. And there is no food, because you have no money. So it's always the worst of the world's cuisine. Food as an additive to vehicle fuel; sold alongside it as an afterthought, to trick you into thinking you're hungry for cheese behind that wheel.

I had no idea at any point whether I was hungry or not, but the 'eat or else maybe die' aspect of being alive kicked in to full gear. And that's what I'm talking about. That's what driving on threadbare gets you: a complete change in psyche. The world mauls at the window like car wash brushes while your world consists of 32GB of music and another book, and watching that little real life television bring trees to a kind of psychedelic life while you, again, look back on every poor decision you made when you were twenty-three; why you thought you were right then, and why you are right now in a way you weren't then, and why you will be wrong in the future, but how you will also be right because of being wrong now, and how right that is.

But

but

but

then you

have the pleasure of complete arrival at your destination. When you have arrived at the venue and you have completed your sound-check and packed and unpacked and been shown around and shown the fridge and the backstage and given the codes and told all and wherewithal and whom then then then you have the pick of the place, and every luxury afforded you. Your status is entirely reversed from forager to one whom people will forage for in order to attend to. And suddenly you are brokered a million cigarettes and freshly iced beer cans and little molten gems of amber whisky in exclusive surroundings. And friendly smiling faces that stay static, and don't just brush by with the ferns. And suddenly, after being spun around in your office chair with your tie wrapped around your head, it is whipped off, and you make your way to your big birthday cake that someone balanced on top of the photocopier, next to the gin and pornography.

But this happens over the course of days, and is eked out in slow motion.

And you spend the last few dulling moments of it at the hotel breakfast, still dizzy, still sleepless, shovelling more pig meat and cheese into your now rotten gullet because you know what's ahead.

And then from the warm hotel lights and dizzy swim of every party, the van door slides shut again and SLAM. The world by accident becomes a little greyer and caged again and you start to smell the seats that smell like seats and you are locked in tupperware again.

And in the ride on the way home the weather is bad. So at the back end of the great white elephant you're travelling in you feel like a rubber raft on the back of a speedboat; your stomach lurching over every change in direction to correct for crosswinds, water leaking in through the roof, brain crunching into an emergency filtered state and then relaxing again, all through the fog of a hangover quilted only by a layer of alien-magic Burger King milkshake that had you laughing four minutes after first drinking it. Full of something not from here. Full of the thing that holds the air together, I'm sure. A baffling drink that could only make me think of Milhouse and Bart and their all syrup Squishy, or the millions of people who currently use amphetamines recreationally.

And then its dark.

It was night.

And I got sleep.

And now I'm doing this.

And now we'll keep doing the album, until the next one.

And I'll buy a cushion.

Have fun,

Tim

P.S. It's Trewin's birthday.

Trewin: setting fire to your computer screen.
 

Friday, 27 March 2015

OK, Swiss.

https://youtu.be/NzSxvyX3QfA

Let's get this straight.

Zurich on no sleep.

Crazy guys out on the road, living life, yeah?

Time for a nap. We'll see what happens when we get there. Until then: enjoy the view.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Just come to the gig tomorrow.

There are glitches on some video games that have gained relative internetty fame where the characters appear not with faces and freshly rendered, plump fake flesh, but merely as eyes on stalks, sometimes with wide, toothy, lipless grins.

"I do."

Cheery elements of facial features suspended in mid-air.

That's pretty much how we are right now.

It's been a ring-around-the-rosie of various illnesses and viruses in the band, culminating in my laying on my stomach in the middle of the practice room yesterday trying not to sing a symphony onto the floor while Sez handled his sneezed out snot like the sands of time; forever trickling through hands, flowing like Italian dough, the others looking on through braeburn apple eyes regretting every decision they'd ever made.

We've all had something or other over the last few weeks. I can only hope we're over it, now. I certainly feel better. I give it an hour. I found a pecan slice under the fridge but I'm being sensible and trying not to eat it too fast.

So, after how-many-days?-I-have-forgotten of wall-to-wall rehearsals, we're on the last day of them today. We are getting it together, of course, for this show at Cargo...tomorrow. New material, and all that. Always worth a mention. Album songs that you wouldn't have heard before. Just a couple. Just a couple of newbies thrown in there being heard for the first time tomorrow night. With a string quartet. Just a couple of new songs. From the album. Just a couple.

Shit. Is it tomorrow? It totally is.

Don't worry – we're ready – it's just that it's been so long since we played in the UK that the whole idea of playing has become a little alien. 


It's too early.

But then 

Tim

Thursday, 19 February 2015

It's a long one.

Right.

Push on through and start this.

So we pull up in Paris at about 1 a.m., suddenly all too aware that we have nowhere to stay. I'd been up since five – never wanting my 'room-mate' to be up and getting ready for work while I lay about in bed, using my 'career' as an excuse – and the two drivers had about seven hours of driving in their pockets. Jeb is Jeb, so he was tired, and Seryn was exhausted from the comparative over-stimulation of having left the house.

Do we kip in the van, blanketed-up against the cold streets of Paris, or do we check-in to the first hostel we see? Perhaps we should have planned ahead. We back and forth on this, eating from a pallet that we'd filled with food before leaving the house. Muffins and slices and pasties and out-of-date crisps and the things that we lived on over the course of the trip.

Never more pastry than in these few days.

What do we do?

Jeb can be proactive when seeking slumber, so he was the first to volunteer to run over the square in which we'd parked and speak to our first French person outside of a service station.

It was costly. Twice the price than if we'd booked online. This was the extent of our research.

But we were much as I am now: a passenger in a poltergeist. We had all reached that point where your brain convinces you that fuel is to be found in frowning.

No more of this. No more. None.

Worry about it tomorrow.

Credit card, and lifts that act like a puzzle from The Crystal Maze.

Take the stairs.

We were split across rooms on the fifth floor.

It all looked so fine from outside. All glass and lights and 'modern traveller'.

Into the sweaty, humid black. Bunks were assigned but already filled by others, so find your own. It was a wild west of foam mattresses as thick as DVD cases and what felt like alien fingers crawling across you as you slept. I thought the room was full, but torchlight in my bunk at 4 a.m. told me otherwise. Another intrepid traveller, attempting to take what had been allocated. Sorry, Sir, but when the authorities' backs are turned, we have our own game going on. You'll have to figure out these rules on your own, just as I did.

I eventually got an hour or two of rest after laying awake in the dark for hours, sniggering at my imaginings of how the others were getting along in their respective rooms.

It was a joy, then, after being awoken by the 7 a.m. refitting of the next-door bathroom, to arrive at a riverside breakfast greeted by four other frog-eyed men whose arms were as limp and lame as the stale cereal they were each lumping into their mouths. Jeb chewed on the milk and took a sip of sawdust coffee, before giving me a look.

'This is shit, isn't it.'

Nobody slept as soundly as the spiders that spin around the van.

So we moved in confusion and caffeine, driving around to get the kind of view of these cities we so often get; mainly from the window of a rumbling van. Tin can safari.

We did hop out to get a few selfies out by the Eiffel tower, though. Despite our state, our smell, and our brains slowly calcifying, we were still classified as humans; still strangers to one of the most iconic cities in the world.

It's all a blur, from then until our checking in to the hotel we'd been afforded for this night by the promoter. This was a first. Our first hotel. Riverside. In we go, our chests puffed up with pride.

Name?...breakfast...Check out...rooms...keys...yes, yes, yes. Mmmhmmm.

'...and it's all been paid for.'

This put a particular kind of smile on our faces.

Showers, naps. Games.

Knock on Grandad Jeb's door and run away. He will always open it, and always grumble.

Meanwhile, I'm peering out from behind the vending machines down the way, and giggling, and wondering why no-one else will play with me.

But we're clean and hydrated and heading to the gig, in a cool little place called the Trabendo, just off the beaten track, as part of the Fireworks festival.

Thanks to the crew and staff and promoter, you were all fantastic.

And hello to the awesome Sylvan Esso and Fickle Friends, with whom we had the honour of sharing the stage.

And thanks to all the people who turned up. The room was absolutely fantastic. There was a feeling in the air that I haven't felt in a long time. Out front, and backstage, the party was a constant force to be reckoned with, and everyone was a part of it. Smiles and energy and good feeling and smooth running. No hiccups, just good people and good times and grins and sweat and beer and bourbon.

Those are a few of my favourite things.

And then we pack up and ditch the van and head out, surfing on the buzz that only a great gig in a strange city and no sleep can provide.

We were ably guided by a local friend of a friend – the International Phoria Network runs deep – and after watching the barriers of the metro fall like crumbling mountains beneath our flying feet, we travelled through the wormhole to go...where? We did not know.

'Do you have any idea where we are?' Jeb asked.

'Nope!' I said, with a grin on my face.

Suddenly a bar, and I'm hanging off the end of it like a villain at the end of some action movie, the city trying to pry my fingers off and make me fall.

There are people inside, and there are people outside. We're talking and proudly letting our Englishness fall out of us like farmyard buckets spilling over with freshly produced, certified organic effluence. We're outside, bragging and joking. We're inside, leading the loud party and the music gets bigger and little pockets that once sat around in stone start ordering more and breaking out in dance, and we claw into the wood, making more beer and getting thicker and letting Paris channel us wherever it wishes.

And then we get a taste of it.

And I'm looking at my phone, trying to GPS it back to the hotel with everyone in tow, and I look up and the world has gone dark. The lights have gone out. I'm only reading shadows. I'm in the street and there is no colour anywhere.

I call the others and there is no answer. But I have the route to the hotel.

I find Jeb, like a lamppost in the wind, swaying on some corner with a little gaggle that had joined us out of the bar.

And I'm getting a call from one of the gang I've lost, my phone beaming at me through the darkness.
They've been locked inside a shop. Their eyes were bigger than their bellies could afford and now we are stuck and they are locked in behind blind black steel shutters and we are broke. We are stony broke, and the manager wants one Euro.

One Euro.

Oh, and before this bit, just as I have found myself in the darkness, I am caught in the centre of the underground workings of the city, for a brief moment, and it is only after the tires scream away behind me that I realise, alone and newly unlit as I was, that it was perhaps only a little joke in French about my personal 'intake' habits that may have gotten me out of more trouble than any steel shutter will give you. Everyone here is spring heeled.

Listen, in GCSE French, children.

But this man was sniffing, as it were, around the shop where my friends are shuttered. What's linked, here?

And a man appears out of the darkness, his bright white eyes gleaming. Also our Parisian guide has come to help, appearing from nowhere. She and the man are now arguing.

I must leave her and find one Euro.

So Jeb is still with his friends on a distant corner and they have something strange going on, and while he leans against the wind he chats to one or two of them who have craning necks and meerkat insincts, and who I know I have seen before; who ignored me on the other side of the road, and now they are surrounding us and circling us like jackals.

And one man speaks to one girl who wants to take us clubbing on the Champs Ellysees, and from what I hear he wants something from her more than the cigarettes that she offers, and in between the laughter and the heads of lager and fizz and pop there is a cats cradle being weaved and my mind takes an ugly turn.

On the other side of the street, they are still arguing. She is strong and that is good, but his eyes are fierce and there are more mopeds than only his, all with their engines running and heads turned uniformly, watching their friend.

And I break in to the conversation behind Jeb that I have been monitoring, because these party animals are smaller and the men who have caught them are not well, and I must have one Euro. My friends are locked in. But he doesn't care. And I have a Rizla raised in my hand that's out in front of me and I am ready because I have interrupted his cold-call sales pitch, so the thin roll of paper is held up like a fool's talisman and rests, powering the hand that protects me with mere drunken innocence and I keep my wits about me and I bag a coin from the girl once she has put the man to rest and he leaves and she returns to some of her friends who have appeared. And Jeb sways and I tell him to come with me, because we have raised more than our fair share of anything for one evening.

And the moped gang takes one measly Euro and slides off to whatever deliveries they may make, while the gang reunites and laughs and courts the last, strange thirty-minutes in confusion and relief and we walk a moment and the light returns to the city and turns everything gold and we smile, and Trewin says we need something to remember what happened and I say don't worry, I'll be writing about it.

So we say goodbye to our guide and our friend and we waltz through the roads, staring down taxis, and I'm wondering where we will go next, and what possible route we will be taken on to get to whatever resting place we might be heading to tonight, because we do not know if it will be wood or stone at our heads. A night rarely lets you go once you've been thrown to the dogs. You have to get out before they put the reigns on you, else you're not getting out at all.

And then I am sure he was an angel.

Patient and kind, to four strange and loud men, in our first night in Paris. He spoke no English, so I did my best, again – sat in the front seat with my phone held out in front of me, showing him the same route that I'd tried to get us on so much earlier in the evening. And he followed it and let me speak in broken French and smiled and nodded. He did know one phrase, actually. So I would speak badly and apologise and he would say 'It's OK. No problem.' It happened enough times that we were laughing about it.

And we got out at the hotel and he was a good man and we tipped him well and we stood outside the hotel and smoked in silliness and brushed into the lobby to say hello to the night staff, with smiles on our faces and brains that had been well thorned by the rose of Paris.

One man can work the bar, but he has no power. The hotel shuts the pumps down and locks the cabinets. I can buy him a drink. No? We still have something left in us, Trewin and I. We sit and drink water and we learn the man's politics and how he is a good man. We mean him well. It is short but he is courteous, and I hope he found us respectful.

How else would we be?

And suddenly we swallow night-time like a pill and it is morning and I don't know how I've slept, but I have. I am in bed. And the mirror shows that I am on television, being filmed on a handi-cam, and the mirror turns sideways and bumps itself on my head.

And we all pour down the lift-shafts and again just throw the breakfast at ourselves.

And we go, swimming through the air with light heads to wherever we parked the van. Ed is well rested. He will drive.

And Paris says goodbye to us and we wonder what the hell just happened.

These cities have their ways. We'll be doing more of them as we go. We'll be back in Germany in May, and we're looking forward to our first gig in Norway at some point later this year. Zurich, too, next month. And Brussels.

And until then we'll be getting the album done, as we have been doing so diligently. We're in a good spot. We're doing well.

Come and see us, if you're about. Check everything out for where we are. It ain't right here.

Because, for now, I am trying to piece this all together.

Thanks, Paris, and all who helped us along the way. We'll be back.

And we'll carry an extra Euro, now that we know.

Just in case.

Because these things can happen.

Over One Euro.

Hope you enjoyed it.

Tim