Tour Diary: York (UK / Day 4)

Salty Snack of the Day: Tangy Cheese Doritos – Boring choice I know but I had to compare. Totally different tortilla taste, (cornier) and the flavoring was like they combined nacho cheese and taco seasoning. Meh.

Britishisms Heard Uttered: I feel minging. (with a hard g) Joe, our promoter for this show explaining he hadn’t had a shower that day and need to go home because he felt minging.

 Birds: Greylag (feral) This is like seeing a Canada Goose in a city park. Mr. Magoo could describe one to Helen Keller and she’d get it right. I think my enthusiasm is outstripping my abilities.*

I’m daunted even thinking about writing this day. It was a full one, although to assuage any anxiety I will cut to the end and say a thoroughly lovely one it was.

Short drive to York in the worst weather yet. I tried to walk a little of Manchester before we left but was driven back in. Apparently we drove through the Moors. I did notice that the walls changed from hedgerow to stone and the scenery was rolling and far more dramatic. It was breathtaking really.

IMG_2103Into York. Our venue was just outside the wall in a place called the Crescent WMC, which stands for Working Man’s Club. If you look it up online it’s called a Community Center now and immediately called to mind a VFW hall or maybe the old community centers you find in Cleveland or places where northern Europeans settled. We walked into the front room and my eyes went immediately to an old looking wooden machine higher than a pool table but much smaller, with green felt and nine bumper pool looking holes. The manager of the place happily began explaining the intricacies of Pub Billiards to me. There are three pins that you must not knock over. You attempt to knock other balls into the holes and depending which one you hit the ball returns in one of many slots at your waist telling you what you what you scored. You keep going until you don’t manage to touch another ball, but if you knock over a pin you lose all your points from that turn. I could go on, but rest assured it should be the pub sport of Kings. Apparently the machines are all hand made and thus unique. There are only five left in York and if you play one you can get a stamp in a book. When you’ve played the fifth machine you get a free pint no matter which pub you happen to finish up in.

IMG_2167At this point I have to decide how interested I think anyone is in my touristy activities, because I turned my ass immediately to my bandmates, who would undoubtedly squander time like a Kennedy heir, and went straight to the Roman wall and began walking. York has an intact wall that completely surrounds the center city. The history of this place is Barry White deep and completely fascinating. I did a lap around the Yorkshire Museum seeing Viking, Norman, and Roman artifacts of a condition unparalleled to any I’ve seen. I circled the Castle with its beastly rainspouts and delicate spires. I moved quickly through the meandering roads with an eye on the time. I had left the band exactly one and a half hours before load-in, and I’m aware my wanderings are tolerated inasmuch as they don’t slow up the works too grievously. I found myself at a different gate than the one I had entered and realized my sense of direction had completely given up and gone to have a drink long before of me. A historical metal map showed I was on the other side of the city and had 20 minutes to get back. I had to engage the sat. nav. (bonus lingo!) or I might still be there. After soundcheck and a delicious dinner of Italian, I walked the wall in the other direction. I headed back towards the Micklegate by keeping the river to my left until I came to the bridge that would lead me back. Thus with my ability to self-navigate restored I got back to the WMC with time to spare. York is ridiculously photogenic and to my eye seemed to strike a decent balance between kitschy tourism and good historical preservation. I would love to spend a few days there with my wife someday. It seemed rather monied so I ask about this to one of the members of the opening bands. He said that outside the walls regular folk can get along quite nicely.

The hall where we played was good-sized with a dance floor and decorative triangular banners strung back and forth from the ceiling. The stage was comfy and big enough to move around on. I took full advantage executing my first successful pirouette into a split since I started working on it, lo these many long years. (Thanks Percy- you were right!**) We had perhaps 100 people, maybe a bit less. Quite a big crowd for us in these new parts. The audience here thus far are a little quieter but seem to listen more intensely. Afterwards, the appreciation was once again generous and lovely to hear. We met so many genuine characters in and around the Crescent. Joe (“it’s all sorted”) Coates, our promoter, all pea coat lanky, talking as if his back teeth are always touching, Bob, the manager who once played the second best Pub Billiards player in the country, the delightful young lady who uttered tomorrow’s Britishism.

IMG_2178 We ended up the night staying at a friend of George’s who ordered us pizza and was a generous host. The list pictured is one of his children’s who decided to rank everything they ate that day from most to least crunchy.

Tomorrow is Cardiff.

*Potential epitaph

**My trainer, instructor, mentor, and friend who died last year when a small fish bone lodged in his colon, creating an abscess that became septic. He left behind two neon tetras – now since passed.