Sunday 10th February 2019

Another week when I’m four days behind with my Diary: my life just isn’t my own, out here.

It’s hard to find any personal time when undertaking a run of three back-to-back shows – when the days seem to fly past. Trust me, when you’ve spent fourteen hours in the venue, all you want is to climb into your bunk, as soon as you clamber onto the crew bus. To think that – in days gone by (many moons ago) – we would sit in the downstairs lounge quaffing a few drinks before heading upstairs to get our heads down for a mere five hours sleep before the next day’s show. That sort of activity is only sensibly now reserved for “travelling” into a day off.

On the Tears for Fears tour we have “just” the two crew buses (I don’t miss the days of stadium touring and the attendant five or six crew buses) which keeps things “comfortably cosy”. Our bus actually “shredded” a back tyre on the rear steering axle, about forty-five minutes out from Glasgow on Monday night past, around 0230 on Tuesday morning. Us old road dogs are familiar with the sensation and sound of the tour-bus runner over patchy stretches of highway, however the accentuate rumbling left me in no doubt what the real problem was.

Our driver, Mike, then had no choice but to call out the breakdown service to the Abingdon service area, about 30 minutes north of Carlisle. This set us back around three hours – however, priority wise, the other crew bus (Production Manager and his assistant; Rigger; Caterers & Lighting crew) is the one required at the venue for “first light” therefore – although we didn’t reach Birmingham (“Resorts World”) Arena until around 10.30 am – if it had been the other way around, crew bus wise, we would have been lucky to “open doors” on time.

To recap, this past week, we (as previously alluded to) played the Glasgow Hydro on Monday night past; Birmingham Resorts World Arena (essentially the “NEC”) on Tuesday – and then finishing the current UK leg last night, and our ninth show, at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena.

Can I just briefly pause to honestly inform you that the time lapse behind that last paragraph and this first line of this paragraph is – wait for it – around forty-eight hours: hence the reason you finding me typing away with fervour, just before 9.00 pm on Saturday 16th of February, cocooned backstage at the Berlin “Tempodrom”, with the band having just gone on!

Yes, I have been known to slip behind like this before and – yes – my touring activities have invariably been to blame for such a lamentable state of affairs on similar past occasions. However I will not rest in my bunk on the tour bus tonight, knowing I’m heading into Sunday, tomorrow, without having managed to draw to a close, the previous Sunday’s entry. Not good.

It doesn’t stop there: we have a nine-hour run to Amsterdam after tonight’s show here in Berlin, which means the rigging truck - last out tonight, required to be first in tomorrow morning - is probably not going to roll up to “AFAS Live” (formerly the Heineken Music Hall) until 10.30 am tomorrow morning: compare that with our usual load-in time of 07.30 am. Ouch.

Forty-five years of experience tells me that tomorrow will flash by in a kaleidoscopic collage of frantic activity, crazed timings and snatched mealtimes. Anticipating all of that, there are few tracks that could capture that sentiment, however I intend to heed Huey Lewis ‘s advice.

Sunday 3rd February 2019

Well, as any regular reader of this Diary will know, what’s happened this past week was inevitable: back out on the road I go and my personal life becomes files under “hold”. However, being that this project came to me a little late in the day, there are worse tours to be involved with (believe me!) than the enchanting Alison Moyet opening up for the iconic Tears for Fears.

There’s a further “bonus” (there had better be!) in that both principal Artists feature live musicians: honestly, it’s been too long since both opener and headliner – on a tour I was involved in – when both opener and headliner featured real musicians throughout their show.

As of today (which is meant to be Sunday past – but it’s actually Tuesday evening) we’ve played four shows already: Killarney, Wednesday last; Dublin Thursday; travel day on Friday; Liverpool Saturday and Brighton Sunday. So this gives you an insight as to why I was unable to complete my Diary on time – for the first time for a long time, I would add in my defense.

This evening finds me “camped” along the road from the O2, in the salubrious Holiday Inn Express, the location of tomorrow’s performance – after which it’s overnight to Bournemouth for a “back-to-back” show. Once out of Bournemouth, that will see five out of nine shows completed. As always, long taxing days are involved - adrenalin being the only drug you need.

I’ve elected to travel on the crew bus (one of two) on this little jaunt, as it is the most convenient method of travelling from “point A to point B” and – probably more significant – it’s a fairly short (yet sold out) tour, so I’ll be fine with a few nights hanging with the crew.

Tomorrow I will not experience daylight, at all, as we’re heading in to the venue at 0745 (still dark outside) and not leaving their again until around 0045 the next morning (still dark outside) That’s just the way it is when you sign up (temporarily) for such a stamina-sapping lifestyle, either playing shows or travelling formidable distances to play those said shows. I’m sure I’ve mentioned, a few times down the years, there’s nothing more personally rewarding (for me anyway) than climbing into my bunk, reading a few pages of my book, then nodding off.

Not for the claustrophobic mind you : as each bunk space occupies only a 6 feet by 2 feet by (wait for it!) 2 foot high space, there’s not a lot of room to move around in there just to sleep.

I probably prefer the scenario whereby I run around in a small rental car, sorting my own hotels through “Booking.com” and generally being my own man: the sense of freedom is palpable as one charges about the length and breadth of the country , somewhat unfettered.

On the football front, my young lad – Boris Melingui – has now signed for the Scottish League One club “Dumbarton FC) which will enable him to get his head down and concentrate his energies in keeping Dumbarton clear of the relegation zone; now comes the real challenge .

Having played out last week’s Diary – appropriately, with an accompanying track by Tears for Fears, I feel it is only fair that we repeat this scenario by seeking to leave you with something by our very impressive opening act, Alison Moyet. From my system, I have selected the following track, hailing from a good few years ago, a lovely song called “All Cried Out”. XX

Sunday 27th January 2019

Finally, my silence can be broken, in relation to my veiled references of the past few weeks.

The first revelation: I am currently sitting in Killarney this Sunday evening, preparing for the commencement of a “Tears For Fears” Ireland/UK/Europe tour that takes up the next month.

It’s never too difficult to persuade me to come out on the road when the Artist involved uses live musicians: and that’s refreshingly the case with TFF, which ensures that I’ll be nipping out into the concert bowl to give these lads a listen, whenever I can tear myself away from my accounting office backstage. There is however a rather thick layer of icing on the cake: Alison Moyet is the lads’ special guest act. Another reason to be most positive about this tour!

Finding my way to Killarney involved a (direct, thankfully) flight from Edinburgh to Shannon, down here in the south-west of Ireland – the Republic of Ireland to be precise – and then a connecting bus run, through Limerick, with the bonus of some delightful countryside en-route.

The venue in Killarney, for Wednesday night’s show upcoming show, is the same location where we kicked-off Niall Horan’s Ireland & UK tour, back in March of last year. The venue is staffed by a most energetic team, under the direction of the Event Manager, Shane O’Driscoll. It makes for such an easier day, when the venue staff genuinely want to go out of their way to ensure a smooth operation and this invariably contributes toward a great show.

So, this is me back in the swing of things, doing what I do best – and surrounded by several familiar “road dogs”: essentially, as I have made reference to in the past, my extended family. On this particular tour, I’ve toured several times before with the Production Manager (Andy Colby); the Catering Chief (Sarah Nicholas); the Stage Manager (Torin Arnold) and the Video Engineer (Devin Turner). The remainder of the crew appears to be a fairly even split between UK and American which – when you think about it - is the same as the “Artist split” with one of the lads residing in the UK, and the other having (I believe) spent many years in the U.S..

On the football front, one of my young lads (Boris Melingui) scored a cracking goal in his debut for the Scottish L1 club Dumbarton, the result of which earned him “Man of the Match”. Initially – with so much going on prior to my imminent departure here to the Emerald Isle – I was doubtful I would find the six-hour window required to attend the game (Dumbarton is right across the other side of Scotland, from where I stay in Dunbar). With a fair sprinkling of judicious planning, I arranged it that I could stay in Edinburgh last night, after handing my rental car back on the way into town, having secured an cheapish one-night hotel stay in the Haymarket area of Edinburgh - and within walking distance of the Airport Express bus stop.

Two more of my young French footballers arrived into Edinburgh late this morning (I only “missed” them at the airport by 3 hours!) as both Falkirk FC, in the Championship, and Raith Rovers, in League One – both very approachable clubs – have each agreed to assess the lads.

All in all, not a bad end to a fairly frantic week (including two 03.00 a.m. stints in my office) but nothing I didn’t anticipate. In closing this week’s Diary entry, it may come as no surprise as to my choice of Artist to lead us out, with this week’s accompanying track. On you go, lads.

Sunday 20th January 2019

I’m making a start to this week’s entry, ahead of a Hearts cup-tie, kicking off at 2.30 pm. The majority of the other sixteen ties were played yesterday, save for the cancellation of Friday night’s televised game at “lowly” Cowdenbeath, where their opponents were the high-flying Glasgow Rangers. At this time of the year, the weather can cause havoc with football fixtures.

Back with you, now, after the Hearts v Livingston game, which Hearts managed to win 1-0 - however not terribly convincingly. Being that the Hearts game was the last of the 16 games to be played (although – as mentioned above – the Cowdenbeath v Rangers game has now been re-scheduled to Wednesday 30th of this month) the draw for the next round of the Scottish Cup, was conducted from Hearts stadium – “Tynecastle” – ten minutes after today’s final whistle blew. Hearts came out with a (favourable, you would have to say) tie against the only “Junior” club remaining in the competition – and a club that Hearts played in this same competition, back in 2012, on the way to winning the cup (I was there!): Auchinleck Talbot.

It is great credit to Auchinleck Talbot’s efforts that they have reached this stage of the competition, culminating yesterday in knocking out their senior-club “neighbours” Ayr United, the latter currently sitting second in the Scottish Championship – and pushing for promotion.

Unfortunately, with the next round being played on the weekend of 9th/10th February, I may be out on tour during that time (although I’m still awaiting confirmation of that actual project, with the date scheduled to leave town being a week today!). Ach, we (Hearts) should ease into the quarter-finals of the Cup, but we need to avoid complacency against Auchinleck Talbot!

Apart from the obvious reasons to know if I’m involved in the previously-mentioned project (and all will be revealed, next week, if I am!) which commences only ten days from now, there is much for me to be getting along with at the house, both on the practical and administrational fronts: I remain cognizant of my current home being my most prized asset!

On the weather front, it has certainly been something of a wake-up call to return here to chilly Scotland (2 celcius today!) when I have probably experienced an average daily temperature of 20 celcius for the past two and a half months. Also, while dusk in Cyprus currently falls around the same time as Scotland – 5.00 p.m. – the noticeable difference is that dawn is around 6.15 a.m. in Cyprus, at this time of year, whereby it’s not much before 8.00, here at the moment.

Therefore, with my constant “need” of light and (reasonable) warmth, I’m bound to personally find January and February, in Scotland, not the most comfortable months to endure. This is not to attract sympathy for my situation – but I’ve (increasingly, down the years?) monitored these developments and – seeing things as objectively as I can – I really don’t fare too well. Having said that, I’ve rarely been able to apply the requisite amount of time seriously required to study, research and pro-actively combat my “condition”. But I know something needs done!

On a brighter note, the jewel in my crown of young footballers (that I have been involved with over the last season) – Souleymane “Souley” Diakite - will hopefully be signing to a Scottish Championship club, within the next two weeks. This is gratifying news and subsequently prompts me to leave you with The Rolling Stones to sum things up for this week! Brrrrr. XXX

Sunday 13th January 2019

The decision has been made: of Cyprus’s four main cities (Paphos; Limassol; Nicosia and Larnaka) it is Larnaka that shades it, as my personal preference – just edging out Paphos, with Limassol not far behind in third place, leaving Nicosia a good few lengths back in the running.

The above judgement may come down a little unfairly on Nicosia as – apart from the other three all nestling directly on the Mediterranean (a definite “plus”) - I have only ever visited Nicosia on two occasions, over the two and a half years that I have been frequenting Cyprus.

Additionally, it’s from the balcony of our room at the Frangorgiou Hotel in Larnaka (a five-minute walk from the Marina and seafront) where, today – while it is still light – I am in the process of penning this week’s Diary entry. What has certainly not caused any slight on my choice of favourite city was last night’s dinner visit to a quaint back-street restaurant called “Art Café 1900”. Very chic decoration (without being pretentious); jazz and blues music in the background, through a decent sound system – and, key to it all of course, impressive food.

Got to zip off to lunch now, therefore I’ll pick this back up again, before we head out tonight.

Back in the hotel, just coming up to 5.00 pm local Cyprus time - having just discovered a neat little esplanade-front restaurant, serving “Sunday Roast”, which would appear to be a fairly popular event for the majority of the ex-pat community, whereas - for the indigent Cypriot population - Sunday is seen as a family day, when the midday meal in generally enjoyed indoors.

With Alice due to re-locate back to the UK around the end of this month, this may be my last time in Larnaka (and Cyprus) for a good while. However, albeit in more sunnier months than December and January, there could be a lot worse places to hangout for a few leisurely weeks.

Having, now, been out of the country for almost two and a half months, there will follow something of a “re-alignment” exercise for me, upon my return to Scotland in three days from now - with the work prospects on the horizon (there will undoubtedly be a “re-clothing” exercise!). It’s probably close on ten years since I last spent such an extended period away from the UK shores, what with the intentional deceleration of my recent worldwide touring activities. However, I do foresee a fair amount of time being spent out of the country this year, again – albeit (as a result of developing work projects) without a twelve week “chunk”.

There’s a fair amount of work on the cards for me during this coming year, whereas – at the moment – 2020 looks fairly sparse (although work opportunities can “turn on a sixpence” in this topsy-turvy industry, where I ply my trade) which, I have to admit, is just as I planned! The time is fast approaching whereby the lion’s share of my time will be applied to my OWN travelling plans, rather than those of my clients. Time to start thinking about a bucket list?!

Possibly the most significant aspect of recent extended period away from the clamour of both the music and football business has been to enable me to reach a decision to streamline my activity and involvement around the football side of things, which I’ll be happy to expand upon next week! This dovetails beautifully into allowing my man Otis Redding to encapsulate such a mood, with this week’s accompanying track, aptly titled “A Change Is Gonna Come”. XX

Sunday 6th January 2019

Well, there’s no avoiding it now: the new year is definitely upon us – and already six days old.

Alice and I managed to find a cheap deal on an apartment in Pomos, on the northwest coast of Cyprus (you may recall me singing the praises of the area, in a past Diary entry) and it is there that we have spent the last two days, returning “home” this afternoon via Pafos, where we planned to take in the sunset, from the vicinity of the harbour lighthouse coffee shop.

However, that plan was well and truly scotched when (as can happen occasionally in Cyprus, at this time of year) a surprisingly squalid stormfront literally appeared from nowhere to block out the final thirty minutes of the sunset. No complaints, really, on the overall weather front in Cyprus though – considering the countless days of warm sunshine that I have taken advantage of on (now) several visits to this island. For sure, Cyprus has much going for it.

Having said that, it may now be a while until I return here (I’m heading home to Scotland next week) as Alice’s company are re-locating back to the UK at the end of the month – and it very much looks like she will be based in either Leeds or York, for the remainder of this year. Of course, this will represent a major “climate change” for Alice, who is in the process of digging out a host of winter-clothing items that she has had no requirement of for the past two years.

Just to say that I’m currently awaiting final confirmation of my involvement (as Tour Accountant) on a “small” – eleven date – UK arena tour, with an iconic “eighties” outfit but – as I’m sure you can appreciate – cannot say too much at this time, until all is finally in place.

That would take up most of February, after which my next project (as things stand at the moment) would not kick in, until mid-April. The plan therefore – if I can pull it together – would be to go visit my son and daughter in late March/early April – and hopefully in the same location. In other words, Bradley flies to Vietnam – the more likely of the two scenarios – or Jade flies to Australia, which of course would save me having to “Continent-hop” - because you know I’ve done a fair bit of that in my time (I often wonder how I managed all of that!).

For the time being – if nothing else comes in for the summer period (and that’s 50/50 at the moment) I intend to anchor myself to my home town of Dunbar, at least for the four-month period of June through September. Following on from that, it very much looks like I will be involved with another touring project for the best part of two months, specifically October and November. Subsequently, I’ve already pretty much set my sights on being home for Christmas “this” year: I just feel the “pull” of my own environment, for that particular period.

So, there you have it: a first glimpse at my plan for 2019. Being that I’ve now committed the above tentative “forecast” to the record, it will be most interesting to look back at this particular Diary entry – one year from now – to make a “projected versus actual” comparison!

Generally speaking, I’m just easing my foot back, a little more, off the gas as I look to restore the personal/work life balance: that, in conjunction with paying increasing attention to my general health, is how I intend to move forward in this coming year. With that in mind, I leave you in the capable hands of the legendary Maxine Nightingale to elaborate. Here’s to 2019! X

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