As autumn descends around us, and in this age of instant and repeat gratification, it is both fitting and somehow pleasingly rebellious to have had a weekend of singular experiences that are not for re-play. Saturday morning: Styx and I represented Bluebird Parade on 103 the Eye, the non-profit community radio station serving Melton Mowbray and the wider Vale of Belvoir. Our thanks for this go to Styx’s long-time friend Duncan Cronin. Although Dunc admitted to being a little the worse for wear, he entertained us with his companionable patter and championed our music by playing At Last We Understand Each Other, Bittersweet, and In Case You Fail from The Wednesday Night Island. He explained the graded swearing fines (“cupcake” being the most costly word; another reason to use it sparingly if at all) and local radio’s 40:60 talk/music ratio. He asked us about our songs and guided us neatly into repeated plugs for the November 6th gig at the Musician. He played us a gleeful mash-up of Ray Parker Jr and AC/DC. Off-air, he justified his costume choice of The Crow at that evening’s annual Enchanted Faery Ball (“I’m single – it’s obvious when you think about it”). Thus prepped, heads filled with images of goth white face-paint and a rustling leather greatcoat, we joined the ranks of the Eye’s ghostly guests: blink and you’ve missed us. We didn’t record this, and you won’t find it on Listen Again. Our conversation, like most exchanges not scripted by post-post-modern “reality” TV, slipped instantaneously into the ether. My cousins Dave and Emily, visiting from the States and fresh from the cosmopolitan sidewalks of London and Amsterdam, were the only two to bear respectfully silent witness to this event, Meltonian by definition. I was glad they were able to stay in the studio and share it with us. Who knows how many radios were tuned in to us at 10:00 a.m.? And does it matter? We echo the Disasters Emergency Committee, the Co-ordinators of the Bingham Parish Church Christmas Tree Festival, the Melton Police Special Constables, the Leicestershire Master Composter (especially him!), and countless other locals in saying to 103 the Eye, “Many thanks for your help”.
Sunday evening: Mark, Jon, and I played at Natterjacks, the pub. We literally played to Natterjacks, the pub, as well, the bartop and chiefly empty wooden stools absorbing our songs as the chords faded into the night. Again, oddly, it didn’t seem to matter. In fact, the select size of the audience, which latterly included dear Russ, served to fuel the hearts-on-sleeves poignancy of the solo artists who were performing: Calder McLaughlin, Sam Hutchinson, and our own Mark Price. All three have beautifully expressive voices and an intimate urgency to their songs. It was a treat to listen to them, and to watch Mark go all goose-pimply when Jon painted a sound-poem by flugel on The Day After the Night Before. I think we all went goose-pimply then. It would be nice to return to Natterjacks when there’s a bigger audience; after a brief hiatus Calder is trying to build the Sunday Acoustic Sessions back up so we wish him every success, but again there was something selfishly and paradoxically pleasurable about the ephemeral nature of human connection, of performance; something sad and joyous about letting loose in the quiet. As we mused over late-night nan bread on Narborough Road – once we had finished giggling over Jon’s story about finding a mouse in his trousers -, “So there was no money in it. So hardly anybody heard us. We’re lucky to be able to do this and to share it with each other.” We fell silent for a moment and then carried on eating. Outside, the darkness bade farewell to British Summer Time, and another radiant autumn leaf fluttered unseen to the ground.