Think Nottingham. Think Nottingham Castle, Sherwood Forest, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, St Ann’s, the Gunn family. Think panic as the city centre roads slyly make you double back on yourself, or head unexpectedly to Mansfield, or pass the same implacable pub over and over like a nightmarish re-working of an MC Escher lithograph. Working in Nottingham was the impetus for me to get a sat nav five years ago, and though – because? – I am no longer employed in the home of the Goose Fair and City of Caves, I still need re-orienting when I’m there. I recognize landmarks, vaguely anticipate the one-way system, recall snippets of routes to clients’ homes, but at the same time it’s all slightly rearranged and unfamiliar, like a road atlas where you have to skip forward five pages to find yourself again. So it was with some satisfaction and pride that I made my way relatively unscathed to the Rescue Rooms on Monday night; Mark and Jon drove together and were not so lucky, but that’s their tale to tell.
Once reunited and soothed with shandy and hummous, we three performed a half-hour set as part of the Acoustic Rooms series in the refurbished main bar area: atmospheric lighting, Chesterfield-style leather sofas, supportive and comely friends in attendance (although – Dave, “I live five minutes away so don’t really have any excuses” is not exactly a ringing endorsement; do you think you could sharpen up your promotional patter for next time?), the glory of youth. It was pure poetry, despite the lingering question that nagged at my brain as I forgot the last verse to “Make it Better” – three falafel balls on the “sharing platter” for two – why? What cruel puppeteer pulls the strings in their kitchen? We looked to the flugel a bit more often this time, its copper bell glinting in the manufactured gloaming. We duly plugged the website and the Facebook page. We bumped elbows a bit (Mark and I) and blew kisses to teenagers at the bar (not really). We were so inspiring that Laura was moved to join us for future acoustic gigs; there will be six of us up front again before you know it. And we were followed by the main act, Brothers of Brazil, an anarchic duo performing “punkanova” in velvet lapels (singer/guitarist) and a patchwork gladiatorial skirt (drummer) who are, in fact, brothers; and are also – in fact – from Brazil. Check them out when you get a chance; they were musically tight and lyrically goofy and had Mark grinning from ear to proverbial ear.
So never mind that there was no hot water for my Sleepytime tea. Never mind Alice’s story about erstwhile carpet theft and the technicolor drama unfolding in the women’s toilets. It was Nottingham, virtuous Nottingham, and we were delighted to be there on a Monday night. It was almost like coming home, except we had to go home afterwards, and I missed a turn and started heading towards Mansfield. But still – put your heads together, Executive Councillors – it’s a grim motto for a city once-dubbed the “gun-crime capital of the UK”, no?