Friday, March 09, 2007

last leg of the midlands tour.

I end up pleasently surprised to have dissappointed myself. Here's a suggestion for those who need, but fear, therapy: go away on your own. Somehow it's come to pass that I'm sitting in a tiny, cluttered half empty bar in the medieval part of Coventry, listening to Philip Glass and the Penguin Cafe Ochestra on this most improbable of pub stereos. Here's how this accident happened.

I've done more and more work-based travel in recent months, pitching up in Sheffield, Exeter, Birmingham, Manchester, Southampton, London and Leeds. I have no consistent approach, sometimes treating it as a holiday and finding nice restaurants and bars, other times treating it as work, staying in my hotel in the evenings and dozing to hotel TV. This time I've been quite proactive, perhaps because I've had productive days, improving my mood, or perhaps because the weather has been nice and has upped my energy, but either way I've been out most evenings this week trying to find nice places to eat and gigs to go to. After LCD Soundsystem in Birmingham on Wednesday, I decided to find a gig in Coventry tonight, wanting to have some activity for the evening. So I found a promising looking gig at a venue called The Tin Angel and, having dashed out for a curry after I finished my days' appointments and checked in to my hotel, weaved my way uncertainly through unfamiliar streets and dank rain, before I finally found the pub, dark and near deserted.

No sign of the gig, precious little sign of life, but I decided to stop and have a beer anyway, and now, writing this, this strange exotic little pub is throbbing unexpectedly with the bass heavy sounds of Ethopian Jazz. A regular asks the barman questions like "what crazy music do you have for us this evening, then?". I even notice a guitar sitting unplayed in the corner - perhaps the gig will happen, I speculate, in some really strange, undemonstrative fashion, before the few of us seated here. The bar is now unattended, for the bar staff have come to sit at tables, doing their fine art coursework. Perhaps the gig is downstairs, I wonder? Or upstairs, and I have no idea it's going on?

Wanting a lively evening originally, I'm disappointed in failing to find it, but actually, I don't care, and far from feeling restless or lonely I feel a flickering wave of happiness. I watch the rain smashing the streets and nurse my beer, lurching with the jazz and think "I am happy here wrapped in my own skin".

Here the only distractions are too unlikely and ellusive to be felt. Sometimes only total seperation will suffice, where nothing is usual and everything foreign, so although I have no book to read, no-one to talk to, no desire to drink any more, I order another beer and write this on the back of a flyer, wondering if I can remember the way back to my hotel. The barman switches to Balkan gyspy music, the bargirl frowns over her heavy art book.

Actually, I really don't think I know the way back to my hotel. If I post this, though, you'll know I got back safe.


Ali P said...

I always think when I find myself somewhere unfamiliar alone having had a bit to drink with the task of finding my way home, some weird magnetic force just pulls me back to somewhere I recognise.

You walk and walk, following yuor instincts and then there's a shop you remember passing, an unusual building whatever. It's great.

I think you're very brave going out and exploring and finding things to do on your own. I always sit on my own in my hotel, venture to the hotel bar maybe, or sit in my room and have room service in my dressing gown! I think as a woman, it's harder to go out alone as some men see it as an invitation to keep you entertained/company!

Anonymous said...

Ah...The gig was at Taylor John's house, not the Tin Angel - see the pub's website for details...