02 February 2008

Everybody's got to learn sometime

I nearly gave up the idea of dashing back to London yesterday evening to see Stackridge at the 100 Club: I had to dash from London to Oxford first, and got highly stressed in the process. It's an unavoidable side-affect of using the trains, I suppose. But I did take the Oxford Tube coach service back into town, and I did arrive in good time for the kick-off, and I did meet up with Chris and his colleague Tony - though Martino had to be elsewhere, and Ben was held back at the office by Sir Gerald.

The set included some pieces I haven't heard for years, and one or two of those that I have been enjoying live and in recordings of recent live appearances have been dropped. Fundamentally Yours, so close to being a perfect song, was reinstated when the band met a fan who had travelled from New York to see them - whether exclusively to do so, I didn't find out, though I found myself standing next to him at the start of the second set when I had taken up position to make the best use of my camera. They were all excellent, and I can even forgive them The Volunteer, Happy in the Lord, and The Galloping Gaucho - does anyone notice a pattern here? I like Mutter's singing, it's his choice of material I don't agree with so much, although Dancing on Air is enchanting. As for Do The Stanley, it's just the best sort of inspired lunacy, and I had the pleasure of Stanleying, I believe, with Mutter's wife Linda. Strangely, though, no-one else seemed prepared to essay the far-from-complicated steps: is it a lost art, or does it just demand a level of fitness not usually found in the middle-aged men who made up most of the audience? It was tough work, and it would not be immodest for me to say that I was quite possibly the fittest person in the room.

Also had the pleasure of meeting Mike Tobin, and completed my collection of autographs of the current band members. A second life-affirming evening in the same week - at least, it felt like it when I left the 100 Club, but by the time I'd walked through the binge drinkers, police patrols and ambulances that are an essential feature of a weekend evening in central London, waited 40 minutes for the coach and travelled back to Oxford in near-Arctic temperatures because the heating wasn't working, reaching home close to 2.30 am, the pleasure had been just slightly diluted.

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