David’s Daily Digital Dollop: Dollop 204 – What A Bloody Night

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Today is my first Dollop at the age of thirty-one. From now on these Dollops will possess a marked increase in maturity, erudition and wisdom. Tomorrow I intend to write about stocks and shares, but for now, here’s part 3 of my account of Tuesday. You can read the first part here, and part 2 here. But don’t worry if you haven’t got time to read all that, as it’s not dependant on you understanding today’s Dollop.

Our gig in the industrial Canadian town of Trail was a surreal affair. I’d cut myself just half an hour before going on stage. Not deliberately. I mean, hanging around with Michael for days on end can be a bit gruelling, but it’s not that bad. I cut my lip while shaving.

I’d decided, half an hour before setting off for the gig, that I would have a shave. I thought I’d have plenty of time, but the razors I bought were just so blunt. I think the mistake was choosing to buy disposable razors in the airport. They probably blunt them deliberately for safety reasons. I’d seemingly chosen the worst place ever to buy a razor. I hadn’t had a shave for months, and after fifteen minutes, the razor had barely scratched the surface. Well, actually, that’s probably not the best phrase to choose, given that all this razor seemed to be capable of doing was somehow cutting the face beneath all the hair, while leaving the hair more or less fully in tact. These razors weren’t a deliberately ineffective terrorist weapon; they were just crap.

There was now just fifteen minutes before we had to leave. I would have to pick up the pace. I grabbed another disposable razor, and began to frenziedly shave. This razor seemed to be more effective than the previous one. I \plied my face with shaving foam and began to wildly take swipes at the beard, and I mean that in both senses of the term, as I was both shaving it and shouting profanities at it, because it still just wasn’t shifting anywhere near fast enough. Twenty minutes later, the beard was off, but I’d made a gash in the top of my lip which was pouring with blood.

There wasn’t time to do anything about it, except hold a tissue against it. Half an hour later, we were on stage, and my mouth was still pouring with blood. If this had been back at home in Britain in a folk club, a festival or an arts centre, where most of the audience know who we were, then this could have been really funny. If I’d come on stage with my face pouring with blood in front of a late night festival crowd, then it would be hilarious. We could make something of it. But when an audience have no idea who you are, have never seen you before, and you’re in a park at a council-run family event, then the reception you get is very different.

And it happened yet again. We were introduced as an Irish band. The first thing I planned to do was to come on the stage and make a joke about this, but when I opened my mouth, blood came out, which kind of changed everything. Whether we were Irish or not was neither here nor there to the audience, who were more interested and distracted by the man standing on the stage, dripping with blood.

It was a strange setup anyway, regardless of the blood bath element. It was an outdoor event, and the audience had all brought deck chairs to sit on and food to eat. There were meant to be nearly a thousand people in attendance, but the crazy storm earlier, and the storms that were currently happening just a couple of miles away, had apparently put a lot of people off. The 200 people that did make it were interspersed all over the park, and no one was sitting very close to us. This kind of gig is especially difficult for me, because the distance of the audience to the stage, along with the fact that it’s outdoors, means that I can’t really hear the audience responding. And unlike the other two, I’m not able to get any visual feedback about how the gig is going. Add all this to the fact that my mouth was pouring with blood, and you can maybe understand why I felt pretty uncomfortable with things.

On top of that, the sound wasn’t very good at all. We came onto the stage, having just been introduced as Irish, to the sound of deafening feedback. This probably added to the audience’s confusion even more. They thought they were getting an Irish folk band, but then they got deafening feedback and an Englishman spitting blood at them, and they maybe started to wonder whether the organisers had booked the wrong group, and had accidentally got an English death metal band instead.

The gig was by no means a disaster though. People were clearly enjoying the music, and there were many who were laughing at my bloody mouth saga. Someone threw some plasters onto the stage. I tried wearing a plaster, but it proved almost impossible to sing, as it clung to my face and the blood congealed underneath, meaning that I could hardly move my lips. You can hear parts of that gig on a forthcoming Young’uns Podcast.

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David’s Daily Digital Dollop: Dollop 203 – Spanish Carmada

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So, yesterday I left you on a bit of a cliffhanger. Well, I suppose it wasn’t really that much of a cliffhanger. I ended by saying that we had cause to fear for our lives, however< I assume that you've already realised that we clearly aren't dead, given that I'm writing this Dollop. Unless of course I've found some way to Dollop from beyond this physical realm, and am blogging from the afterlife. Yes, I may be in paradise, reunited with all my deceased loved ones, but I've told them they'll have to wait to show me around heaven and that we'll have to have a catchup later, because I've got a daily blogging challenge to maintain, and death is quite frankly no excuse for shirking. In fairness, my dead relatives won't have to wait all that long; I mean, what does a few minutes matter when you've got all eternity to play with? Or perhaps I have died and my laptop has been recovered. Someone has then managed to guess my laptop password, find that day's unpublished dollop that I wrote just before my death, then guess the password for my website, and publish the Dollop. But if that is the case, then how am I writing this? Unless I realised that death was imminent and hurriedly managed to type this before death came. I could have written my last will and testament, or a final message to my friends and family, but instead I chose to write just one more Dollop before I died. But I think you know that this isn't the case, and that, at the time of writing, I am still alive. So yesterday's cliffhanger wasn't really that dramatic, because I am clearly not dead. So, when we parted company yesterday, there were five of us in a car heading to the industrial Canadian town of Trail. There was me, and the other two Young'uns, as well as a couple of hitch hikers who we'd just picked up. As soon as they got in our car, a rather severe storm began; maybe not severe by Canadian standards, but certainly bigger and more dramatic than British storms. The whole place went dark, the car lights came on, and we cautiously crept forwards. Our car was probably moving more in a side-to-side direction, what with the wind shaking us, than it was going forwards. Our two hitch hikers began to murmur to each other in Spanish. They then both laughed in what I'd describe as a sinister manner, but perhaps it was just the foreboding atmosphere outside that was making me feel like the situation inside was also circumspect. There was more unintelligible whispering, another laugh, and then ... “We know a short cut,” said the girl. She said this in English, just in case you were thinking that, even though my Spanish isn't good enough to know the majority of words, I just so happen to know the Spanish for “we know a short cut.” “It's probably just easier to follow the Satnav,” countered Michael, not wanting to start going off the beaten track. There was more Spanish murmurings, and then … “It'll be easier in the storm,” said the girl. This time, she did say this in Spanish. It just so happens that the one Spanish phrase I know is, “it'll be easier in the storm.” No, I am just being hilarious; she said it in English, but I had you fooled for a moment there didn't I? Go on, admit it, I did, you gullible idiot. “Continue straight,” said the satnav, as if trying to warn us against trusting these two new passengers. “The satnav is saying to go straight. This route seems pretty simple,” Michael responded., which seems a fairly logical argument, as what could be easier than simply travelling in a straight line. The Spanish mutterings recommenced. They sounded a little bit more urgent now. There was a flurry of words, and then they seemed to come to an agreement on something. Then there was some shuffling around, while the girl tried to get something from her bag. Just then, there was a massive clap of thunder, and the car jolted. Oh my god, it's clear what's happening, I thought. These people are trying to kill us. They have invaded our car with the sole purpose of killing us, conquering our vehicle and taking our possessions. It's the Spanish Carmada. They'd tried their best to get us off the beaten track, so as to kill us without drawing attention to what was going on, but there plan hadn't worked, due to Michael's opinion that we should continue following the satnav's literally straight forward directions. And so They'd just had another conversation with each other along the lines of, “it's very foggy and dark. We could probably get away with killing them here and now, and no one would see.” The two of them had agreed to this plan, and the girl was now rummaging in her bag for … what? A gun? A knife? An Axe? The other two were too busy trying to concentrate on the road ahead to notice what was going on. It was down to me to restrain our two assailants and thus save our lives. My life, and the life of Sean and Michael, lay in my hands. I braced myself, ready to act. Her hand came out of her bag, and she was holding … a map. Upon consulting the map, it suggested that the girl was correct, and that there was an easier and shorter way after all, and so we changed our route, which took us out of the storm and onto a better road. Now that the danger, both real and imaginary, had passed, we all fell into conversation. Alexandra was from Mexico, Erin was from Spain. They were both in their early thirties. They'd only known each other for three months. Erin was in Mexico with work, and on a night out he met Alexandra. They spent the night talking, drinking and dancing. Afterwards, Erin went home with Alexandra, and what they spent the rest of the night doing is none of our business, although by the morning they were boyfriend and girlfriend. Erin spent the rest of his time in Mexico with Alexandra, staying in her house. A week later, it was time for him to return to Spain, except he wasn't keen on going, and she wasn't keen on letting him. Two weeks later, he had quit his job and was back in Mexico with Alexandra. Two weeks after that, Alexandra had quit her job, and she and Erin were in Canada. And they've been in Canada for the last two months, sleeping in a tent, hitch hiking from place to place, looking for manual work such as cherry picking. They don't know what the future will hold, how long this will last, or whether they'll stay together or go their separate ways, choosing to live by the philosophy of living purely in the present. But for the last two months they've spent all their time in each other's company, living together, sleeping together, travelling together and working together, just the two of them. Three months ago they didn't know of each other's existence. The original plan had been to drop them off just outside of trail, where they would continue hitch hiking to their final destination, a further hundred miles down the road. But when they heard we were musicians and that we'd be doing a free concert tonight in Trail, they decided to change their plans and come into Trail with us to watch our gig. At the gig, we mentioned to the audience that there were some hitch hikers wanting to travel into Creston, in case there was anyone who might be able to help them. There are other things to tell you about Tuesday night's concert, as it was rather surreal. But I shall save that for tomorrow, as this Dollop has already gone over 1300 words. Today's Dollop is my last Dollop at the age of thirty. But will I make it to 31? That's another cliffhanger. You'll have to come back tomorrow to find out. I am a master atcreating dramatic tension.

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David’s Daily Digital Dollop: Dollop 202 – Car Before The Storm

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After leaving the hot tub in Kelowna (well, it was too big to take with us) we got in the hire car and began the first leg of our five hour journey, which was to stop off at Wentworth music shop, wherein worked a man we were rather excited about meeting. The man is called Don, and he is the drummer in a band called The Young’uns – Canada’s The Young’uns.

As mentioned in yesterday’s hot tub based Dollop, people have frequently got our two groups mixed up. The Young’uns from Canada are a covers band that primarily play weddings, so I think it’s fair to say, without sounding arrogant, that our reach and audience is quite bigger than there’s, given that we’ve been played on national radio and have won one of the biggest awards in our genre. OK, that probably did sound a bit arrogant, but you know what I mean. Basically, what I’m getting at is that The Young’uns from Canada seem to spend most of their Twitter activity telling people, who’ve attempted to tweet us, that they’ve got the wrong Young’uns.

We weren’t sure if they loathed our existence. After all, they’ve been going a lot longer than us, since 1989 in fact, which suggests that the daily Hive website, who reported that we’d been going since 1989, had just done some very lack-lustre Internet research and conflated the two bands. And then we turn up, a band with the same name. At first it presumably wasn’t a problem. We were way down the Google search pages. But then, as we got more popular, our Google search ranking increased, and eventually we were top, and then more and more articles and websites were mentioning our band, propelling the Canadian Young’uns further down the search results table. Then the Youtube videos came, then we signed up to Twitter, and now the Canadian Young’uns have to spend all their time on Twitter talking to our fans, because they’ve tweeted the wrong band.

UP until a few days ago, the only contact we’d had with the Canadian Young’uns was them tagging us in hundreds of tweets in order to direct someone to the correct Young’uns. But then we discovered that we were in the town that one of The Young’uns works in, and so we began to arrange a meeting. And today we fina lly met a member of the Young’uns from Canada,. The result of that meeting will be featured on a Young’uns Podcast at some point soon – yes, I’ll definitely get around to releasing one in August, I promise.

After our meeting with Don, we began our drive to our next port of call, an industrial town named Trail, where we were playing a free council-run outdoor gig that night. About two hours from Trail we saw a couple of hitch hiker’s. The last time we saw a hitch hiker was when we were driving through Australia (see this Dollop). We travel around Britain all the time, but I don’t think we’ve ever really seen a hitch hiker, yet whenever we’re in another continent we seem to see them. Given that we’ve been at the mercy of drivers ourselves, having stood at roadsides for hours, desperate for vehicular liberation (see this Dollop for a story about Sean and I hitch hiking in 2005) we are very sympathetic to the plight of the hitch hiker. And so we pulled over and asked them where they were going.

It transpired that they were trying to head in the same direction as us, and their intended destination was not far from our destination. We didn’t really have room for them, at least not in a conventional sense of the notion of “room,” but by piling bags and cases high on top of us, and with Michael’s reassurance that he could still just about see where he was going despite the magnitude of bags obscuring the view, we drove off, with our two new hitch hiker friends in the back..

Our two new friends thanked us profusely, as it was evident that we’d just rescued them from a terrible fate. There were large looming clouds ahead. A storm was coming, and the place they’d previously been standing, at the side of the road, with nothing else around for a couple of miles, would have offered them no protection against it. And Canadian storms are not something you want to be standing in the middle of.

We drove through a Canadian storm a couple of days ago, and it’s a harrowing experience. These storms are nothing akin to anything we’ve experienced in England. They are on a much larger scale. The fog is crazily intense and the rain beats down with a ferocity and volume that sounds like cascading rocks.

This storm wasn’t quite as big as the first one we experienced in Canada a couple of days ago. That was a memorable storm. The car was shaking violently and the visibility was practically non-existent. We had a hurried discussion in which we weighed up our choices. If we continued driving, then it was likely that we wouldn’t survive. The three of us decided that we weren’t particularly keen on the idea of dying. After all, we had so much to live for: Michael and Sean have long-term partners, and I have a daily blog to maintain. Our lives were clearly too important to others to risk a reckless trip through the wildest storm of our lives, so we did the sensible thing and pulled over.

Even with the car now stationary, it still aggressively shook with the wind, and the fog meant that we had no idea where we’d pulled over, except that it was off the road, which was the important thing. And so we sat there, while the wind swirled and whistled, the rain pelted, the lightning flashed and the thunder roared, and the fog utterly shrouded us. Eventually, the storm subsided, with an alarming quickness: ten seconds earlier the car was shaking and the rain/rocks were pelting, and then, the fog lifted, the rain stopped and the fog lifted to reveal gloriously bright sun. The lifting of the fog also revealed where we’d stopped and pulled over, and it wasn’t as sensible a choice as we thought. Directly above our car was a massive tree, now gently creaking and swaying in the breeze, although it presumably hadn’t been swaying and creaking so gently mere seconds before. We did hear a lot of unnerving creaking during the storm, but we just assumed it was the car. That tree could have easily fallen and Emily and Hannah would loose their partners, and even more tragically, a few hundred people online would be left eternally Dollopless. Fortunately, such unthinkable disaster was avoided, and we continued our journey.

But now, here we were, a couple of days later, in a car with two complete strangers who we’d just met seconds earlier, and who were giving us cause to once again fear for our lives. But I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

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David’s Daily Digital Dollop: Dollop 201 – Dolloping From A Hot Tub

Download today’s audio Dollop from a hot tub in Kelowna, Canada, here

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David’s Daily Digital Dollop: Dollop 200 – Backward In Going Forwards

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I lead a very strange life. On Saturday we were in Vancouver, being encouraged to sing a swear-laden song in front of children and their seemingly unconcerned parents at 10 in the morning (see Dollop 198). Then immediately after coming off stage, we were in someone’s car, driving at speed to Harrison, in order to make our 2pm harmony workshop. We arrived at 5 minutes past, were dropped off at the front doors of the venue with no time to check in or exchange pleasantries, and began to teach a room full of strangers, in a town we’d literally just entered, a song about pigs, which involved people oinking and snorting. What did you do last Saturday?

If you read about our adventures in Australia in March, and the accounts of our April UK tour, then you’ll know that our travels are always beset by unusual logistical issues. This tour has not proved an exception.

This morning we left Harrison to drive to Vancouver airport where we were picking up the hire car for our next leg of the journey. Vancouver is about two hours from Harrison. I know this because we drove to Harrison from Vancouver only a couple of days before. You might be wondering why we’re driving back to the same place that we left only a couple of days before. Presumably Vancouver is closer to the next place you’re gigging in? You might be thinking. No, it’s not. Harrison is only two hours away from Kelowna, our next port of call. Vancouver is four hours away from Kelowna. In fact, if you were to drive from Vancouver to Kelowna you would pass through Harrison. So we are heading two hours in the opposite direction to where we want to be going, so that we can pick up a hire car,and then driving two hours back in the same direction, taking us back into Harrison, and then passing through Harrison and travelling for a further two hours to get to Kelowna. We’re going to travel for four hours and essentially end up back in the same place we left when we started. We’ve turned a two hour journey into a six hour journey, which doesn’t account for the fact that by the time we get close to our destination, it will be rush hour, meaning more traffic, probably adding another hour onto the journey.

But in fairness, as frustrating as all this is, we did need to pick up a hire car, didn’t we? So what other option was there? It’s annoying but it’s necessary. Except, there’s a car hire place only half an hour from Harrison, in the direction of travel that we actually want to go in. Ah, the benefit of hindsight.

On the way to Vancouver airport, our driver made a slight detour to an electrical shop, because Michael wanted to pick up a cable for his camera, having forgotten to bring it with him from England. . Michael wasn’t sure on the name of the cable he needed, which led to him trying to explain the make and model of the camera to the man in the shop. The man said that he was confident he knew which cable he needed, but reassured Michael that if he got it home and he discovered it was the wrong one, then he could always bring it back to the store. As kind as this was, I’m not sure how worthwhile it would be to travel all the way back to this store, given that we were going to be two hours away by the time we got to where we were staying today. Desperate to avoid yet another ridiculous Young’uns excursion, I suggested that Michael got his camera from his suitcase and bring it into the shop in order to make sure that the cable definitely fits. The slight hassle of having to get a camera out of a suitcase would be nothing in comparison to a two hour journey there and two hours back in order to replace it upon discovering it’s not the right one. Michael went to fetch his camera from his suitcase, and it transpired that the cable was the wrong one. We then located the correct cable and we were back on our way, having avoided another future crazy detour.

We were dropped off by our driver (thank you Zoe if you’re reading. perhaps she enjoyed our company so much that she wants to know what happened after we parted, and is now addicted to following our lives, drawn into our world like an avid soap fan). Half an hour later, Michael realised that he’d left his newly purchased camera cable in her car. After all that.

Eventually we sorted out all the paperwork for the hire car, and it was time to be on our way again. In just two hours, traffic permitting, we’d be back where we started. Then we’d do another half an hour detour in order to pick up Michael’s camera cable from Zoe’s house. Then we’d drive the half an hour back into Harrison again. And then, we’d be on our way.

Except. We were having difficulties with the satnav, which was set to Spanish. Michael then had to connect to the airport’s WIFI network in order to translate the various words on the satnav’s screen into English. Eventually we managed to make sense of the Spanish menus and deduced how to change the language to English. Now it was time to get under way!

Except. Sean and Michael were having a hard time working out how to fasten the rather complex looking satnav holder onto the car window. Michael suggested that maybe it needed to be licked, which to be honest is something that Michael suggests quite a lot, and has resulted in Sean and I frequently having to slap him; although, I think Michael also gets a weird thrill from us slapping him so I’m not really sure if it’s an effective deterent. After giving the strange rubbery surface a lick, Michael established two things: firstly that he was feeling like he was going to vomit due to the acrid taste of the rubbery thing, and secondly that it definitely wasn’t meant to be licked. I made a mental note to wear a horribly disgusting rubbery thing on me whenever I’m in Michael’s company, which would hopefully prove a more effective deterrent when it came to Michael’s weird licking antics.

Sean and Michael tried pulling at bits of the satnav holder, hoping that there might be a bit that locks onto the front of the car, but ten minutes of pulling and twisting yielded nothing. Eventually, Michael traipsed back into the car hire place to ask how the complex looking satnav holder worked. The confused person in the car hire place responded simply by informing him that it was just meant to be placed on top of the dashboard. That was it, there was no need for licking, pulling or twisting anything, you just put the horribly tasting rubbery thing on the dashboard and it stayed there. Anyway, at least we’d figured that out, and now finally we could be on our way!!

Except. It became clear, as we made our way onto the highway, that the satnav wasn’t working. We’d programmed in where we were going and it had accepted our destination, albeit after a further ten minutes of fruitlessly grappling with it before we realised it was set to the wrong state, but now it was going crazy, whizzing through the various towns that we were meant to pass on our journey. According to the satnav we were now in Harrison. We found a place to pull over and tried to work out what was going on. Eventually we realised that we had it set to the rout simulation setting. We located the option for online real-time navigation, and finally we were off. Finally, we were on our way!!!

Except. Well, actually there isn’t an Except, or at least not yet anyway. We’ve been travelling absolutely fine for the last hour. We’re still an hour away from Harrison, and at least another three hours from getting to Kelowna, and so there’s plenty of time for many more things to go wrong.

I’d like to say we’ve learnt some valuable lessons today about logistics and travel, but I’m pretty sure there’ll be many more Young’uns logistical disasters still to come on this tour and on future tours. Still, on the plus side it gives me something to write about.

Voilà, I’ve made the 200th David’s daily digital Dollop. I’m sure many of you are having Dollop-themed parties tonight, celebrating this milestone, perhaps coming in fancy dress. Oh yes, there’s bound to be a lot of people in kettle costumes tonight. Feel free to send me your pictures.

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David’s Daily Digital Dollop: Dollop 199 – Dolloping On A Jet Ski

My Canadian adventure continues, as I attempt to Dollop whilst driving a jet ski. This is the result.

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David’s Daily Digital Dollop: Dollop 198 – The Rude Awakening

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Yesterday was spent in a bit of an odd haze. We didn’t get much sleep on Wednesday night, because we had to be up early to get to the airport. We then waited at the airport for three hours, before sitting on a plane for eleven hours. When we got to the hotel in Vancouver we were starving, so we went out for something to eat. We’d arranged to meet up with a friend based in Vancouver. The three of us were so tired that we were worried we were just going to fall asleep in the restaurant, which I think would make us come across a tad anti-social. So we ordered some beers in the hope that it might chemically alter our brains enough to get through the next couple of hours. This sort of worked and we managed to stay awake. Eventually bedtime came, and as soon as my head hit the pillow I was asleep.

The next thing I was aware of was an almighty explosion of noise. It sounded like bombs were going off, there were what sounded like gun shots, the sound of cars screeching to a halt, and strange voices shouting unintelligibly. Three of the voices shouting belonged to Sean, Michael and me, but there were other shouts, screams, gun shots and explosions. We jumped out of bed. I then heard another crash and a shout. It was Michael, who had crashed into the wall, in the act of desperately trying to locate the light. My brain was now in a much more alert state, and I was beginning to grasp what the voices were shouting. “Gangsters! Gangsters!” Where were the gangsters? Should we run? Should we hide?

I remember being warned at school in English lessons and creative writing classes, that the most pathetic way to end any story is by saying something along the lines of, “and then I woke up,” or, “and it was all a dream.” But there was still a part of my brain that assumed that this was all a crazy dream that I was having. I was jet lagged, I’d had a bit to drink, so weird dreams were to be expected. Except I was pretty convinced this wasn’t a dream. My brain began to become more and more alert.

Further clarity was gained when Michael managed to get the light swithched on, making our eyes hurt to match the pain in our ears and our throbbing heads from being woken up from a drunken jet lagged state by such an arresting and confusing series of sounds.

“Gangsters! Gangsters!” Gun shots, explosions, shouting, screaming.

We forced our eyes open in spite of the pain, which revealed the source of all the commotion. It was a radio alarm clock. As we reached for the switch to turn it off, we heard a voice shouting, “hip hop! Hip hop!” and then a beat kicked in, and then kicked out as the off switch was activated. And the room fell quiet. The threat of gangsters was gone.

We checked the time. It was 330 in the morning. I wonder whether someone had set the alarm to go off at this time the day before, maybe to catch an early flight, not realising that they’d set the alarm to recur at the same time the next day, thus nearly giving heart attacks to three folk singers from England. Or was this deliberate? Had someone done it as a joke, although this was a joke that they wouldn’t see the punchline to, which makes it a bit weird. Maybe they just take satisfaction in the prospect of what might happen, rather than needing to see the effects for themselves. Unless they’ve bugged our rooms with cameras. Fortunately we were all too tired to have sex that particular night, so at least they didn’t get that on their camera.

If you were going to deliberately do this as some kind of weird prank, then 330 is surely the perfect time. It’s late enough to mean that most people will definitely be in bed asleep, even if they were staying out late, but it’s unlikely that anyone will be getting up and leaving that early. So it’s an optimum time for the prank. Then there’s the fact that the radio’s volume was set as high as it would go. Surely if you were setting the alarm for the more conventional reason of waking yourself up, you wouldn’t want to put the radio as loud as that, as it would risk causing you a heart attack. Then there’s the choice of radio station. The person had chosen the loudest, most abrasive and most terrifying soundscape to be woken up to. No classical music or soothing bird song, but guns, bombs, shouts and screams.

Our brains were too confused and alert to be able to relax again, and it was hours before we eventually got back to sleep. I hope every night in Canada isn’t going to be this terrifying, but it has been a rather confusing trip for us so far.

One enjoyable factor of Canadian festivals, as with Australian festivals, is that we get to do what they call workshops, where a number of performers share the stage, go down the line and take turns at doing a song. This also leads to lots of interesting collaborative moments with everyone just chipping in on each other’s songs.

This morning we did a workshop with Geoff Berner, a political comedy songwriter. His songs had quite a lot of swearing in them, and it seemed strange to be on an outdoor stage at 10in the morning with children around, while a man periodically swore, and then got people to join in with the sweary choruses, which everyone happily did, including the children. This wouldn’t really happen at a British folk festival. Now that we know that Vancouver folk audiences are a lot less sensitive and genteel than British folk audiences, we’ll come prepared for our return visit to Canada. I’m thinking we could do some great unaccompanied harmony versions of some hiphop classics; I reccon we could do a great version of NWA’s Fuck The Police. If the daily Hive website thought we were genre-bending before, just imagine their reaction when we break into our harmony hiphop set. I think NWA’s first album came out in 1989, which was obviously when we first started. It was a really exciting year for music.

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David’s Daily Digital Dollop: Dollop 197 – Canadian Confusion

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It’s happened again. When we were gigging in Australia earlier this year, one of the venues we played was a jazz club, and described itself as the home of jazz in Melbourne. Upon arriving, the venue had a big poster outside, listing all the performers who’d appeared at the place, and they were all names from the jazz world. Upon entering the venue we saw a programme for the week’s events. For our bit, the writer explained that they were departing from jazz for one night, because it was Saint Patrick’s day, and so they’d decided to have a traditional Irish folk night instead, which was why they’d booked The Young’uns, who are a folk group from Ireland. Except, we aren’t. Fortunately, despite the confusion, our none-Irishness didn’t seem to dampen the night too much, and it was a really good gig. See this Dollop for more on that.

But it’s happened again. One of the venues on our Canadian tour claims to host the best in Country music. What are we to do? The gig is a week away. Should we spend the next few days learning a Country music set to try and avoid embarrassment? It might be a bit of an ask. Maybe it would be more conducive to rework some of our actual songs, singing them in American accents and changing certain words, putting in references to pick-up trucks and cowboys.

Unfortunately, even this might not be enough to save us, because the venue also describes The Young’uns as Celtic. So it’s not just Country music they’re expecting from us, but Celtic Country. We’ve got less than a week to invent a genre of music, learn an entire repertoire of songs in that as-of-yet non-existent gentre, and somehow pull it off. I need to get my hands on a harp from somewhere, learn how to play it, and Michael is going to have to learn the slide guitar.

But Canada manages to trump Australia in the weirdness stakes. This is a write-up about us for the Vancoover Festival, which we play today:

“Though the Young’Uns have been around since 1989, this may well be the first introduction to the genre-bending English trio for a more recent generation (or, ahem, young’uns).”

According to this write-up, we’ve been a band since we were four-years-old. I have no idea where they’ve got this information from. Google The Young’uns and there are loads of websites that will tell you that we started in 2005. So it’s not as if this is even a typo; none of the numbers are the same. I like the fact that they then make a little joke based on their massive mistake: ““Though the Young’Uns have been around since 1989, this may well be the first introduction to the genre-bending English trio for a more recent generation (or, ahem, young’uns).”

Maybe the person who wrote this realised after writing it that they’d got the facts completely wrong, but was so proud of their joke that they decided to sacrifice the facts for the sake of being able to keep in the hilarious joke.

And they describe us as a “genre-bending English trio.” Today’s gig is just going to be our normal stuff. If they came and saw us next week doing our Celtic Country set, then they’d see a band that is truly worthy of the label “genre-bending.” But today we’re just going to do our usual stuff, maybe throw in a few of our old hits from the eighties. I can’t remember what they were; probably an unaccompanied medley of nursery rhymes or something.

This particular write-up comes from the Daily Hive, and the title of the piece is 5 emerging artists to watch at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. So we’ve been around since 1989, but we’re also emerging? The blurb at the start of the article says: “The Vancouver Folk Music Festival, with a diverse lineup that includes many up-and-comers whose stars are rising. Here are five.” And we are one of those five. The Rolling Stones are also on the list.

All this confusion and weirdness does nothing to temper the strange feelings that are naturally occurring due to Jet lag. Anyway, must dash, I’ve got harp practising to do.

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David’s Daily Digital Dollop: Dollop 196 – Dolloping From A Plane To Canada

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After the success of my Dollop from two weeks ago, entitled Dolloping From A Plane To Belgium, I’m sure you’ll all be excited at the prospect of reading another plane-based Dollop, although this time, as you’ve hopefully already worked out (otherwise I’m a bit worried about your basic level of education) I’m Dolloping from a plane heading to Canada. It’s going to be difficult to rival my Dollop from a plane heading to Belgium, given how fantastic it was, as I’m sure you’ll all remember – so many memories. It’s going to be quite an ask to create something even better, especially since that particular Dollop was on the subject of kettles, and today I have nothing kettle based to give you, but I’ll do my best regardless. Now this is what I call cabin pressure. Oh yes, and we’re off!

From the moment we arrived at the airport, we were being shouted at. Not by a member of staff, or a harassed traveller, but by the escalator. “Please take extra care when using this escalator,” it repeatedly instructed at considerable volume. This was my first escalator of the day, it was rather early in the morning and I hadn’t had much sleep. I was therefore finding it difficult to imagine the usual level of care that I would take on an escalator. I’ve never really given my escalator travel much consideration. I usually just get on, stay on until it’s done escalating me and then get off. It’s always just been an instinctive thing. I wouldn’t really say that I take particular care when using escalators, but now I was being asked to consider my usual care and then add extra care on top of that.

The people behind me were getting impatient. Seemingly they weren’t as vexed or concerned by this automated announcement and were just keen to get on the escalator, and didn’t appreciate my deliberations. Either that or they had managed to quickly do the maths in their head and had already calculated the amount of care that they were about to take. There was nothing for it but to just step on, and hope for the best. It was time to take what might potentially be my most exhilarating escalator journey of my life.

I stepped onto the escalator, and braced myself. I clung onto the rail tightly – surely that was an example of taking extra care. But nothing momentous happened. It was just like all the escalators I’d ever used before. I was a little disappointed to be honest, and no doubt, so are you. The announcement had built my expectations. I was expecting maybe a bit more speed, maybe some twists and turns, but it was just your standard escalator.

Between entering the airport and boarding the plane, we went on loads of escalators, all of them as standard as the first, yet the first escalator at the entrance was the only one that came with a warning. The others didn’t even warn us to simply “take care when using the escalator. We’d gone from insistent over-zealousness to “couldn’t give a damn” all in a few paces.

In other automated announcement news, the computerised voice that constantly blurted out over the airport’s PA system was a bit lacklustre. I’d have thought, baring in mind that there are going to be lots of people of different nationalities waiting, it’s rather important that the announcements about flight information and so on, are slow and clear. But the computerised voice spoke at a very irregular meeter, often speeding up when it came to salient information such as the flight number. The voice was also rather robotic, and it pronounced certain words and phrases incorrectly, such as: “you aircraft is ready for boarding.” Every single time it said, “you aircraft” rather than “your aircraft.” I wonder how long this quirk has existed, and how long it will be before anyone gets around to changing it. If there’s anyone working in customer service at Gatwick Airport, might I suggest that it might be a good idea to get this fixed? Thank your.

My favourite mistake that the computerised voice made – and it happened frequently – was: “can all of the passenger please board flight …” I assume that this was meant to say “can all passengers board,” unless this was the computer’s idea of a joke about the amount of physically damaged passengers who board these planes, due to having bits of themselves dismembered by the incendiary escalator. Maybe me and the other two Young’uns are just a lot tougher than some of the other customers, because we didn’t find anything particularly dangerous about the escalator. Although, come to think of it, there were quite a lot of people boarding our plane with missing limbs. Maybe the escalator is an initiative set up by the airline companies to reduce the amount of weight on the plane, by amputating passengers, thus saving fuel costs. It brings a slightly different meaning to the notion of travelling light.

There were a few people asking the stewards if they could bring their dismembered legs onboard the plane with them, but they were told that they wouldn’t be able to bring them into Canada, as there’s a customs rule about bringing foreign meat into the country.
Understandably, The passengers were hopping mad.

So far, I have managed to keep this 366 consecutive daily blogging challenge alive, even during my three weeks in Australia. In a couple of hours I land in Vancouver for three weeks in Canada. We have gone over the halfway point, but for the next three weeks I am at the mercy of Canadian WIFI. Back tomorrow, hopefully.

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David’s Daily Digital Dollop: Dollop 195 – The David’s Daily Digital Dollop Recruitment Drive, Plus Some Sentimental Musings

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Yesterday’s Dollop about Angela Eagle’s Office window being smashed with a brick recieved the following comment from Bill

“Brilliant, David! I think you missed a trick there though. You should have called it Angela Eagle’s Brick-xit.”

Excellent Bill, I hereby appoint you chief Dollop title creator. Obviously that’s a bit of a crap job title, but your first job can be thinking of a better job title for yourself.. I’m assembling quite the team with these Dollops: I’ve now got two detectives and a job title creator. Jools seems to have long ago abandoned her position as grammar and spellchecker, so there’s a position there up for grabs if anyone fancies it. Over the next few eeks I’ll be thinking of other dollop-based positions for people, so watch this space for announcements, which let’s be honest is a lot more interesting and even more newsworthy than Theresa May’s cabinet

In contrast, Mavis Crumble’s comment was simply, “sheeeeep!” and a broad smiling face emoticon. It’s nice to see that these Dollops can cater for a broad range of interests. Some people appreciate the politics, others enjoy the sounds of bleating sheep in the country. However, no one as of yet has commented on the most exciting part of yesterday’s Dollop which was my fascinating conversation with some dogs. I assume this is because we don’t have any listeners who are animal communicators, which is a shame because you’re missing out on some really gripping stuff.

Sean and I had a lovely day together yesterday, and not just because we finally got to spend a day together as just the two of us, without bloody Michael getting in the way and spoiling things. The reason for our lovely day was because we spent it in the company of a husband and wife in their eighties, who invited us to their home and provided us with delicious food and great conversation, songs and stories. Donn’t worry, we’re not doing so badly financially from folk music that we’ve become homeless and reliant on people taking us in and feeding us.

If you’ve come to any of our gigs over the last year, you will have no doubt heard us talk about the late Mary Duffy, an amazingly inspiring Teesside lady who we became acquainted with thanks to the chance acquiring of an old reel-to-reel tape recording that someone gave us. The tape was recorded in the eighties and contains stories of her life mixed with songs. Just like with the 1960s reel-to-reel tape recording that I played and investigated in these Dollops a couple of weeks ago, we found ourselves getting drawn into the lives of these people and feeling a real sense of connection with and warmth towards Mary. You can spend years working in an office with someone, exchange small talk or office banter with them on a daily basis, but never really get a true sense of who they are, but somehow you can feel so connected with and drawn to someone in the space of one half an hour recording, a mere solitary snapshot of their existence. With both these reel-to-reel recordings we are given very intimate access into people’s lives. We are essentially brought into their home, hearing their jokes, their stories, their songs, their conversations. And strangely, we are able to capture and savour that moment and get to know it and own it, more than the actual people involved, because we can rewind it and play it again, and analyse it and know it inside out. We can travel back through that particular small moment of time over and over again; the fleeting is made concrete and permanent, preserved for strangers from the future to listen to, and in doing so, feel as if they are no longer strangers, but are now friends.

After discovering this recording of Mary Duffy, we tried to get in touch with Mary’s daughter Pat. We tried Facebook which didn’t yield a direct contact, but we did manage to get her address from someone. So we wrote a letter explaining who we were and how we had come by the recording of her mother, who’s songs we’d started singing and stories we’d started telling in our gigs, and we also included our CDs. And Pat wrote back to us with more stories about her mother, who was a truly amazing, inspiring and fascinating woman. I won’t go into detail about those stories and about Mary here, because we’ll be talking a lot more about her at gigs, plus it’s getting late and I need to get some sleep before our early start tomorrow. Y

So yesterday Sean and I went to Pat’s house in Durham and she regaled us with more stories and songs, and lots of food and drink, including home-made quiche, a variety of salads and chicken (real chicken as opposed to Vegan chicken that we wouldn’t be able to believe wasn’t chicken), followed by Apple stroodle with ice cream, and then a selection of cheeses and crackers. We’d never met these people before. We only knew them because of an old tape recording of her mother from the eighties, yet here we were in their home and made to feel as if we were best of friends. As I said a few Dollops ago, we are so lucky to live the kind of lives that brings us into contact with so many interesting people, and we have made so many friends through folk music, people of all ages, which all stems from an accidental discovery of our local folk club as teenagers. And tomorrow that accidental teenage discovery takes us to Canada for three weeks. So don’t worry, from tomorrow I’ll be telling you about our Canadian exploits, as opposed to boring you with this kind of sentimental tosh.

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