Of course it was intended to be the Spring Tour, as in previous years, but the ways of bookers & agents being what
they are we were left to anticipate the rigours of traveling through the arctic climes of the East Coast in February.
The travel arrangements are made by Chad & Julia, outright winner of the Wonderful Wife Award,
and the word from them was not good. Records were being regularly broken as the temperatures plunged
yet again. As ever, what to pack? I settled for snowboots, scarves & mittens. And so, with a vast suitcase,
on to the first dates in California.
The searing heat made a delightful contrast to an English January, reaching
80 degrees in the middle of the day. Having spent most of the 60's in Southern California, I am aware just how
seductive LA can be, especially in the winter. Well it certainly delivered this time... clear blue skies,
flowers everywhere, people smiling as they jog... quite a contrast to the grumpy London commuters I had just left
behind. The mufflers & mittens stay in the gigantic suitcase and there is a frantic search for thin socks, or
at least socks that are not made for snowboots. And then there we are, the Dynamic Duo, cruising the freeways,
checking out the radio stations and it's Him & Me back in the saddle again, just like the old days, only better.
Well, it stayed like that for the whole West Coast dates. More fun than a barrel of monkeys, as they say here.
The audiences were great, the sound was good, and my jetlag was fading. Also, LA being the old home town, there
was fun to be had with old friends and, in Chad's case, family.
By the time we got to the Northwest, a whole new
world had opened up. "Funny looking deer over there", say I, trying to drive and look at the same time. Chad
pretended to be knowledgeable about various species of deer, and we were just in the middle of an intense discussion
when we spotted a sign by the road. Beware of the Elk. Oh... right ... elk! Hey, a first for me and something
to tell the folks at home.
Then to C&J HQ, or in other words Mr. & Mrs. Stuart's Delightful Mountain Home, there to unwind and admire
the winter wonderland that is Sun Valley. The enormous suitcase pays off, and duly muffled I set off every day
to breathe the pure air and wish that I had remembered something to cover the ears. Great excitement one day...
a flock of the most beautiful birds, perhaps 150 of them, all munching on red berries. I rush back to the house
to grab Chad & Jules. There are a few of them left when we return and thus my enthusiasm is somewhat justified.
It turns out that they are Bohemian Waxwings. This is turning out to be The Wildlife Tour. Other than that, lots
of boring C&J business for poor Chad to deal with, and a bit of recording from me that no doubt will surface when
Chad has sprinkled some fairy dust over it.
Meanwhile, each night we stare at weather reports of The Storm Of The Century. The East Coast has shut down.
Life As We Know It has ceased to exist in Chicago and all points east. Maybe by next week things will improve...
but no, here comes another storm, this time even worse. And so on, an endless series of What If's, but as it turns
out the storms have abated by the time we arrive, although it is amazingly cold, far worse than the ski resorts of
Idaho. You may mock my suitcase, Chad, but like the boy scout that I once was - troop leader, Badger Patrol - I am
As the Redoubtable Jason joined us for the East Coast dates, it was important to get the right vehicle.
We are offered a Surburban at the same price as something smaller. As the driver I immediately vote to accept.
It is the biggest thing I have ever driven and reversing is tricky as I am used to my little Fiat in England which
is literally 1/3 the size and gets 65 miles to the gallon. Thus equipped, we set out in our tank. Let us just say
that Vermont in early February is as challenging as Regina, Canada once was in a previous tour. The jeans freeze
instantly and you start walking like the Tin Man.
It was with relief that we descended on The Barns At Wolftrap,
just outside Washington, DC, for the final date. By now a home from home, we have sold it out 5 years in a row and
the sound is always superb. The next day it's hugs all round, off to our various homes and Real Life. The taxi
driver at Victoria Station in London takes one look at me. "Been away, sir?" "Yes, to America." "Filming, sir ?"
Aha... busted... off the telly! We talk showbiz all the way home and suddenly I am this other me again, nothing to do
with music and the 60's. In Hyde Park the daffodils and crocuses are starting to show and an English Spring is upon us.
It's great to be back.
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