Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Papa's Got A Brand New Holdall

OK, I'll come clean. I was kind of overdramatising when I talked about fate in the last entry. But the interesting thing is, I suppose, how a large proportion of time spent managing a band turns out not to be on the Big Picture but on the really tiny things.

What happens is this: after breakfast - or as previously stated in my case, no breakfast - we load all our gear into the van. We left it in a room behind the B&B's reception after the gig and it's still all there: guitars, amps, bags... Then Charlie and I say goodbye to the girls, who have the long drive back to Swindon ahead of them. We are off to meet an old Web designer friend of Charlie's and later to go the studio where our other band will be midway through their second day's recording on the forthcoming single.

At the studio, the single is sounding amazing - particularly considering the tiny room they're doing it in but the owners there really know their stuff, they're trained BBC engineers who do this in their spare time - I must ask them why they call the place LaChunky, it almost undersells the place, as if it's some jokey voiceover room. Anyway, plug over, it's good, OK? The Web designer is amazing too, he's Travis' and the Fratellis' guy and has been doing Web design since 1994 - i.e. Internet prehistory. He totally reignites my belief in building bespoke Websites for bands instead of dumping everything on Myspace - plus, he lives in Byers Road which is full of brilliant 1950s snack bars and riches-laden charity shops.

It's still bright sun in a cloudless sky and we're walking in the vague direction of Glasgow Central Station in order to get a train to Elvis Presley Airport. Of course, it turns out that we're walking in the complete opposite direction, as I discover when we try to board a bus. The driver raises an Lanarkshire eyebrow at me and points to the bus stop on the other side of the street. It's always the same every time I come here, it's like Soho but on a city scale - I mean, in the same way that they shuffle Dean, Frith and Greek Streets around every couple of weeks, they do the same thing in Glasgow with entire portions of the city. Every time I come, Sauchihall Street is in a different place and Central Station... forget it, sometimes they put it in a different town.

So anyway, we manage to navigate our way as far as Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (too much space, too little to fill it with; a lifesize Elvis Presley sculpture next to a stuffed heron, anyone?) We actually go here so I can have a wee, loos in places of culture generally being better maintained. As I come back out onto the steps outside the building, Charlie's on the phone:
"A blue bag? A blue bag ... I don't remember, I'm afraid."
I remember seeing a blue bag go into the van. Phew, we remembered everything. We rock! I relax, making thumbs up signs at him.
"Well, if we've got it, yes, of course ..."
He let's his mobile arm flop down, the conversation is over.
"What's up?"
"We've taken someone's bag by mistake."

Now, this wouldn't have been too tricky had it not been for the fact that the band were now several hundred miles out of Glasgow on route to Wiltshire. And so the rest of our afternoon and evening became an odyssey of ludicrousness. The unfortunate traveller needed his bag (naturally containing passport, plane tickets, keys, small children ...) by Sunday so we'd have to get it up by courier. OK, not too onerous. And after phoning every courier company in the world, it transpired that DHL did an overnight service which cost about 50 quid during the week. Only trouble was, it was Friday and the office in Swindon closed at 6. Would the band make it back by then?

In fact they did make it back by then. Hooray! But guess what, DHL offices, don't accept credit or debit cards - only cheques. Yes, that's right, it may be 2008 but in DHL World, it's 1975. The band knew this though and brought cash. No go, they don't accept cash either, understandable, I suppose, the money could be stolen, or be novelty cash from a joke shop or maybe have a bit of dust on it. So we missed the overnight delivery. Never mind, we could still use the Same Day Service they helpfully provide at weekends:
"Certainly, sir ... Swindon to Glasgow you say? A small blue holdall? No Problemo! Let me see ... yes, that'll be £550 plus VAT."

Unsurprisingly, this service was more than happy to take my credit card number. I didn't give them the pleasure. Instead, we spoke to the B&B, forced the mobile number of the bag owner out of the afternoon language student on reception (this took about 30 minutes of concerted Slowspeak), spoke to the bag owner, who told us the hotel had agreed to pay costs, spoke to the B&B manager, who of course strenuously denied this on hearing it was a 500 quid situation, got more quotes from other couriers who were even more costly and then came up with a simple idea that I never thought would work but which solved all. We offered to pay a couple of the band's mates to go up and deliver the bag. In the end, it was Pauline, the band's personal Velvet Hammer (gets people to do things without raising her voice) who drove up with her mate Soph (the band's guitarist). They stopped off in Liverpool on the way back and painted the town completely turquoise, but that's another story.

So a happy ending of sorts: we gave some money to a far worthier cause than DHL and the gentleman, reunited with his bag, made the flight on Sunday. The B&B reluctantly admitted partial liability without fulling confessing to being idiots and shoving someone else's bag next to ours with no ID tag on it. I'm still disappointed with their uselessness and if I was a harsher man I'd write their name here so you could avoid staying there should you find yourself in Glasgow. Their showers were rubbish too.

I must say, though, as far as management goes it was perhaps our first 'get out of that one' scenario and in terms of thinking on our feet I think we're now well-equipped to deal with any future 'band detained at airport with massive amount of drugs and porn' situation. Bring it on!


  1. "In the same way that they shuffle Dean, Frith and Greek Streets around every couple of weeks, they do the same thing in Glasgow with entire portions of the city. Every time I come, Sauchihall Street is in a different place and Central Station... forget it, sometimes they put it in a different town."

    Love it, Ben.

    A mutual A&R friend of ours - we know him as M - once picked up the wrong bag at the airport, did not realize until he got home at which he found out it belonged to an Arab, and that what limited paperwork existed in the bag was in an indecipherable language. probaly because his own bag contained nothing much but dirty laundry, he figured it was a lesson learned and a fair swap and did nothing more about it!


  2. Can I just say ... your summary of events is so consise I don't think you have conveyed the pain and agony that it was to get to Glasgow and back twice in as many days! This was my week:

    Long Week

    crazy totally mental..

    ill break it down

    Last friday - Work then drove to marlborough to see my mum you know family shit...

    Saturday - crazy night out involving various Pubs, Clubs, vibrators and Strip Clubs and bouncers trying to throw me out of strip clubs for humping my friends during 50 cent songs

    Sunday - Soph drove to Epsom...then we found signs for an A3 Paper Collectors Fair....we were intrigued about how many variants of A3 paper you would need to deem your self a "collector" .......turned out to be a little more interesting than that ...but nonetheless the signs took us to London and we followed them like the wise men to christ with some kind of mystic journey to view the newest exciting variant of A3 paper...but was greeted with postcards from 1908.

    Once we got back from the A3 Paper Collectors Fair I ate more than my body weight at an all you can eat buffet which granted with my slight frame isn't that much in real terms...but is therefore a true statement...i ate 7 stone of king prawns in lie! I rolled myself home with a big round belly not disimilar to those children in some third world country that Mariah Carey has made some political faux pas statement about in the press at some point in the last century.

    Monday - drove back to wales at 6 in the morning to go to work to play secretary or what ever my job is.
    Monday night - drove back to swindon to oversee a little styling session, not sure why i was there, im fashionably backward and proud

    Tuesday morning - drove to work at 6 in the morning, an unhappy time of day

    Wedensday morning - drove to swindon.

    Wedensday evening -- drove to Knustford (between manchester and liverpool

    Thursday Morning - Drove to Glasgow and around it several times...what a horrible place

    Thursday Night -Watched The Shebeats and Babyshambles and then Sophie were the only ones left standing and went on to a few aftershow parties until 3:30, had a DanceOff with some well "dorks" to be complimentary, stole some booze did a runner, ate some subway

    Friday Morning til Friday Night - Drove from Glasgow to Swindon

    Saturday Morning To Saturday Afternoon - Drove from Swindon back to Glasgow to return stolen goods and passport to the man it was stolen from then went shopping in that orrible city of Glasgow (that probably aint that bad but i feel i saw too much of it in a short space of time)

    Saturday Afternoon to Saturday Night - Drove to to Liverpool and checked into a hotel around 11....had a Disco Nap for half an hour whilst Sophie prettied herself in the mirror and then....

    Saturday Night To Sunday Morning - went out in Liverpool til 5:30 am met some random scousers in a gay club ... noticed how the gay ladies were actually not so stereotypically "gay" but stereotypically "liverpool" which despite how that might sound like a negative is actually a positive. All looking a bit like a footballers wife, but all probably more interested in your wife! Made a lovely change ! Avoided taking drugs as they were handed out so freely and danced merrily to the Kings of Leon ....worth the double jounrney to Glasgow?

    Early Sunday Morning to Sunday Afternoon - Got up at 8 - Had breakfast, still drunk , went site seeing in liverpool , got free drinks at the Cavern Club and then almost shit myself.... i don't wish to elaborate...this was a situation I never want to encounter again.

    Sunday Afternoon - Sunday Night - Drove from Liverpool to Swindon ...pretty much dead, shitless, mortified and shellshocked.

    Monday Morning - got up at 6 drove from Swindon to Wales to do a full days work

    Sleeeppppppppppppppp or more crack or magic fairy dust that must of been sprinkled on me in order to have survived this week...2000 miles....2 minutes sleep...whatever all I know is that I will live a long and happy life if I never have to see the Lake District ever ever EVER can keep your natural beauty .....its the stuff of my friggin nightmares!!!