Saturday, 29 January 2011

Neil on the Road from Porto.

Portugal is next door to Spain. I had reckoned that as I was in Spain already, I could easily bob over into Portugal and do a few shows. I didn’t take the size of Spain into account and realised pretty soon that it was going to be a long drive.

My place of dwelling was just inwards from the north east side of the Iberian Peninsula, and I was headed for the very west of it, the coast of Portugal. The drive was taken at a snails pace, stopping numerous time en route. I slept in Salamanca.  I did my laundry in the hotel sink and draped it all around the room to dry. I perused the local shops and bought myself some dungarees (god knows why). I’d factored in my need for sleep and ‘corn based snack’ stops, and left myself a good few days in which to undertake the long journey. My drive from east to west was relaxed and pleasant, if a little warm. 

The journey back was a different story.

Money was tight and I was feeling tense about having to book a ferry home on such a budget, not to mention petrol and food. Half way to Portugal, I got a phone call asking If I could be in Barcelona (east coast Spain) on the Sunday for a fairly well paid show. I had a gig in Porto (west coast Portugal) on the Friday. It was doable, I thought. I said yes. I needed the money.

So there I was in Porto on the Friday. Many people tell me that Porto is lovely. It is from Porto that Port originates. I hate port but I bought a bottle of it just because I felt like I should. I didn’t take to Porto. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. Maybe it was because my sat nav didn’t recognise the existence of the place, and so I spent much of my time there driving around in circles. In any case, something bad must have happened inside my mind whilst I was there because I feel worried whenever I think back on it.

I woke up at 5am on the Saturday, ready to hit the road. Due to the promoter taking ages to pay me after the night before’s gig, I’d only had 3 hours sleep. The plan was to reach the Catalunyan boarder before the day was out. After shoving a croissant down my neck, I set off, driving east. Over the mountains and over the Spanish boarder. The sun beat down on my little air-condition-less car all morning and all afternoon. Hardly even stopping to eat, I drove and drove, determined to reach my destination before sun down. At one point I was even driving with my legs crossed. I’d put my left leg up underneath my right one but managed to keep pressure on the accelerator in a way I can’t really explain without showing you. In retrospect, I'm incredulous at the fact that I actually drove like that. I think that you become immune to the dangerous aspect of driving at 90 mph once you’ve been at it for more than a few hours.

More corn based snacks and coffee.

At least I had Neil Young. He kept me company via my car stereo and made me feel like everything was worthwhile.

It should have been an eleven hour drive but I made it in ten because I was playing ‘beat the sat nav’. This game solely entails speeding, so that you get to your destination faster than sat nav would calculate.

After a gruelling endurance test of a drive, I arrived at the edge of Catalunya. I parked, turned off the engine and peeled myself off the car seat to find that I could barely walk due to exhaustion and hunger. My hearing was shot due to the numerous hours of Neil Young.

It’s not because I love austerity that I drove, alone, for ten hours in an oven of a vehicle. It is not because I have little regard for my own well being, or because I have an unusually keen sense of adventure. It is not because I am hard either, or because I thought I might blog about it one day. It is because I am very driven (no pun intended) to play music. A large part of me would much rather stay at home, get a dog and stroll down the canal tow path everyday. I hope that my future will not be full of such alone-ness, tiredness or boiling-ness as that trip was. I’m not sure how to carry on with the life I have created for myself, it seems that it is not recognized as a valuable career, or a proper life path. I have certainly learned many things that you can't put down on paper, but my curriculum vitae is a disgrace and a disappointment. Sometimes I think I'm young enough to start something anew, but what else can I do? I often worry that I'm too impractical, but I can't be anything other than myself can I? We must all find a square hole for the square pegs that we are. I just hope that my square doesn't look like the N620 road through Spain again, and if it does, I hope that it matches someone else's square, and that they will come with me.  

1 comment:

  1. "it seems that it is not recognized as a valuable career, or a proper life path. I have certainly learned many things that you can't put down on paper, but my curriculum vitae is a disgrace and a disappointment."

    Your work is full of value; what is of more value than the very act of creating value itself for the people who listen and interact with you?

    I wonder sometimes whether this "proper life path" you talk of is at least in part, the social phenomenon that sees music as a 'luxury' despite the proof that it is indigenous to every group of humans on the planet. If you look at other places like Sweden and Ireland you'll see an altogether different attitude to artists in general; don't be put-off by the idiosyncrasies of our 'culture' and it's CV-state.

    Love to you,
    Sorana xx