The Billy Shinbone Show

Last dates of the German & Slightly Belgian Tour.

OK, so we left Hanover for a gig in Warstein, home of the famous Warsteiner beer. The venue was right next to the railway level crossing & I watched with some awe as the massive Warsteiner Beer train with thirty massive trucks full of beer rumbled past, ready to slake the thirst of the Teutonic multitudes, the ground shaking beneath my feet. Or maybe it was empty & on its way home... Gig there was great fun, we met some lovely folks & played the weirdest game of pool I've ever been involved in. A man of, how can I put it, "some eccentricity" joined me to pot a few balls. No rules, little concept of a cue ball, reckless ambition towards multi-cushion pool-hustler showmanship shots, all whilst wearing his coat & wellies with a thick leather belt done up tight on top, his guitar case full of cushions by the table & perfectly happy to pick up balls & move them to where he needed them. A soulmate of the pool table as far as I'm concerned. Best game of pool I've had in years. He lured both bass player Tom & drummer Robin into a game or two as well. Our thanks to landlord Tobias & partner Deborah for putting us up in their house in the woods, Robin & I both sleeping end to end on the longest sofa in the world. (OK, we're neither of us tall, but it was longer than my van!) Off then to Aachen, lovely town full of gingerbread & slabs of expensive nutty toffee & chocolate in all the bakery windows. Played a gig in a nightclub called Charly Brown's on some industrial estate on the edge of town. It used to be an abattoir, apparently. Met some splendid people & Anne from the German band Tideline joined us onstage for some singing, which she did beautifully. Next day on to Antwerp for the last gig of the tour, this being the gig that made it slightly Belgian. An Irish bar called Molly Bloom's right in the heart of the old town. Other than having a friendly & likeable Irishman work occasional shifts behind the bar & the facility to serve Guinness, it was really very much like a Belgian bar, but a cheery one at that. Slightly grubby, slightly down-at-heels & slightly small, (-yes, just like myself.) So I felt right at home & all of us fitting on stage smaller than your average dining table. But what a great bunch of cheering drinkers to play to. A real pleasure. We kipped on cushions & sofas upstairs & were treated to a breakfast of meat, bread & coffee. (To be honest, most of our breakfasts have been meat, bread & coffee, except when Robin or Nick have cooked up something a little bit special to fuel the long drives.) Robin drove with his usual magic mix of determination & trucker's charm, & got us to the ferry an hour-&-a half early. So there we are. I could relay the in-jokes, flatulence, malodorous mornings & details of the motorway services, but that would be super-dull or just unpleasant. But I would add that Nick Parker, Tom Granville & Robin Tothill have been excellent company. Good humoured, patient towards my bad habits & eccentricities, & a profoundly fun to play music with.Thanks gents! & extra thanks to Nick too for allowing me to be opening act through the tour. I'll leave you with a picture of me standing by some bins, just before I was eaten by a giant cat. Ta. x