Alcatrazz: Jet to jets… of water.

The tour continues (well, actually it hasn’t even started).

We’ve been camped in Preston for the period between Hard Rock Hell and the first date of the tour with Girlschool in Milton Keynes on the 17th. We have been staying in a most splendid Air B&B place above a book shop (yahoo for me!) and next to a convenient store, pizza place and several pubs. So far so good. New music has been written, old music dissected and discussed, and future plans hatched to further the Alcatrazz march to victory. We have been predominantly inhabiting The Wellington pub, and enjoyed their spectacular Remembrance Day feast of a kind of pea soup with pork in it, corned beef hash and trench cake, all prepared in respectful memory of the men of the First World War (and every war since). My Grandad was one of them — though obviously not from Lancashire, but an ANZAC that went ashore at Gallipoli and then survived the Somme, Paschendale and the Hindenburg Line — and I was really happy to see such a memorial take place in this pub, in which there were several old soldiers having a pint after the day’s remembrance services.       

Discussing musical theory at The Wellington.

Anyway…I digress…it has been cool here and people very friendly. We have hooked up with Andy who will be a helping hand on this tour, as he has been on others. All in all, it’s fair to say that we are just about ready to rumble into action again. Today (Monday) was photo session day. The event had been thoroughly planned and coordinated, with even our resident vampire/night owl Joe Stump promising to spring manfully out of bed by the crack of noon in order to capitalize on the brief period in which no rain was expected.

By the allocated time, we were all high, live and dangerous…suitably pimped out for our photos and dressed to kill. As we were just about to head out the door, however, the hot water pipe of the upstairs bathroom chose that exact moment to commit suicide and flood the room with scalding hot water. I myself was seated comfortably downstairs awaiting our imminent departure to photo land when the commotion of agitated Americans stampeded down the stairs. At first I believed that reports of the ‘flooding’ were mere hyperbole, but upon leaping lethargically into action I discovered them to be, if anything, an understatement. By the Mighty Waves of Neptune!! The Gods of hot water had clearly become enraged. It was pissing forth in a mighty torrent and sloshing around the room, onto the carpet. Within minutes, the peril of our predicament was amplified as the demonic howling of the apartment’s fire alarm then unexpectedly burst into ear-splitting life. Here I was knee deep in bloody water and the house was warning me I was going to burn to death??! As Jimmy Waldo so succinctly put it: “What the holy fuck is that noise?”

Apparently our flood had run through the floor and was now gushing out off the fire alarm on the ceiling below and running down the stairs. Hmmm…things were clearly taking a turn for the worst. With fire soon alarm brutally despatched and silenced, and as grown men rushed aimlessly about shouting ‘Don’t panic! Don’t panic!’, this humble drummer decided to rip the rest of the fractured hose off the wall and direct the water torrent into a rubbish bin. Great success! Phase one complete: no additional flooding. Phase two then began as we needed to cut off the water supply. With Gary and Jimmy bravely manning the buckets, I immediately turned off the mains. Unfortunately they were the gas mains, so the effect was minimal to say the least. Andy and I then flexed our collective muscles and confronted what we assumed was the root of all evil: the boiler. There were dials and switches. I activate several and succeeded in doing nothing other than confusing myself. Andy pulled out the washing machine and dryer in search of a stop cock and triumphantly found…nothing. However, his next brainwave was solid gold as he charged downstairs to the bookshop and proudly (and, no doubt, somewhat unexpectedly) announced he was cutting off their mains water supply. And just like that, as if Moses himself had parted the Hot Sea, the water pressure diminished, until there was no more, and Jimmy and Gary’s bucket brigade ceased operation.     

Mister Stump displaying his customary level of agitation in moments of crisis….with ‘cawfee’.

Water was evacuated, towels were drenched and dented masculine egos restored as we gloried in victory over our elemental enemy. A fully qualified plumber later arrived to make more permanent repairs.

Now we were ready for photos, the session passing quickly and without incident (other than that rascal Doogie White doing his best to make me laugh as I assumed my finest heavy metal stance).  Despite this scoundrel and his nefarious activities, the poses were struck, photos taken…and dog shit trodden in. Marvelous.

Next, Giles, Jimmy and I boarded Andy’s car to be whisked to the van rental place in preparation for the imminent tour. No problems there…all sorted, paid for and documented. One final obstacle remained: Jimmy needed to buy a 3-metre microphone cable. Using the car phone Jimmy called the nearest music store and enquired whether they possessed such an item. Assuredly yes, came the response, to which Jimmy added that it could be 2-metres…or even 1 metre. Ummm…yes, came the reply…again. “Okay cool, thanks.” Jimmy hangs up.
“Um,” asks Andy, “where is the store?”
“I don’t know.”
“Okay…well, shall we find it?”
“Of course”, replies Jimmy, who then cunningly asks his Smartphone where the nearest music store is.
Alexa, or whatever the phone’s name is, helpfully replies: “The nearest Chinese is Wong’s Noodle Bar.”
“No! I need the nearest music store!”
“Wong’s Noodle Bar is your nearest Chinese.”
“NO! Nearest M-U-S-I-C Store!”
“Wong’s Chinese is after your next left hand turn.”
By this stage both I and Giles were suggesting that Jimmy phone the man back and ask where he is located, to which Jimmy rather perplexingly stated that he hadn’t spoken to him.
“Ah…but we heard you.”
“I don’t know where he is…”

“Wong’s Noodle Bar is your nearest Chinese.”

Clearly things had taken a turn for the surreal and time appeared to stretch to infinity as we waited, adrift in our sea of confusion. Giles then helpfully suggested that we could forget the mic cable and just get an extra long fucking noodle for Jimmy to use instead. You see, we were getting hungry in the back of the car and patience was perhaps wearing perceptibly thin. Finally Andy seized the day and we toddled our way into Preston in search of the music store, becoming ensnared in a glitch in the one-way matrix and driving from dead end to dead end. Eventually…after no doubt passing Wong’s Noodle Bar several times…Jimmy miraculously phoned the man back, who guided us to his exact location. Victory was snatched from the aching jaws of defeat and Jimmy bought his cable. Now, though, for some inexplicable reason, I had a hankering for Chinese food….

Anyway…despite its bizarre twists and turns, it was  a successful day. Though now I wonder what the hell will happen tomorrow…     

Heading towards another debriefing session…