I have had an amazing and utterly tiring weekend. I had plans to do all sorts of things today but was so tired and incapable I ended up doing almost nothing, and that not very well. Tomorrow is another day.
I drove down to Surrey on Saturday morning. This is not a drive I particularly enjoy, given that it embraces large parts of the M25. I expected to be stuck in hideous traffic, and set off reasonably early in the belief that I would be mostly stationery for the best part of three hours. Instead the roads were gloriously clear, and I made it to my friend Claire’s house while she was still pottering round in her dressing gown. I did think about driving around the countryside for another hour, but I was desperate for a wee and a cuppa so she had to put up with me surprising her.
We had a lovely morning, catching up on gossip and then headed off to London in the afternoon to meet up with a friend of hers and grace a few pubs with our presence. We slid on over to Brixton in the evening, having a fantastic Jamaican meal at Turtle Bay, washed down with a cocktail or two before heading off to Brixton Academy for our gig.
The last time I went to Brixton Academy was about twenty odd years ago when I went to see the first farewell gig by The Wonderstuff with my friend Justine. In the intervening years it has not changed at all. Well, it has possibly become slightly stickier underfoot, but that’s about it. It was very odd to be back there, standing in pretty much the same spot as all those years ago.
It was a tremendous gig. The support band, Ferocious Dog, were fantastic and I urge you to check them out if you like The Levellers and/or folk punk as a genre. They were on for nearly an hour and had nearly as big an audience as The Levellers.
As for The Levellers themselves. My word it was fun. It’s been twenty five years since Levelling The Land came out and they played the entire album, as well as heaps more stuff. The place was rammed, we were all going crazy and we knew every word. It was euphoric. I loved every single moment. I went deaf, I lost my voice, I sweated about six pints of fluid, I buggered my knees from jumping up and down and I think I’ve probably done some serious damage to my bones thanks to the depth of the bass sound reverberating through me. It was epic, as my children would say. I nearly cried when they played This Garden, my favourite track of theirs, and their didgeridoo player was so amazing he made me want to play it too. He had fairy lights on his didgeridoo and that is not a euphemism. He was like Bez from The Happy Mondays, but better.
We felt like teenagers again, which was just the most magnificent feeling in the world. Although on the train home, as the cold began to bite and the adrenalin began to wear off I was feeling less teenagerish by the minute. And when I got up at seven the next morning to make an early start back so that I could stand for three hours in the cold, helping with the food bank drive at our local Christmas Fair, I wasn’t feeling in the least bit euphoric. In fact, I was wondering what the bloody hell made me think I could do that kind of thing and not suffer for it.
It was totally worth it though and I’d do it all again tomorrow.
As for the Christmas Fair, it was great. I saw loads of people I know supporting our community either with stalls of their own or as shoppers or volunteers. My amazing, tireless friend Shirley who is the powerhouse behind the petition for the Save Glenfield Children’s Heart Unit was working away and got over 1100 signatures, which is brilliant. At the Food Bank Drive we were overwhelmed with donations. The guys who organised it had been going since eleven by the time I got there at about half past one and they had already taken several estate car loads of donations by then. We ended up doing four more runs, with donations of all shapes and sizes from every kind of person from every walk of life. It was really wonderful to talk to people who were interested and engaged and willing to help. There were very few people who walked by and didn’t at least stop to chat. It was terrific, and even though I couldn’t feel my toes by the time we wrapped up, I wouldn’t have been anywhere else.
Tilly had been working at the wool shop up the road, and after I’d finished I went up and met her, and we wandered the stalls, buying cheese from my friend Simon at the deli, chatting to our friend Keeley with her stall of wonderful hand made jewellery and all kinds of treasures from round the world. I bumped into an old friend from ukulele lessons who was rounding people up for carols and mince pies in a local square and we chatted. The atmosphere was great and even though it was dark there were still loads of people out and about, having a great time.
We walked home in the cold, the frost was already beginning to form and the sky was as clear as clear. The new moon had a frost halo and you could see Venus twinkling away in the blackness. It was just the tonic after a long day.
It did, for a few, brief hours, begin to feel a bit like Christmas.