We had an offer to play the One Movement Festival in Perth, Australia then somehow managed to end up playing in Bejing on the way over. To protect the identities and reputations of people involved please read the censored, Disney like account of what happened below.
There’s 6 of us, me (Jon), guitarist Si, bassist James, drummer Jon and our management team of Mark and Athena. Up at 6am and off to the airport hoping we have all the right stuff packed and thanking god I don’t have to look after the passports and masses of paperwork.
Now here’s a little tip for international flying...the drinks may be free, but there is a definite optimum level of intake that it can be bad to go over. On this occasion i found the line and stepped boldly across. When excited i like to drink, once drinking i get more excited. Its a vicious circle. Much to the amusement of the rest of the band i went round talking to strangers who were trying to sleep, accidently insulting a woman who i thought was a man and making a pass at an Aussie girl sat with her parents. Shit. Good start Tufnell.
I hate plane food, its gross, always served at the wrong time and way too fussy just adding to the feeling of claustrophobia. Jon however loves it so we found that a constant supply of half eaten meals would head his way and it kept him quiet for nearly every flight from here on in. He seems to luxuriate in the brown, unidentifiable slop presented to him under the heading of ‘Beef Stew with Steamed Spring Vegetables’. An odd boy indeed, but i guess that’s drummers for you.
After a stop at Hong Kong to change planes where i got confronted by man-woman again we finally arrive in China and pass through customs with thankful ease. We get introduced to our guide and local rockstar Paul who drives us to the hotel through insane traffic before taking us to dinner. We’d been warned to expect truly weird and disgusting food in China, but loved everything he ordered for us, much to our relief not even one pot of eyeball soup arrived at the table. With my hangover acquired on the flight this was good news for everyone at the table.
We’d had to bunk up in pairs the night before so i got up with Si to take a walk before breakfast. Bejing is truly huge and totally not what i’d expected. Somehow a lot less communist whatever that might mean. Some things however were just as they should be, crazy drivers, weird vehicles, bizarre toilets, and not one sign i could read. We didn’t venture far as we realised there was no way we’d find our way back to the others. We later discovered the one English sign at the end of our road that read ‘Home’ did actually point in the direction to our hotel. Paulo Coelho would love that kind of shit.
We set off for the show with no idea what to expect. We were playing the Inter City Music Festival in place of the band Melodramas, label mates of ours who had had to pull out. When we got to the park it was pretty overwhelming to see the size of the stage we’d be playing on and the lack of rehearsals began to play on the mind. You see Jon had been sick leading up to the trip and we’d not played in a couple of weeks leading to that “how the hell does this work?” feeling you get when holding a guitar for the first time. We needn’t have worried as we played as well as at any other time and got a great response from the warm Chinese crowd.
As soon as we were off stage we rushed round taking fan photos and signing posters before being hurried into the bus and driven to the Great Wall of China, about an hour outside the city. Standing on the lowest level of the wall was the first time we got to slow down for a second and think about how amazing it was to be here, in China, on this historic wall after playing a show with such a tight group of friends. Being in a band can be really cool sometimes and this was one of those times. If i’d mentioned it to the others maybe we’d have embraced. As it was we just took the piss out of Si for being short and carried on along the wall. The Great Wall is incredibly steep...i had no idea it was like this and only made it to the first little castle on the way up. Jon, Si and James went way further and made me look like a girl.
Back in Bejing we survived the food lottery again and i bought a packet of menthol cigarettes only to open them and find they had heart shaped filters. Even Bejing wants to make me look like a girl. Karma for ‘the plane incident’ maybe?
Back in the hotel room we watched Brett Michaels of Poison fame make a dick of himself presenting Miss Universe. Much to mine and Si’s disgust Miss Puerto Rico didn’t even make the top 5. It must have been fixed and as much as i admire Miss Mexico’s desire to help blind dolphins i just didn’t want to shag her as much as Puerto Rico.