The Double Gig(s)

7:43am, March 18th

I’m making a multi-part post for this weekend, but it’s sort of an all-in-one post, with a number of updates… It just has to be this way and you’ll understand when I finish. I’ll make notes of my update time before adding anything new, so hopefully this doesn’t turn out too confusing.

Before we get into the weekend Double Gig activities, I shall, as always, update on my week. The beginning of the week was quite nice, and I got back from my host mum re: the sheep photos. It brought a big big smile upon my face.

My map for the Cheviots arrived. For some reason, I kept thinking the OS maps to be about the size of a sheet of A3 paper, but my map is almost bigger than me! It’s so gigantic that it’s big enough to cover my bed!

I was still anxious about rugby on Monday. Again, I have no idea why – I even started doubting that I didn’t like the sport anymore… After pushing myself to training on Monday evening though, I had loads of fun. And watching a 2nds game on Wednesday made me miss the games now… I’ll try and get some playing time then, preferably 7’s!

I also got my gears for my Cheviots walk, with some help from my host mum. A new route was also identified, and that’ll be my ideal route now. Which reminds me, I need to start monitoring weather in Alwington right as I get back. Hopefully I’ll get a dry day!

By Wednesday night, I found myself surprisingly excited about the Double Gig weekend. I couldn’t wait but hop on the train already!

Thursday was a bit down, really. Annoying people made me want to go to an island, cut off from the outside world, and just read for the remainder of my life. I finished Celia’s Song, by the way, and would definitely recommend it.

Friday morning saw me hopping on the train, singing. And yes, you guessed it, I was listening to HMHB on my way to their Double Gig. The train ride was okay. I didn’t see as much of the countryside as I liked (I was going down South, what else could I expect?), but the Ron Seal made it up by being downright adorable!

Just look at him, eh?

And yup, someone brought a dog onto the Tube, and became the most popular bloke on the entire train. I even got to give him a treat!

9:04, March 18th

Sorry. Bit of an interruption. I was staying at Worthing MacDonalds while writing the first bit, and the staff had the audacity to rudely kick me out. Well they said I wasn’t buying anything, except I told them, more than three times on various occasions, that I was going to buy things when I leave. “You’ve been here for ages, and you haven’t bought anything, therefore you must leave.” Right. So now I know an hour is ages, and seemingly homeless Asian girls deserve to be kicked out? Are you still going to bully me out if I’m a 7 foot well-dressed, business-looking white man? Is there anything wrong with not wanting your food cold when you eat it? If you don’t have the decency to host people for more than an hour and trust them to buy things in the end, then I’m not giving you my money, simple as that! And hey, by the way, I was going to buy myself a proper breakfast there, not because I needed food, but because you could have had the kindness to show some hospitality.

One more reason not to stay in the South, apparently. And I’m not going into a MacDonalds in Britain for the remainder of my stay here. They appear to be judgemental, prejudiced, and don’t want to provide people a place to stay even though they can’t afford to buy anything right at the moment. They don’t seem to know how to trust and help create a sense of community. They’re not Tim Hortons, where groups of homeless people huddle with one cup of coffee at 4 in the morning because it’s -20C out there. They go against my life philosophy, and I’m tit-for-tatting.

Now that little episode’s over and I’m settled down at the Library till my train comes, I’ll carry on explaining a bit of my music lists.

Generally speaking, I am highly skeptical about new music, and have a hard time taking “instant likes”. Probably because I care more about the words than about the music itself, and making out words by listening is still challenging for me (I often get distracted and my mind wanders off to something else). But over the years, I have developed a few tastes… And embarrassing ones at that.

Now, however, I mostly listen to two lists. One is all the songs by HMHB that I could find, and the other is my “Daily Mix”. It’s basically HMHB (about half of all their songs I think), plus more than a dozen Mother Mother, a handful of The Tragically Hip and Kids United, a few of the Beatles, Queens and Ed Sheeran, and, strangely enough, a handful of Northumbrian traditional folks… I think Felton Lennon is my favourite at the moment, though the Lambton Worm was the first one I came across. This little corner of the world has got some very interesting music!

Oh and I got Declan Galbraith’s cover of Danny Boy, too. You can’t not love the lad!

On my road down I decided to listen to my Mix, to prevent potential overflow of HMHB. Didn’t exactly work, as I woke up this morning with “there is nothing better in life than writing on the sole of your slipper with a Biro on a Saturday night instead of going to the club” in my head. When something like this happens, I sigh resignedly and switch to sing another song. For example, 24 Hour Garage People…

I got to Worthing just after 2pm, and as I disembarked from the train, I saw Postman Tony. The first bit of our conversation was full of me feeling bewildered by his accent and tons of misunderstanding. For that I apologize, man… I should practice more with Irish accents now that I’ve tackled Geordie and Scouse. And it’ll help me understand more…

Eventually I understood that he wasn’t sure if I was me or if I remembered him. Fortunately I did. It’d be even ruder to not remember the person who gave you the Ron Seal! I was quite excited to see him, really, and he was so happy to see Ron that he took a picture of him over my head outside of the train station!

Got to my host’s and worked on CS for a while. Aside from asking whether someone who likes Joy Division also likes Joy Division Oven Gloves (turned out we have another millennial fan in Edinburgh), and swearing out loud when an Edinburgh-ian born n bred said “JK Rowling was a teacher at my high school” as if it’s just as normal as “it’s rainy”, nothing interesting happened. 4:30 we set off to the beach and once again I got a pic with Ron, this time in my arms because of the wind. Tried for a swim, too, but someone kept escaping so that was a no-go in the end (and yes this one is addressed to you Tony!).

My host escorted me to the pub where I met the rest of the gang. It was a “tiny pub”, as Tony told me earlier, and packed with people going for the gig. After saying hellos and feeling embarrassed that I wasn’t ordering anything to drink but water (and the landlady did not try to kick me out because I brought my own food, now that’s some respectable hospitality), I entertained the idea of the HMHB fans were indeed a secret society that migrates and rushes into one small town after another, somehow avoiding all their radars. It was a weird feeling knowing everyone who do not live in Worthing but was in Worthing yesterday, but a good kind of weird. Do people outside the pubs even notice? If it’s a more regular thing like Bilston, do they know it’s gig night just from the influx of strangers who seem to know each other? Do they go “oh, never mind them, it’s HMHB fans having their school outing tonight”? I smell a story somewhere… And I’m embedding HMHB in it, too!

We arrived at the venue early enough yesterday, in time to hear a number of songs from another band. I’ll have to look their name up, though. They’re good, and I don’t mind giving them a try. I hope they get paid well!

The lads came on, and started off with Bob Wilson – Anchorman. It’s one of the songs I got to know well because of the last gig, and it really piqued my interests up. You can see John aka King of Hi-Vis in front of my camera!

When the Evening Sun Goes Down was the second song, another one I started listening because of the last gig. I still have trouble with the words, but I think I know what the story’s about…? Well it makes me smile, so that’s good enough!

The following songs were Petty Sessions, Fred Titmus (Stephen Harper for my Canadian friends), Joy in Leeuwalden, and Bad Tattoo, all of which are what I call my “inductive phase” songs. Those are the ones I listened to before my first gig, with Fred Titmus and Bad Tattoo within the first 3 days of knowing the band. After Bad Tattoo, Nigel took a slightly longer break, and asked Neil, “which song is the next?” before saying “right, XXXX”. I didn’t catch the song’s name but it ended up being another one that won me very early on, Lock Up Your Mountain Bikes. I remember working on some dumpling doughs and just went “there is surely nothing worse than washing sieves” and “do you switch the kitchen light up with your chin”, and smiling at the humour. That was before I knew what a sieve is, the rest of the song, and who Garth Crook is (still don’t!). Then, as if by magic (or inertia, that’s more logical), NB10/57/1637292074 announced, “the next song is called Old Age Killed My Teenage Bride“. I got to know the song after Bilston, but its title, making so much sense yet no sense at all, got me digging into it a bit harder than the others. To be honest, I first thought some old person killed the girl and this title is just a play of irony, but apparently not…? This is literally, old age killed the woman, at 101 years of age no less. Impressive, impressive, impressive. Still, I’m not getting it, so I shall return to my digs one day.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel came on next, which got me worrying. I’d only known it being played towards the end, and I wonder what they were going to use for the build-up, climax, and encore now. I was sure that if I knew all the songs well from the beginning, I’d be splashed with songs completely unknown to me in the end. Also, it may not be a good idea for Nigel to play this one this early on, as some annoying, drunk, people pushed their way to the front where we were, and started taking up a lot of space dancing…

I think the toy swap (no offence intended) happened just after Tunnel, but maybe not. I can’t really remember, and I can’t remember if they swapped back or not. Anyways, Bad Wools and Hi-Vis were next, much to everyone’s, but especially John’s delight. For some reason, they refrained from performing this live for years and now they’re suddenly doing it twice in a row. Let’s see what happens tonight… Also, the crowd that squeezed their way to the front was getting way too excited and started patting John on the back or something. I’m surprised he even let them as it appeared very rude to me, but he seemed to be enjoying it so far so I didn’t dwell on it. That was, until the person beside me (evidently in that group of drunk people) spilled half a pint of beer on me, and more on the floor. Not ideal, but accidents happen, so I didn’t bother. I’m not sure about the name for the next song, but I swear I listen to it on a regular basis. It’s possibly in my Mix list, and because of the recent massive adds, I keep forgetting names. The person in front of me was very tall and kept blocking my view. I wasn’t sure if he belonged to the drunken gang. He might just got disindividualized and disinhibited, or simply didn’t care about other people (or is he T-W-A-T-O-N-E?). Either way I could see nothing but his back, and felt bad for others behind and around me. By the end of the song, a woman pushed another crowd of people in and I’d just had enough of it, and got out of the central area. Found a nice cozy space on the side just to hear them play another familiar song. Sorry, no name came to me.

11:17am, March 18

Just arrived at the train station. Phew, this is taking longer than I thought!

So I got out to the peripherals. The atmosphere was a lot more relaxed and I could have a better view now, better listen then. Not a song whose name I recall though… So I’ll need to check.

Painball’s Coming Home. The recorded version, plus a verse that I’ll post later on. The acoustics were minimal for this song and the hall was under some “eerie silence”. It was so quiet that I wasn’t sure if there were people singing along other than me, but I saw a few moving gobs. Relaxed now, I went on among the laughs, tripping over the “hot air balloon” lines as always. Now that I think about it, are people more familiar with the BBC6 version? The line “they buy soup in cantons, not in tins” was indeed classic but I haven’t got the chance to hear it full yet!

I wasn’t exactly familiar with the next song, but I think I’ve heard of it before. Probably not in my Mixed list then

DPAK was next (Dukla Prague Away Kit, just putting it up to say “hey I remember the acronyms!”), followed by National Shite Day and Vatican Broadside with a minimal break inbetween. I took a good look at the words for DPAK and… It still doesn’t make 100% sense, but I gained some new insights. The ending is sad though… “Now he’s working a job with a future, he’s handing my Giro every two weeks. Me I’m on the look out for a proper transformer…” You can just hear the frustration at fate and destiny.

I think it’s just around the time someone shout for Mimeshow (another person also kept shouting “seagull” – not sure what it meant but I’ll look it up), and Nigel played it! He said he was surprised that he knew the song well enough to pull it off afterwards, so that was fun. I also couldn’t help but suspect that even though they put Chatteris in every set list, this is the one and only song they’d ditch to play for requests. Interesting position for the song…

I think Nigel “threatened” to play Architecture. After that, we got another song from my Mixed list, but again I forgot its name (I need to work harder on that). Joy Division Oven Gloves then made its 100th consecutive appearance on live performances, or so I was told. I was saying to Elizabeth that they might not play it because they kept count as well, but it looks like they don’t. All cool then, let’s see if it appears tonight.

Dean Friedman. Dean Friedman? I forgot now, did it appear on the last gig? I don’t believe so but I might be wrong…

And of course, the last song must be one that I don’t remember ever hearing. Thank you very much, Nigel! Though using some logic, I suppose it was Everything’s AOR or A Lilac Harry Quinn, maybe? They’re good songs, and I really should have them. I tried and couldn’t find the album, but I’ll see what I can do…

That was the main thing. It took a long time to wait for encore yesterday, but eventually they came out, doing We Built This Village on a Trad Arr Tune, another new song for me, and finally, the Trumpton Riot. This time, though, I was able to follow half of the words thanks to my numerous walking/transportation hours.

“Someone get a message through to Captain Fort, that they’d better start assembling boys from the Fort. And keep Mrs Honeyman right out of sight, cuz there’s gonna be a riot down in Trumpton tonight.”

I’ll check on the female character’s name, I promise…

And of course, being me, I half wanted them to do Chatteris to finish this out, but didn’t really expect it. It didn’t appear, but that’s all right, as I’ve already heard it once. I’m still keen on hearing Irk the Purists and Took Problem Chimp though… Both are fun little songs, and let’s see if they play them tonight.

An observation: Nigel seemed to trip over a lot of the words yesterday, and I sincerely hope it was because they partied too hard over the past six weeks, not due to other possibilities. He’s still amazing though, making up craics as we went along. I had a easier time understanding his accent but don’t remember much of what he talked about now. We’ll know later…

Overall, this was a classic but unconventional performance… Classic as in they did a lot of their classic songs, unconventional as in some of those classic songs are not really expected… I went in thinking I’d film every song that I like and ended up filming the whole thing so you get the sense… I feel bad about it though, and I’m not posting them online this time because it feels wrong, even if it happened by accident.

Went to the pub with the gang afterwards and had some interesting conversations. Got plans for today sorted, and Postman Tony isn’t coming. Ugh, I should’ve taken a pic of him and Ron! And now I am on the train to Oxford, thinking I need a nap…

And finally, some stats. Out of the 24 songs they played today…

I know 10 of them within the first week of knowing the band, 4 more up to Bilston. 3 of them I got got know because of Bilston, plus 5 that I found out on my own (3 of whom whose name I forgot), and there were only 2 “new” songs. I’m quite satisfied now.

1:33pm, March 19th

After the morning updates, my yesterday began to liven up. I took a long, peaceful nap on the train (the girl on the other side of the row couldn’t help but smile at Ron – I saw that, pet!), got a coffee at Starbucks (big mistake… Could’ve ordered a mocha rather than trying to instruct the people to make me a Double Double), and when I got off the train, I had enough time to take Ron out for a portrait. I’d been thinking about the places I could take him, about doing something iconic in Oxford, but in the end I decided to just head to the canal and snap one there. It was the nicest part about town in my opinion, anyways.

Here’s Ron, wrapped in my coat, sky gazing….

Got to the pub at 4, and met the gang there. Postman Tony wasn’t there, but we were joined by a couple who went to Bilston but not Worthing, Tim’s wife Sue (I can’t believe I’d been taking Tim as Maggie until this morning! – now you know how bad at names I am), and a girl whom I have not met before. Later, of course, people came and went like a swarm, but that was later in the venue, not later in the pub.

The Six Nations was on. In fact, I think Elizabeth chose the pub because the Six Nations was on. Caught half of two different games: France vs Wales and Ireland vs England. And of course Wales and England had to lose, much to John & Elizabeth’s dismay. I think England still won the cup but I’m not entirely sure about it. The lads didn’t seem keen on passing the ball, and went into contact almost blindly. The final minutes saw Wales’ amazing defense against France, preventing a try for at least 20 minutes at the 5. To be honest, I think the ref wanted France to have the try, as he let them play overtime for about 18 minutes, not ending the game until France got that try. Not sure if it’s exactly fair but it doesn’t feel like my position to complain… Though Nigel does a superb job with the Referee’s Alphabet.

England, however, had a chance to beat Ireland. In the last minutes of the game, the lads finally started to pass the ball, and it worked out like magic. Twice they were deemed to score a try as the ball flew to the wing with good space ahead, and both times ended with drop balls. Now I start to understand what my high school captain meant by “boys play by strength and speed, not skills and strategies”. The English girls beat Ireland later yesterday though, and got the champion. Probably would’ve been a better game to watch but the time didn’t fit.

Headed to the venue just before 7pm, got stopped at the entrance claiming I couldn’t take a bottle of water in. The only logical solution? Stand there and drink the entire 500mL of water I just filled up at the pub. I assure you that the security person was amused by my “will and determination” – though I am probably the only person to think it suitable to add “and grace, too” in the end. In my defence, drinking an unnecessary amount of water is not as wasteful as dumping it all out. Though it was a miracle that I managed the entire gig without needing to rush to the washroom lol

Looking around me, there were a shocking number of Dukla Prague Away Kits, so many that I thought I was at one of their away games. A couple, both in the jerseys, proved to be extremely enthusiastic – two of those people who know every single word for every single song, I suppose. The same band was on for what I call the “foreplay”. Now I’m beginning to feel like they’re following HMHB around, too! They said they got a sold out after yesterday’s performance, so kuddos!

The lads came on closer to 8pm, and started off with Fred Titmus (Stephen Harper). Joy in Leeuwalden was the second, which reminds me of one of the comments on the Lyrics Project: “Joy in Leeuwalden was played on all of the positions from 1 to 7 in the first 7 gigs [that we had data of]”. Someone should monitor that a bit closely… Another observation: they write Korfball for Joy in Leeuwalden on set lists. Nice shorthand that reminds me again of the secret society analogy.

Evening Sun was played again. 3/3 gigs now… And Teenage Bride was played again, too. But just as I started worrying about them doing the same list as yesterday, a new song came in. According to the Lyrics Project discussion, it was “Vitas G” – think I saw the song title someone in the Facebook group as well but I can’t spell it. Will check and then get back to you.

I’d promised to myself to never swear on this site. And I’m breaking this promise… Reason? They fucking played Tending the Wrong Grave for 23 Years. It was a truly “Bloody hell” moment, for as far as I know, this one haven’t made any appearance since the year 2000. I can’t say it’s never been played live before as it’s in the album And Some Fell On Stony Ground, an album composed of “old material”, aka “rarities”, so I assume they may have played it back in the 1990s.

A Knut for a thought: the album name “And Some Fell On Stony Ground” sounds vaguely familiar… I have the impression that Shane Koyczan’s To This Day had some similar lines but I’m pretty sure it’s just a coincidence. No Nigel in his right mind would encrypt a message from a Canadian slam poet onto his album name.

Looked up Shane, too, and he’s coming to the UK this May. Here’s the schedule, if you’re interested. I’m half-attempted to go now… York is tempting but it’s on a Thursday, so either that or Edinburgh? Now however, I shall provide you with the link of Tending the Wrong Grave performed live. Just click on the song title to see it! Apologies though, you can hear me scream and ruin the song in the background out of excitement.

Like I said, it was one of the rarities, and I’d moved out of the central area then to avoid any potential conflict (again, not a fan of drunk moshers). It was even quieter than Paintball’s Coming Home on Friday… I truly feel like I was the only one who knew the lyrics among everyone standing in the same area… And for some reason, nobody laughed at the line “I’d been sharing my innermost thoughts with an Edward McCrae”?! I find it the most hilarious line in the entire song!

NB10/57/3684940301 tripped over the lines “I’m inconsolable and at times/the time’s/that time’s uncontrollable”, making it a bit hard to work out the controversy. I still vote for “the time’s” though…

That being said, the moment was made even more precious by a classic Nigel moment: some bird tweeting sound appeared in the background when he was doing the “I half expected a nymph to appear”, so instead of sticking with the lyrics, he went on with “didn’t expect the BBC radiophonic workshop”, which cracked everyone up. Following that, he added “worships at the outer Victoria Derbyshire. Victoria Derbyshire, that’s not right. What’s her name? Bilia? Yeah, Bilia. Bilia Derbyshire. I wonder if there’s some sort of relation? There’s something for you to do tomorrow [the bird sounds returned as the crowd laughs]. I’m just thinking, I’ve never – sorry – it’s never struck with me before like that. The podium, the podium Dolphins came in then that’s them at some point also, but it was a magical place, and I wanted to stay there forever. But then almost inevitably…” I have a faint suspicion that Nigel lost his own track as he returned to “it was a magical place” but damn that’s probably the best improv performance I’ve ever seen! Knew there’s something priceless about this band!

Ah. And feel free to correct me about my transcriptions… I’m basically writing down what I hear, and they don’t make much sense to me yet… Suppose I should also give myself points for simply doing it. They are after all very near to Scousers.

After the Wrong Grave was a song I remember hearing, but not on a regular basis. The checklist said it was A Lilac Harry Quinn. Makes sense, then.

27 Yards of Dental Floss made another appearance tonight, and then we had the third consecutive performance of King of Hi-Vis. I am now convinced that this will become one of their regulars.

The next two songs, Bane of Constance and Look Dad No Tunes, both familiar to my ears. They’re in my HMHB list (not the Mix), and both were played on Friday night, too. Bane was on right after Hi-Vis, and Look Dad before DPAK.

Turns out the above description works for both nights… After Look Dad No Tunes we got Dukla Prague Away Kit, then Rock and Roll is Full of Bad Wools. I was just on my way to get a better film of Tommy Walsh’s Eco House when my phone refused to take in anymore. So, as a solution, I deleted all my stuff from the Bilston gig – don’t cry yet, I had them copied into my PC back in Febuary so I haven’t lost anything!

Nigel played a new tune, but didn’t manage to proceed. I think the tune is called Turned Up Clocked On, but I’m not sure. After it he played another song that I’ve definitely heard before. I’ll try and dig out its name soon…

Vatican Broadside was inevitably there, and then the normal, recorded version of Paintball’s Coming Home without any altercation – sorry – alteration. Would be much more entertaining if they featured the BBC6 version, though I appreciate their hard work regardless – double gigs must be so exhausting!

Stuck Up a Hornbeam was next. It was in my Mix list, though I only know the name as “Hornbeam”. I know nothing about the song, either, and only have an impression of it because I was on holiday at Hornby Island with my host family a few years ago… I shall research more.

Chatteris, as expected, since no one made a valid request. I swear to Aslan that this song, although classic, is put on the set lists just to be replaced if a better idea was sparked by the audience. It’s such an pity to put this lovely, lovely song into a position like this, if you ask me…

The main thing finished with an extended string of classics: Shite Day, Bob Wilson, Joy Division Oven Gloves, Trad Arr Tune, and AOR. And yes, I was right, AOR finished the main thing on Friday as well! I think it was after NSD when Nigel started a discussion on the favourite swear word of England or something. I get the impression that it is not “shite”, but I didn’t catch the actual word!

We didn’t wait as long for the encore, probably because they knew what they were going to play this time. The original setlist for Worthing had “???” in the place of Trad Arr Tune, so they were probably deciding which song to play at the backstage, and took a bit longer than expected. This time, though, the lads came into the stage, and picked up Dean Friedman right away.

The second song for encore didn’t sound like their original, but more like a cover dedicated for someone. Nigel said “Happy birthday Sandra” before proceeding with a song called Whole Wide World, though I had no idea who that Sandra is. Never heard of the song, but the crowd seem to know it all along. I was able to join in later on because the choruses were fairly easy to learn. It was a neat experience, one of the sweetest moments, I’d say.

Like Friday, we ended with Trumpton Riot. I won’t repeat the words down here, but I can say I’m fairly sure it’s “Mrs Honeyman” now. No End of the Tunnel though, but that’s okay.

Overall, as someone on the Lyrics Project alleged, we had a”Chatty Nigel” at Oxford. In fact, I find Nigel more relaxed and playful than Bilston at both gigs. Or maybe that’s only because I can understand more of the banter now…? Chatty Nigel is witty, wry, amusing, and entertaining, and I appreciate it very much.

Went for some more chatter with the gang afterwards, in the same pub. The security asked me for a piece of ID but had trouble reading my passport… Had to tell him I was born in ’97 before I was allowed in = = it’s such a relief that the legal drinking age here is 18, or I’d likely be the only one shut out of it!

The night started with me telling Tim all about the smell of weed and Couchsurfing, and ended with me putting Ron in the gang’s care. It just feels wrong for him to fly back to Canada with me at the end of June, so I told the gang to keep him for me. “Take turns taking him to gigs,” I told them, “take a picture with him at every gig he goes to – and make sure Tony gets a chance!” – Tony should in fact get more chance than anyone!

So from now on, Ron goes to gigs with my blessing. He represents the short time I spent with all these amazing, amazing people, and the best Britain could ever offer. Therefore, he must stay and never leave these islands. He’ll be cared for by the gang, old and new members alike, and he’ll be a reminder that pulls me back to this land whenever the opportunity presents. Through the Lyrics Project and maybe Facebook, I’ll know what he’s up to even when I’m back in Montreal. Hopefully I also get a chance to reunite with him and the gang at another gig.

I can’t believe I’m missing the Ron Seal already. But he must stay.

8:40pm, March 19th

Finally home with a full tummy. Own bog, own bed, ain’t that what Nigel says? Such a blessing.

A fire broke out along the rails between Darlington and Durham and that’s why I got delayed by almost an hour… Though the 4-hour train ride was glorious, with the entire England bathed under gorgeous sun. Getting grocery also took a while and now I have very limited time to finish the last bit of new writing for this blog before working on some tutoring stuff. Hopefully my good mood lasts as long as I need it tonight!

Guess it’s time to sum up my favourite songs to day. And by favourite, I don’t mean classic. I mean the ones that I’d pause everything to sing along with, the ones that never fail to crack me up, the ones that connect with me in the most peculiar way possible, and the ones that always always pick me up on impossible days… So here we go!

Chatteris – I really don’t know how to explain this one. Those of you who read my Bilston review may know that it’s the first HMHB song I’ve ever listened to. It gets bonus points at that, for sure, but there’s more to it than being the first. A lot of people say it’s one of the most beautiful ballads you’ll ever hear and although I don’t deny it, I liked the song before I understood what it was all about. I guess it brought me right back to Vancouver Island, onto that corner of the world called Central Saanich, and my wild high school life?

Took Problem Chimp: I know it’s about a chimp now… But before I knew that, I’d pictured it to be a real stubborn child whose parent happens to be an utterly incompetent adult. Either way, it’s hilarious, and I find the “childish kicks” extremely amusing – satisfying my own childishness, probably.

Lord Hereford’s Knob: Northumbrian (North), the writer who mentioned Chatteris also mentioned this one, at an even earlier date, but I failed to pick it up due to cursive reading. The reference to the 80s was the first thing I understood, and the two girls cheating on the guy was ironically the last thing that came to me. The language – and the fact that the entire narrative is done in iambic septametre – also offers endless charm.

National Shite Day: The favourite song in 2015, voted by fans. I still don’t know why I like it so much though… John confirmed to me that it’s a song about “everything goes wrong”, but again, to win me over there needs to be more…? I know the line “there’s a man with a mullet going mad with a mallet in Millets” is one of my favourites because of the beat and alliteration, but I also feel like there’s something else… Ah well, I’ll keep exploring.

Urge for Offal: This one wins with the music. The acoustics is so sentimental and nostalgic that it’s impossible to not fall in love with. The story is also one about the “good ol’ times”, in my limited understanding, and it’s elegantly put, while never missing one single bit of the irony that brands the band.

Pancake Day: I have to say that the last few lines are among my favourite laughs. According to my friend who happens to be a philosophy student, it was, naturally, bullshit. Still, that’s a very good piss to take, NB10/57/29872589572389.

L’enfer C’est Les Autres: There’s this road that takes me from my dorm to town centre, and the pavement is narrow. I was going down that road just a few days after I moved in, and for some reason people kept coming towards me in groups and I ended up walking in the road. Then, a few days later, I listened to this with lyrics on and roared with laughter. Do the Duke of Westminster and his good lady wife also own the streets in Newcastle?

Light at the End of the Tunnel: The unexpected turn of this famous line is indeed something I can both relate to, and laugh about. But there’s also drugs. I’m sorry if this offends anyone, but it’s the normalization of drugs that got me on this one. I’d always imagined that if just one single thing in my life had been different, I’d end up a junkie somewhere on the streets… Guess that’s one thing I have in common with Nigel: never really have a problem with drugs, but never really interested in them either.

Joy in Leeuwalden: Nope… My love for this song is not the least because of the name Alice van der Meer. It’s actually about Korfball – or more generally speaking, a sporting event that seemingly very few people care about. For me, it’s the Women’s 7’s World Series happening every year in Langford, BC. I was there at the very first tournament, volunteering for two full days and spilling my passion out at the only team sport I ever loved. Korfball always takes me back to those two epic days.

Vatican Broadside: Another HMHB song mentioned in North’s stories. Every time I hear it, I see the character called Mike turn white, and eject the CD out of the reader because there were under 5’s in the car. And it’s got a brilliant football chant story, so why not?

Damn. I feel like I can just go on and on and on… Don’t want to bore any of you now, so I’ll stop… Just know that the list also includes Petty Sessions, Paintball’s Coming Home, Paradise Lost, Little in the Way of Sunshine, New York Skiffle, Squabble Fest, and possibly  a number of other songs that have slipped my mind…

1:30pm, Mar 22nd

No new stuff anymore… This tiny little section in the end is just fact-checking the stuff I’d said…

So the songs that are played with Neil and Ken swapping instruments – that’s called the “axeswap”, not “toy swap” – Knew it’d get a cooler name than I can come up with!

The setlist for Worthing said there’s only one song between Hi-Vis and Paintball, and it’s Bane of Constance (or Bain of Constance – I’ve seen both spellings). No idea why I’d thought there were two songs then…

The verse that was added to Paintball: “They booked to see Stephen Holbrook at The Norfolk Arms (*3), But it got cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.”

About the seagull… It’s something about football that I still don’t understand, but Nigel did make fun of the person who kept saying it, and it was a good laugh. Apparently the Brighton team (called Seagulls) plays in the same league as the Tranmere Rovers.

Nigel didn’t “threaten” to play Architecture. He attempted to play it (forgot if it was requested – probably was) but he either gave up very early on or claimed “Neil can’t play it”.

Apparently Mimeshow is the song that’s played right before Joy Division Oven Glove, not some random song whose name I don’t remember.

The “new song” in encore was a cover of Take the Skinheads Bowling, not an original one. Obviously with their own twist, but I don’t know the song so I can’t say much…

Vitas G is a song called Outbreak of Vitas Gerulaitis, who appears to be an American tennis player. Something akin to Gubba look-alikes then…?

About Tending the Wrong Grave – On the setlist discussion page of the Lyrics Project it claims that the song hasn’t been played live once from Nov 2000 to Jul 2015. However, on the lyrics page, it has videos of four different live performances in 2008, plus one in Oct 2009. Not sure what’s going on there…

Also, it’s Delia Derbyshire, not Bilia. “Worshipping at the altar of”, not “worship at the outer” – this mix-up gives away my North American origin… More precisely the “cot/caught” merger under the influence of Canadian raising – so “alter” and “outer” sounds almost the same to me! One more mix-up: “a pod of dolphins”, not “the podium dolphins”. Still a long way to speak HMHB, then.

About the “new tune” that Nigel tried to play but didn’t get very far on – it’s called Old Tige. The song that gets played in full is Turned Up Clocked On Laid Off.

Britain’s favourite swearword is indeed shite, as John later told us. Nigel, however, claimed that “Green man” is the most frequently used phrase, as in parents telling children “waiting for the green man before crossing the road”.

Still don’t know who this Sandra is, sadly…

And that’s about it. This post is officially finished, whoo-hoo!


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