i know my place is the
Furthest Point Away
...from trucks. Please. There follows an account of probably the most bizarre weekend so far this year. In which Tim was wittily lovely, Dickon was quietly lovely and we were obsessed and lived on Iced Gems and cheap spirits.
Monday, 5th May, 1997... 9:53 a.m.
So we're driving along the A47 somewhere (although it could be the A563, or even the A50) and there's a stack of tapes (plus gratuitous stuffed dog for Dickon) by the car radio. I'm trying to decide which song describes my life best- we've had Suede's "Trash", Radiohead's "Creep", at least three different versions of Orlando's "Nature's Hated" (of course)...but what's this?
So now you've finally left school
So now what are you going to do?
Now you're so grown up, you're
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh so mature
Going out late for Monday
Ch-ch-chuck up in the street on Sunday...
Jarvis, you're such a star. Substitute 'sink' for 'street' and there you have an account of my weekend so far. Which is nice...
And it all started so innocently. The train from Manchester to Birmingham went without a hitch. I paraded my Orlando T-shirt and newly purple'n'blonde striped hair all the way...next thing I know, we're doing Frank N Furter impressions, and then downing vodka and orange to the sweet strains of Momus' "Tender Pervert". Don't remember anything else. To quote Matthew Glamorre: "there's nothing like a little projectile between courses..."
Anyway. Back to the M1, or wherever it was. A confusing lack of signposts combined with my incompetent navigation conspire to land us halfway back to Manc territory, instead of the Peterborough Truck Fest, where we should be...to cut a long and tortuous story short, we arrive at around 10:45, expecting a small-scale local festival.
A veritable sea of vehicles greets us. And that's only the car park...Terror Bells! It's HUGE!
Talk about intimidation. We nearly meet Death by Truck several times before we even get through the gates. OK, so we're in....but where the HELL do we find Orlando?!
We have one and a half hours to locate the right roadshow amidst a seemingly infinite expanse of grubby metal, pink furry pigs and pissed Southeners. Great.
Consider our options. Well, we could ask someone ("'scuse me, anyone seen two skinny blokes looking as out of place as we do?")... On arrival, we find we have preceded them, and are thus at a loose end. Sigh. We hook up with (the only?) two other 'Landoites and contemplate three rows of 911 fans (they've pulled out, you FOOLS) sceptically.
But, immaculate and lovely, here are Orlando come to Save us as always.
At this point I should state our [realistic] objectives:
1) Talk to Orlando
2) Flatter them (or rather tell the truth!)
3) Give them gifts of love
4) See Dickon's hair...
Just to remove any possible suspense from this trainspotter's tale: we achieved all four. Incidentally, the stuffed dog was named "Saffron, Beautiful And Brown-Eyed", and if you know where that comes from then I love you. So, on to...
Orlando go roadshow, Mark One:
We stand somewhat bemused through an act called "Blonde Ambition", consisting of a man in red lipstick and long blonde hair doing his very bestest Gina G-a-like dance'n'warble. Very nice, dearie, but does the word "subtlety" ring no bells? A certain friend of mine would love this...so would I, if I wasn't here for the exemplary soul and passion that even bad sound and (in places) slightly half-hearted miming can't expurgate from Orlando's "performance". Tim, however, is well on form, introducing opener "Don't Sleep Alone" with the words "this is about trucking...well it rhymes with that anyway.........."
Celibacy, young man? Anyway, that goes fine, if a little quiet. "Nature's Hated" starts. Or tries to. What the...? "erm, that's the END of our single...!"
Illusion totally shattered, then! Backing track sorted, the song is lovely as ever, Tim's beautiful, soulful voice soaring over the mini field-ette and managing to make even this foreign, alien terrain seem "a kind of home"- despite the indifference of all but four of this "audience". I mouth every word. Townie gals stare. Tim is a fallen angel, but one who today has tumbled into a heartless metal landscape...I'm in love...Dickon's actually smiling, giving even to these uncaring hearts, bouncing on the spot in his little bit of stage; I'm in love...AGAIN!
I realise that it doesn't matter whether they mime, whether they get a good reception, the songs remain glowing and untarnished reasons why I LOVE this band more than any other. That's why I CAN'T say this was a waste of time, in the face of what some would consider solid evidence. I don't allow myself to expect or demand anything from Orlando. So every word makes me feel priveliged to be here at all.
Idea: let's stalk the band! Two seconds later, we run into them again. Erm, that didn't happen, then. They walk past. We've barely gone two steps before we are accosted by drunken blokes #1 and #2.
"OI! Toyah Willcox!"
They're persistent, so we scan the area for means of escape...thank heaven, Dickon's in the bar. We scuttle under cover to find deliverance in the form of one popstar and his drink: "Dickon! Drunken blokes! HELP!"
And then we all go to see the trucks. They're orange. And big. And they go in circles. Slowly. If they're meant to be some sort of phallic status symbol, I don't know what they wish to imply...
How can they applaud for this and not Orlando? BASTARDS!
Next up, it's- ooh!- motorbikes! They drive past each other. Then they do it again. Look mum, no hands... Orlando are not impressed. Us neither. But the alternative appears to be witnessing bungee jumpers endangering their spinal cords. Last word on that subject goes to Dickon:
"When you jump off something, you don't want to come back up again!"
Tim gets bored. Dickon, Soozy and I go to see the Wannabe Spice Girls. Same thing if you ask me. There's only one option when in this situation; bitch!
They don't look anything like them!
They're all the wrong shape!
Come on then, do the back flips...
Hmm, nice non-existent dress 'Geri'...
Hope they don't fall out of their clothes..
That Scary Spice is a bit...lithe.
They go. But what's that onstage now? It's Orlando's keyboard!
Bye, Mr. Edwards!
Orlando Go Roadshow, Mark Two:
"Nature's Hated" again. Then "Just For A Second" (dedicated to "anyone who feels like they're a misfit or a mis-shape")...I swear they both keep looking over here...the end of which song sees Tim vanishing, reappearing to prod the keyboard and returning in time to insult the audience...we'd discussed this before; he opts for "I'd like to say you've been wonderful, but only a few of you have." Not as wonderful as you, and nice red streaks in you hair, by the way...
And now it's time to say a fond farewell. It's been special, or would have been very much so in other circumstances. It's time for last kisses and last skipping heartbeats. Don't relax. We'll be back.
"We Love You", but do "You Love Us" ?