Sunday, December 14, 2008

Take Me Home Country Roads

That's the tune the band is playing. A band which includes me! Far out, as John Denver, who wrote the song, would have said. It certainly amazes me that last night I played the guitar in public for the first time in my life, at the age of 68. Actually, you will probably have to take my word for it. The picture isn't brilliant, as it was mostly dark on the stage and the flash camera did not reach those at the back, which is where I am. If you have a good magnifying glass, and if you are bothered enough to look, I am the fellow near the back, in the middle, with a red Mark Knopfler Stratocaster guitar. Actually, if you click on the picture, it will enlarge.

This has not been a good week for walking. Very wet, in brief. If it wasn't snowing it was raining. Which gave me lots of time to practice for the concert. The show was due to start at 9 pm. We were playing 34 songs (I was involved in 6 of those) for a line dancing exhibition. The line dancers were also doing some of their rehearsed moves to their own CDs, so there were well over 40 tunes in all. Clearly this was going to go on into the early hours of the morning, there were forecasts of further snow, the road from Puivert to Lavelanet goes over a high pass, prone to much deeper drifting than at lower levels, there was a danger of us having difficulty getting home, so we booked into a hotel overnight. Despite the plea in the song, the country roads may not have been able to take us home.

I had to be at setup and rehearsals in the market hall from 5 pm, so we checked into the hotel and Gay stayed there to read and await concert time. At 7.30 pm rehearsal suddenly stopped and line dancers and musicians trooped upstairs for a full-blown meal which miraculously appeared. I went to the hotel for Gay so she could come to join in - we had been wondering how we would be able to feed ourselves during the busy evening. We arrived back at the market hall to find that the doors were locked. After half an hour of futile banging on the windows (downstairs windows, and everybody was upstairs), during which a drunk asked us if we were looking for Chantale''s party, we repaired to a nearby small bar/restaurant for an omelette. The only two other people eating were two more drunks, but they were all very pleasant. By the time we had eaten our meal, it was nearly 9 pm and the doors were open.

The concert went well. It was strange, when Santiago was thanking all the musicians, to hear him say, in French "Mr Vic Heaney, from Blackpool, England." It reminded me of one of our first French (running) races, which was in the same town, Lavelanet. We had won a trophy each, in fact we still have several from races in Lavelanet, but we were delighted to receive a short speech from the stage, thanking us, as foreigners, for coming to grace their race. We never understand where the people are coming from, who say the French are unwelcoming - we have rarely experienced anything but friendliness.

Coincidentally, Randy Lofficier has a posting about that very subject on her blog Possumworld today. Click on Possumworld, under "Recommended blogs" on the right hand side of this page.

We were right to be cautious about the snow. When we got up this morning it was already making the road back to Puivert interesting to drive. Down at the Puivert level (500 metres) there was not too much snow on the road so we decided to unload the musical equipment at the house and proceed to Esperaza market as we normally do on a Sunday. Again there is a climb over a high pass, where the snow was bunching up again. Down in Esperaza there was nothing. Same in Couiza, where we attended the Christmas Fair, and in Quillan, where went to our normal coffee shop. Not a sign of snow. Back up the Col du Portel towards home, and we were above the snow line again.

A day for lighting the fire, bringing in a stack of logs, and forgetting any thought of trying to walk.

1 comment:

Neil Hughes said...

Hi Vic
Well done hope you enjoyed the show and were not too uptight and outasight.
Did you know you are not the only musically talented from Blackpool. Graham Nash of Hollies and CSN Fame was born in Blackpool. One of his songs starts off "In an upstairs room in blackpool by the side of the northern sea, the army had my father and my mother was having me" Its called Milatry Madness and is a protest song / Anti War.

Hope all went well this week for your family.
Happy Xmas from the BAR HUMBUG CLUB