Day One - London
I pack. Video camera, tripod, still camera - check. Stage clothes, day clothes, enough socks and underwear to get through the whole time in case we don't do a laundry run - check. Books to while away the hours waiting to load the gear in to the venue - 'Teach Yourself Japanese' and Michael Palin's 'Himalaya'. Various knitting projects, sketch pad and pencils, diary, notebooks and laptop. Hair dryer, towels, toiletries. It's a heavy load but I get it on the train okay and meet the rest of the touring party at midnight. We have celebratory drinks on the big yellow sleeper bus then try to figure out the best way to get in to our bunks: twelve in a row stacked two high with a narrow gangway in-between, compact but cosy.
Day Two - Glasgow
I wake up and realise that while choosing the top bunk seemed like a good choice last night, I seem to have lost the knack of the morning dismount. Instead I teeter dangerously over the side of my bed, scrape my stomach on the wood at the side and tumble noisily to the floor. We're outside the venue and can get wireless internet from an Italian restaurant down the way so I touch base with the outside world before getting some breakfast.
Our typical day goes like this: the equipment gets loaded in to the venue at 3pm. We usually have to lug it up stairs, round corners and through narrow spaces to get to the stage - it's rare to have an easy load-in but it can happen! Everything gets set up, the sound man gets himself sorted out and soundcheck starts at 5. Then it's dinner, getting changed, vocal warmups and stretches and on stage at 9.
I don't see much of Glasgow today but the gig goes brilliantly and we celebrate with beers on the bus afterwards before falling in to our beds. The bus starts the journey to Aberdeen at 2am and I fall asleep to the sound of the engine.
Day Three - Aberdeen
I wake up outside the venue in Aberdeen feeling well rested. There's nothing like touring on a proper sleeper bus to make the travelling part almost completely painless. I've been a big fan of Aberdeen since I played there in 2001 and I become even more so when I go for lunch at Books & Beans, a cafe set in a bookshop. I eat tasty roast pepper and spinach soup surrounded by Nabakov, Orwell and Proust. The gig goes great and we have drinks with the support band at a bar next door until the early hours, playing pool and laughing a lot.
Day Four - Newcastle
I see barely anything of the city because of a late sleep and an early load in. There are showers at the venue today so everyone files in with towels tucked under their arms. We get everything ready for the gig and pop out for some Thai food before getting ready to play. We have our noisiest crowd yet and the whole room pogo up and down, shaking the stage. There's a rock club on afterwards and I discover the joys of apple sours...six may be slightly overdoing it but we all have a brilliant time.
Day Five - Birmingham
Day off. I placate my glowering hangover with nourishing Japanese food and vats of water then head in to the town centre for Scrubs box sets, jeans and earrings, trying to dodge the insanely busy crowds of Christmas shoppers. I find beautifully gooey profiteroles and strong tea at an Italian cafe then join the rest of the band for bowling and arcade games. I get three strikes and a reasonable score overall, not bad considering I've only been once before. Much high fiving all round. Late at night I get my TV fix in the hotel room we've got for showering purposes while the others go to a bar. I watch "The Return of Courtney Love" on Channel 4 and change my mind about her yet again, she seems genuinely passionate about making music after her most recent troubles and I'm interested to hear the result.
Day Six - Birmingham
I sleep late and wake feeling refreshed. I leave my bunk with ease (I'm getting the hang of this) and drink green tea to get energised. The bus moves to the venue and we see that two girls have been queuing since 11.30am (it's 1pm). Doors won't open for another 6 hours and we won't play for another 2 after that. It's bitterly cold and drizzling. We load in and get lunch at a greasy spoon which bizarrely doesn't have any mushrooms on the menu or the premises, then have a long soundcheck and eat cheese in the dressing room. It's the sweatiest gig of the tour so far but the crowd aren't as noisy as Newcastle. That sometimes happens the further South you play. Afterwards we walk to the other side of town to celebrate our merchandise girl's birthday then stay up talking and eating more cheese until even later.
This Week's Five
1. Wind It Up - Gwen Stefani
2. Doctor Blind - Emily Haines
3. LDN - Lily Allen
4. Cathedral Heat - Kristin Hersh
5. Reena - Sonic Youth