The next day’s drive to Nottingham is uneventful. That is, until we reach Nottingham and try to find a place to park. Normally you can find a place near the venue, but The Chameleon isn’t accessible during the daytime, and our efforts to park on a nearby street result in me driving into a cul-de-sac and having to execute some tight maneuvering to get us out. When I ask Russell if I’ve got enough room to clear the pole on the passenger side, he tells me I do. It turns out we are talking about two different poles, and sure enough I hear an awful scraping noise coming from the left fender. It’s not too bad, a small dent and scratch along a small section of metal the size of a cassette tape, but the van rental company will later send us an invoice for £360 (approx. $500), or about what we would have made from two shows.
Shrag heads to the bar, and I just want to be by myself. I limp off in search of a bookstore to find a decent map of London. Today’s Friday. We’re playing London tomorrow and then flying out of Gatwick Airport early Sunday morning. And there’s still the matter of returning the van. I’ve come up with a plan that is as ruthless efficient as it is masochistic:
Drive the two-and-a-half hours after the show to London. Drop everyone off at Bob’s apartment except for me and Brigette, who will then drive to Dalston and park near that night’s venue, The Victoria, which will have a guy there from 7:00-9:30 that morning to clean up. Brigette and I will unload all the equipment and then drive out to the Wembley Stadium area and return the van. Then we’ll take the train/tube back into London to Helen’s place, whereupon we’ll try and catch up on our sleep. At some point, I’ll head over to one of the Rough Trade stores to buy a T-shirt — the only souvenir I want to bring home from England.
I find a Waterstone’s and get a decent map. We all reconvene and carry/wheel the gear several blocks from the nearest parking to the venue, carrying it up three flights of stairs. Then we head off looking for dinner. Mary Jane, Brigette, and I get noodles at this place with the picture of a baby on its sign. It’s relatively cheap and definitely filling.
Tonight’s show is being put on by Andy and Sam. Like Will from Liverpool, they’re huge Tunabunny fans and their initial interest in setting up shows for us are a big reason why this tour even exists. We feel a lot of pressure to be good tonight, even though we’re running on fumes. The show is a struggle for the first couple of songs. Everyone’s finding it hard to concentrate, but eventually things fall into place when a song ends but a couple of us just keep going, playing the same chord over and over. It dawns on me that the bassline for the next song will sound kind of cool over this one chord and so I start playing it; it creates an effect that is both discordant and beautiful. The rest of the band hears what I’m doing and we gradually segueway into the next song. The sudden inspiration awakens us and lifts us out of our funk. The rest of the set is a breeze.
Afterwards, I’m standing there leaning against a wall when this guy comes up to me and tells me how much he loved the set, how we were the best fucking thing he’s seen in ages, and he’s just bought all our stuff. I tell him I’m glad he liked it, thanks for coming out, etc. Just before he leaves, he tells me that he’s a writer for Drowned In Sound. A couple of days after we get home, this appears.