October 2016 Tour Diary - Day 4 - Norwich
We de-car and soundcheck before the other boys in the band disappear. A quick text reveals they've gravitated towards our natural habitat...the nearest Wetherspoons. I join them.
Megan has pressured Ale, an Italian and therefore a born gourmet, into adopting a vegan diet. Ale's veganism is not going well.
A week prior, Ale saw Kesh and I play a pub function gig, where he revealed he'd been persuaded to eschew all animal products in favour of a healthy vegetable based diet.
"How's that working out for you Ale?"
"Yeah...it's OK. I've done it about 2 days now."
Ale ordered some food as Kesh and I set up for the function gig.
I recently tried to give up animal products myself, but in the first week without thinking made the schoolboy error of getting an americano with milk. That was enough for a certain close lady acquaintance of mine to adopt the voice of Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons to describe me as the "Worst Vegan Everrrr".
Ale could be forgiven a similar aberration here, but as we started the first tune there seemed little explanation for the arrival at his table of a large burger. With cheese. Followed by a dessert...consisting of a huge ice cream.
I bring this up as we order food at the Wetherspoons opposite Norwich Waterfront. Ale shrugs. Quite a lot of Ale's responses essentially consist of a shrug. "Ah - you know what it's like when you're on a diet."
I still don't really understand this explanation, but put a lot of Ale's gnomic utterances down to obscure Italian wisdom that's presumably too complicated for me to understand, so I'm pretty sure it makes sense.
Today he orders another burger. With cheese. It arrives with chips.
"Do these chips taste funny to you?"
I try one. Admittedly it has something of a scampi-ish tang. But we're in Wetherspoons. Fellow regular patrons will know that in Wetherspoons, the only socially acceptable response to whatever deep fried wad of gristle turns up is being pathetically grateful for it only costing £3.99.
I try too late to explain the quaint British cultural subtleties of Wetherspoons customer behaviour which may be lost on our Italian friend, but Ale has already attracted the attention of the girl who brought his food.
"I am not entirely satisfied with the chips."
"The chips. They taste funny. Try one."
The atmosphere is tense. He's gone off piste from the pattern of behaviour expected in a Wetherspoons. There is a collective intake of breath on the part of the Brits at the table. She tries one.
"Er...seems ok to me?"
Us Brits are like the nervous old ladies in Fawlty Towers, tutting indignantly amongst ourselves until a member of staff asks how our meals were, when we desperately pretend everything's fine in order to avoid confrontation. Italians hold no such daft insecurities.
I nervously play diplomat. "There was the possibility they tasted a bit fishy."
She tries another one.
"Well, maybe...can I bring you some more? Get you a refund?"
Ale demurs. "It's just...for the next person."
Ale has done his bit to uphold the high gastronomic standards for which Wetherspoons pubs are rightly feted.
Although it's a Sunday night, the gig isn't too badly attended. Megan and I are developing a Good Cop / Bad Cop routine for encouraging shy gig goers huddling nervously at the back to come up to the stage.
Megan, Good Cop, asks in her sweet undemanding manner if anyone wants to step forward a bit, and two or three people look at each other hesitantly. It is down to me, Bad Cop, to propose, in my obnoxious way, a stand off involving a deliberate awkward pause for the next tune until the coolest people in the room come up to the stage.
It's a high risk strategy and could turn into a battle of wills but lots of obliging cool people step forward and, from their subsequent reaction, have a much better time thereafter. We make a mental note to do this earlier in the set in future.
Norwich is the home of Alan Partridge so Tom and I spend much of the journey home annoying Kesh by saying "a-ha!!" a lot.
Next week - an already sold out hometown gig in London city...