So, I went to see Half Man Half Biscuit last night. Before I talk about that, though, I should probably mention what happened last time I went to see them. It is relevant, trust me.
Back in April 1991 Steve, Stu and I made the trip up to Sunderland Poly (as it was then, this is pre-1992, remember, when there were still polytechnics) to watch HMHB. They’d not long since reappeared on the scene after having split up for a while. They were supported by fellow Probe Plus act Levellers 5 (who did a couple of Peel Sessions at the time. But that’s by the by: HMHB were great. Eventually, we came out into spring night and made our way back to our Durham-bound train.
Except the train station was locked up. The last train had gone.
|Elvet Bridge, from the Peninsula|
So, there we stood and, after turning out our pockets, we realised that, between us, we didn’t have enough cash to pony up for a taxi back. There was only one option: we’d have to walk home. To Durham. Fifteen miles. And so we set off, hiking along a deserted A690; no real chance of even hitching a lift either. We even found a football in the central reservation about an hour in, so played football down the carriageway for a while. At the services on the A690 Steve had the idea of using his credit card in of the new-fangled phone that took them, to ring for a cab and then go into Durham centre and get some cash to pay him. Pity the phone didn’t see it that way and wouldn’t take his card. As we got to the Dragonville turn-off at Durham at around half three in the morning the fog descended and we almost got taken out by a huge Artic coming up the slip road. Anyway, at around 4am we managed to crawl into bed, stiff and tired but happy and with a ‘war story’ to tell our mates.
Fast forward to last night. The first time I’ve seen Half Man Half Biscuit since that evening in April 1991. I’ve been looking forward to it for months since I booked the ticket.. But of course it’s been snowing. Having said that, getting up the A19 proved to be rather uneventful and I end up in Durham safe and sound. I meet up with my mate Mark and off we trundled to the Central Thai restaurant in Durham. Very nice.
|Four Lads Who Shook The Wirral|
Anyway, off we went to the gig in the Live Lounge. Which was stellar; even better was the fact they opened with one of my favourite songs (and song titles) ever: 99% of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd. And it just kept getting better. Great versions of songs like National Shite Day and A Country Practice, not to mention a fabulous Twenty Four Hour Garage People (complete with musings on Pickled Onion Monster Munch). They, and the audience, were clearly having a laugh in spite of a few sound problems, even down to the bit near the end where Nigel muses on how miserable he’ll probably end up feeling at 2am at Scotch Corner in the bad weather. It was great to see them again.
Afterwards Mark and I ended up having a quick drink and chat in the Varsity on North Bailey, watching some of the rabble from the Peninsula colleges wandering down the street, having clearly been to a pirate-themed formal or bop of some kind.
So it was that at around 0030, I set off for home. A690, A1, A689 and A19. Plenty of snow around but generally a fairly easy drive. I followed the A174 down the coast, not fancying doing a trip over the moor road at that time with heavy snow falling. And everything was fine. Until I got to Loftus. As soon as I got past Loftus Bank the trouble started. No ploughing or gritting here, no sir. As I drove past my parents’ house in Easington wondered if I should stop, but thought that the road may just hold up if it stayed as it was. Oh, foolish optimism!
|Boulby, in the middle of the night|
Boulby Bank was just about negotiated, giving some comfort to what I thought may be possible. Then, at Runswick Bay, the wheels fell off. Or stopped spinning, anyway. Pretty much the only I didn’t have with me was a shovel, so digging out was not an option. I decided I had to turn back. But that meant going back up Boulby Bank. I didn’t try too hard, it was clearly not going to work. So I pulled the car into Boulby Mine. After speaking to the security guard on the gate I left the car there, suited and booted up and began the walk back towards my parent’s house. This is only about 1-2 mles, but involved walking back up the 1 in 7 Boulby Bank, in the middle of a snow storm in the middle of the night.
Every time I see Half Man Half Biscuit I am condemned to a long walk, it seems.