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Mike Randle


Day 25 The Lemon Tree, My Dear Watson — By Lizzyb
February 27, 2004

It cost me a tank of petrol, but Ellie got me to Newcastle Central Station to meet Tina off one train ready to catch another to Aberdeen. The broken leg of my tripod jutted out of my bag as we negotiated W H Smith to buy NME and read about A Living Legend. The Journey North took 4 hours during which we nearly finished the NME crossword (eg 2 and 13D A classic from Love which was covered by The Damned (5-5-2) tricky…), taking in the sunny views of Alnmouth, Lindisfarne Berwick and the North Sea. As we watched the sunset over Melrose, Old Man called to check our whereabouts and we promised to call back when we arrived.

Aberdeen: stone city with seagulls – more of that later. There was a café in the station called the Lemon Tree – if Tina hadn’t done some preliminary investigation we may have spent the evening there waiting for Love (perhaps people do..). Tina had the maps and we strode out for a brisk walk to the hotel (right opposite the venue). We checked in then went back across that street (yeah) to find camera placements in the lemon tree. The front door was closed, but a side one wasn’t and we could hear music so we went in. It was the Keys sound check, very good too. Using our recently acquired nonchalance we found Bent who told us to see Marge. Now, I’ve read previous diaries and I’d heard about Marge….. but she was brilliant and helped us find a good spot for our tripods. The Keys were having their tea and overcome by the smell of lasagne, we went out to find sustenance at Wetherspoon’s. Old Man and his Family arrived and we rolled back down the hill to the Lemon Tree.

The tripods had been cordoned off (what a star Marge is, and her crew kept offering to help) so we had a nice little area to work in. The stage is small at the Lemon Tree but the sound was brilliant. The lights were good too, but bright shining towards us, so we know the video will be very dark (we’re not clever enough to compensate with filmic mystique). Arthur was in good form with new maracas – so was everybody. It’s become ‘as usual’. Every show is different, but they’re all great. My highlight was hearing Can’t Explain live, with prompting from Rusty to help it along. Some people in front of me were talking a lot until during Signed DC until a guy yelled at them to shut up (well that’s the gist).

After had a wee drink (Beck’s, Tina insists it’s pure because of German Laws), returned the camera to Bent, said Hi to Mike, goodbye to Old Man and family then went off. Too soon. We learned later we’d missed Arthur by minutes, oh well, at least we’d made it and filmed a great show

Next morning we decided to take a bracing walk around the town in search of breakfast. I love places where there are ships at the end of the street. Aberdeen is one, along with New Orleans, Barcelona, Copenhagen (I’m told) and Newcastle (though ours is a floating night club with a revolving stage). We saw shops that are open for one hour a day, or just on Sunday afternoon. Interesting trading practice. Tina Knows about Shops and Food. We went to a department store for breakfast: Esslemont and Mackintosh. It was quiet until suddenly at 10 am the wee ladies of Aberdeen descended like a flock of seagulls in smart tweed suits for their morning tea and pancakes. We felt like Young Things, but there was no fooling Lorna in the cosmetics department downstairs. Immediately spotting we were members of the 7 x 7 crew she called us over and gave us samples of her ‘miracle line-filling formula’ and other serums in little silver boxes. Next time you see us we’ll look closer to 7 + 7, maybe.

Our train left later than Old Man’s for Edinburgh, but it was fun. We found table seats in a quiet carriage which suddenly was full of men off the oil rigs with massive zipped sports holdalls and chunky plastic carrier bags full of beer cans and bottles. They immediately offered us Newcastle Brown ale in bottles which they opened with keys – so the facial treatments hadn’t kicked in yet then. They had been out in the North Sea for 42 days and had tales to tell of strikes over thermal underwear and working in West Africa cooking in force 12 gales (ye canna have fish and chips you’d get more oil on the deck than in the pan) ‘I was straight down the line until I broke my nose and veered left’. At Melrose a lady of around 7 x7 got on, then a nice Italian Law student at Dundee who borrowed a pencil.

It was when the oil men asked what we were doing in Scotland that the conversation got going. ‘following a Rock Legend’ we said, and it went quiet. ‘who?, I want to know’ ‘yes, so do I’. Seemed we had them riveted. Fortunately Tina had the Scottish Herald with a preview so we could show them Arthur. The lady, who had been brought up in Jamaica so she knew all about reggae and ska but wanted to improve her knowledge of rock and pop wrote down ‘forever changes’ on her ticket. Within 5 minutes we were having a wild conversation across the 2 tables – the rest of the carriage were the audience as we discussed student loans, Child Support, arts vs vocational subjects, fell walking and psychological profiling through studying rubbish. The Law student, a Juventus fan (nice strip) had to reprimand people for using sign language ‘I can talk English you know, you don’t have to use thumbs up and thumbs down you know’ ‘I think the gentleman would appreciate a slap’ murmured Tina. ‘I think there may be a fight soon’ he said, but there wasn’t (almost, in response to ‘I could say from the way you’re holding that pen you have homosexual tendencies’ but not quite). One of the oil men claimed to be the Apollis of Love, which started a Steve Miller Lyrics controversy. I got an agent provocateur to take a photo of us – they did offer to strip off but I decided to protect the innocent. ‘Is it always like this on this train?’ asked Tina ‘No never, this is the first time’ said our Italian companion rolling his eyes.. Edinburgh Waverley, our stop, came quickly. We left our new friends power drinking and went in search of facilities.

Mike Randle


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