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Mike Randle


Day 41 Pordenone And The Velvet Club
March 19, 2004

Woke up at 9 am and went down to have coffee, yogurt, and juice. My room was on the third floor and the elevators at this La Spezia Hotel don’t work so you really need a good reason to leave your room. After I finished breakfast, I asked about my laundry. I was told it was in the dryer… at the Hotel! They never sent it away and charged me 10 euros! Then Chapple came down to dispute a 3 euros phone charge that wasn’t even his fault. Max was translating to the receptionist in Italian.

Tour bus left La Spezia at 11 am and soon we were in the snow-covered mountains. Snow everywhere, piled high. I napped for a spell, thinking about things and people. I longed for Mexican food at “Gilberto El Indio” and a carafe of margaritas. I wanted to take in a good baseball game with Julian, the new guy, and his kid, Nicky.

Then I was awoken by laughter. Turns out, ‘League of Gentlemen’ was on the DVD player and, as much as I love it, I still drifted back off to Dreamland. Just dreaming of Perfect Places and Perfect Times. Maybe a week in Mexico with a laptop, writing memoirs? A weekend near Barstow at Motel 6, with a guitar and a case of Creemore Springs? It was too much thinking and it kept waking me up. But as long as I was dreaming I knew I was safe.

So, at about 3 pm, we stopped for pizza. It was really good and one slice was the size of three! It was cheap as well. Got back in bus and read some more. Fell asleep for about 45 minutes and then awoke to a road sign that read: PORDENONE 11 KM. I figured that was about 7 miles and that we’d be to our hotel in ten minutes. This was a miserable failure on my part, as I didn’t take into account that this was a tiny village that sat just beneath (less than half a km away) a snow-capped mountain. Max asked for directions from a local. We took them and after ten minutes of driving in confusion, I suggested the novel idea of calling the hotel since Max was Italian. This was met with an angry “sshhhh!” look from a certain band member. With that, I closed my eyes and, low and behold, forty minutes later we found the hotel. Or they found the hotel, is more like it. I slept like a baby.

So we checked into this rinky-dink Italian Villa-something straight out of the ‘Godfather’ and go to our rooms. The floors are cement tile and I could hear the singer’s boots next door, up and down the room, up and down the hallway. I thought of changing my room. So, I sat down on the bed and looked to down the snow-capped mountains. The hotel had a bar and I imagined an escape. But these days, with lack of internet access (some of these villages make Milton Keynes look like NYC), I have taken to writing long had. Today being Friday, Irish Barry won’t have last week’s diaries typed till Sunday, the 14th of march. Unbeknownst to Freedomman, I am mailing him these notes for him to type up; I’m truly sorry but I have no other choice, Ed!

So I check the clock, 6:03 pm, march 12, 2004. Italy time. In Los Angeles, it’s 9:03 am. I turn the TV back on. Girdle commercials- Italy has loads of them. I think about the bar again. Why not? But the old Italian men at the bar are enjoying themselves, smoking cigars and drinking wine. So I think “Mmmhhh maybe I’ll only sit at the table?”. Then I hear the boots again. Stomp, stomp, stomp and more stomp. I look over at Chapple and he has fallen asleep with his leather jacket over his head. I flick the telly off and head to the bar. This hotel is called “Albergo Borghese”. When I arrive (I literally had to walk only ten paces), there is an old woman knitting a blanket and a bartender tending bar, as most bartenders do (with the fine exception of Premier Lodge Bars, where the tenders may as well be dead); and so I ask for a Beck’s and he obliges with pride and accuracy. A “Hacker-Pschorr” half-pint mug accompanies my beer and so, for all intent and purpose, I am “in business” as the man says. Now, three sips into my delicious beer, a man (old man) walks in with a ugly black terrier. The dog looks old and barks right at me. I show him a smile and he comes over and rubs against my legs; I’d just made my first friend in Italy.

Five minutes into this beer, the old man, the old woman, blanket and dog leave the bar JUST AS Dave Chapple walks in. It was the boots that got him. I knew it. I then txted Bent, inquiring about dinner/soundcheck time/ink pens. (See, Ben loses pens every day… this would torture the employment teacher on “League of Gentlemen”!!!). Around that time the tender brought us over a bowl of cheese puffs. It was now 6:30 and the sun was well defeated by the big, cold, snow-capped mountain. I had another sip. This beer was special.

Flash to 7 pm. Everyone (sans singer) rides over to soundcheck. Club is quaint but chilly. Ant starts setting up and then we finally soundchecked. Soundcheck was great. We then worked on a secret song. Then, we made sandwiches. Then the DJ played Neil Young’s “Closing Time”.

Mike Randle


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