logo the freedom man

Mike Randle


Day 43 Day Off In Florence
March 18, 2004

‘Breakfast downstairs’ was all I heard and it was from Chapple’s mouth. I couldn’t open my eyes and my head was throbbing. I went downstairs and said ‘Succo di frutta, per favore’ and the fruit juice arrived. I felt a little better but my head begged to differ. Came back up-stairs and washed-up. It was now about noon when Chapple, Daddyo and I went into Florence city centre to walk around, shop and generally listen to all the American tourists talking and laughing (thousands of them!)

Rusty, Kose, Troels and Bent drove the bus (and the extra car) to France for tonight; tomorrow they’ll be in Dover. Around 2pm, Chapple, Daddyo and I found a Mexican eatery (‘El Taco’) near town square. We ordered three burritos and chased them with beer. After that we crossed the street to an internet café that was a rip-off at one euro for 10 mins, but I checked some stuff. Didn’t get to read Barry’s diary but I am looking forward to it. I did read a personal email that made me sad, but it’s no point going into it. When you travel life gets very odd and time takes on a new meaning. Someone may have a problem with you, and you may want to solve it but, on the road, you are powerless to do much of anything. It could be your credit cards or your bank or your family or your girlfriend, you can sometimes only put your seat back a little more and try to sleep, as the bus rolls by people you will never know, just faces you see through the window. They will never know your problems, or you theirs. And you are both better for it.

So, after the internet I had to use the toilet, we finally found the public toilets and it was 0.60 euros to use it. Daddyo and Chapple said they could wait, I couldn’t, I had to wee really bad! Also, ahem, had that ‘other business’ to do on the toilet but I was confident I could wait till I was back at the hotel. So I paid the dosh and the stalls were all private, super clean and very nice indeed. I looked at my ticket and thought to myself, ‘I may as well get my money’s worth…’

I know that was a tacky story, but things change when you travel like we do. Today was exactly six weeks we’ve been on tour, we’ve played 27 shows in 42 days and travelled over 10,000 miles, it gets to you, it certainly gets to me. Of course, I love it! But it’s what I do, when I was in High School, this is what I day-dreamed about, I wanted to be on stage and have roadies, make a living at it and sign autographs and stuff. And then you get that and then you forget you ever wanted it. I try to always remember why I got in this business and, sappy as it sounds, it really is true; it’s cause I like people and I like music and I like to travel. If you don’t like at least 2 out of those 3, you aint going to be very happy. And, so these are thoughts that swirl around my head sometimes. And the bus got us back to the hotel at 5.30. Chapple took a nap; I took an extremely relaxing bubble bath that clocked in around 30 mins. Afterwards I lay down on my bed, all relaxed and towel-wrapped and dozed off myself. A deep nap that felt like hours but was only about 20 minutes was grounded to a violent halt by the phone ringing. I was dizzy and half loopy but managed a ‘Hello!’ Then she apologised for waking me. I had trouble recognising the voice, ‘Who is this?’ I asked, ‘It’s Natalie’, said the woman on the other end. Then it hit me; I hadn’t heard Natalie’s voice in months! I asked her how she was doing. I wished her well and said I’d see her in two weeks in Madrid. I then woke Chapple up and told him his wife was on the line. As he chatted away I returned to my sleep and the various dreams that seem to occupy my mind on a regular basis. It was 6.15pm and at 7.30 the Singer was taking us all out to a nice restaurant. The pillow felt like soft grass as I dreamt the next hour away.

We taxi’d over to city centre and found the restaurant of choice, ‘Latina’, but it was really packed so we made our way to another one that Jane was familiar with, that was really good. Seemed like nothing but Americans in the eateries, on the streets, on my mind. After the delicious dinner (I kicked myself for not having the grilled red snapper) we sent the Singer off in a taxi back to the hotel, which Chapple, Daddyo, Glenn, Jane and I hit an Irish pub that was run by two Irish people even and, guess what? All Americans drinking pints inside, watching NCCA basketball! We serviced 2 pints of lager each (Jane had only one) before heading back to the hotel, as it was pushing 12.30am. But there was no sleeping due to about forty teenage girls who were staying on our floor and causing about as much noise as one could imagine, slamming doors, screaming in the hallway, banging walls. This went on till 2.30am. I was grumpy so I called the night porter. He informed me that forty four boys were on their way up as well! Then he apologised. I hung up and thought about sticking tissue in my ears. Then I voted against it. They were young and only trying to enjoy their youth, I told myself, leave ‘em alone! And, with that, I lay back down and reminisced about how my Granpa used to smoke meats for 24 hours. He was so dedicated and he learned it from his father. I tried to explain that story to Julian but all he wanted to do was make mud pies, someday he would understand, I figured, at some point we all do.

Mike Randle


Click on a pick to go to other Diaries