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The Gerald Bostock Diaries

Latest news from the lyric writer of the original “Thick as a Brick.”

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Well, back to Blighty and the festivities of the Queenly sort. Big three days of public holiday as Royalists and Republicans alike shared in the national Jubilee celebrations and were, for a moment, proud to be British. All went off with formal aplomb and raucous street charm in equal measure.

Reflecting on the last fortnight, I think that my first trip as tour manager went rather well, on the whole. Sights to see, things to learn and new friends a-plenty.

Tom Lynch, for instance, is decent man. Ruddy, full of bluster but a contemplative, solitary figure on occasion.

I think that’s what I rather like about these people: they all have the ability to be gregarious and supportive for several hours in the working day and then surrender to that innate sense of just when to turn off and seek the privacy so necessary to good mental and spiritual health. Whether sloping off to the dark and sometimes dirty seclusion of dressing room, the hastily erected private space of a quiet backstage corner or even back for a quiet spell in the tour bus.

Anderson, himself, is a master of this art. Seldom seen except during soundcheck and the actual concert, he remains in isolation in his dressing room – usually one as close to the stage as possible since there are instruments to carry back and forth. He ventures as far as catering to peruse the humble offerings of the local caterers and choose a tasty morsel for his solitary delight back at his hotel room after the show. He doesn’t eat before the show as all the others do and so returns to dressing room alone. Dinner time is usually sharp at 18.00 hours – every talks here in military time – and as soon as soundcheck is over, the catering room is full within a few minutes. Sometimes with local crew too who sit in self-imposed segregation and are occasionally noisy, rude and behave like starved gannets gorging on a bucket of sardines.

There are usually some vegetarian options but they are either left untouched or, strangely, consumed quickly by the one or two veggie-eaters amongst the ensemble. Anderson has been known to express annoyance when the vegetarian option has vanished before he arrives on the scene. He eats meat sometimes but typically opts for fish and/or veg. Apparently, in days gone by, there were three or four strict vegetarians in the band or crew and they would recoil at the generous portions of heavy red meats and could be quite testy if meats were found to have contaminated the vegetables with a carelessly shared serving spoon. Understandable, perhaps but the occasional cause of impure thoughts and words.

The engaging young Ryan O’Donnell is finding his feat, both on and off stage, and settling in nicely. The audience seem to really like him and he has the theatrical skills to carry off a difficult task. Somewhere between acolyte and anderson’s younger self, he manages the trick of being his own man while mimicking the ancient master and taking on the odd vocal line or prancing step. He has some set pieces to sing on his own while Anderson plays the flute motifs and interludes and they trade story-line character in other parts. It certainly brings alive the parts of the arrangements of the original Thick album impossible to recreate without the extra stage presence of the new boy.

There was a definite mood-swing towards more relaxed and confident performance in the two short weeks I was tagging along with them. Having safely got the first UK tour behind them with its inevitable shaking-down period of technical and artistic evolution, there is now an odd mixture of comforting routine in the air which seem to allow (I don’t entirely understand these musicianly processes) for the more improvisational elements to shine and develop. A few little changes to the show are added each day or two and the detail sparkles.

I await the call to arms from someone on high – maybe Mr A himself – to announce the requirement or otherwise of my services for the next bout of touring. I am not, it seems, needed for the brief appearance in Italy this week when they are doing a festival TV appearance. But Iceland sounds fascinating. Never been there before so it might be a real treat. And then on to the Montreux Jazz Festival and some shows in the Czech Rep. And Austria.

The concert promoters usually provide a local tour manager or minder for the band and a technical Production Manager to work with the IA crew but having the savvy GB along might just smooth things further given my abundance of tact, oily charm and the wily stealth of the seasoned campaigner who needs to get things done and done NOW!

I wonder if I shall be asked to procure a tart or some evil-smelling drugs? Or gruesome porn for the tour bus? Apparently, these sorts of duties are not entirely uncommon for Rock Band Tour Managers but so far, no luck, in my case…. Maybe there will be surprises just around the corner but I fear that, if there are, they will be to organise a museum trip or entrance to a lofty medieval cathedral. Some rumour even went the rounds last week suggesting a fishing trip in Iceland. What next? A dominoes championship? Embroidery classes? Whale-watching? A visit to the Puffin Appreciation Society Annual Lunch Barbecue in Reykjavik? What ever happened to Rock and Roll? Eat whale meat, I say! Stab a dominoes opponent with an embroidery needle. Punch the lights out on a puffin.

But then, what can you expect from the quaint culture surrounding a tights-wearing old man who plays a flute in a Rock band?

Hey, ho. Better get the laundry done and take the wife out to a Sunday pub lunch. The Dirty Duck has a new supplier of fresh farmed donkey and it is exceedingly lean, succulent and truly scrumptious, ’tis said. The old bag will probably have the prawn cocktail as usual and after dithering for an hour choose the sirloin steak steak, well done, with a little English mustard on the side. B****cks.

Over and out.

GB signing off.