2007 Tour Diary Part 5 posted 19th November 2007

'Welcome to Bournemouth - Cradle of Hypocrisy'

The Bournemouth Opera house is a nice old victorian venue, home to countless amateur productions of the Pirates of Penzance, and a thousand Pantomimes, or after tonight, 1001.

We played here a couple of months ago, the first band to play after a major refurbishment, with new seats, new decor, and a lovely brand new in house CCTV system. The new management, heady with power, were clearly very exited about their new toy. After catching Larry indulging himself on a flightcase halfway through the set they issued us with a snotty email and banned us from the venue. For life.

Yet strangely, here we are again, mounting the stage of the Bournemouth Opera House. What could explain this mysterious reprieve? I can't believe the prospect of selling £30,000 worth of tickets can have tempted them to drop their civic - minded principals...

I get chatting to a couple of Alabama 3 fans in a bar just before the gig; like many of our fans, they’re male, bald and working in the field of drug rehabilitation. And like most of the drugs workers I’ve met in my life, they’re garrulous, good-natured chaps with excellent gear.

Job done, me and Stevie Nicked hail a cab and head for some place called the Camel Bar. It's a Friday night much like that in any upwardly mobile seaside town, teaming with hysterical Media Studies undergraduates and predatory State Registered Nurses. Queuing outside the bar, I notice there are flocks of short - skirted Thai females stalking the streets; there's dozens of them. Giggling, shrieking, chattering like tiny birds, giving it some. Where have they come from? Who sent them? And why are they all wearing gold Prada stilleto's? It's like a scene from Bladerunner, redirected by Mike Leigh. Is there some kind of black market trade route operating from Bangkok via this ostensibly gentile seaside resort? I try and flag one of the asian tigresses down... Is this town, I want to know, being secretly run by a cabal of oriental black marketeers? She brushes me off with a kiss of her teeth and an imperious wave of her hand.

It's an old, familiar feeling.

We enter the club, which is done out all faux - Moroccan, with carpets on the wall and wallpaper on the floor and cheap Hookahs that you cant get a decent suck out of ( Ooh No, missus, stop it....). The Place is sponsored by Camel cigarettes, tho you’re not allowed to have a fag inside. It's trying to be exotic, but the music blows any hint of eastern promise the place is trying to achieve. It's truly awful. They're playing the Final Countdown, T' Pau and I think at one point 'Shaddapayaface' by Joe Dolche.

I know what's going on here. The market research cyborgs at Camel Inc. have worked out on a computer that the demographic for their bars mainly consists of 37 year old couples in the C1/C2 social bracket, so they've decided to play all the shit songs these bastards heard while they were getting their first hand job at the school disco, in the hope of encouraging them in their addiction to the over-priced, carcinogenic sedatives they're punting. It's Hegemony in action, kids... And speaking as a 37 year old chain smoker in the C1/C2 social bracket, having to listen to this crap was torturous enough first time round, but being made to listen to it again 25 years later in a cynical attempt to induce a nostalgic reaction in me while cultivating pre-cancerous nodes in my esophagus is just cruel.

I retreat to the gents in order to powder my nose. I need to spend a little time on my own in the toilet with a very small envelope, so I can delude myself into thinking my situation is more interesting than it actually is.

I'm just at the point of sticking the queen’s head up my nostril when there's an almighty bang on the door. My training kicks in immediately. I flush the toilet, yank down my strides, park my arse on the bowl and start whistling, all innocent, like. (It was 'The Final Countdown’, I think). Three satin jacketed meatheads burst in...

'Oh my God' I protest "What is the meaning of this outrageous intrusion? Can't a chap have a quiet dump without such a traduction of his civil liberties?!'

Bristling with threatening glee, they point to a small rectangular mirror on the ceiling. Oh, very clever.

'What’s that on your finger?'

I'm caught white-handed, If you will.

Outside the club, in the cold harsh streets of Bournemouth, Steve gallantly tries to reason with the bouncers. The manager of the club, who is dressed like John Travolta and looks like John Parrot, appears. There's nothing he can do; 'directives from the council'. He actually apologises, which is very decent of him, but I’m still bitter.

'Don't worry about it. Its not the first time I’ve been thrown out of a shit club with shit music for taking shit drugs.'

He looks a little hurt. He says he'd rather play Deep House, but the sponsors wont let him.

What is it with this town? Why has George Orwell's Dystopian nightmare been transposed onto a quiet seaside town where Sergeant Majors go to retire? I'm telling you, some weird sociological experiment is being conducted here, directed by the council, funded by tobacco conglomerates, masterminded by a cartel of profiteering Asiatic scientologists.

I'm not entirely sure this is a joke.

Next day, I go on Google searching for clues as to the identity of the sinister social engineers of Bournemouth. Turns out the council is 80% Tory (surprise!). So if you ever wonder what life might be like under a conservative administration, I suggest you go out on a Friday night in Poormouth. Then I suggest you procure some depleted Uranium, and leave it in the Gents at the Town Hall. 

(c) Orlando Harrison 2007