"Bryan, want to play a pub in Huntingdon?" Not really...
"Carrie, want to play a pub in Huntingdon?" Well, if you want me to... (and as Bryan won't). Yup, second choice I may be, but I do usually say 'yes'.
And I said yes as Penni had the gig, and a pub gig is hard work at the best of times and not much fun if you are solo unless you are a human juke box or have a whole array of technology that takes the thinking out of it. However, none of us are that kind of musician. We are, basically, acoustic and folk musicians, not pub singers. However, money was involved. Penni says yes, then grabs who she can to accompany her.
"aaaarggh... (cough, splutter)" on morning of gig ... "I've lost my voice...(croak) and ..."
Well no way I can do a pub gig on my own! So I said perhaps Shani could join us - between the three of us we could manage surely?
Shani arrives. "Guess what." I say. "You've got a gig tonight." No asking, just telling. I'm diplomatic like that.
So, that night, we all troop up to Huntingdon (in separate vehicles) and rendevouz at The George. A magnificent old hotel - lovely courtyard, old wooden staircase (outside) and gallery. Half-timbered, Tudor, oozing history. I enter to find Penni set up more or less in the doorway. You walk in, there's the main stairs to the upper ballroom on your right, the bar on your left, and on the right in the shadow of the stairs - sort of floating - Penni is setting up the PA. Here? Yes, here. Weird.
We set up - I have my stand up bass. Penni is a lot better than when I spoke to her earlier. She is croaky, but can sing. We do a few numbers. Whilst playing one my mobile goes off. I keep singing, keep playing and answer. I can see it's Shani and she can hear I'm playing so I ring off. At the next break between songs, I call her back - not far away now.
In the bar, watching us... well, ok, in the bar drinking and sometimes looking vaguely in our direction... are about six people. Shani arrives and sets up while we play. There's not a lot of space on our 'stage' - to my left is the entrance, to the right is the bottom of the stairs. It's a squeeze.
Shani gets all plugged in and we do a couple of songs she knows. She's never played with Penni, never even seen me play my stand up actually. It's odd. Complete mix of styles. Penni and I play folksy stuff, Shani and I play acoustic folk and rocky things, Shani, Penni and I play - er, well, mix it all up and add in electric guitar and you get an interesting and perfectly listenable sound.
We take a break. Nickie has eaten at the hotel. Now she feels ill. One young Taiwanese man is very enthusiastic about our music. "Play Neil Young? Heart of Gold?" Um, no, sorry.
That was pretty much how it was for the evening, a mixture. Sometimes Shani and I played, sometimes Penni and I, sometimes all three. We got through. The transient audience (most people were only there for an hour before moving on) were polite. There was a wedding upstairs - thump thump thump of the disco through the floor. "Can you turn it down?" The landlord asked US to turn down... noisy blinkin' folkies....
The end of the evening - not a very rewarding one (by the time we split the fee three ways I guess it covered petrol and a drink each at hotel prices), but fun none the less.
"Need you to sign the contract. What's the band called?" Oh, er... I made up on the spot 'The Silbury Wanderers'. No - I've no idea why.
Wend our separate ways home. Penni flagging - adrenalin not doing the job any more. A full, rich deep orange moon hangs low above the horizon. Amazing.
Penni phones me next day to say thanks. "We should have been called the 'Strays'" she says. And when she explains why I hoot with laughter. But I'm not saying why here. That's for me to know, and... well, it's for me to know.