Monday, July 26, 2004

I Dream of Ashley




At the moment my subconcious is providing me with night after night of dreams starring my friends and last night was Ashley Slater's turn.

Ashley was doing a gig with A. N. Otherbloke, both playing brass, he on trombone, bloke on soprano sax. Ash was in a small hall, maybe a large room, Victorian, and in need of repair, somewhere seemingly in North London, but with a twist, not quite the London I inhabit. The stage was badly illuminated but bright, just one directional light rather low, throwing angular shadows. There was too little room to stand up and play with any ease. Despite this Ashley was playing majestically and without regard to the disbelief of the audience. He was not just playing the bone - he was singing, moving and playing, and speaking beat lyrics.

I was down the front involved in some way, debating in my mind whether to join in with the mad gorgeous improvisations. At the side of the stage the hall was in such a state that I could exit the building there. Outside it was dusk and I could see down the side of the hill, streets, houses, the city just lighting up. I found an old light-blue case and inside it a very thin metal tuba. I took the tuba out of it's case, wondering if I should play it. It was like a 50s vespa made of tin, with valves, some canvas attachments, a little dented. I decided to sit astride it and started running with my toes cartoon-style to use it as a scooter. it was fantastically effective - I went really fast with very little effort and zoomed in to the performance rather spectacularly and then zoomed out again and off up the road.

The road I was on was a long straight multi-laned slow up hill, like the Holloway Road. There was some quiet Sunday traffic, but I totally ignored it, along with the traffic lights and road junctions, knowing that since I was in fact riding a musical instrument they really didn't apply to me. In a matter of a couple of minutes I had gone a couple of miles up to a place that looked like a bit like Highgate, a pre-North Circular kind of affair. On my way up I heard a radio broadcast coming out of shop, in which a journalist which was decribing the gig I had left behind - his smug review was saying that it was anachronistic and boring. I thought to myself, that's really not true, even though it is crazy, it's a lot of fun and actually rather good.

I was exhilarated, having fun, the evening air was cool and pleasant and recent rain made the road surface slick. I was a little anxious that the tuba would collapse and so I stopped to adjust it and my seating. Some guy came over to chat about my incredible vehicle but I didn't stop long, just did a U-turn and zoomed on my toes back down the long gentle hill to the venue.

When I got there the gig was over and Ashley was decorating the walls by pouring bright paint over the backstage wall so that the place would be more wacky and colourful for the next gig. Ashley seemed very calm and satisfied with the way everything had gone.

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