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Wednesday 27 July 2016

Touring with HAWKWIND. Post 12. Bowie, Space Cadet Parties and the Return Home.

Looking towards the stage at Inglewood Forum.
Simon and I met up again at the immense Inglewood Forum in the seats as written on our tickets. At first I was disappointed we were not down at the front but, in fact, from where we were, back a few rows and slightly to the left of the stage, we had a really good and uninterrupted view of the show. I can't remember a support band, perhaps we had arrived too late for that, but David Bowie and his band were absolutely mind-blowing. Carlos Alomar, on rhythm guitar, alongside Dennis and George on drums and bass, were the backbone of the band, ensuring that whatever the groove was, it was there in your face. Simon, on violin and Adrian, on lead guitar, provided any embellishments, and the two keyboard players rounded out the sound perfectly. Bowie is a powerful performer and, in his smart modern outfit, he held the eye as he delivered the amazing songs from his latest album plus a few older favourites. His song, Heroes, has been a firm favourite of mine ever since.
Bowie on the neon light set.
And the set was totally novel: no colours, just black and the white of long neon lights placed side by side across the stage. Definitely one of the top three concerts I have seen live in my life.
Now my memories of the rest of our time in California are a bit vague: I can't remember how many more days we hung around in LA before heading for home. But there were several more clear memories which I can add.
Firstly, we were invited to a party, somewhere near Huntingdon Beach. It was in a big one-storey house in a big garden with a huge lounge into which we were invited then left to our own devices. Jill and a few of her space cadet friends were also there and we ensconced ourselves in some big sofas around a coffee table and near a big chimney with a smouldering log fire. It became clear that we were some sort of 'conversation piece' to be pointed out, chatted about and then ignored. We were 'English rock musicians' to be shown off, questioned, wowed about but then nothing. The girls went off to get tequila sunrises all round and we rolled a joint.
Now most of the people there looked pretty straight with fairly short hair and wearing polo shirts with expensive looking jeans and moccasins and Jill explained that they were all young professional people like lawyers, doctors and university professors. None of them seemed interested in smoking dope, that was made clear, but when I went to the large kitchen to get drinks refills, it became clear
Snorting in a big way.
why: people were snorting coke off the long granite work surface, lines of the white powder all along it. I grabbed a couple of lines myself and just got big smiles when I did so. And it was top stuff again. One of the reasons why I never bought coke back home in England and later in France is because it could not come anywhere near to this standard, having been cut to pieces. Obviously, these professional people could get hold of the real deal: they had the money to pay for it and were well-connected.
Later the same night, or probably early morning, we found ourselves in a small apartment also in Huntingdon Beach that belonged to one of the girls. Now I had also had some pills off one of the girls and was totally wired, but everyone of the party was slowly crashing out having swallowed some mandies which I had refused, not liking downers. Jill and I had the bed with another person sharing it too and there were three or four girls lying on cushions on the floor. Jill had stripped off completely and was cuddling me but also making it clear things could go no further. So, I went round the room and had a cuddle with all of them as they were half awake, but I was still buzzing.
Donkey pumps at the beach
Finally, I decided to go out for a walk and found the beach, a beach with donkey pumps pumping up oil dotted around. The sun was just below the horizon so daybreak was about to happen and somehow I finally fell asleep and woke up with the sun right overhead and burning. I jumped to my feet and headed back to the apartment, walking into loads of breakfast-making activity. But as everyone looked at me they burst into laughter which I could not understand. Jill walked me to the bathroom and got me to look in a mirror: I was really burnt on my face and arms but only on one side. I must have been lying on my side, so only half of me had got the sun. It looked really weird and hurt. Luckily there was some calamine in the bathroom cupboard which calmed the pain somewhat but I carried this two-tone face for quite a few weeks.
Then we were invited round to another of the space cadet's homes, very much low-level living, just big cushions to sit on, low coffee tables, tapestries on the walls and, of course, loud music. Jill asked me if I had ever tried a water bed and, of course, I had to say no, so, after a joint and some more little pills we had to get it on on this contraption and that was an experience to remember. Then Jill said that her friend, very pretty but very flat-chested, wanted to come and join me and she introduced me to some new sorts of bedroom behaviour which was in fact my last indulgence of that nature.
We went round to Jill's and she asked me what sort of things my family would like me to bring them back as presents. I suggested jeans and a couple of pretty tops for my wife, robots and StarWars figures for my sons and she went out to shop leaving me to have breakfast with her husband who was a really nice guy. But I couldn't get out of my head the question, "Does he know I've been sleeping with his wife?" Jill did a really good job and not only got the presents but got them wrapped too and bought me another bag to carry them all in!!
The now-defunct, Indian Airlines.
I'd been in touch with Simon by phone and we'd agreed it was time to get home and the nice girl in the office had got us booked on a flight home for the next day. All the space cadets were around to wave me goodbye when I set off back to Beverly Hills to pick up Simon. I drove us to LAX where we stopped right in front of the main entrance, got our stuff out of the car and left it there. Simon was pleased because he felt he was off smack (replaced by coke and mandrax). I had managed to phone my long-suffering wife to tell her what flight I was on and that I would be home tomorrow and needing to be picked up at Taunton Station, my first call for more than a week.
Now we were flying with Indian Airlines and there was a funny event just before take-off. Rather at the last minute, a large Indian family had boarded the plane and then, just as the steward was about to close the doors, the man of the group ran up the passageway and fled down the steps with his party wailing and screaming as he disappeared. Just afterwards the pilot came round to reassure all us other passengers that we would only be delayed a little while and that Mr Patel had suddenly decided he didn't care to return to India. Now this pilot was a tiny, rotund gentleman with a huge moustache and a turban and, quite frankly did not inspire confidence. And as we bumped and swerved up the runway to take off, I knew the landing could be rough. I wanted to sleep through it and I did. The next thing I knew was being shaken awake by Simon telling me we had landed at Heathrow.
Back to normality....Entering Taunton Station.
We hugged each other goodbye outside the terminal and I never saw him again. He had grabbed a cab but for me it was a coach into Victoria then the tube to Paddington where I bought my ticket and phoned my wife to say what time my train would get into Taunton. I was penniless and very hungry. I had bounced my last cheque to get my rail ticket. I was back to reality with a big bump and couldn't imagine what was going to happen next, where my life was going to go now. Would my wife see through my veneer of faithfulness? Would my two young boys recognise me....I'd been away for 7 weeks after all? Would I be satisfied back in sleepy North Devon? And would I ever want to go through all that again?

TO BE CONTINUED............POSTSCRIPT. Some aftershocks, explanations and decisions.                                      

Tuesday 26 July 2016

Touring With HAWKWIND Post 11. The tour stops but the music continues.

So, there we were, Simon King and me, driving out of San Francisco and looking for Route One, the road that follows the Californian Coast down to LA and beyond. I did the same drive about a dozen years later with my wife, on a business trip of a totally different nature, industrial espionage..but that's a different story. Simon preferred if I drove and so did I: I've always loved driving, particularly on new roads to new destinations. We found a good rock station on the car radio, chatted and got to know each other a bit better and decided to head for Carmel, a small town on the coast famous for having Clint Eastwood as mayor for a few years.
The beach at Carmel.
We pulled over at a truck stop for a burger and stopped a couple of times just to look at the mammoth waves breaking on the cliffs and all the sea birds swooping and meowing as they fished the plentiful ocean. And as evening began to fall, we hit the small, rustic town and crawled along the Main Street looking for something, somewhere where we might be able to get a free bed for the night. We heard the sounds of a rock band playing live and parked up in front of a big bar with tables inside and out and quite a big crowd of young hippy-looking people. Just perfect except for one thing. Simon was trying to keep away from smack and I was meant to be helping on this one. I did what needed to be done, got out, went up to some heads sitting drinking beers and said hi to them. They might have thought I was a bit weird at first, and probably put it down to me being British, but I explained we were members of a British band who'd just finished touring the States and were driving around trying to avoid smack before we flew back home. They gave me big smiles and told me that this was dope country. Nobody did hard drugs out here but if we wanted some good smoke.....
I gave Simon the thumbs up and he joined us and we had made some new friends, perhaps a little disappointed when they heard which band we were with, only one of them thought he had heard of us. We moved inside when the air got too cool and could smell pot being smoked quite openly. We moved to a big table near the band and were joined by a couple of girls and the word obviously
A view of Carmel rusticity
got around and we were being bought drinks, dinner and were given a nice big bag of local greenery. The band, like most American bands, were very professional and had more gear than Hawkwind even though they were only a small town covers band, playing the songs of local favourites, the Eagles, Poco, CSNandY and so on. They finished playing at midnight and everyone started leaving.
Now several people had offered us beds for the night but we went with the two girls only to discover that one of them had a man (and two young children) at home. You win some, you lose some. But, the bed wasn't the cleanest and I got the feeling later that this was where I picked up something a bit nasty.
The next day, after some hours more of incredible ocean views as we went past the famous Big Sur and later saw the infamous Hearst Castle up high on a hill, we reached the outskirts of LA, Santa Monica to be precise. Both of us wanted to make phone calls so we pulled over into a service station to fill up the tank, buy some cold drinks and make our calls. Simon called Simon House first to arrange to meet up with him. I wondered if this might not be dangerous on the smack issue but Simon told me that it was the white marching powder (coke) that was the drug of choice with all the Bowie band. The other Simon was expecting us at his bungalow attached the the Beverley Hills Hilton.
Cool. Then I phoned Jill and she said she would meet me outside the hotel at about eleven that night and that I could sleep at her place. Everything organised.
We followed our noses to Beverley Hills, stopped at a drive-in and had tacos and some other Mexican stuff, then found the hotel by asking and what a place it was!! We got in without question when we said we were friends of the Bowie band, mainly because of our rock band look and our English accents, and were directed to one of a series of big bungalows dotted around the park-like grounds. I parked up and we knocked on the door and a deep voice asked who it was. When we announced ourselves the voice said,"Who the heck are you boys?" and when we replied that we were from Simon's old band, the voice let us in and gave us a big toothy smile."Oh, you be from that Space Rock band Hawk-something, aint that the truth!!" he said,"You sure look like that sort of thing, just like our Simon there."
So suddenly, there we were in this roomy lounge with most of the Bowie band sitting around on armchairs surrounding a wide coffee table with the biggest pile of coke I have ever seen in my life, a hundred times bigger. There was George Murray (bass player), Dennis Davis (drums, who had answered the door), Adrian Belew (guitarist) and another white guy who was never introduced and never said a word. They were talking about how they had got some of the sounds from the album into the live show and the difficulties involved. I particularly remember Dennis explaining how he had managed to get the reversed cymbal sound on stage, complete with whoops from George: these two Afro-Americans were certainly full of joy and exuberance, possibly helped by the coke which they suggested we got stuck into. After a bit, someone told us that Simon was in one of the bedrooms with his chick and that we could disturb them at our pleasure. After a bit, he did appear, wrapped in a sheet, and gave us both tickets for tomorrow night's show at the Inglewood Forum, a huge indoor stadium, tickets marked 'Special Guests'. He also suggested I go in and see his lady, telling me she'd been looking forward to seeing me again. This was taking me into new territory so I didn't say anything, pretending not to have heard, asking Adrian how the tour was going as a diversion.
DENNIS DAVIS, Bowie's drummer
He then suddenly said he had to go and when he went out this girl came in with a very expensive camera and started taking photos till Dennis grabbed it off her and asked her who had invited her to do that. That situation then got out of hand as the camera was passed round and we all took photos of her, suggesting that the photos could be sexier if she stripped off. The girl was getting quite flustered and I thought I wanted to get out of there. I asked Simon what he was doing and he said he was going to crash there and we agreed to meet at the show tomorrow night.
I drove out the entrance, spotted Jill and she directed me to her place out in the valley where she cooked me a lovely supper and we spent a very friendly and comfortable night.

TO BE CONTINUED............Bowie gig, more partying and getting half burnt.

Monday 25 July 2016

Touring with HAWKWIND. Post 10. San Francisco Events.

Chatting with bass player, Adrian Shaw, over the last couple of days, he's amazed at how much I can remember of the tour but he did correct me about something I said about him and SIMON KING, the drummer. I said that they didn't get on at one point and he can't remember any problem between the two of them. I think I must have misread an occasion when they were pretending not to get on but they were in fact imitating the Dave Brock/Bob Calvert relationship which was very dodgy at this time to say the least. So I apologise for that unintentional error.

My memories of San Francisco are many and various and I can't remember in which order they happened. The gigs at the Old Waldorf, owned by Bill Graham, I can hardly remember except that it was a rather cold place to play and that we played two gigs on each of the days we played there. Round the gigs we seemed to do quite a lot.
Dave was being very friendly and invited me and Simon King to go out of town with him to visit some Hell's Angels. They seemed a friendly bunch at home, out of their standard uniform. They were obviously bootleggers in quite a big way and had boxes of albums they had created from bootleg tapes. We were invited to choose a few each. I was sifting through the boxes with the others and found a bootleg of Genesis live. a group I rather liked at the time. When I pulled it out the box, Dave said to me,"No more of that. You already play too many fancy chords. We don't want to end up sounding like them."
Simon took me aside in the garden and said,"What can I do? One of those guys has just asked me to sleep with his wife so he can take some photos! What if he changes his mind half way through and decides to kick the shit out of me." So I told him to give some excuse like he'd picked up a bad dose of crabs and wasn't clear yet. This was ironic in view of later events. The whole visit was a bit bizarre with Dave off having serious chats with the guy whose house it was who was obviously 'the man'.
Sylvie, Daves's wife flew in that evening to join him for the end of the tour and a short holiday afterwards. Now I knew Sylvie and, from what Dave had said, she had seen quite a lot of my wife while we had been away with his son Pascoe being the same age as my youngest, Nat. They only lived about 4 miles from us in remotest North Devon. So perhaps that is why he chose me to come out on a trip with the two of them, going over the Golden Gate bridge and to visit some people they knew out in Marin County. He called me to his room quite early, while Sylvie was in the shower, to tell me where we were going. He was quickly taking a couple of lines of coke and handed me the paper wrap it had been in and told me to chew it.
So we set off, Dave obviously right out there, driving to perfection with his eyes out on stalks, Syvlie trying to make a little conversation and me going through the strongest coke hit I had ever had as I slowly chewed through this rather large wrap of paper. We shot over the Golden Gate and drove through this countryfied area known as Marin County, the place of choice for freaks with some cash. We stopped at this timber bungalow in a pleasant suburban village where we were to visit Simon House in his girlfriend's house. He wasn't in though: he was off rehearsing with the David Bowie band somewhere.
A joint was rolled, some sort of perfumed tea served with little wholemeal cakes and I detected interest in me from the lady of the house. This was confirmed when I asked for the loo and she showed me, showing me the power shower at the same time and saying I could enjoy a shower if I wanted to with a flirty look. Now she was very attractive but Sylvie Brock was here and she was a friend of my wife. When Dave and Sylvie got up to leave, the lady suggested outright that I stay there and she would get me back into town in time for the gig.
The horrible thing is I can't remember what I did, I was too out of it at the time. I do remember stopping off at the park just before the Golden Gate bridge and looking at the incredible views as the sun fell into the Pacific. And I do remember hanging out with this lady (name forgotten) before and after playing. Anyhow, she will re-appear in a later chapter.
Another memory I had was of us all going to eat in a Korean restaurant, eating food that was cooked on hot stones in the middle of the table, totally delicious and then being told we all had to go back to the hotel together, to be guided around a black neighbourhood where we could invite trouble. Our hotel was not a Holiday Inn: it was a Japanese hotel and this made a big change. For one thing, in the bathroom there was what we call a slipper bath, a bath you sit in rather than lie in because it is shaped like a chair. There was a booklet of instructions on how to use the bath. I can't remember them now but I know it made having a bath a lot more interesting than a normal one.
Now someone told me that at this gig, well 4 gigs, 2 a day, we were supporting Foreigner, a group on the up and up, but I haven't been able to find any truth about the matter. Whatever, the afternoon gigs were poorly attended and wouldn't have helped Dave's mood which had got rather crotchety. After the drive out into the country, I didn't see him much except at the actual shows. But he did come to see me in my room once to ask me something. We had received lots of presents, as you do, and Dave had quite a few of these in his hotel room, including a couple of framed paintings of the group and a few fluffy toys. Dave told me he was wondering how best to get these home to the UK and asked me if I could carry a couple with me. Given the experience with my synthesiser on the way out, I didn't want to be carrying probably large amounts of coke in souvenirs we had picked up in the States. I was determined to stay out of prison, particularly American prisons. I'd seen them in the movies and they seemed to be hellish. And I was right to refuse as, allegedly, quite a large quantity of coke did find its way back to Brock Manor and in that way, at least someone made money out of this over-budget and less than brilliant tour. Rumour even had it that the tour had been organised in order to enable this transaction with the Hells Angels.
My final memory of the gigs was at the after gig party in the club where I ended up chatting with a load of guys who were involved with Greenpeace and were trialling a vessel that was going to be used for preventing whale hunting. We got into talking quite intensely about the whole issue and then
Inside the Old Waldorf.
I was invited to join them on the boat sailing down the coast to LA. That would be fun I thought until someone took me aside to point out that all the members of the crew were gay. Now, some of them would have been fine but all of them seemed perhaps a step too far, so I turned the opportunity down.
But San Francisco was the end of the tour, Phoenix and New Orleans having been dropped. I wasn't ready to go home at all and nor was Simon King. Ade had to rush home because his wife was expecting their baby, Dave was going somewhere with his wife and Bob was probably on a plane within minutes of coming off stage: he really hadn't enjoyed the tour at all.
But Simon King had a plan which he presented to me. Quite simply, he wanted to hang around but off the usual scenes, out in the sticks, in order to get off smack before returning to the UK. And his plan was simple : he knew a girl in the record company's office quite well. He'd get her to change our tickets home from fixed date to open so we could go home when we were ready to do it. Then he said, we would grab one of the big estate cars, set off for the airport and get lost on the way. And this is what we did, immediately heading for Route One which follows the coast all the way down to LA.

TO BE CONTINUED...........When the Music Stops?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Wednesday 20 July 2016

Touring with Hawkwind. Post 9. SPACE ROCK and SPACE CADETS and Davy Jones!!

All band members were told to be at the Rainbow for a special event: we were all invited to dinner with David Bowie!! Wow, I said and Wow again. I was a huge fan of Mr Jones so this was going to be an occasion and a half. We were all there on time for a change, sat around and waiting. Dave said that Dave was doing this by way of an apology for having nicked Simon House to play violin with his touring band and that I had better sit fairly close to him because he would want to meet the person who had filled the missing place in Hawkwind. The great man turned up just a few minutes late accompanied by Simon and two massive body guards who kept close by.
They keep any outsiders away from our group and Mexican food was ordered all round. After introductions, tour stories were exchanged a bit and then David asked me how the tour was going. I felt I should keep the conversation going by saying I thought we were born in the same hospital. 'Ah, Stony Park, Bromley," he replied. "I was going to be born there but finally my mum had me at home. But Peter was born there, Peter Frampton. So, you're a Bromley lad are you?" "More Beckenham," I replied," I came to your Folk Club at the Three Tuns a couple of times". " Ah the good old days," he laughed. Conversation over.
Of course, the most surprising thing about him was his size: he is quite a tiny man, about the same height as Johnny Lydon, a bit shorter than Lemmy, the same height as Eddy Van Halen who I'd met back in Milwaukee. And he seemed a bit shy all things considered. Then suddenly he was off with hand shakes all round: I caught up with his party a couple of weeks later, another story to come. Our status in the Rainbow definitely went up a notch after that meal. Bowie was the biggest star to eat there that month and we were his guests!! Even the Hispanic gang guarding the cars heard and gave us more respect.

On our first visit to The Starwood for our first sound check they had the big side doors open and we could see what a barn of a place it was, holding 800 max. Some salesmen turned up and gave Dave and Adrian wi-fi connections between there guitars and amps, the first time we had seen such things. They tried them out but didn't buy anything. The tour was already well over budget and there were already rumours that our per diems would be cut before the end. I was already struggling financially but help was at hand. 

I hung out with Adrian and Simon mostly and they had already warned me about Space Cadets, a particular band of girls to be found in California who were quite well off and were living well off the planet earth, and I met a few that afternoon who were offering me everything, drugs, food, drinks, more drugs. One girl gave me a few pills and said this will brighten up your day and, showing off really, I necked them immediately and the rest of the tour was never the same again.
To this day I'm not sure what they were: ten years later I would have said a mixture of speed and ecstasy. Whatever they were, I was flying.
I remember very little of the first night there, we played three or four nights, I can't remember. What I do remember is watching all of Nic Guilder's set the first night and thinking they were bloody good and later watching Detective for about two tunes and deciding they were rubbish, too prog rock. There were loads of bodies around the dressing rooms, lots of drinking going on and I returned to my hotel room with a gang of about half a dozen space cadets, including one bloke who just kept rolling splits and who had brought a ghetto blaster with him which played space rock or similar non-stop. The various girls were all over me but there was one in charge, quite a beautiful, full-figured blond called Jill. She gave me a BJ and told me she would look after me while I was in LA and if I came back. And she did. She gave me money, bought all the presents for me to take home to my wife and boys, made sure I ate something everyday and checked what drugs I was taking. From what I gathered, she'd been around the block a few times and provided a similar service for quite a few British musicians over the last few years.
But two of the other space cadets, both with long hair in plaits, one black hair, one brown, both slim and small-breasted, were always around and slipping me different pills without Jill seeing and they seemed to get stronger all the time, the girls and the pills. As the pill-taking increased, my appetite decreased until the only meal I was even attempting was breakfast. But Jill would make sure I at least drunk a carrot juice at lunchtime.
There were other drugs around. I know Simon was taking smack on a daily basis and there was usually some coke around. I wasn't into smack at all but quite liked coke but refused to buy it, it was too expensive for me. I could only afford freebies. And of course, there were other bands in the hotel which we would sometimes get into things with. Mahogany Rush were staying just down the hall and although some of their crew were very friendly, we didn't see much of the three band members more than saying hi in the lift. But one afternoon, when the space cadet crew were in my room, we ran out of rolling papers and the nearest place to buy some was a car ride away. So I said I knew where I could get some and wandered down the hall to Mahogany Rush's guitarist's room and knocked on the door. The door was answered after a few seconds by two naked nubile girls, think that Zeppelin cover or the Blind Faith cover. I mean these girls were young, 13, 14 at most. A voice from the bed told them to give me what I wanted, they did, smiled at me and then closed the door again.
The Buddy Miles band was also in the hotel and those guys were very cool, always gave you the nod but never spoke, were often in the bar but in a huddle round a corner table. But this was back then when in general white and black worlds were very different and there was little mixing or contact. What I did gather was that both these bands were not on tour: they were living in the hotel whilst working on an album, recording in one of LA's many top studios.
The Blockheads were touring like us though, using the hotel as a base for a few gigs they had in South California. And we did have some fun with them, mainly late at night, mainly when drunk. The height of our madness was a 'gunfight' using Chinese rockets, along our corridor until someone from the hotel management came up and asked us to stop, not because of the fireworks per se but because there were complaints about the noise we were making. But we were just continuing the long tradition of British bands behaving badly in this hotel, previous incumbents including The Who, Led
Zeppelin and The Stones, all of whom ran up bills of damage and destruction well above ours. On arrival Jeff Dexter had told us to keep damage to a strict minimum as we were already over-budget!!
Many years later, in LA on business with my wife, we stayed in a hotel about 100 yards distant from the Hyatt: I decided that the Hyatt was a risk as it was renown for bands staying there, so chose a quiet looking smaller place. Very soon we realised we had made a mistake as we had loud guitar music from one room just down the corridor, people, including females in very little clothing, moving between two or three neighbouring rooms, leaving the doors open and having loud conversations from room to room and then, to cap it all, rhythmic thumping on one of our walls as someone was getting into some very energetic sex. I went to the front desk to see if we could move and the manager said," Oh, I thought you all were in the rock business from your look, so I put you on the 'rock' side. I can move you to the other side if you'd prefer." So, I guess it's not just the Hyatt that is infested with rock bands misbehaving.
On the last night at the Starwood, I got into some trouble with some guys from the other support band after our set. We had been drinking heavily and it was a hot night so we were standing on the landing of the external fire escape, well up above the venue's car park.
There was an 'O' shaped  hole in the middle of a wall opposite and we decided to have a competition to see who could throw an empty beer bottle through that hole. Well, we never made it through the hole but we did land a lot of beer bottles, smashing as they landed in the car park. And this was met by furious shouting by a guy down there. Jill, who was there as well said, "Oh shit, it's a biker gang who run this car park." And she had the presence of mind to run down to the next landing where there was a pulley which allowed one to pull up the last half-storey of the fire escape, stopping the guy from coming up to get at us. He was mouthing up all sorts of threats and made it clear he'd clocked us and would get us when we attempted to leave as he swung a nasty looking crowbar around. I was too out of it to realise the danger but Jill organised the crew to hide me and smuggle me out as the biker and his cronies looked into every face to see if it was me.
A fitting end to LA. The Santa Monica gig was cancelled and we had to be up early for the drive up to San Francisco (Dave and Bob flew up.)
And a very nice drive it was. Good to see some countryside after 5 days in the city.

TO BE CONTINUED. Peace and love in the hippest city of the tour.

Monday 18 July 2016

Touring with Hawkwind. Post 8. Sunset Strip, the Rainbow Rooms and the Riot House.

We noticed two things on arrival at LAX, the main airport of Los Angeles. Firstly, the thick layer of smog that almost hid the city as we landed and, secondly, the heat that greeted us as we left the plane. After all the freezing weather we had encountered, this was a real treat. And, having arrived at the concrete and glass blockhouse that was the Continental Hyatt hotel on Sunset Strip, one of the first things we did was go up on the roof on the umpteenth floor where there was quite a large swimming pool. Few of us ventured in but we enjoying sunning ourselves on the transits around the pool. Looking down on the street below it was noticeable that there were very few pedestrians and those that were, were women of a certain style. Jeff Dexter said,"In LA, if you see a woman walking it's a whore, if it's a man, it's an Englishman."
The pool on the roof of the Continental Hyatt Hotel
Most of our rooms were on the 6th floor if I remember rightly, and, although I was sharing with Dennis again, he said he was off to stay with a friend of his up one of the vallies. My disappointment must have shone: a single room again!! I should perhaps point out at this point, that Dennis has had a successful career since leaving Hawkwind, in particular being very involved with the success of the group Muse. I'm not surprised because, outside of being a bit of a stuck up prick, he took his work very seriously and knew his stuff. In a similar vein, Jeff Dexter had been the man behind the success of the group America in the mid-seventies and it was this claim to fame that made him a bit know-it-all. At the same time, I need to apologise to all the crew who helped me a lot during the tour and with whom I got on very well: I'm afraid I can't remember any names at all although I seem to remember bumping into a couple of them in later years.
The first night, several of us set off by car for the Rainbow Bar and Grill, well known hang out of passing rock groups and where Lemmy (ex-Hawkwind bassist and leader of Motorhead) used to hang out when at home right up to his sad death early in 2016. The bouncers on the door took one look at us and let us in: we obviously smelt of rock band. We took a table in the dark downstairs, ordered drinks and food from quite glamorous waitresses (groupies) and settled down to look around and be looked at. That first night the only celebrities we saw were the very tall and thin Kim Fowley and his protégées, the Runaways. But we had a good night, a good laugh all in all.
The famous Rainbow Bar and Grill
Two things I should mention. The first was that when we came to park the car in a lot opposite the club, we paid a group of young Hispanics, a gang who took over the car park when the normal attendants went off shift early in the evening. Secondly, when crossing the street which was well crowded, a shot rang out and like lots of others, we turned round and walked towards where we thought the incident had happened. A couple of guys coming back the other way said to us, " It's nothing. A cop just shot a black guy coming out of a window." Doh!! As if nothing had happened. Unbelievable.
We got back to the hotel and headed for the bar where there were sounds of music. It was quite crowded and there were lots of English accents. It was the Blockheads, Ian Drury's band, who had taken over the house band's piano, bass and drums, added a guitar and some percussion and I seem to remember a sax at some point, and they were playing some really funky stuff. Apparently, Ian was staying in a different hotel with his lady, a smarter place, but the lads were having a great time here. We were mainly drinking Tequila Sunrises, the local favourite which is a nice long drink and goes well with the temperature.
The next day, after a late breakfast at the hotel diner, nothing much for me, toast and jam and a large coffee or two, Dave appeared and suggested we went to Disneyland, about 10 miles away down the freeway. On the way, we stopped off at a VD Clinic because Dave wanted to check he was free of any nasties (this was before AIDS so nothing was that nasty). This was mainly because his wife, Sylvie was flying in to join him in a few days time. He suggested I did the same but my wife wasn't arriving so I figured I'd leave that till the tour was actually over. When he said that they put something down inside your dick I thought, no that is not for me: I'll take my chances.
We hadn't realised it was Easter weekend or some sort of public holiday and the highways were really rammed, in spite of being about a dozen lanes wide. And then when we got to Disneyland, the queues were horrific, as were the entry prices, and it was boiling hot with no shade anywhere so we decided to give it a miss and go to a famous music store where Dave tried a couple of guitars, I watched a black guy playing some marvellous stuff and I tried yet again to get Dave interested in my lack of effects pedals. He just nodded and said that we must but did nothing.
The group DETECTIVE.....pretty poor.
I recently bumped into a recording of one of our gigs in LA at The Starwood, a mob owned club which held 800 and later in 78 became perhaps the biggest Punk club in LA. It's the first time I have listened to a whole gig with Hawkwind in which I was playing (outside of Sonic Assassins). I was immediately struck by the fact that the missing effects were clear right from the start where I would have used phasing on the 'violin' solo on the first number, and from then on. I think some people, particularly Bob Calvert and Dennis the sound engineer, expected me to reproduce the sounds on the original recordings, particularly as the new synth was state of the art, was polyphonic and had 4 memories for created sounds. But in fact, the pre-set sounds were very poor and 4 memories is a drop in the ocean, particularly when playing with a band like Hawkwind. I also noticed that Dennis, if he didn't like the sound I had found would sometimes drop me out of the mix altogether. Anyhow you can give it a listen at
Nic Guilder - good backing band
We were playing 4 nights here in The Starwood with an opening act, British/Canadian, Nic Guilder, who I found to be quite good and had a big hit with his song 'Hot Child In The City' that year, and top of the bill, Detective, an Anglo-American band with Tony Kaye of YES on keyboards. They were managed by the KISS management and great things were expected of them but they were pretty tedious and disbanded after a couple of years. I'm pleased to say that we pretty much blew them off the stage each night.
But I am jumping ahead. That night it was back to the Rainbow with Simon and Adrian where I found my way upstairs to the night club full of dancing people, lots of beautiful women and that is one thing California has a lot of. But as we will discover in the next chapter, most of them were Space Cadets. And if you don't know what I mean you will find out in the next chapter.

TO BE CONTINUED. Next time......Space Rock and Space Cadets.

Friday 15 July 2016

Touring with HAWKWIND. Post 7. BOSTON, Here we come....

I think all tours have a moment somewhere in the middle where things start to blur. The excitement of hitting the road is long gone, alcohol and drug consumption rises, band members fall out and there are some rotten gigs. And the next part of the tour began like that.
Philadelphia had been a great gig in a great venue but now we were driving back northwards to play at the SHOW PLACE in Dover, New Jersey, a small venue in a small town about 30 miles north-west of New York City. It was one of these one-storey bars with a car park surrounding it and I seem to remember topless waitresses; these days it is a topless bar. But, other than that, I can't remember a thing about the gig or the venue.
The Show Place these days.
It was about this time that questions about why we were touring became a subject of discussion. The band didn't have a new album out and the whole situation seemed to have been put together rather quickly and haphazardly. For example, the following gig was supposed to be in Belleville, Illinois, which would have been a hell of a drive westwards, and it really was not a surprise when that gig was cancelled. But, at around the same time we were told that the last 2 gigs of the tour, in Phoenix, Arizona, and New Orleans, had also been cancelled. This was because of poor ticket sales we were told but Jeff Dexter also said that the tour was running wildly over-budget and that the gigs had been cancelled because of the cost of the long distances involved. I was really disappointed because I truly had wanted to see those two cities.
Poster for the gig that never happened.
So, after this latest gig we were off to drive to Boston, a good party town we were informed by the old hands. And because of missing a gig, we were going to have an extra day there. Now, I had noticed in Dover, that we did have a small number of groupies that were following us around and we had given them the name of our hotel in Boston (another Holiday Inn) so they would be waiting for us there and tell the local girls too. The drive was different, through the forests and valleys of New England with its tidy small towns with historical backgrounds.
Now, I was driving when we hit the city and managed to get pulled across yet again by the cops, this time for illegal lane jumping. And yet again, they were friendly, forgiving me once they realised I was from faraway Europe and thus unaware of some of the rules of driving in the USA.
Yet again, I don't remember a lot about the actual gig although I think it was here that I was asked during the sound check to add my voice to the backing vocals. I sing in tune, am happier with higher notes than low ones and was willing to give it a try and I felt that my voice helped in the few places where an additional voice would enhance the song. I do remember after the gig, asking our sound man, the very superior Dennis Smith, how my backing vocals had gone. His reply was a real kick in the face as he said."I don't know, I thought it better to keep your mike turned off."
The gig venue in Boston.
However, I do remember one of the groupies I had been with before, being in our dressing room which led me to go and sit in with the support band to try and escape. I felt I was in a funny position with the band. Some of the time, Dave was being my mate and whisking me off for chats about the future or to see interesting things. Bob seemed to dislike me and was quite cold, if not rude, partly at least because he was unsure about Dave's idea of replacing Hawkwind with Sonic Assassins, an idea he felt could go wrong. And Adrian and Simon were friendly enough but at the same time could act superior and also sometimes fell out and I would be asked to pass on messages like, "Can you tell the drummer he's speeding up." Or, "Tell the bloody bass player he's off the beat'".
Coming back to Sonic Assassins, Dave phoned me in my room, I had a single room again, telling me that we had a radio interview to do together in his room. So I went along and there was this small guy with a huge tape-recorder who worked for one of Boston's biggest radio stations. Dave reminded me to emphasise Sonic Assassins through the interview which I did in so far as mentioning Harvey and Martin the bass player and drummer. But a lot of the questions I couldn't answer like, were we changing record labels, management, etc. I did my best but found it rather embarrassing.
We went out on the town. When I say we, I meant myself and some of the crew who I got on well with. Most of them had been on the Pink Floyd tour just before working with us and all had big debts to pay off due to cocaine. So they were trying to live cheaply, living off freebees and cheap alcohol rather than expensive drugs. And they'd been around and knew these city centres like the back of their hands.
Boston, the Dublin of the USA
So off we went to a great club. Loud music, lots of girls and some other English rock musicians, The Stranglers. It was interesting chatting with them. Their album, No More Heroes, was flying high in the charts all over the world but they were surviving on 25 pounds a week pay and relying on groupies to buy them drinks and other luxuries. They were a laugh but Jean-Jacques Burnel, their bassist, ended up getting us all checked out due to his lunatic and rather aggressive behaviour.
Back at the hotel, we had a night of fun and frolics with much movement from room to room all of which seemed full of sexual activity. I ended up with two rather funny sisters and Bob Calvert complained the next morning at breakfast about the noisy sex disturbing his beauty sleep in the room next door.
The next morning we were all excited at breakfast because we were finally leaving the cold weather behind to fly out to California, to the City of Angels,where we were to stay in the so-called, Riot House, the Continental Hyatt Hotel on Sunset Boulevard. How rock and roll was that!!

TO BE CONTINUED. Part 8. Riotous behaviour in the Riot House.

Sunday 10 July 2016

Touring with HAWKWIND. Part 6. Flying, Long Island and Philadelphia.

We were now back off to the north-east and caught a flight back up to New York. I had a great take off as someone snapped a popper under my nose just as we left the ground. Yes, we were really rolling now, except Bob who kept to himself. I was quite pleased about this because, having seem him manic, it was safer this way. You see the song Death Trap, which was first played by Sonic Assassins and in which I played a part in its arranging, was based on an episode from the autumn before. Bob took a quite fast car on a trial run, with Jenny, a nice lady from our North Devon crowd. He drove it into a tree, wrecked it, and Jenny ended up with a badly damaged neck. In the dispute with the car seller which followed, Bob went round to his place, totally manic and threatened him with a gun, thankfully only a starting pistol. He was very lucky to escape arrest and a prison sentence and, it was a good song.
We landed, loaded into a couple of station wagons and set off for Long island where we were to play at My Father's Place in Roslyn. Now, this was a leafy suburb, quite historic, on the north shore of Long Island, quite different from other places we had been in and the venue was quite famous. It only held 400 people but over the years everybody from Springsteen to U2 played there. I managed to get a single room again and prepared for a good night.
I had slowly been upping my alcohol intake which, didn't mean spending much. I had discovered the art of getting fans to buy me drinks and was going for spirits rather than beer. Equally, I was managing to grab a bottle of bourbon from our free drinks package in the dressing room. As my alcohol (and drug) intake increased, my phone calls home decreased from one a day when we were first away to one a week by now. I explained to my wife that calls from hotels cost a bomb and she actually sent me some money to help me out. I can't remember how she did this but I think she phoned the band management office and asked them to give me one of my week's pay in cash rather than putting it in the family bank account back home. What a nice lady!
The actual gigs were also becoming a bit of a blur too, merging into each other, though I do remember arguments about the set list with the record company guys wanting us to concentrate on the last album and the band generally wanting to play what felt right on the night.
Hells Angels turned up at this gig, like they had at the Bottom Line. We had a lot of biker fans and they were sometimes quite scary people, not like bikers back in the UK. I remember in the dressing room at the Bottom Line. sharing a spliff with some Angels who were talking about how they threw a guy off the roof of a 4 storey building because he was from another gang or chapter. But here, they were more friendly-looking. After the gig, most the band were in discussions with such fans but a couple of us who had lined up groupies, grabbed one of the cars and set off back to the hotel in a white fairy land of frozen trees, rooftops and roads. I managed to do a huge skid with the car ending up facing in the other direction and then we decided I had to try and do it again. Fun and jinks in this middle class neighbourhood.
Breakfast was hard as I nursed a hangover and wished the girl I was with would shut up. In future, any such would not be invited to breakfast!! And, we had to hit the road to drive to Philadelphia where we would be staying just outside the centre. On the drive I remember this long discussion about a previous US tour when the band had had its lighting rig stolen from the truck it was in, a minor disaster. Then they had been offered a lighting rig for sale at a reasonable price and it turned out to be the same rig. But they had to have it. The burning issue was, how involved was Barney Bubbles who'd created and worked the rig? No-one could agree on his total innocence or vice versa.
We drove slowly down the turnpike (toll highway) to Philly and quickly found our hotel, another almost identical Holiday Inn with the usual electric shock you got when you put your key in the door due to the static from the poly-something carpets in the halls.
It'd become a habit for some of us to set out for the venues in one of the cars before we could be organised by Jeff Dexter, who by now was the subject of much of the banter and had been forced to back off from being too managerial, even with the crew. We got hold of a map of the city from the receptionist and drew a straight line from the hotel to Tower Theatre, our destination. I was driving and getting directions from whoever was holding the map. US city streets tend to be straight, mile after mile and you just get held up by red traffic lights and we were, at a crossroads in a crowded street where it suddenly registered that all the people on the street were black. And it quickly registered with them that we were white!! Teenagers started banging on our windows and the body of the car and we quickly locked all the doors. Some men then started yelling at us through the windows telling us to open up and some even started rocking the car. We could see a cop car parked up on the other side of the junction with 4 white cops watching what was happening but not moving. Then the lights changed and I put my foot down shooting off, clipping some of the men as I did so and we all laughed with relief and started joking as if we had not had our hearts pumping hard with fear.
Inside Tower Theatre
We got to the venue with no more incident and it was the best since Chicago. It seated just over 3000 people and was clean and cool, with proper dressing rooms backstage. We were the middle group on the bill with a group called Godz on first and headliner's playing after us, the bombastic ANGEL, a group sharing management with KISS and seemingly on the verge of being huge. Neither of these bands seemed to want to mix with us and they both had so many keyboards it was ridiculous. And getting ready the Angel's stage set, including a large angel's head, meant a long delay between us finishing and them starting. 
But it was a good gig for us. We had several people from the record company with us and they were saying we were going to blow everyone off the stage. I watched the Godz from the side of the stage and they were so pathetically ordinary, I knew we would be loads better. And we were, and we got a great reception and having left the stage the record company gave us all two lines of fantastic coke and we were back on again for an encore, and we didn't want to stop, and the crowd were going berserk, and I seem to remember the fire curtain being dropped to get us off. Absolutely brilliant!! I
was wired and having had a big glass of bourbon I went out front to watch Angel, being shepherded and protected by a very large, black bouncer with a contagious smile. The beginning of their act was quite spectacular and their light show was good but the music was too bombastic and I noted the keyboard player only touched 2 of his 7 keyboards.
Suddenly they were over, there was no encore and I was glad of the large and friendly bouncer as a crowd of people came towards me. I was off. 
I think most of us got totally ripped together that night and I also discovered for the first time that excessive alcohol and cocaine didn't lead to good sex. No comment.

TO BE CONTINUED. Part 7. More sex, drugs and rock and roll in Boston.

Saturday 9 July 2016

Touring with HAWKWIND. Part 5. Fun and Games in Cowboy Country.

Kansas City, Kansas. The Old West modernised a bit.
Whoever chose our Kansas City hotel, knew what they were doing. It was the ideal place to unwind and freshen up and by driving through the night we had got there in time to enjoy it for a few hours. To our surprise, certain other people were already there, having flown from Minneapolis, a way of letting people know who was in charge. Still, we didn't let that worry us and we spent the day swimming in the pool, playing table tennis and sitting in hot tubs, all this in the glass-protected and roofed outdoors, necessary because, although it was a little warmer down here rather than up north, it still was pretty cold and there was some snow residue to remind us.
When we got to the venue, we found that the dressing room was in fact normally a bar with pool tables which we spent time playing on. I can remember little about the gig which probably meant it went OK, as they all seemed to. I wasn't over-happy with my keyboard sounds as Simon had taken all the effects pedals except for a tape-echo box. So I had no flanger, phaser or chorus, all of which are quite important for Hawkwind-type keyboard sounds. I mentioned this to Dave who told me I could go and buy some more but I didn't have any money to do this. Now Dennis had told me that he recorded each gig off the sound desk and gave the tape to Dave, so I figured Dave would hear the keys and get reminded by the sound.
Anyhow, Dave suggested I rode in with himself and Bob to St Louis which was quite a short run. I seem to remember having a scary experience with a local sheriff in one small town we drove through, one of many. There was a stop light in the middle of town but when we pulled up at it, the sherif walked over to us and pointed at a small notice attached to the stop light which said,"Cars must stop 10 yards before this stop light". Now it was small print and definitely not-readable as a driver
Small town cop.
approached the light. Jeff was driving and he had the presence of mind to get out of the car (he was the smartest-dressed of us all), show his licence and slip the cop a fifty dollar bill inside it, whilst making a grovelling apology. Of course, the cop let us go and off we went at a very correct speed. Then Jeff told us the story that another British touring band, Foghat, had fallen into a similar trap, used to bump up town funds by fleecing people from out of town, particularly out of state. They had spent a couple of days lying about in the town jail until their manager turned up with enough cash to get them out.
Dave suddenly shouted, "Turn right here, into this car park. Shopping time." It was a Cowboy Store, a place for buying all the clobber associated with cowboys, local history and culture. Dave, Bob and Jeff all got stuck into examining various items of interest and everyone bought something, Dave getting himself some good cowboy boots. As usual, I had no money so I bought nothing at all.
Good cowboy clobber.
A bit further down the road, when I was driving, we needed to stop for gas, so I pulled into a small gas station. There was no-one around, so I wandered towards the small building which was part office and part garage. Just as I was getting there, a red-neck guy came out, pointing his finger at me, and in his broad accent shouted," I'm giving you long-haired bastards one minute to get off my property." Now, as he was wearing a belt with a pistol in it, real wild west style, I didn't hesitate and had the car off his property in the required time. Funnily enough, the next place was really friendly.
Apparently, due to concerns about bad behaviour at rock concerts, our venue had been moved from St Louis to East St Louis. a mainly black suburb, to ease the concerns of the city fathers. And I think it was here that rock and roll behaviour really started to manifest itself. It was here that I became aware of Simon King's heroin habit and I first took a line of cocaine. There were groupies around our hotel from the moment we arrived and generally people wandering about in the corridors and gardens of this one storey motel. Jeff Dexter told me I would be fourth in line to have a hair cut and 'blow' in his room. I was phoned to go along and there was Jeff with this very attractive brunette who had various hairdressers' items. She took her time and gave me a good cut, not off the length but just here and there, rubbing her boobs into me quite regularly. But the way Jeff was salivating over the prospect of her giving me a blow job, put me off entirely so I just got up and left.
Bob Calvert on stage.
After the gig, which was quite rammed but in a rather small hall, the chaos in the hotel continued. Unfortunately, I was sharing with Dennis again who was being his usual superior, boring self. Dave invited me to his room where there was a very curvy black woman who seemed to know Dave quite well, no doubt from a previous tour. Dave said he was going for a shower after we had had a short chat and I was left with this nearly naked woman who kept coming up close to me, at one point snogging me and taking my hands to curl round her tidy bum. I wondered what was going on. Then Dave reappeared, drying his hair, and said that I had better leave was not to be a three-some after all.
Another girl grabbed me in the corridor and we headed for my room where Dennis again refused to move and she said she'd come back in the morning. Now we were to be flying the next day but didn't have to leave the hotel till late morning so that seemed like a possibility and, knowing that Dennis liked to be ready to leave early rather than late, I thought this was a possibility. And sure enough, as soon as Dennis had left, about an hour earlier than necessary, the girl knocked on my door and came in just as I was finishing packing. We were both in a bit of a hurry and got straight into it, kissing as we started to remove each others clothing. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement and saw that members of the band and crew were watching through the window and taking photos. I'd been set up and I dumped the girl, tucked in my shirt and started grabbing my bags after giving the lads the finger.
St Louis with the famous gateway to the west arch.
TO BE CONTINUED. Part 6. Flying, Long Island and Philadelphia.

Thursday 7 July 2016

Touring with HAWKWIND. Part 4. Chicago, Minneapolis, Scary Truck Stop, Highway Patrol and Blizzards.

Frozen Waves on Lake Michigan
The first thing I remember about Chicago is the way the waves on Lake Michigan were frozen solid as they crashed onto the lakeside beach. Then, shortly after checking into my double room with Dennis, I wandered down to the lobby looking for Jeff Dexter and some more per diems but was grabbed by Dave and, along with Adrian and Simon King, pushed into a limo. I discovered we were going to a large record store to do a 'meet the fans' thing. There wasn't a huge crowd but quite a lot of fans holding albums they wanted signing. Sonic Assassins Live was not out yet so I wasn't on any of the albums. I was very aware of this fact and so were most of the fans and the proposed idea, from Mr Dexter, that I pretended to be Simon House, was a non-starter. For a start, his hair is rather curly and mine totally straight. And the fans that asked me to sign were much happier when I just signed as myself albeit an unknown name.
We played at the quite large Riviera Theatre and then there was a fairly big after-show party back in our hotel. I got chatting with a rather lovely black girl and went to check out our room but Denis was in there reading and would not be moved so I gave up and went to bed as we had to be up early for
Where we played in CHICAGO.
the drive to Minneapolis. For a lot of this drive we followed the river Mississippi which, considering it was more than a thousand, perhaps two, miles from the sea, was already very wide, and although the banks on both sides were frozen, it was still flowing in the middle. The temperatures we had been experiencing were so much lower than anything I had met before in my life and I was having a wear virtually all my clothes to keep warm enough.
MINNEAPOLIS from St Paul's, its twin city across the Mississippi
I can only really remember two things about this city : firstly, our hotel was crap and 5 of us decided we would rather drive through the night to get to our lovely looking hotel just outside Kansas City, than stay there. Secondly, when we got to the Union Ballroom where we were playing, the headspace on the stage was not high enough for us to get our lights up and so many of them ended up on the stage just behind us so that we really cooked when we were playing.
After the gig, having left our luggage in the rented Ford Station Wagon, a bit like the tudor Morris Estate but just much longer at the front and back, the five of us set off into the night, down one of these US Interstate highways where, considering the distances involved, the speed limits were ridiculously low. Once we got out into the wilds......the land in the mid-west is flat as a pancake and the highway is dead straight.....we decided to stop for a bite to eat and a drink. We spotted a truck stop with perhaps 30 to 40 trucks parked up and sauntered into the place. The noise dropped the minute we walked in: you could have heard a dollar bill drop. It became pretty clear that the truckers in these parts did not like long-haired freaks and while we were up at the counter studying the menus, various things were thrown in our direction including coffee spoons, crumpled napkins and threats to beat us into pulps. We decided it was time to leave and sprinted back to our vehicle.
We had agreed to share the driving and it was now my turn and I was happy to have something to do alongside taking part in the usual banter which was mainly directed at Dennis who was moaning about not having had a drink. I didn't really notice what speed I was driving and was probably going my usual British motorway speed of about 80 mph when someone shouted 'cop car up on that bridge'. I applied the brakes gently, the road was a bit icy, but the Highway Patrol car came down off the bridge and followed us, sirens wailing and lights flashing. I pulled up on the side of the road and waited as a one policeman approached our car slowly with his gun drawn.
The good old Highway Patrol Troopers.
He was wearing the classic cowboy hat of the Highway Patrol and was alone and taking no chances. I wound down my window and he asked me to carefully pass him my papers and I told him they were in my suitcase in the boot/trunk. ","Get out the car slowly," he said, "keep your hands were I can see them and the rest of you stay in the car." We went round the back, I opened the trunk and there was my small suitcase right on the top. Now, I knew that on the top of my things was a big bag of grass but that my papers were in a slim compartment attached to the lid. I started saying to the guy," You'll be a bit surprised because my passport is British and so is my driving licence," just for something to say. But the cop picked up on this immediately saying how much he liked British people and how he had stopped another guy last month who was British too.
He didn't seem to notice how I was struggling to get my papers without opening the case too far as he gave me a history of all his previous meetings with Brits. When I gave him my passport and licence he asked me how fast I had been going. I said, "I might have been going around 70mph as that is the speed limit I am used to on highways." He showed me his radar gun. a small handheld device, putting his pistol down inside the trunk to do so. It displayed the number 78 and that destroyed my argument. However, this guy was a good cop and he liked Brits so he gave me a warning ticket which meant I would only be charged if I was caught speeding again in whatever State it was that we were within. I put on my goody-goody face, shook his hand and got back in the car with a sigh of relief and as I drove off explained what had happened to the others. I also said that in view of the warning, I didn't want to drive anymore so we pulled into the next rest area to change over drivers.
Driving down a highway in a blizzard.
By this time it had started snowing quite hard and when we got out for the changeover, we noticed how icy the floor was, we could hardly stand up. So I was doubly glad to not be driving any more and snuggled down in the back seat to try and sleep. I was woken a bit later by the loud shouts of the others as a huge truck went past us sideways, skidding on the ice and snow. The blizzard had got worse and we could hardly see a thing outside except for the occasional truck that seemed to be much too close. Shit, I just wanted to fall asleep and only wake up when we had arrived and tried to concentrate on the photos I had seen of our next hotel, a wonderful place all under a huge glass ceiling and walls, with gardens, swimming pool and hot-tubs all under this protection. That's what we needed, a day of relaxation in this covered palace.

TO BE CONTINUED. Part 5. Fun and games in Cowboy Country, Kansas City and St Louis.