It would come as no surprise to people that know me that, just occasionally, the simplest of journeys can go awry.
I’ve developed a fondness for playing Joe McAdam’s amazing open mic & acoustic sessions at The Whiskey Jar in Manchester. Located on Tariff Street, The Whiskey is an incredibly beautiful looking bar. The standard of musicians is always brilliant. Joe, a brilliant musician and songwriter himself, is possibly the finest compere I’ve encountered. In his reassuring Scottish accent, he invites all in attendance to enjoy the music and listen. And every once in a while, is not frightened to ask people politely to “shut the fuck up Whiskey Jar.”
I invited my friend Charlie Mckeon down to have a look at what was on offer. Charlie himself is an outstanding guitarist, singer and songwriter, and he was blown away by what was on offer. From the likes of Lee Parry, to George Fell (an amazing 12-string instrumentalist) to Grim Fawkner, it was really great.
Bizarrely enough, by chance, someone came over after my set and recognised me from Shrewsbury. Then Olly Flavell, a Shropshire-born singer-songwriter who’s just moved to Manchester stopped in. Then my friend Tracey Horton from Market Drayton in Shropshire had turned up to show her daughter a few decent bars in the Northern Quarter. No escaping your birthplace is there?
Anyway, in catch the last train back, me and Charlie decided it would be best to leave around quarter to eleven. This meant going a little early and missing the likes of Scott Lloyd (who is also brilliant). And we made it to Piccadilly just in time, and found ourselves comfortably situated on a train going from Platform 13. Incidentally, the journey from the entrace of Manchester Piccadilly Station to Platforms 13 or 14 is in and of itself a whole little walk. You could walk the dog on that.
I did think it odd. I’ve always got the Liverpool train from Platform 14, I thought. And obviously, as soon as the conductor came over to check our tickets it became apparent that we were on a long journey to York if we didn’t get off at Stalybridge.
For Charlie, the greatest tragedy was that he’d just bought himself a yoghurt. And no real time to just enjoy it before he had to get off at Stalybridge.
I do find these little things are easier if there’s one other person there who has been an idiot. Things become funny rather than stressful.
We got out at Stalybridge, home of Paul’s Tool Emporium – The Greatest Tool Shop in The North of England (Probably), and rushed to catch a train going back to Manchester. This time for Manchester Victoria Station. We caught a black cab to the coach station, explained what had happened to the driver and got talking about Liverpool.
He then launched into an explanation of the recent gun-crime problems in a certain area of Greater-Manchester (googling the news can fill in the details here), and went into a staggering level of detail about the particular gang-war going on. I learnt a lot.
Once we’d got to the coach station, one of the attendants came over and asked us where we’d been playing. I cannot describe how warm and good and honest he was. He asked to give everyone a song, but I didn’t dare wake up the girl who’d fallen asleep with her head in her own lap on the seat opposite me.
The moral of this tale. Always make sure you’re on the right train when it’s the last train home. Or not, and have quite a funny interesting journey.
Thom is currently raising funds to release a new EP in January, click this link here to find out more: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/thommorecroft