Saturday, 16 July 2011

Psychobillies, Parrots and Cannabis Absinthe

Well, where to start...

On Wednesday 6th of July, Steve and I went to The Psychobilly Meeting, Pineda De Mar, Spain. On Wednesday 13th of July we returned. What happened in between is to say the least, sketchy.

We set off all right - the taxi to the airport was painless, the online check-in had proved successful and the bag drop was almost mercurial. The lengthy queue for X-ray was marginalised by the happy accident of Steve's mate being on passport control who effectively "arrested" us in the line and frog-marched us to the very front with a wink. An excellent bloody mary later and we were on the plane, where we were joined by Pip and Alex (organisers of the Bedlam Breakout festival). The flight itself was early, our bags were some of the first off and we even had time to indulge in a glass of wine before our train arrived. Then we forgot to get off it at Barcelona Sants and forty five minutes later, still deep in conversation, we were travelling at no inconsiderable speed into the mountains. Fortunately for us a Cuban bloke knew where we needed to go, procured us two women who were getting off where we needed to and they led us to a taxi rank. Fifty euros later we were at the hotel. I'm just glad there were four of us: I normally get stung for the whole thing.

It's the third time I've stayed in the Aquahotel Promenade and I have to admit, I do like it. It's a stone's throw from the station (very useful if you actually manage to arrive by train), right on the sea front, a stopping off point for the "Xinu Xanu" tourist road train and less than a ten minute walk from the festival tent (particularly useful at 4am). We booked in without incident and in a rare flourish of generosity I let Steve have the double bed in the room and settled for the single. He was suitably impressed. I normally commandeer the larger mattress when we share a room, arguing that I spend a lot more time in the thing than he does. This led to him sleeping in the lounge in Fuerteventura and in a dog bed at my feet in Sardinia. This time around was literally his day in the sunshine. We successfully located our own balcony (At last year's festival I hadn't realised I had one for the first five days) and looked out across the pool to the rather more run down "Nostre Mar" apartments which resembled a Psychobilly Celebrity Squares, with people we knew directly above each other on three floors. We ate dinner and took a walk over there, beginning on the third floor with Marina (My adopted German daughter) and her friends. We had some Sangria. Then we went down to the first floor to see Kitty, Gwen and Laurent. We had some vodka. Then we got a cab to Magma Disco. The one drawback to the Aqua' is that it's miles away from the first night of the meeting which is a Spanish Psychobilly night. That'll be another eight euros, then.

I immediately hit the "Vino Tinto"s. Red wine is just about the only bargain in bars in Spain because they can't fathom why you would want to get pissed on it. As a result half a pint of it is the same price as half a lager. I spotted this loophole on my first trip to Pineda. It's a bargain all right, but it's dangerous. Within an hour I was legless and even made the official photographs, such was my demeanour

The comment underneath this photograph (form Billy Tombstone, official photographer of the festival) said simply:  "Paul - you look wasted - don't forget we are only on day one!"
Virtually all the usual suspects were there - Russ the jammy Yorkshireman and Priscilla the unlucky Brazilian (And friends), Therese and the Norwegian girls, Gaby & Jasmina, Marina, Laurent (Minus Kristina who has buggered off back to New York), Gwen (Minus Sticky who has just buggered off), Kitty, Ant & Hannah (Who are rather like Tom & Barbara from "The Good Life"), Sera and Chris (Who would feature prominently on the last night) and a variety of other roustabouts who I was frankly too drunk to remember talking to. Steve wanted to see a band called "Punkats". We missed them. I wanted to see "The Brioles". We did, but I don't remember a lot about them. Tradition has it that at the end of the night I jump into a taxi with two women and they tell me about it the next evening. Tonight was no exception. We got back at an unspecified time, slept soundly and awoke the next lunchtime to bright sunshine.

Thursday was a day of revelation. Steve revealed he is still prepared to strip to his speedos at the first sign of the sun. More importantly, I had been hinting to anyone who would listen that 2011 was "All about the parrots". Steve and Ant had taken this to mean I had bought a parrot shirt. I hadn't - I'd bought four. This stratagem was multi-purpose: It would be a minor talking point, it would piss Ant off when he realised that the one he would undoubtedly procure (in direct competition) would pale into insignificance and most importantly, I would be able to identify which night was which in the photos of the festival by which parrot shirt I was wearing. I know - I'm a genius. We had lunch in "Can Josep", a regular haunt of Psychobillies in the know, insomuch as they do four courses with booze for eleven euros. I was adult enough to only drink agua con gas as I had made a pact with a certain Simon Nott not to drink during the day. Steve hit vino tinto y gaseosa because he is a MAN. He spent the afternoon by the pool and I ventured out there for about forty minutes in blazing evening sunshine which was enough to send me scurrying back inside again to continue a book I was reading about the siege of Malta called "The Religion". It is a graphic piece of historical fiction and there is plenty of bloodletting and bowel voiding - just how I like 'em. Having had rather a lot of Kitty & Gwen's vodka the night before, I felt the need to replenish their stocks but was stopped in my tracks in the mini-supermercado by a drink that filled me with awe - cannabis absinthe. Not any old absinthe but  cannabis absinthe. I only have one previous experience of absinthe and it was on the back of an all-day session in Prague several years ago when we had been drinking litres of dark ale with bottle of red wine chasers. The results of one shot of the green faery had toppled me into lunacy and I had vowed that it would be a cold day in hell before I had another one. Still, a warm night in Spain was considered close enough and anyway it allegedly had cannabis in it as well which we considered should soften any black mood I may descend into. It was also only five euros for a quarter bottle. How could we turn it down? One bottle procured, we headed back to Nostre Mar and sat on Kitty's balcony again for far too long.

Here are Laurent and myself demonstrating the varying effects of the bottle in the  centre of the picture. Please also notice my rather fetching parrot shirt, indicating "Thursday".
Eventually we got around to leaving to go to the festival, where my Austrian babies eagerly awaited. My Austrian babies are called Sabi and Miri. Sabi is in fact Serbian by birth and doesn't find this joke particularly funny.The first time I ever went to Pineda I jumped in a taxi with them after Magma disco (see above) and spent the next four nights not remembering their names when I saw them. Since then we have become firm friends and I was a very proud daddy (I adopted them prior to adopting Marina) when they visited the UK last year and let me show them around London. I got a text from Sabi bemoaning the lateness of my arrival, accusing me of being "Too old to party". She mistakenly thought I had not got up until 10pm because I was some sort of a lightweight. I put her straight.  Ten drinks tickets were procured for twenty five euros and here came revelation number three. I HAD NO DESIRE TO DRINK VINO TINTO. For the last three years it has been both my best friend and my worst enemy at the festival, getting me drunk on a budget but also leading to general ill health, blackouts and a number of unspecified events I wouldn't really wish to recall if I could. Aged forty one years and five months, almost to the day, I had grown up. I ordered Sangria instead.

Fifteen sangrias later I couldn't remember a lot about The Coffin Nails or The Ricochets, other than they were both brilliant and the former played "Blubbery Love", one of my all-time favourite songs. here they are in action

The Coffin Nails - and yes, they are wearing grass skirts!
Mercifully, we got in before it got light and slept, unsurprisingly, rather soundly. I'll fill you in on Friday and Saturday presently.


  1. Excellent stuff once again, glad to remember it through your eyes because sadly I didn't stick to my own not drinking during the day rule.

  2. Oh you gave it a bash, Simon - that's the important thing.


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