It’s a drive from Creil to Limoges. 5-6 hours. I’m taking the train and the band kindly take my heavy bag in the car. En route to Limoges they deposit sound engineer George Bush at the airport in Paris for his journey back to London. His work here is done. He has performed admirably, and we salute him. I catch a taxi to the station, take a train from Creil to Gare du Nord and elect to walk to Paris Austerlitz, to save €1.70 again, like an idiot. I walk slowly, staying close to the shadows.
The TGV to Limoges has no power sockets, no air-conditioning and no water. It is like an oven on rails. Don’t let anyone try and tell you of the wonderful French trains. It’s a dispacable lie. At one point three large skinheads march past and return, laden with bottles of water and commence dishing them out to the passengers. On arrival at Limoges the temperature appears to have shot up by a few degrees and it is now officially absolutely fucking roasting. Vacating the station, I drop my cheap plastic sunglasses. They snap in half. I hurriedly locate a C&A and purchase a replacement pair of cheap plastic sunglasses (which break two days later, and, when replaced by another pair of cheap plastic sunglasses, those break too, after two days) then proceed directly to the venue where the band are already soundchecking.
The engineer is gracious and does not mind my standing next to him occasionally, suggesting more snare, or brighter hats, or a little less keys, please. The venue is a great space with a healthy PA and the promoter, Julien, is a large fan of Civil Civic. Although the students have all left town, and it is a Monday, and this is the last show of the season at the venue, there is a promising vibe, made slightly less promising by Ben’s desire to swim in the notoriously filthy Vienne River. “That’s not a good idea” says Julien, but Ben is a law unto himself in every respect and nothing will do but he must swim in the river which, given the temperature, is not a bad idea, at that. Ben swims, I paddle, we both survive it and we dine in a relaxed manner upon a vegetable lasagne that Julien has made, and which is a first-rate dish the way he cooks it up.
The doors open, the crowd arrives, the atmosphere builds, the drink flows and the show is a stormer, with Julien and his cohorts going nuts down the front, everyone losing about 5lbs each through sweating, the night ending in a mass river swim, with vodka, Ben pole-dancing in his pants and my shouting everyone within drinking rage to rum shots, which the kind gentleman behind the bar does me a deal on. We are hammered and somehow safely navigate our way to Julien’s parent’s house (they’re out of town) where we sleep luxuriously, or would have done if the heat hadn’t kept me awake half the damn night.