This unique Otway Tour took us to:
Despite some early gremlins (CT Group up to its old tricks), this turned out to be a great tour, in the true Otway Style – easily comparable to some of the Dunkerque Weekends (more of which, later). Here’s my personal account of how it unfolded.
On the day of departure, a last-minute check on the location of the Mercure hotel led to the discovery that the hotel had no parking facilities available. In panic, I phoned CTG, who confirmed this was true, and that nearby public parking would cost in the region of £20.00 per day. And, no, true to form, they weren’t going to tell anyone.
After a few more phone calls to the parking authorities in Oxford, I ascertained that Park & Ride facilities were available, but, in the mean-time, Gina came to my rescue in that I could leave my car at her place, and we could catch a bus from Wycombe to Oxford. This we accomplished with no problems, and the bus-stop was only a few yards from the hotel. There was no CTG representative to greet us.
Then we discovered something else that CTG had neglected to tell us. The hotel had no bar! Well done, CTG! What a masterstroke – putting Otway folk in a hotel with no bar. I wonder what sort of dimwit thought that one up. Oh, and the lift only went as far as the 2nd floor.
On the plus side, the room was fairly comfortable, and the bathroom had an extension speaker from the TV. Big deal!
Anyway, off to the gig. After a very good Indian meal near the hotel, I made my way to the first tour venue, the Jericho Tavern – not the Zodiac, as stated in CTG’s itinerary. The walk took me nearly an hour. Apparently, the more fleet of foot managed it in about 35 minutes.
Once inside, things took a turn for the better. In a packed house, there were several familiar faces, some on the tour, and some not, plus a few not so familiar with whom we were to become more acquainted over the next few days.
As always, John and the boys gave us a great set, and after the gig they were kind enough to give me a lift back to the hotel.
Despite the absence of a bar, some of us took up positions in the hotel lobby (to call it a lounge would be stretching credulity somewhat), whilst the indefatiguable Pam and Alan generously supplied us with various canned beverages until the early hours. Don’t ask me who was left at the end, because I can’t remember. What a pleasure it is not to have to drive home from a gig!
Back to the comedy club for breakfast. The dining room was over-elaborately decorated for breakfast, and numerous variations of the meagre offerings were routinely being delivered to the wrong people. Great fun. Basil Fawlty would have been proud.
It was with a mixture of surprise and relief that we saw our coach arrive on time. It was very comfortable, with plenty of legroom, and reclining seats that actually reclined. I also took pleasure in informing the Spurs supporters in the band that the coach company was the same as that used by the Arsenal Supporters’ Club. There were also a few vacant seats so we were able to move around and get to know each other.
Once again, Pam & Alan came up trumps by coming round with a huge tin of sweets.
The Bedford Hotel in Tavistock was a vast improvement on the Mercure. For one thing, they appeared to know that we were coming, and checking in was wondrously simple – we told them our names, and they gave us our keys. Why can’t it always be like that?
A few of us enjoyed an extremely good meal in the Hotel’s restaurant. The meal was cut short by a message from Murray to say they were just about to go on stage. Fortunately, the gig really was only a few minutes walk, so we got there just in time.
It was an excellent gig with a good sound system. Those of us trying to take photos were a bit disappointed by the almost constant stream of smoke on the stage. Andy and Hannah added some colour to the proceedings by dressing up as flowers for BOTF, and continued to do so for the rest of the tour. They also had ‘WE’ and ‘ROCK’ t-shirts, and had different t-shirts for every gig on the tour.
When we got back to the hotel after the gig, the bar was closed, so I turned in early. But I heard that the Pam & Alan beer-wagon kept a few going until the early hours again.
This time, we had a good breakfast, and the hotel had seated those of us who made it all together, so a few more of us got to know each other better.
Back on the coach, and once again Alan kept us supplied with sweets, while we read our newspapers, listened to our iPods, or simply nodded off. Then, somebody decided to have a competition to see who could guess the average age of the complement. It turned out to be 48 years and 10 months. I didn’t keep a note of who won, but have since been informed by Will Selka that the average age competition was won by Mick Hirst, by correctly predicting that he was Mr average, and putting his own age down!
Our hotel was the Metropole in Llandrindod Wells. It was comfortable, but had seen better days. At least the beds had proper quilts instead of the old-fashioned blankets.
After finding somewhere to eat, we reassembled at the hotel for the coach to take us to the Wyeside Arts Centre. At first, the bar didn’t look too promising, so we dispersed to some local pubs before returning for the gig.
The first half of the set was a bit muted, but during the interval, a couple of locals, one of whom had been inappropriately heckling throughout the first half, decided to warm thing up by having a brawl. Tables and chairs were sent flying, and a couple of bottles broken, but a some of or tour party, along with a few others, bravely intervened, and the two miscreants were ushered outside.
In the second half, the ‘tourists’ and the band managed to stitch John up when the Band started to play ‘Willy In The Air’ instead of ‘Oh, My Body’, and during the chorus we were all waving long balloons in the air. For Bunsen burner, we also had some laboratory technicians on stage.
The bus took us back to the hotel, and we were delighted to find that, for once, the bar was still open, and we had what was possibly the best night of the tour. To kick off proceedings, Andy and Hannah, who had been following the tour in their own transport, but staying in the same hotels, treated us all to a ‘Christmas Tree’ cocktail, comprising, I think, Baileys, some green stuff, and some red stuff. Who cares? It went down very well. Later, well after midnight, we had trays of crisps and sandwiches, and the party was in full swing.
On, then, to Alston in Cumbria. As well as Alan’s sweets, someone else treated us all to a shot of a liqueur, Killepitsch. That went down well, too. The morning’s game was to guess the complement’s favourite album, which, in the end, proved inconclusive.
Our hotel was actually in Carlisle, and although it has some interesting internal architectural features, it had clearly seen better days. It was also playing host to some stag and hen nights, and the trail of chips up one of the staircases gave some insight into its usual clientele. The lift didn’t work, either. Nor did the TV in the first room I was offered, but I was moved into another with very little fuss.
Once again, we were bussed into Alston for the gig, and we were joined by fellow Wee-eBand member, Alison, and Led Zeppelin fan, Ali. The gig turned out to be a very strange affair.
Firstly, the pre-gig DJ played some really weird stuff. The only way I could think of to describe it was as a sort of Turkish Mariachi style. Then we had the support ‘act’, a folk-singer who gave us a ditty called ‘Has Anyone Seen Hank’, and finally a strange dirge about Peggy Sue and a chip-shop that went on and on and on. On for so long that we had the comedy of trying to get him off stage, and in the end John and the Band took matters into their own hands as Richard led them on stage and I think it was Murray who unplugged the poor bloke’s microphone. Ironically, he thought that the cheer that went up as the band went on was for him.
The boys gave us another good set, and had most of the otherwise seated crowd on its feet dancing during DAYWD. The venue’s bar ran out of beer and diet coke, so further supplies had to be brought in. The ‘Voice Of Weetabix’ also had some real Weetabix to deal with.
At the end of the set, the Turkish Mariachi kicked in again as we were hurriedly ushered back on to the coach as our driver’s hours were reaching their limit for the day. As we were on our way, the band, before they could dismantle their gear and load it into Deadly’s van, they had to endure the second support act – a poet! We also missed the raffle.
Back at the hotel, although the bar looked closed, the night porter made sure we didn’t go thirsty as we got into another session, and planned the next day’s jollities.
The Novotel, York was by far the best hotel on the tour, and we arrived in time to have a good wander around the town to get some lunch and plan some other surprises. We also ran into Julie and Richard, who were, as usual, on their way to get some flowers for the gig.
The venue, Fibbers, was a few minutes walk from the hotel. The venue wasn’t yet open when we got there, so once again we dispersed to some local pubs. A couple of us found the inn where Richard and Julie were staying, but there was no sign of them there.
Back to the gig, and we were once again joined by Alison, and several other familiar faces from ‘the circuit’. The place was as packed as Oxford.
The set was an absolute hoot. There was the bombardment of flowers during BOTF, more Weetabix during Delilah, not to mention a bowl and some milk arriving on stage, and the whole crowd swaying to the chorus waving spoons in the air. A magnificent sight. Then, during Cheryl we had about half-a-dozen extra ‘porters’ in the crowd, as well as a couple more ‘train whistles’. Finally, just before the encores, Richard was presented with a birthday card, some presents, and a cake.
After the gig, the tour party made its way to a local Indian restaurant, where the festivities continued. When the band arrived, Richard was peppered with poppers, before we settled down to a good meal.
Back at the hotel, we were once again in the hands of a night porter, who kept us well supplied with beers, and who, surprisingly, had no objections to our supplying our own tipples. Andy & Hannah supplied the constituents for some more ‘Christmas Trees’, whilst a bottle each of vodka and bourbon also turned up on the table.
Not everybody was going home on the coach, so we took some group photographs, and said some emotional good-byes. It had been a great tour, and I think everybody had made some new friends in those few days. The journey home was, as you can imagine, a bit muted, but Alan still had some sweets left. Richard cut and shared out his birthday cake, and we had a ‘front’ versus ‘back’ competition of beat the intro (or was that yesterday?).
Most of the rest were deposited at Oxford railway station, and a few were dropped off near Deadly’s where Pam and Alan had left their car. We had to drive on a bit further to a lay-by so that the merchandise could be transferred. The final drop-off was on the edge of Wycombe for me and Gina.
The main things that made the tour a success were the people on it, including Otway & the Band, and their preparedness to join in. Pam & Alan deserve special thanks for their 'stewarding' on the coach and their generosity in the bar-less hotel and elsewhere. Our driver, Les, deserves a mention, too, both for joining in, and for making sure we got everywhere when we were supposed to. Let’s hear it, as well, for our ‘limited-edition roadie’, Deadly.
I think that the consensus was that this was an extended ‘Dunkerque’, great fun, but more sedate, and without the excessive drunkenness. We must do it aga
Extra thanks go to those on the tour who have supplied additional information and corrections for this review.
Over To You
As I said at the beginning, this is a personal account, so if anyone has any corrections, comments to add, or gaps to fill, I’ll be pleased to hear from you.
During the tour, there were discussions about, and rumours of, a possible Dunkerque trip towards the end of 2008. Technically, I understand it will be the 13th such trip, but if you are superstitious, you may prefer to count it as the 14th and refer to my own abortive attempt to put one together as the 13th.
But the point is that, for more information, you should contact info ( at ) rotator ( dot ) co ( dot ) uk as soon as possible.
Photos of the tour are available by clicking on this button .
A Message From Adam (taken from an email to the Yahoo Newsgroup)
Hello to all.
A big thank you to all that came on the bus tour.
Firstly to all of you that booked and came. Hope you had as good a time as we did. You were all fantastic! You looked great, out-drank the band and wore the right shoes! To Pam & Alan for leading the jollity, keeping us all in beer and chocolate and with great on-board service (nice bongos). Thanks for the singing and those that thought up the quizzes. Also the fella that bought and shared that bloody German concoction.... it worked though!
Les the driver for being a star, smooth driving (even in Wales) wearing the shirt, not moaning, and busting his hours so you and we could have a good time and get back to the hotel. In true rock'n'roll fashion he was going to court to defend a previous speeding ticket the next day - have no doubt he'll sort it.
Thanks to Deadly for getting our stuff and the band everywhere on time, pinching my cigarettes, not losing anything and packing up the gear and loading our van every night after the shows when we couldn't be arsed - above and beyond my friend.
All those that came to the gigs under their own steam - great to see you all. The venue staff, sound guys, promoters, and supports (quite liked the guy in York, some good songs there). The fight the got talked down in Wales, the Alston massive (You had to be there!) and the resturant for Richard's birthday.... Partypoppertastic!!
Thanks again from the band. We had a top time with great company and good friends. Lets hope we do it again one day.
As is in keeping with the recent messages.... And just for Ali.
A whole lotta love, from Adam, Richard, Murray and Seymour.
Wishing you all a happy 2008....... Adam B x
Thanks tons for that Adam
You put it brilliantly.
What a stunning five days - My liver has not forgiven me but finally stopped the punishment :-)
Everyone was great