Saturday, 29 August 2009

The booking

To give you an idea of where my head is at, it's in booking. This life is 80% booking 10% driving and 0.01% music unfortunately. It's the price of the ticket. I have to do it all myself because I finally realised that no one else is going to do it for me, however much I think they should be!

So I may be sitting in Berlin now but my head is in Italy in February wondering which day of the week I should start there after Slovenia, which date hasn't been fixed yet and what would be the best route to take.

I can't describe the complexities involved. Before I started doing booking myself I thought that my booker's greatest pleasure in life was making me drive huge distances in one direction and then turn around and come back the next day. Hunched behind the steering wheel, fighting the cramps, with matchsticks between my eyes, I'd have hallucinations of them sitting in their office in Kassel, gathered around a scale model of Germany, laughing hysterically as they planned where to book me.

Only last week I had to drive from Stuttgart to Feldberger Seenlandschaft (don't ask) in one day. 750km. With road works and diversions it too me 11 hours. I got out of the car, hobbled around the back of the building with my guitar and got a round of applause from the people sitting there waiting for me.

Anyway, of the complexities involved... booking, it sounds easy, but when you have to sit there with a list of possible venues and plan a route it is a problem of combinatorial optimization that is even more complex than the Travelling Salesman problem or Hamiltonian Path studied in operations research and theoretical computer science. The reason being that not do have to plot the optimal route, but each location has date restrictions, e.g. one venue can only have me on the 14th or 16th, one venue only books music Fridays and Saturdays.

I'm sure this isn't interesting to most people. I write it just to express my amazement and how mind-blowingly difficult it is. You can buy computer programs to help, punching in the parameters, but you have so many 'not quite offers' and 'possibles' that it quickly becomes a mess. Old fashioned spreadsheets work the best.

My plan...

August - Germany
September - US
October - US
November - New York for 10 days, then fly to Texas
December - The Netherlands and Belgium, Christmas in UK, New Year in Copenhagen
January - Down through Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia
February - Across Italy, Spain, France
March - Texas and Southern US (buy a car)
April - More Southern states and Colorado
May - Up to Northern California and Washington and into Canada
June - Across Canada, Chicago, Montreal, down to New York and back to Austin (sell the car)
July - Holiday (plus any festivals)
August - Holiday (plus any festivals)
September - Scandinavia
October - Germany, Poland
November - The Netherlands, Belgium
December - A deserted beach on a quiet island, with no bars, cafes and above all no music.

So giving up your apartment and travelling the world playing music isn't quite the life of freedom that it might be, because it's all nailed down. Not spontaneity. No unpredictability.

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