Thursday, 28 January 2010

Pao, San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy

I’m at the Italian seaside. In January. Who plans these things? It’s raining which I’m pleased about. I’ve been carrying a heavy fisherman-sized umbrella around in my guitar case and now I have the satisfaction of using it.

San Beneditto is very charming. More palm trees than I’ve ever seen in my life. In the summer it’s the No. 1 Italian tourist destination but now it is all boarded up. The only beach bar still open is Pao, owned by Paolo. He’s been a fantastic host and it was a trip to eat with an Italian George Clooney doppelganger. I had a day-off today due to a cancellation and him and his girlfriend showed me around. Italians are rarely short on personality.

In the winter there is only one place each night with something going on. Tuesday’s is the live music in Pao. Wednesday’s is Dochs (docks) the sailor hangout and drag queen bar. They were miming which always is disappointing. I like my drag queens to give a full show. I didn’t ask what they do on a Thursday. I leave it to your imagination. (Back to lookalikes, there was a guy in Dochs who was the spitting image of Mickey Rourke. He was a fashion designer for brands like Vivian Westwood. I think he liked me).

The show went well. People only turned up at 12 o’clock. Few understood what I was singing about but they appreciated the sentiment.

In other news, I see that the iPad is official. I will have to get one in the interests of weight. My laptop is a brick. I will wait for the second generation though which will have a data connection, and try to get a contract for worldwide connection. It’s a real chore chunking around the bars, bags and all. Bowing clumsily through the door (the guitar bag adds two feet to my height), I shuffle around the corners, laptop held high, trying to detect a precious connection while the whole bar goes quiet. It’s one of the aspects of life on the road that I could most do without.

The other most problematic aspect of travelling is the food. It tastes fabulous in Italy of course. Unfortunately it seems to be restricted to pizza, pasta, pizza, pasta, pizza, pasta, cheese, pizza, pasta, cheese, cheese and cheese. One has to wonder where they get their nutrients. At least now I know everyone has a beeday. The mixture comes out like treacle. A spatula would be more use than toilet paper. Without regular bullets of espresso I don’t think you could get it through the system.

Tea comes with free cake.

It is certainly something to see an Italian drink a coffee. The whole process, from paying at one end of the bar, to drinking it another, is accomplished in under 60 seconds. A thimble-full of coffee is quaffed in an instant and they’re on their way. For a laidback, slow-moving society it is the last thing you’d expect. The Americano option, developed for those brought up on tea, was not even available in the village bar when I went up into the mountains with Paolo to see a printer he was working with.

Starbucks insidious ways hold no attraction here and there are no places you don’t see people walking around with ¼ gallon cups of warm milk with a shot of coffee in them. If only McDonalds had met with a similar fate. Unfortunately, they seem to approve. Which brings me full-cycle, so to speak, to my digestion.

The strain on my processor has been such that it almost evacuated with delight upon hearing the news that their was an Indian restaurant opposite the station in Accura. With its promise of hearty lentils and soothing rice we all breathed a sigh of relief. The digestive spices and calming herbs have been refined in their most agreeable mixture over thousands of years. No celebrity chef with an art degree deciding that vinegar, caramel and frozen mango are good for the palette, and to hell with the stomach.

Moving on, there are two more areas of difficulty,  namely getting enough sleep (as this is my priority above all else and I’m willing to be late rather than sacrifice time, I usually do alright) and alcohol. I spend every night in a bar and as soon as I walk in I’m offered a drink. Whenever I respond by saying that I am already perfectly well hydrated, I’m met with a puzzled look and the inarguable retort :”But you drink for free”.

If the initial wave of hospitality can be ridden, then the lubricant is often resorted to as the purposeless hours after the soundcheck and dinner, and before the show, drag on interminably.

Finally, to squeeze my spleen of its remaining sediment. The final area of grit is conversation. Having a conversation is very much like making love. Clumsy, quickly repetitive and easy to blame the other person when it’s not going well.

My sanity is becoming severely affected. I look forward with dread to the predictable hail of questions that will come with every new introduction. Because I am the act… and foreign…  and doing something they’d like to do… and with a story to tell… they will always reel off the same ten questions in the exact same order, no matter which country I’m in.

Just as I often try to think of ways to improve my live act, I have been devoting some time to thinking of ways to turn this negative in a positive. I believe there is no such thing as a bad audience, only a bad performer. Every exchange between two unique human beings who’ve never met before should be as equally unique.

Tactics to improve them currently before the committee, include answering every question with a question or giving entirely fictional accounts of my life. A more right wing idea is to explain my predicament to prospective parties and agree to a question-free conversation, with a €5 fine everytime an accidental question rears its head.

1 comment:

  1. You wrote all of this during a visit to the restroom? Ouch.