Monday, 22 February 2010

La tournerie, Valence, France

Damien from La tournerie met me off the TGV and drove me to his bar in the centre of town. He was about my age and had also been a travelling musician but gave it up when he crossed over to the otherside, opening his own bar. He explained that he hadn’t had a holiday in six years and longed to travel again.

The bar was half-full when we arrived and had that small town air – falling a little quiet when the act arrives. Still a little groggy from sleeping on the train, and the bar not having any hot water, I went for a walk around town in search of a cup of tea. I need tea upon waking liking most others need their coffee.

I walked for a while. It was Saturday night but the town was almost empty. Finally I found a quiet little café where I was one of the only customers.

After getting my fix I left the bar in what I thought was the direction I’d come, only to realise that I was lost. I was due onstage in 15 minutes but couldn’t remember the name of the bar, let alone which street it was on. There was no one to ask and the chances of them speaking English were pretty slim. I wasn’t sure how I would mime ‘can you direct me to the bar I’m playing in?’ but it would have been pretty acrobatic.

Playing so many places and meeting so many people has destroyed my short term memory rather than improved it. People tell me their names and I will have forgotten it by the end of their next sentence. The same with bars, I could tell you the names of the places I'll be playing in six months, because I’m doing the planning for it, but I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow unless I check the list.

In the end I made it back to the bar, 10 minutes late, entering to cheers rather than silence and taking the stage immediately.

- - - - - - -

I stayed the night with Mary and Quentin, friends of the friends of the friend who got me the show. In the morning they gave me a quick tour of Valence before my train left. There wasn’t much to see, but what their was I saw. They only planned to stay here until Quentin had finished his studies.

We explored the streets I’d seen last night and talked about France. Whenever it’s my turn to ask questions I like to hear local news and perspectives so I can pretend I've been informed, at least about different prejudices. They were both hated their own country as only the young can.
- Don’t you find the people very cold? And there is no good music coming out of France. Only electronic. I only listen to English and American music.

They told me a bit about their lives before. They both grew up in Annecy. Quentin’s father is a pilot for Air France and he’d already been to 20 countries before he was 16. He said Japan was the highlight so I will have to look into getting some shows there.

Mary lived in Lyon but didn’t like it at all.
- It is the most violent city in France. I was beaten up myself by some girls who lived downstairs from me. It is even quite a rich town but the people are strange.
I’d heard Marseille was the rough city in France
- Oh no, it is nothing compared to Lyon.

I felt a little bit more informed.

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