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Monday, May 02, 2005

What Zachary Did in the UK

April 30- We were rudely awakened at the Quality Inn of Stoke this morning by a fire alarm. As we waited outside for the “all clear,” a busload of cowboys stormed onto the scene. An ambush! I curled up on the ground and play dead in case they decided to take hostages. Then a hotel steward emerged from the building and said we were free to go back to our rooms. The cowboys entered the Inn with us and put on their best behavior. Shaken and confused, we went back to sleep for a while. I have yet to figure this one out. Mic (our tour manager), Dyan, and Zebastian all confirm that there were, indeed, Cowboys charging the hotel. A shared hallucination?

Dyan went home early after the show last evening (which was, I daresay, the best of the tour thus far) so our posse—your Blood Arm boys plus those of Maximo Park –became a Man’s Club. It is a common assumption that when a group of boys is fed all the liquor they desire and left to their own resources, behavior will degrade to the basest of levels. Windows will be broken, villages burned and looted, any woman in the path left pregnant out of wedlock, etc, etc. Not true for us. We talked about our feelings. Lucas was proud of his performance that evening, and upset that no one had said anything about it. Zebastian thought Lucas’ brilliance went without saying, but affirmed that he was particularly stellar that show. Nathaniel misses his mother. Zachary feels incredibly alone sometimes, even when we’re all in the van together. Duncan misses his mother, too. The night ended in a group hug. And Zach puking.

There was a strip joint across from the hotel and I can’t stop thinking about it. In the States, men and women stick dollar bills in the strippers’ undergarments. Here, the lowest form of passable currency is the pound coin. Do people slide the coins into the strippers’ unmentionables? The answer remains a mystery.

After a blown tire and a long wait for a service truck, we finally arrived at Phil’s (City Rockers Records) Oxford home for a late-afternoon BBQ. Phil has an adorable son and daughter, who spent the majority of their time running about singing ‘All the Girls.’ “It’s kind of Narcissistic, isn’t it,” Phil says. “You marry someone who looks a lot like you so you can have children who look just like you. I love it.” A few glasses of wine into the gathering, Phil brought out a photo from his party days. In the picture, he’s wearing a ruffled flamenco bare-midrift emblazoned with tiny swastikas (the Hindu symbol of peace, he insists) over the whole of the garment. Ex-post facto, I’m thinking it would have been funny to call him Prince Harry. Now I’m thinking I should have just told you I called him Prince Harry on the spot. I mean, how would you know I didn’t? So I said to Phil, “You look like Prince Harry in that photo!” HAHAHAHHAHAHA!

It’s particularly touching (in the most literal sense) how much a TBA performance affects the children of England. At the end of our show in Oxford, a group of five young girls attacked Dyan and Nathaniel with hugs and kisses, then begged the duo to autograph their sweaty arms and legs. Dyan swears she was bitten at one point. By the time the young ladies found their way to me, ink was smudged up and down their arms and they were clinging to torn bits of Dyan’s dress. I wondered if my friends were still alive. I felt something like braces stick into my arm. Moist hands seized my arms and bear-hugged me. I signed a forehead in self-defense… I’d say it felt like rape, but I think I liked it.

Now I’m looking at the sleeve of my shirt, and Nathaniel’s autograph somehow transferred itself from one of the girls’ arms and made a home there. I wonder how much this is worth on EBay?

On to Manchester!

May 2- The Jabez Clegg in Manchester was a mess when we arrived on the scene. The wooden stage was sagging and rotting apart, the PA system was missing wires, and it appeared likely the show would have to be cancelled. (We’re not prisses, mind you. If someone were to jump on the stage they’d have fallen right through.) Thankfully, Mic and Chris (MP’s tour manager) were able to whip the promoter and his hired hands into shape, re-tool the stage, rewire the PA, and the doors were allowed to open—albeit an hour late and without soundchecks for any of the bands. Then, right as I was about to take the spotlight for my Master of Ceremonies duties, an idiot DJ started spinning the ‘Attention’ single. This is bad form under any circumstance—especially insulting after that headache of an afternoon—but we took the tattered platform as if nothing as happened and the band gave one of their best performances of the tour thus far. (I later witnessed three beefy security guards pummeling the DJ in a back room, hopefully not on our behalf. However upset we may have been at the DJ, TBA endorses violence in no way.) The people of Manchester are wonderful, the Jabez Clegg, however, is not. It was wonderful to reacquaint ourselves with some familiar faces from the last tour as well.

Whenever one turns on the television here, all there is to watch is Snooker coverage. It’s related to American billards in that the competitors hit ivory balls around a table with cue sticks, but in Snooker the table is much larger and there are a lot more balls, and they take some of the balls out of the pockets after someone hits them in. None of us really get it, but it’s oddly hypnotic. Anyone care to explain? And while you’re at it, what’s the deal with Cricket?

We’re driving into Glasgow right now for a show at King Tut’s tonight, and we have tomorrow off. See you soon!

-Ben Lee


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Ben Lee, I'm the girl who wrote the comment about wanting more, and less Zachary, it's not that I dislike Zachary, it's just that I feel he's your personal favorite, and for that reason gets more attention. I wouldn't have expected anything other than you putting "What Zachary did in the UK" as your title... I love that... You are way too awesome. haha... I'm glad you kids are having fun. Thanks for keeping us up to date.

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh sweet Mr. Ben Lee, the more I read your pretty little thoughts, the more I love you. All Of you. One day soon all fabulous five of you will rule the world, and all will be well. We miss you like crazy in L.A. but are rooting for you as you make England your bitch. Can't wait to read more about your crazy, saucy antics.

10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

arghhhhh i know this is picky but TBA are gonna make the UK their bitch!!!! they're playing scotland as well as england - not the same thing!!! two totally different countries! why dont americans know this? its like thinking canada or mexico was the us! however that aside they will rule us all. this i know to be true.

2:27 AM  
Anonymous Andy said...

Well it isn't really because Scotland is in the UK...

See you in Birmingham ;-)

4:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Ben,
I was at your Manchester gig and have just read your post about what happened. I love your music and I indeed love you but I am puzzled as to why lost it because your record was played. I think you were being a tad pathetic and really petty and this as really shown you up. I am ashamed of you Ben as I thought you had more humilaty and petience but obviously not. I will continute to support the Blood Arm but I really think you are the most pompous, idiot and I have lost favour in you. All my friends are talking about your blog from Manchester and you have lost a hell of a lot of fans. Please restore my faith in you..

8:33 AM  
Blogger BLOOD AMBITION 2006 said...

hey anonymous-

please note that no one from our posse did complain about our predicament (except on here, obviously), and it is traditionally considered 'bad luck' to go on stage right after someone has played your album. much as people never say "good luck" before an actor goes on stage--you're supposed to say "break a leg"--it's one of those things. forgive me for not making my sarcasm clearer, and i hope we can still be friends. manchester is one of our favorite cities in the uk. again, forgive me.

ben lee

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Great Mr Ben Lee
I have a significant disliking for irritatingly gushing superlatives, but my Oxfordian introduction to TBA was little short of a wonderful otherworldly experience, in which i felt i had been spoken to by a prophet named Ben Lee and hugged by an angel called Nathaniel.
You are truly a poet and a gentleman, and from this moment hereafter i intend to keep a record of your truly joyous ceremonial introductions in my small red book that contains my favourite thoughts/poems etc. I too love spring.
I am currently making outrageous bids for your album on Ebay but i get the feeling i am financially battling a fellow TBA believer so i guess that makes things slightly better.
I wish that i knew who you were when i spoke to you on the merchandise stand before the show because i now know we would have had so much to discuss. But i will endevour to follow your merry band across England (and Scotland but not Manchester if its inhabitants are so easily and somewhat bizzarely offended)'s verdant pastures, and hopefully, we shall soon get a chance to talk.
Tell Dyan she is very pretty.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous whatlofi said...

To your musings about UK strip-clubs, I believe a one-pint beer glass (ideally the old school variety with handle and weird, distorting "panels") is the usual receptacle for those pound coins. I heartily recommend a trip to Ye Olde Axe on Hackney Road after (or indeed before) your Bethnal Green show to see this with your own eyes.

3:40 AM  

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