Yesterday was some kind collage, dream-like, terror. Which is to say, it was very memorable.
On our way out of Penrith following a magical day of music, sites, and a new found love for bowling, Billy took us by a neolithic henge at Mayburgh. It was a massive circular bank of earth and rocks balanced on a single remaining rock it the direct center of the arena-like gathering space. Evidently there had been other stones that had been removed over the millenia, but it’s not by chance this one remained. As Billy, who has mind for historical detail, related to us, the people of the time choose stones in their natural state for these sites based on their masculine or feminine quality. This stone was most certain a femine stone inspired by the shape of the pregnant lady.
Even though a major highway (the M6) was close by there was a tender silence in the center of the henge. The scale and form of the stone, and the effort it obviously took to get it there was humbling. The craftmanship of nature, the critical eye of humans, and the desire to connect to something greater was still very tangeable.
As we exited the henge we noticed another formation in a neighboring field; the sign said King Arthur’s Table. And it certainly was a large, round plater of land surrounded by a moat-like ditch. As, we walked around it I admired the shape of the land, exaggerted by the fresh layer of snow and it occured to me that I must sled this hill.
I ran back the van a fetched my cello case, having had some experience in the past. The case is constructed of stiff carbon fiber and has a glossy, slick finish that makes it an incredibly smooth ride. So, I ran back to the field, past the sheep, over King Arthur’s Table, and laid the cello case against the neaolithic monument and slid. Immediately, everyone wanted to try.
First up was Grant Showbiz, our soundman, who was immediately transported 25 years back in time and giggled over and over as he slid down the hill. Next up was Billy, who considered it a challenge to try unique seating positions. Then Simon, the merch man, and Daniel Martin Moore. Everyone was in and as Grant says, “Oh, how we laughed.”
Back at the van our tour manager, Henry Cross, was getting word that further up the road, the winter weather was causing trouble in Scotland. So, when we all piled in we knew we might be in for a long journey. Fortunately, we took some time to prepare.
It was smooth sailing for 85% of the trip, it was the last 15% of the 2 hour drive that swelled in to 11 hours on the highway. Semi-trucks, or lollies as the gang calls them, were getting stuck. Traffic would be idle for 45 minutes sometimes only to figget a few hundred feet. We were hearing on the radio that people had been in their cars for hours waiting. All we could do was wait, but the gig in Glasgow, was certainly not looking likely.
The thing is, the weather was not that bad. It was no longer snowing, and there was only 6-8 inches on the ground. It’s just that it was really cold and not steps had been taken to winterize the roads. In the 11 hours we were on the highway we saw only two police cars, one emergency vehicle, and one salt truck (not salting our scraping). It was a massive infrastructure failure to an even that had been forecast days ago. People were abandoning their cars on the highway, whole busloads of people were stuck, the service station was out of diesel and any real food. The nearby hotels were loaded and it looked like we were going to be sleeping in the van.
We had to cancel the gig put pushed through the hours and hours of traffic to get to the Glasgow City Center where we had hotel rooms. Henry did all the driving and had a great air of chivalry when he got us there and we did the best thing we could think of to cope, shared some pints.