Coggeshall – the frontline of the war for Middle Britain. In 2001 this was the fourth most marginal seat at the general elections, New Labour hanging on by a thread. By 2005 normal order was resumed, once again a Tory heartland. Here £50 man roams the streets on his lunchbreak, Chelsea trackers rumble past quaint tudor facades, and young couples howl with laughter and cries of “what are you like!” a-la-Catherine Tate. Coggeshall – the most beautiful village in the world without a soul.
Or so I used to think. It was all I was railing against – the quiet suburban “i’ll look after mine, if you look after yours,” attitude of this village and it’s uglier, bigger sister Colchester. It’s here I spent my childhood and adolescence drinking Hooch and crying over girls. It’s this place that echoes through my show Poet & Man.
Everything in the show seemed to have greater resonance last night. From the line “I grew up in Colchester / where very little culture stirs” to the story about my dad and the French exchange kid told as my dad sat there grimacing in the front row. Yan said he saw two shows last night – the usual one with my talking ten to the dozen and an extra one comprising of the expressions on my parents’ faces as I recounted my teenage years.*
I think I’ve always liked coming home. Even when I hated Colchester and all it stood for there was still a part of me that could never escape it. There’s no doubting it has made me what I am, and I think that all conspired to make it a really great show last night. I don’t think I have ever come off stage so pleased with my performance.
We head to Aldershot today. Yanny Mac is supporting as well as Dockers MC, as he did last night. Aldershot is where he’s from, so I’m not the only one facing the ghosts this week. From Colchester to Aldershot, we’re like the paras in reverse. Backward paras.
I’m having a great time. Sally is here with us too today, last night we came home and drank enough wine to make it all a bit fuzzy today and we’ve just had bacon sandwiches. Happy days. I leave for Australia on Sunday to do my show there. Oh, that just made my hands go a bit sweaty.
*If you haven’t seen the show, don’t be fooled into thinking this is heavy shit. Just the usual tales of teenage love and vomit.