Friday Night Dive

Several people have remarked on how much a black eye suits me. In fact, some thought it was a stylish experiment with makeup.

No one has commented on how much weight I've lost. Humph.

Every band that plays gigs knows the feeling. You've played a dozen or two venues, you're getting a following and a reputation, then you turn up to the latest place expecting the upward curve to continue.

And it's a grotty old dancehall in some neglected armpit of a municipal building, and your audiance is three gluesniffers, a whippet, and a bouncer who's also the barman. The walls are a uniform horrible shade of magnolia, the broken furniture comes from a 1970s canteen, and the acoustics turn every song into a soup of tinkly reverberation.

This was the scene of last night's gig by Strict Machines. And therefore the scene of my date with CW.

The Happy Mondays Club is the upstairs hall of what used to be the Portsmouth Liberal Club. And there really is a whippet (crossbred with something else, I don't know what) and a bald fat bloke in a suit, who I think is the owner too. Entrance is 3 english pounds sterling, and the club is an established workingmen's drinking place trying to metamorphose into a lively music venue and hip place to be.

The audiance grew to about 15, who as it turned out weren't friends of the other bands - they were the other bands. Not the first gig I've been to where three bands played to each other, but the first where no one seemed to mind.

CW and me sat in a corner, getting rapidly drunk - him on his guiness, me on my something-or-other-possibly-rum and coke - and canoodling. No one minded two strange men holding hands at a table - though some were too busy breakdancing to Jimi Hendrix covers or moshing to what were probably Pink Floyd songs to pay attention.

The dancing returned when Strict Machines played their funkier numbers, and the band seemed to be enjoying themselves greatly, on and off stage. All drunken/stoned musos together, enjoying each other's company and wall of sound.

CW and me left as the third band played - quite good melodic blues rock, though the disco lights were in permanant Donna Summer mode - stopping for an extended hug and kiss in the corridor outside.

Back in our respective homes, he called me, and we agreed it had been a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

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