It is the Tea Room Lady. It is nice to hear from her. We chat for a short while before she gets to her point.
“What are you doing on Tuesday night?” she demands.
This is good. Earlier in the year I was forced to cancel a couple of dinner engagements with the Tea Room Lady. I am free however on Tuesday night.
“Excellent,” she replies. “We are having a do for tourism professionals and need some musical accompaniment. The guitar player has dropped out. Be there at seven.”
I say words like ‘but’ and ‘I do not really’ a lot, but she has gone, so I ring her back.
“This is so exactly not my sort of thing,” I protest inarticulately.
“Nonsense,” she scolds. “You are a very good guitar player, so you have said. Sally will be singing, so you just need to sit there and play some chords.”
I raise my voice in alarm. “Isn’t Sally the middle-aged lady who tells olde time stories about life in agricultural communities gone by?” I gibber.
“No you idiot, she is a proper singer and works part-time in the tea rooms. You will be performing with Sally’s trio.”
This is reassuring. If there is a trio then I will be able to hide at the back. “Who’s the trio?”
“Well, as I said, the guitarist dropped out, so there is Sally and you.”
I arrive at the gig at the appointed time, having snatched a half-hour rehearsal to work out that we don’t know many songs and that my Leonard Cohen tribute set would be inappropriate for the circumstances. A throng of tourism professionals mill about in their throngdom, searching for ideas as to how to improve the visitor experience at their attractions, perhaps with some sophisticated music. We play them a 25-minute version of ‘Moondance’ followed by a 40-minute version of ‘Can’t Buy Me Love.’ Sally’s keyboard player arrives at the last minute, having agreed to bolster the sound. He is excellent. The music is excellent. The crowd of tourism professionals appreciate our excellence. This is the big time once more!!!
“Here you go – I’ll pay you in bread,” says the Tea Shop Lady, handing over a big bag of bread rolls and some loaves. “Can you stay for a second set? If so, I will give you some cheese.”
I stay for a second set. We play a one-hour-twenty-minute version of ‘Just the Two of Us.’ I am paid some cheese. It is good to be back in the music business again.