I receive a telephone call.

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.

15 Comments

  1. The Tea Room Lady reminds me of Mrs Doyle in ‘Father Ted’.

    You’ll be very rich and famous at that rate – is England going to avoid joining the Euro by paying for everything with bread and cheese?

  2. Yes.

    There is a certain amount of conflict within the coalition, however. The LibDems want to include brie, edam, mozzarella and all that continental stuff. The Conservatives insist on Stilton and cheddar only. And even then, only rinds.

  3. What a shame it’s too late to get this new stage of your career in the book – maybe volume 2.

  4. So I presume that the LibDems want to include baguettes, brioche and croissants whereas the Conservatives only want Mother’s Pride?

  5. Well, you already have chickens, so you can buy yourself some healthcare in Utah! (Probably a bit US-centric of a comment…)

    Good thing you didn’t have to do the 6 hour Rawhide Theme.

  6. Oh what a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle you lead!

  7. So, for us furriners, exactly which illustrious political party would promise jam?

  8. UKIP say we’d all have jam if it weren’t for you furriners.

  9. Well if you don’t like furriners, Jonny, you shouldn’t be accepting gigs for fifth columnists like tourism professionals. So sad – back in the business five minutes and you’re already a shameless sell-out…

  10. That’s what we call here ” a Dutch treat” and I bet the cheese was from the same country .

  11. I’ve always understood “Tea Room” to be Victorian slang for “Opium Den”.

    You’d better have a closer look at that cheese, Jonny.

  12. We play them a 25-minute version of ‘Moondance’
    LOL! That was the first proper song I learned the guitar-chord structure to. I hate it now. 🙂 Lovely tale though.

  13. It seems the payment of artists in cheese is an industry wide problem, to whit;

    Why is it always Daiylea?
    When in the contract it stipulated brie?
    Why is it always Daiylea?
    I’ve got some nice red wine in
    I was looking forward to dining

    Dave Lee Travisty, 2001 from the follow up album to the seminal ‘Worst Album in the World, ever… Ever..’ by the iconic Shirehorses

  14. I was once paid for my musical accompaniment in vintage port.

    What you want to do is get into the funeral market – it’s at least £50 a pop, playing for funerals. And Leonard Cohen would be ideal.

  15. Sounds like this here Tea Room Lady is a bit fit, considering your initial enthusiasm to drink from her cup.

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