Most of what follows, unfortunately, happened.
Date: The coldest day since records began.
Venue: A toilet.
Crowd: Just me and the rats.
I was in my late teens when I first slept in a toilet.
In the early days of gig life The Underdogs used to frequent a village hall. It was one of the few venues in the sleepy seaside town that would allow a bunch of adolescents through the door. It was perfect. We’d hire the hall, ask our friends to play and invite everyone we knew.
There was, however, one problem. It was a 10 minute car journey out of town. Most gigs we were able to arrange transport from friends, friends of friends or kind strangers with a trustworthy demeanour. One night, however, we miscalculated.
After we finish our set, we pack everything away and load up the taxi we ordered. But we somehow have an excess of a bass amp, several instruments and most importantly, 2 people.
Jake and I volunteer to stay behind. I say volunteer. I feel duty bound and put my name forward, Jake however simply isn’t quick enough to reserve a space in the car. Nicky, ever the sportsman, says he’ll order us a pizza when he gets home and promises to come pick us up in the morning.
So Jake and I settle in for the night, consigned to spending the night in a village hall.
Which is when the electricity runs out. In our haste to pack and get everyone back home we’d forgotten the power ran on a meter that took special tokens you bought from the owner. We had failed to buy enough of this life force to make it through the night. We barely made it to midnight before the lights duly shut down. And with them, the heat.
It was mid-November.
Solace temporarily arrives in the form of the pizza man who is understandably confused and more than a little nervous about the lack of any light in the building. I could kiss Nicky at this point. Until I realise he hasn’t paid for it. Nicky would later explain he thought we had money. I would later retort that if we’d had money, we would’ve been in a separate taxi. The delivery man is less interested in conversation or any form of bartering so leaves with the sustenance and with it my faith in humanity.
So light, food and heatless, Jake and I find some space to lay our heads for the night. Approximately 2.8 seconds later, Jake is asleep. It is at this exact time that I realise I am the coldest I have ever been in my life. The old tennis net I found is serving virtually no purpose as a makeshift blanket. I put it down to the copious amount of holes nets are typically blessed with and discard the item, trudging off in search of another form of heat.
2 hours later, after huddling in a corner, exploring under the stage (big mistake) and trying in vain to remove the stage curtain to use as a blanket, I eventually stumble into the toilet. Which has a heater. This heater, this heavenly square foot of holy design, is inexplicably pumping out heat in spite of the lack of electricity in the building. The toilet was radiating with the heat of a 1000 exploding suns. It was like some sort of punk miracle.
So I curl up next to the toilet, and I sleep. I sleep the dreamless sleep of a kid in the dark cuddled up in dry puddles of urine.
The morning, as promised, brings with it a sleepier than usual Nicky. He rubs his eyes as he steps out of the car.
“You alright?” I ask.
Nicky groans before adding. “Nah, man. Didn’t sleep at all.”
The lesson, if there is one, is that sometimes in a band you can be riding high having the time of your live. Other times, you just gotta sleep where other people shit.
Photo by darkday via Flickr.