Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Is Binge-Drinking a Sin?: An Experiment in Unholy Immoderation

“Did you ever take drugs, stay up late, just to see what you would see?”
Boo Hewerdine, from 16 Miles

During one of the Holy Week services at my mother’s church, members of the congregation were encouraged to publicly acknowledge and purge their ‘sins’ by writing down a particular personal failing on a piece of paper for all to see. Predictably, these vices ranged from ‘vanity’ to ‘intolerance’ to ‘arrogance’, but also apparently included, much to mother’s amusement, that most modern of transgressions, ‘binge-drinking’. This story was relayed to me at the annual Hot Cross Bun fest at the family home in Eastbourne on Good Friday, at which I invariably arrive hungover from my own traditional ‘Last Supper’ dinner party on Maundy Thursday (This year being no exception). In keeping with my recent rebellious tendencies, I chose to ignore the possibly pointed subtext of this anecdote, and instead continued to embrace an ‘unholy’ weekend punctuated by excess. This ‘sinful’ behaviour included an all-day drinking session on Saturday, during which the phrase “someone’s tired” was rather acerbically aimed at my belligerently over-inebriated other half. Needless to say, he was suitably contrite and satisfyingly crapulent the next day, as I left him wallowing in his own shame, to pursue further inebriation and indulgence with friends in London.

The final chapter of this immoderate Easter weekend was rather less excessive, despite taking place in the pub. Almost exactly one year ago, I blogged enthusiastically (http://rowstar.blogspot.com/2006/04/lovely-boo.html) about seeing of my musical heroes, Boo Hewerdine, live at Komedia. So imagine my excitement at having tickets to an even more intimate gig at which he was accompanying Irish folk singer Heidi Talbot in one of my local pubs, The Greys. A tiny, rustic watering hole in the heart of the drinkers’ haven that is Hanover, The Greys has a reputation for hosting quality live music (mostly of a folky nature) as well as excellent food and an impressive array of Belgian beer. It is also one of the only venues in Brighton in which I can feel young and trendy, amidst a clientele that is largely bearded and balding. So, with self-esteem thoroughly restored, and a rather elegant glass of Kriek in my hand, I was ripe for some soothing folk music to conclude my holiday weekend. The combination of Heidi’s ethereal vocals, Boo’s gracefully impassioned finger-picking, and some spell-binding fiddle-playing from the esteemed Tola Custy had an immediate spine-tingling effect. Their set comprised a pleasing blend of traditional Celtic ballads, folksy covers of jazz standards, and several of Boo’s own distinctive compositions. I had a tearful moment when Boo sang ‘Patience of Angels’ during a solo spot – his voice never fails to affect me, and on this occasion the lyrics were particularly poignant. This also gave me the opportunity to show off a little, when the audience was encouraged to join in with the chorus of “There’s a door, in a house, in a street, in a town etc…”. Since I was sat right at the front, my contribution was duly noted and later acknowledged - at which point I was forced to feign complete mortification of course!

As if this feast of musical delights wasn’t enough, the evening also proffered some diverting entertainment of the conversational variety. During the interval I found myself accosted by one of the enthusiastic beardies, who had overheard me (jokingly) refer to the local 9-piece folk band The Copper Family as Rottingdean’s answer to Arcade Fire. Evidently oblivious to the concept of sarcasm, he proceeded to enlighten me as to the illustrious history of this esteemed musical clan, who, it transpires, have been performing since 1898. My jesting continued to go undetected as he then earnestly informed me that no, it wouldn't be the original line up performing at the upcoming (and sadly sold-out) gig at The Greys next week. After the gig, Boo & co stuck around for a drink with the punters, and I was honoured to buy the man himself a glass of wine, in return for which he indulged me in a little (hopefully not too cringe-making on my part) fan-banter. Pleasantly beer-fuelled, and more than a little giddy at having hung out with one of my musical heroes, I bounced back up Southover Street and then sat up ‘til 1am adding Boo tracks to Project Playlist, so that he can have his rightful share of my myspace jukebox. Tired, but still buzzing, I’m sat at my desk having lunch, listening to 16 Miles – an appropriate anthem for my weekend of unholy immoderation

1 comment:

  1. Hey Rowan
    Wanted to alert you (if needs be) to one of Boo's productions - Hafdis Huld's debut solo album "Dirty Paper Cup'. If you haven't got it then let me know and I'll send you a copy for nothing, because you've been so lovely about Boo on your blog. Hafdis is down in Brighton on 17th May for the Great Escape so you can see her there too.


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