Forgot to mention about the Karaoke bar in Nottingham last night, after the show we were all keen to have a drink and unwind and ended up in a pub next to the hotel which had a karaoke session in full swing. Despite being in the 'quiet' corner, away from the main action - the speakers were still blasting out the terrible signing - we even covered the speakers with coats to quieten the racket - it was still good to unwind with the crew. The last time we were in a karaoke bar was in New Hampshire in the US and I got up and showed the locals how it was done!
I strolled round the Christmas market in Nottingham in the morning
Despite the bonhomie here, the drive up to Blackpool was fairly stressful - a long traffic jam in Stoke, followed by driving rain near to Blackpool - it took us three hours with one stop. We listened to Molly Drake and a couple of Desert Island Discs episodes (Tracey Thorn and Noel Gallagher).
Winter in Blackpool is never a pretty affair and our arrival was hindered by the roadworks on the promenade which made getting to the hotel a final hassle we didn't need. Blackpool is like a lot of seaside towns in the UK, pretty poor despite having once been a famous resort - it has never recovered from the advent of cheap foriegn holidays in the 1960's.
We had been booked into the Imperial Hotel, a once opulent hotel that had played host to luminaries such as Charles Dickens. These days it must be a nightmare to run, as its vast - the public areas are all grand and impressive but the rooms themselves are pretty old and tired (but still clean). I must say when touring I prefer modern hotels as you know that you're going to be in a 'box' for 24 hours and 'character' counts for little on the road (but cleanliness does).
Rich took some great photos of the exterior of the theatre which show the beauty of this Frank Matcham masterpiece - he built 150 theatres all over the country.
And here's the interior
Plenty of lovely old theatrical publicity posters along the corridors in the theatre. The whole place is rich in history - the Beatles and Tallulah Bankhead have played here.
Someone had recommended that we visit this place called the Wok Inn, which was nearby and had had a rave review from chef Jay Rayner, so Rich, Leisa, Will and I all popped over and had a damn fine pre show meal.
Unfortunately, having finished my food - as soon as I walked out the door, the wind and the rain opened up and let me have it full force and I arrived back at the theatre completely drenched - i asked the guy at the stage door to take my picture (for your delight readers!)
The show went over well and once again there were plenty of ukulele players in the audience who had come to play along to the Christmas carols with us. It might have been the stress of the day or the fact that we'd been at Karaoke session the night before, but when the band started playing Song 2 and the audience started the chorus of 'whoo hoo' before I'd even sung a note: I decided to confound their expectations and sung it back to them in my best operatic Mario Lanza/Richard Tauber voice (which Rich rudely remarked later sounded like former Prime Minister John Major).
After our signing session, blow me down if we didn't meet our old friends from St Thomas's School in Blackburn (the Unique Ukuleles) who had come along to see us again and were all still up way past their bedtime! It was lovely to see them shyly ask us to sign their ukuleles and sign their tickets - I even lifted one kid up to show him what it was like being being 6'8".
Last show tomorrow in Newcastle