The Official Chris Difford Website

Are We There Yet


Im really only writing this to keep from falling asleep, we have been on the road now for 8 hours, John is still driving, Michael is asleep. I have been deep into Elvis’s book, his voice keeping me company as we pass Salt Lake City and lesser known towns up in the mountains. Its dark now and we are going to pass through Laramie and Cheyenne. Two famous cowboy towns where Wild Bill Hickok once rode his horse and shot his gun. My head is full of snot, i knew i would pay for this, its always the way. On the Queen Mary once they gave me a suite on the 12th floor, way up near the crows nest, i felt sick as we swayed through the grey open Ocean. A friend on board told me that if you pay you sway. So i requested a room on the lower deck, i had no need for a suite anyway, i was never there long enough. A fancy Star bus is one thing but you can never get away from the uneasy ride of the open road, I’m very lucky its true and i have nothing to complain about, except a bit of boredom. I deal with it well on most days and tune out of this world for another full of imaginary friends and places. There is nothing imaginary about the truck stop we just pulled into for some food. Inside the restaurant, as it was called, were about 50 people mostly overweight and looking tired  of life, it was as if i had woken up in a prison. The food was slopped out on trays and looked disgusting. I asked for two pizza slices, a man rolled out some dough from the fridge topped it with cheese and some red paste. I took it on the bus, lifted it up to my mouth and it sank like a piece of wallpaper with too much paste on it. It went into the bin. I remembered that there was a bagel in the cupboard and some Salmon, i was saved. There is nothing to see out of the window, its dark, but i can just image the cowboy land we are passing through with all of its history, gun fights, wagons and banks being robbed. In my room at the back of the bus i can smell tomorrow coming at me, the show, the hotel and the show after that as we wade through the Mid West looking for our past and trying to lay tracks for the future, tracks laid over old ground where once we have been before. Making sense of it all is all i can do as i sit with my head full of cold and the bus creaking on along East 80 towards Idaho where we turn left and head up to our destination. If we are lucky we will arrive mid afternoon just before soundcheck tomorrow, its 8pm. I hope so. I hate being late. Elvis talks in his book with such passion, i feel exhausted by his constant reveal, the way he turns pages in my mind and leads me back to where my life was in some ways like his, we are of a similar age. Danny Bakers book touches a similar nerve and I’m wondering how my book will read alongside such well thought out stories. When i find some time back home i will find out, its filled me with inspiration in the same way that his lyrics have done in the past. The last time i saw him he questioned if writing new songs really does anything anymore, he trends to focus on his more fanciful subjects like stage and co writes with the well heeled above my head. I think our new album does deliver, even though I’m always craving for my hero’s to reinvent the wheel of good fortune. Bowie recording another Ziggy, Elvis recording another Get Happy, but it won’t happen. Joni another Blue. People like to move mountains where there are no mountains that need moving. Squeeze have delivered with this new album a well caught fish, one that everyone wants a slice of, like the journalist who i spoke to today on the phone from Pittsburg. He too wondered where the filling is these days, no MTV, no radio, poor sales and no record shops, or very few. America is so massive it would be folly to ever think we could break here now, we muster respect and people love our songs. In the back of another tour bus on another tour i wonder how long it will be before Wild Bill walks back into town and sends some dust into the air, and once that settles hopefully something new will make us turn our dial. the gold rush is over, they don’t even make gold records anymore, its all about bums on seats. Each time i go to the front of the bus i hear the radio, its either Carole King or Elton John, Fleetwood Mac or Chicago. Nothing wrong with that you might think, but where is the thrill of the new, its not to be heard anywhere on Satellite Radio it seems. It washes over the steering wheel with familiarity, nothing has changed since we first came here back in the late 70’s. Its still a good living being in a band and I’m thankful for our fans who come to see us, they seem happy to hear our songs in whichever interpretation we prepare for them. They won’t hear our songs at the front of this bus anytime soon. Its more than a living its a way of life and sometimes I’m tossed this way and that with how i feel about the clay beneath my feet. Its only clay. I just lost two hours on two different time zones by the way, time to celebrate with a chocolate bar. Can i take a few more chapters of this book before bed time, I’m not sure about that, there are still 23 chapters to go! Im going nowhere so what else is there to do, although i am, I’m going everywhere.

I watched some TV on my laptop, Peter Owen Jones talking about his simple life in Firle, my home. Its so good to see the village and see the Downs in full summer glory. Peter is a sweetheart and in many ways saved my life. I was lost like a lamb and he took me into his kitchen and showed me where i could find home, i also needed family around me. I was living at the time in London in a swanky pad. I was broken inside and needed his kind words to reveal the next chapter of my life. I moved to Firle and married the girl of my dreams, she completed the family i now have and the simple life Peter talks about is a few footsteps away. Even though I’m in the middle of bum fuck Idaho i feel safe seeing and hearing familiarity. Married in the church there in the nest of our life, home to our present hearts and minds, with some bridges to repair, but mostly we are safe. Here on the bus i can reflect upon the wonderful life God has provided for us both, and that Peter has in some way opened up.  What i do is what i have always done through the years, travelled uncomfortably with my work but with great reward both spiritual and emotionally. Without that add in a sweet show window i would not be here at all, and that often freaks me out.  Family and home, thats all i need, i have resisted over the years but now the old dog wants to sit by the fire. Watching Peter on the screen tonight made me think about all of the above. its 4.15am in Firle, I’m switching time zones, the bus rolls on and happiness is found in a simple cup of tea and a red bed. Thank you Peter.