The Official Chris Difford Website

Fruit Cake

After a triumphant time supporting Hall and Oates in America for 10 weeks we played the final show together at The Hollywood Bowl. It was a fantastic way to end a tour. Squeeze then hit a few fill in shows and flew home to mop up the feelings of a very long tour. I was so pleased to see Louise at Terminal 3, and to be licked to death by Juno. Home was as it was, nothing changes much in ten weeks yet there were nice little tweaks. A tour well preserved in the memory for all time, slaps on backs for getting through it to all concerned. Another tour like this, no thanks, 10 weeks is a back breaker. Back home it was time to reflect even more than usual and sit in the garden with the turning season all around me. It was heaven. As soon as I had caught my breath it was time to pack another suitcase and head for the warm seat of my Audi, time to slip back up the A23 and into the backstages of another tour.

Being on tour with Jools is a joy, the audience dance and sing they swivel and smile, its a night of pleasure. It feels like the country has been at war and this is the first time most people have been to a show in over 18 months, hats are in the air, love is in the rafters and you can’t help but feel lucky to be part of the show. I sing four, from 9pm to 9.15. Annie Oakley from 1974 is so fantastic, why was it never recorded. The Orchestra are all wonderful people, giving and respectful, they have seen it all, its been a tour now for over 28 years, for some. The crew are lovely too and Mick the chief is such a nice fellow, and feeds me from time to time. Mostly cheese, and fruit. Stephen who drives Jools and oversees the circus is fun to be around, nothing seems to phase him. On stage I have my dry ice, its now part of my every routine, like Cliff before me.

Driving around the UK I enjoy the freedom as I cruise by myself from back stage door to back stage door. Its a four day week and one that is well oiled with the magical boogie of life. Perfection is not going to stop me from being who I am, its a great place to be, the gratitude I feel for everything that passes in my day is overwhelming. Yes I feel tired from so many months of touring, thats what happens, but with a nice rider of cheese fruit and chocolate what is there to moan about. I can’t wait for the Madness tour, supporting the nutty boys will be fun, and in such huge venues, if we play it right this time next year Rodney we could be minted! But who really knows. None of us. A well oiled machine they are too with great management and an eye for detail that I envy. More car, more motorway coming down the track, more dressing room chairs and fruit, but thats it, thats where the journey takes me. Next year who knows. This might be a distant memory chalked up on a board next to the Bunsen burner and the spinning globe in the classroom of life. I learn little sitting here on my dressing room chair, but I do love the smell of cooked food coming down the hall, its peaceful, the sound of a soundcheck, its peaceful, the dusty Audi engine, its peaceful too.

I wish I had time to sit and push the pencil up hill, to find the words that intrigue me and let them come home, that time will come, but to right now. I need to sit and find the person who writes, and to do so may mean some action stations. Last year I wrote some lovely lyrics with Boo, a record yet to be realised, its very very good. I percolate the waters of another record from the deep, the deep waters of my tired mind, where records remain, like sunken ships silent on the sea bed. Words are the anchor that keep me from drifting, yet it cant be finished or pulled from the deep until I stop and pull up the nets, the catch of the day gathers hours and days like crabs in a pot, they snap at the future trying hard to get back to a normal day. I feel spoilt like a kid at Christmas with all the toys and no brothers or sisters to eat the rest of the sweets in the tin. I am spoilt and thankfully its because of my past and its creation of friendship that I’m sat here on this dressing room chair at all. Thank you everyone who played a part, weather you hate me, fucked me over or toasted the fruits of my labour I don’t really care. We all make the final hours one day. I have at times allowed myself to be walked on, I shallow dived the anger and the confrontation in favour of a quite life, a day without chaos, because all that does is make you grey and depressed. Mrs D always has my back, and this year I have needed that back support as things moved in and out of mood. Forgiveness is my first chord, I can forgive those who trespass into the calm of my day, I can forgive all the words swollen like rivers over emotional valleys. I wish I knew why the pencil pushes itself uphill, the demos are marvellous the hits are all in my head, for now.

Being on tour at this time has made me look back on my journey though a very different lens, with a slightly wider aperture I can absorb more of the why and wherefores. Standing on stages where I have stood before makes me realise that life, time and my journey, race by on the track of laps. Its not a race but it feels like one somedays. America was an eye opener in many ways, a tour that was cut like a smart suit with thread from a distant time. I’m not sure why I felt so emotional. What happened to 2020, did it really happen? We all stood still, yet looking at the footage of lockdown on the tele its like watching footage of a War that I survived. Empty streets and cold theatres now all opened up and busy once again. There is a feeling of not knowing about everyday, a feeling of survival from a primitive intuition. I loved the garden the shed and the home, I loved the standing still for a year or so, it was inspirational and it still is. Walking into each day I pinch myself that I survived, the show closed but now the curtain is well and truly up. Some people wear masks at the shows I’m playing but mostly not. I have fallen out of favour with the mask, at least here in the UK, yet with winter poised I should take more care. I will.

I have noticed the lack of car washes on this tour. Brexit. I have noticed the High Streets being worn out, too many coffee shops not enough balance. Hotels seem empty. Where are the workers. Electric scooters, everywhere. I have looked into getting an electric car, sadly its not the right time. No theatres have charging points, no hotels have charging points, so my day would be stalked by low power signs on the dashboard. I looked into a car that would give me 250 miles fully charged, then I drove around for a few days seeing in my minds eye how it would work, and it didn’t. I have little time in the day to hang about getting my car charged in strange places. Motorway services are ok but not somewhere where I would want to sit around being plugged into the mains. Another time. It needs to work. Chris Martin may jog to his shows but its not the right time for me take up jogging, I think I would last about 100 yards, not enough to save the planet.

The Albert Hall is always the big one on any tour, and this week Jools plays it twice, and so I have the stage once again in this lovely hall of all halls. From the grey South Coastal towns of Bournemouth and Portsmouth its time to head up the road to the Albert of all halls. No backstage on this occasion as the Corvid cloud keeps us from our pals, which will be odd as the backstage is normally like an underground station with people passing by and milling around the dressing room doors, sometimes there are over 100 people down there in the den. It will be nice, for a change. The first time I went to the Albert Hall I saw Canned Heat, that was in 1970 supported by Renaissance, an odd pairing. I remember little about the show other than it was loud, but then gigs were in those days. Then I saw Jethro Tull supported by Procal Harum & Tir Na Nog. That was very loud too but I was mesmerised by the flute player standing in tights on one leg throughout the show.

So thats my catch up, next back in the dressing room with some wonderful Squeeze songs and a tour I have been looking forward to for a long time. As we sweep up the rest of the year I very much love what I do and the people I work with, I love my wife and I love the days that fall like leaves into the pathway of onwards. We have all been such challenging times yet God provides, letting go and letting God seems to work well, with a few minor hiccups along the way. Dressing room fruit will always be here beside me, the grapes the apples the pears, all of the goodness nature provides. From my dressing room I hear the world exchange footsteps, gossip and laughter, from this ear I hear my world.