Monday, April 27, 2009

The interview at BBC Radio Leicester on Thursday afternoon went off quite well, I thought. The show opened with a recorded version of “Mike Leigh World.” The Mister was in fine voice and sang “Greenhill Road” live. Jazz, clearly touched, watched from the other side of the glass. Chris Baxter, or “The Baxterman” as he is known, is an easygoing presenter and he drew us right in. It wasn’t supposed to be “us” as I declined at first and said I only wanted to take photographs—silently. But Chris had me at a mic before I knew what hit me. Slightly startled, I remember prattling on inanely about life in New York, being a native New Yorker, treading dangerously on the side of nobody knows New York like a native. And no, it wasn’t all “Sex & the City.” The Mister was much more literate in telling of his growing up in Leicester, reminiscing about his dad—an accomplished piano player in his own right—taking him down to London for guitar lessons with the venerable Joe Pass. A day after we returned to New York, we happened to be on the Lower East Side for a bit of theater. It's historically where immigrants settled and remnants of the old Jewish life peer from behind the urban middle class that own the streets now. As we made our jet-lagged way through those streets crowded with entitled, cigarette smoking tourists and hipsters, chock-a-block with their trendy watering holes, I remarked to The Mister: "Er, maybe it is all Sex and the City."

Before the radio interview we killed time, cornered by an effusively chatty guide who prattled on about the Craddock crowd, I think, memorialized in the Church of St Martin. Built atop Roman foundations, the rather smallish cathedral is situated across cobblestone streets from Radio Leicester and adjacent to the well-haunted Guild Hall, which is a beautiful Grade I listed timber-framed building, with the earliest part dating from c1390. Afterwards we wandered into the city center with Jazz, picked up tickets for a dance performance at The Curve—currently Leicester’s most talked about bit of architecture—and grabbed a bite at Café Roma on Rutland Street, one of Jazz’s lunchtime haunts.

Delicious home cooked Pasta Puttanesca for an early dinner back on Greenhill Road and then off to another gig at the Donkey. Gaz Birtels runs the monthly Song Club, a lively evening of singer songwriters for which he slotted in The Mister on short notice. (“Hey Gaz. Get that webcam up and running again so The Mister and I have a life back here in Manhattan!”) I should say here that this trip was initially planned as a surprise for The Mister’s birthday. His idea of pizza and wine at our favorite haunt uptown didn’t seem to me to be celebratory enough, though it is really good coal-fired, brick-oven pizza. Unbeknownst to The Mister I set about contacting the players who would be needed to make this trip a reality: his boss at the day job didn’t hesitate and immediately gave him the necessary time off. Siggy and Jazz were well up for a party in their house but when Siggy suggested gigs while in Leicester I knew I had to blow my cover and reveal all to the Mister. “I can’t tell you what we are doing for your birthday, but bring your guitar. And pack a tuner, capos, extra strings and plectrums, and…er…the flight case. Oh and don’t forget your passport.”

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