Friday afternoon and I was on a train to London. Feeling a bit nervous because I was going to meet a bit of my life that I hadn't seen for over 20 years and hadn't sung with for nearly 40. (Dear me, statements like that look so dreadful when written down...)
Jon the Manager met me at Marylebone and we walked briskly to Baker St, well , JtM walked briskly, I trotted breathlessly.. When did I forget how to cross roads in London? Nearly got run over at least once... So Baker St. stairs down, that's all right, I can do that. Find the right platform, JtM did that. Get away from the very loud station announcer... impossible. Get on train. Squish squash, I'd forgotten about the rush hour....squish even more, all the way to Hammersmith. Via Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park, all the stamping grounds of my youth seen out of the carriage windows.
Hammersmith at last, another hugely busy road with a million traffic controls and screaming sirens in all directions. Closed my eyes and followed JtM (not easy!)
And there was the Irish Centre with posters saying 'Tonight! Jackie McAuley'
Jack hadn't got there yet so off to have a coffee in one of those coffee places that aren't very good when you say 'a cup of white coffee with some sugar please'. Got to say what kind, big little small etc. and then wait 15 minutes while the huge machine does it's thing.
Back to the centre and there was Jack in the middle of a soundcheck. Hug hug. He's still enormously tall, introductions to Jon and then to sit for a while to listen to the soundcheck. Jack's brother Brendan, was playing with him, whistles, uilleann pipes, flutes, bodrhan. They called me up to do a soundcheck, Jack played and I sang 'Down & Out Blues'. It was amazing. Instantly transported back to my youth, then we tried a song that Jack had sent me, 'Radio Waves' . Never sung it before with him, but a harmony appeared from nowhere and it sounded lovely.
We all went off to find something to eat and returned to find Jack's mum and another brother, had arrived. I listened to a few of the very good floor spots and then slipped out to talk to Jack in the foyer and catch up with a tiny part of the years.
Then it was Jack's turn, he sang several songs then called me up to sing.
No nerves at all, Jack was brilliant and it all sounded beautiful.
We stayed to watch nearly all of Jack's set, but then we had to go so that last trains home could be caught..
Oh that was such fun!