Small Windows Pt. I: Suitcases, and cases for suits

ICE 2503
Berlin Hbf – Mannheim – Basel SBB

1st December 2019

The tour began with a private show in Basel, the city where I was born. I was playing to family & friends from the ancient history of my life and that probably made me more nervous than I was aware at the time.

It was the kind of dilemma that I never like to face at 4:30am on a Sunday morning: suit or no suit? It seems trivial now but to my bleary morning mind I felt like my founding principles were on the line. What it boiled down to was: which version of me will they get in Basel?

Problem is, my suit doesn’t fit in my suitcase. Very little does. I’ve made some compromises, slashing two out of three notebooks and a poetry anthology, but I’m not letting go of my camera, my shaving kit, or my half-kilogramme of chestnuts. Do I sound eccentric, cleaving to my absurd little comforts?

Here’s my defence: I’m on tour. Little comforts add up.

Maybe eccentricity is a companion of naivety. A little naivety is to be expected and enjoyed. It’s the certainty of a Boy Scout that everything will go right if we just prepare, if we remember our pack lunches, our thermos flasks, if we iron our uniforms.

I’m happy to report that principle, not sloth, took the victory this morning. The Basel crowd will be friends and family, but why should that make me cut corners? I ended up straggling to the Hauptbahnhof laden with four carriers: instrument, suitcase, suit-case and lunch.

One day I might learn that touring light is touring well. I might accept that being over-prepared isn’t the same as being ready, and that I can’t make everything go right. But should something go wrong – and it’s very English of me to say this – at least there’s dignity in keeping up appearances.

I spent most of December in that suit, a hand-knitted jumper and big black boots. I learnt that being self-reliant is impossible, and also not the point. Rely on people to help, and help they will.


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