If we have to pick one highlight from the year it has to be the strange encounter we experienced in Charleville-Mézières, the home of Rimbaud and a major hub of European puppetry.
There we were, half way through our set in the back room of a very lovely bar called Le Baratin, on the riverfront and close to the Musée Rimbaud. We broke into 'Comet', a song that sticks out of our set like a Pagan's sore thumb, with a bit of dirt under the nail and a paper cut from a book of dark spells.
All of a sudden a figure appeared out of nowhere at the front of the crowd. Long white bedraggled hair, a flowing white shirt and dark leather trousers. Was it Patti Smith on her yearly pilgrimage to the town? No, it was just a strange woman who had seemed pretty uninterested in our songs until now. She took to the floor, slowly rocking her head and giving us all some intense eye-contact in the opening bars. This is what she had been waiting for, but would it live up to her expectations?
It did. With fists clenched she gave in and immediately became one with the music. In the breaks she let out guttural yelps and screams to the gods of rock n roll. She hunched her back and thrust her crotch to the beat of the drums, her hair over her face and arms above her head. We hadn't even reached the first chorus and there was already a space emerging around her. The room was hers and all we could now do was provide the soundtrack to her metamorphosis. We were scared.
And so the music went on, we glanced at each other and looked towards our tour-buddies, Ros, Rachel and Jonathan in the hope of some moral support. But all they could do was laugh. We hit the chorus and she erupted in a frenzy of pure, uninhibited emotion. Which emotions exactly, we will never know. After the song she gave a cheer and stumbled out of the small crowd. We carried on with our set, and she went back to the bar not to return.
We didn't talk to her after the show, but she was there hanging out with a few other eccentric locals, including a person we'd nick-named "grunge man", since he'd approached us early in the evening proclaiming his deep seated love of the genre. This is him, note that his style isn't really very grunge.
When we got back that night Gill went to bed with some life size puppets.
Such good memories!