In The Land Of Hockney & Blake

sunday pub Any time I come to the UK, I immediately want to buy every new book, see every movie, know about this band or that artist. There are a thousand beauty products I must try, fashions I can't live without. It must be the media, how everything is so concentrated. At gas stations, in cafes and supermarkets, I stand transfixed in front of the newsstand - grabbing papers, gorging on words and photos. Knowing that by the time I leave the country one month later, today's latest thing will likely be on its way down, forgotten, or even more fun, something to be scorned and reviled.

That was all diminished a little last week thanks to the Jubilee. The Queen's image was everywhere, on the front page of every paper, and I can't look at photos of that lady without going into a coma. Jubilee coverage was promised (100 pages of celebration photos!) and that was enough to warn me off.

So, without papers to read and in between settling and playing the first gigs, we visited Eric's family. We played with his granddaughter and bundled up against the wind and rain - this is June in England after all. Then I found myself drawing. It's something I always wish I had more time for. Maybe it's simply having a few days off, unlike at home where if I'm not working there's always work to do on and around the house.

pencils

But there is also a huge interest in visual art in this country. Everywhere you go there's an "Art Trail" and "Open Studios" sign. A whole month is devoted to a nationwide drawing festival. In the middle of the jubilee there was an affable gent called Rolf Harris on TV, encouraging the nation to pick up a paintbrush or pencil. Next up was Grayson Perry, the transvestite sculptor, exploring class and creating a massive tapestry based on his visit to the clubs and pubs of Sunderland (working class). For the second time that evening, I found myself tearing up watching "regular people" appreciating and participating in art.

We were staying with Eric's mother who in her eighties began pursuing an art degree. She paints and draws and the house is full of art materials and books. For those few days we stay with her, I always feel like it's possible.

Then we get busy again. Brighton was a full gig and fun as it always is. London was hard work getting set up, as it always is, but what a night. City folk in business suits, Southend rowdies, friends from New York and Houston and all over the world really. A London audience gets every joke, follows anywhere you take them. I only wish we could've played longer but maybe it was better to quit while we were ahead.

sign

guardhouse

Now I get another day or two in the countryside with my goddaughter Daisy. We went to a castle ruin yesterday and talked about fairies and deer in top hats. I tried to sketch but the wind made it too difficult (it's June in England after all). Wednesday we're back on the road again. The papers say, so it must be true.

Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby in the UK Wed June 13 BRISTOL The Croft Thu June 14 WINCHESTER The Railway Fri June 15 MALTON Milton Rooms Studio Sat June 16 HULL New Adelphi Sun June 17 BIRMINGHAM Kitchen Garden Cafe

touring england