Mantova, Italy

Early Wednesday morning. The hotel. I haven't run into any of the other boys yet so this account will be first hand and uncoloured by other opinions. Don't get me wrong, I'm a good guy, very easy going, quiet and seldom complain about anything....but this place is so comprehensively wrong it's staggering and I can only attempt to describe it here.

We arrived by car last night after a two hour drive from the show in Milan. The idea of basing in Verona for the next few days was brilliant, it's one of the Italy's most beautiful cities, one that we've held in our hearts and memories from a couple of years ago on the 2006 Emmy and Mark tour. Turns out this hotel isn't actually IN Verona but just outside the city. We pulled up a long narrow drive with overflowing urns on either side leading up to a large fountain and stately mansion looking affair lit up like a Christmas tree at 2 in the morning. We all piled out into the lobby and here is where it begins to go terribly, terribly wrong. The Byblos luxury corporation has poured a great deal of time, thought, and god knows how many million euros into the creation of a palace and decor that I can only describe as grotesque-moderne-comique. The Yanks who read this will understand when I reference Pee Wee Herman's Playhouse. Folks, I kid you not. Everything's a cartoon, affected and stylised, absolutely inconvenient and useless. The hallways are painted comic book/graffiti style and the colour scheme in my room is: violent red-orange, turquoise, bright yellow, powder blue, black and white swirl and silver leaf. To complete the nightmare is a canopied 4 poster orange bed, yellow cone shaped floor lamps and two dark blue felt chairs that are minuscule and hard as rocks (think American Airlines commuter, coach and bolt upright). The readers of this journal are aware of my ongoing stomach virus and the sight of this did little to calm things. This is the visual equivalent of eating three corn dogs, a large orange drink, snow cone and cotton candy then riding the roller coaster at the world's most hideous carnival. The beamed ceiling has been stencilled in pink and powder blue patterns and fluer de lis and the bathroom is lighted to such a high wattage that I had to wear my bloody sunglasses to go in there and have a pee at 4 in the morning. What in the goddamn blue hell world are people thinking about? Oh yeah, pity the outdoor pool's closed. They do offer wireless internet service in the rooms, but my signal's not too hot so I sit on the marble floor in the hall outside my door to get enough bars to actually make use of if. I have high hopes that a plan will be hatched to spring us, I suppose it depends how the others take to the place. Definitely not folkshag. Look I can't begin to do the joint justice, check out their web-site and really that doesn't tell the full story. Maybe Guy will be posting some colourful pics with his diary entry for today. More later.....

Later.......the consensus is it's weird but I guess we're staying. I'll change rooms after the gig and see what that brings. On to gig via the fleet of Mercedes and our drives Gunter, Eike and Philip. About 35 k to Mantova and our venue Palabam. I was really looking forward to a bit of food when we got to catering and had a little salad and sliced turkey as soon as we got there. That's a good sign and the stomach is holding out a little better today, improving slowly. After sound check John McCusker showed me a brilliant song he'd written called Frank's Reel which he plays on fiddle and I'm learning on the Irish bouzouki. After I practice it a little more, we can play it together at the folkshag meet and greets. And finally, the gig! a sold out 5,200 listening and appreciative fans and a very good showing all round then a short runner back to the hotel.

I changed rooms to something different but equally unsettling but at least this room is up out of the basement and has a bit of a view and daylight out the window. Guy informs me that even though the pool is officially closed, he and Dan spent the afternoon down there swimming and lounging round. They both look like they've returned from a week down in the Bahamas. So it will be a bit gym and swim for me tomorrow. Anyone seen my 3-D glasses?

So long,