The Cat Empire


Band News: The Umbrella Story

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I don’t have many details at hand about the last few days of the last tour that I never blogged about. Sorry guys. It was a bit of a blur really. A Canadian, wintry one. But there are a few loose ends I should tie up.

1. Remember how we were keeping tally of how late everyone in the band was making everyone else? We stopped over somewhere for a day after Thunder Bay and Felix blew everyone’s personal best out of the water by having his watch set to the wrong time, and running 42 minutes late to the bus call. There were no consequences.
2. We had a 6.00am call to play on a television show in Toronto. I found myself staggering into Tim Horton’s in the middle of the city just prior to 6.00am. It was like Night of the Living Dead in there. The host sang Pony with us briefly during soundcheck. There was a guy sitting in a hot tub outside, as part of some hot tub informercial. He had the best job in the world that morning. Danny played the live-to-air-to-millions-of-people with no shirt on. He swore he’d do that at least once on this tour.
3. The umbrella story. I can’t believe I haven’t told you about this yet.

New York City. Show day. Joe had organised a car to pick everyone up from the hotel and head up to the venue for soundcheck. Danny and I thought we’d be missing out on a lot of walking around in Manhattan if we took the car option, as it meant that whatever adventure we went on, it would have to conclude at the hotel. We figured we could cover more ground if we just met the other guys at the venue: Nokia Theatre in Times Square. It just so happened that there were a lot of places to go and ogle drums and basses a few blocks north of there. Walking there would be a scenic yet time consuming way to go, and on that particular day it was also be a good way to get rained on for two hours. So we figured we’d compromise: walk in the rain until we find a cab or a subway (or a Subway – it was almost lunch time). I still liked the idea of an umbrella. And I still do. It keeps the rain off, doubles as a cane, allows you to point at things more dramatically and accurately than anyone else, and is a formidable weapon against WWII German fighters as long as you can find a flock of seagulls. If you can find a Flock of Seagulls, that’s a different matter, you’re probably in the 80s, but they still make a pretty good makeshift surface-to-air missile. Back to the umbrellas: I’ve been burned too many times by cheap umbrellas in Manhattan, as regular readers of this blog will know, so I figured it was worth asking reception for a loaner.
“Hi Susie,” I decided opened with, as I’d just heard Joe go to great lengths to remember her name to maintain the illusion of familiarity in case he needed a favour later, but her name probably wasn’t Susie so don’t go mentioning the umbrella story to her. I continued, “I was just wondering do you have any umbrellas we can borrow?”
“Well, no, sorry. I will check if we have any in lost and found though.”
With that, she disappeared under the stairs. I figured all hope was lost: who leaves umbrellas behind? The Luftwaffe could be on your arse any second! But then I remembered how many umbrellas I’d lost over the years. Susie came out, and made us promise to bring it back. The odds of her having another shift when we checked out of the hotel were low, but I still agreed. That’s when she handed us an umbrella covered in cats dressed up as kings and queens. A cat empire umbrella, if ever I saw one:

Danny and I got some funny looks walking down the street with that bad boy up in the air. You have to be doing something pretty out there in New York to genuinely shock people, and I think we nailed it with this umbrella. We asked the guy who tried to sell Danny some perfume in the subway.
“I bet you’ve never seen an umbrella like this.”
He thought about it, choosing his words carefully:
“I have, but honestly, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a guy with one.”

Up next: we’re going on tour again. Tomorrow. It’s the other end of the year, though. There’s no way we’ll need an umbrella.

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