Sunny Afternoon

The splendid clock tower cast a lazy late afternoon shadow over the village green, the four o’ clock chimes almost insolently intrusive among the gentle murmurings of ‘here here’ and ‘splendid catch, what?’ emanating from the haphazardly serried ranks of deckchairs surrounding the white clad sportsmen acting out the summer Sunday ritual on this particularly green and pleasant patch of rural England.
‘Cricket, eh’ remarked Smithers-Jones, stirring his tea with what might once have been described as languid grace, observed Watts, albeit inwardly.
“Gentleman’s game, gentleman’s game…’ he mumbled, apropos of… well, of nothing, really, thought Watts.
‘You know young Watts’ continued the older man, leaning forward and jabbing in his direction with the teaspoon to emphasise whatever grand point he was about to make
‘Your father and I used to come here every weekend to watch the cricket… every blimmin’ weekend. Happy times. Happy times…’ he sighed deeply and his voice trailed off. Watts detected a moistening in the rheumy eyes of the other, and felt uncomfortable. He needed to defuse, or at the very least diffuse whatever was coming.
‘Happy times… here we are, now, you and I… just lazing on this sunny afternoon, watching these young chaps with their life ahead of them… and you know what David Watts? It’s too late for me… I’m already on dead end street. I was a well respected man at one time, a dedicated follower of fashion, I would see my friends and we would live life to the full, all day and all of the night… what now?’ he sniffed loudly, then fumbled in the pockets of his grubby white linen suit for an equally grimy handkerchief on which he blew his reddened nose loudly. He sobbed again ‘I miss your father… so, so much…’ another sob, which seemed to come from the depths of his tired soul, but was almost completely subsumed by the cries of ‘well caught!’ now rippling around them. ‘Where have all the good times gone? You know, I’ve never told you this before, but you need to know this. Your father and I…’ again his voice trailed off. He gazed upwards, dabbed briefly at his watery eyes with the handkerchief, breathed out, then turned to Watts and began again ‘We met in a pub, down in old Soho, where they drink champagne and it tastes just like cherry cola – ‘
He was interrupted by Watts’ hand on his arm, the younger man now leaning forward and gazing hard into the face of the older. It was merely a moment, but it felt as if time had been eternally suspended until Watts finally spoke.

‘More tea, Vicar?’

I don’t suppose that’s how you spend your Sundays, do you? Certainly not how I spend mine outside of the UK, particularly last Sunday in Phnom Penh. My music-loving, footie-playing, blog-writing, beer-drinking, tech-savvy Aussie colleague Al had almost casually mentioned in passing last week that he was now also an independent film maker , so…

So I find myself standing on the pavement beside the Russian Market, five o’clock in the afternoon, guitar over one shoulder, bag containing small amp, leads and other necessaries (mobile phone, tissues, cold sausages, lipstick… usual man bag things) over the other watching as Dustin (cameraman) and Al (producer, director, sound man, gaffer, best boy, grip etc etc) coax an Oscar winning performance from the unsuspecting Tuk Tuk driver they have press ganged into driving us all around for a Tuk Tuk session. Yes, a Tuk Tuk session. Now, if we were back in dear old Scotland, those words would conjure up the interesting notion of spending the afternoon in a drinking session (or ‘sesh’, as the youngsters term it nowadays), presumably engaged in imbibing copious amounts of something liquid going under the moniker of ‘Tuk Tuk’, but as we are actually in balmy Phnom Penh the reality is much more exciting. It’s basically a music video shoot, but with certain rules, dreamed up by Al and his mate Rory after… well, after a session (Scottish style – see above). The rules? In a nutshell, one song, one take, one Tuk Tuk. The one take rule does not, however, apply to the driver, who is manfully struggling with the manifold complexities of the line ‘Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!’.
Wrong movie.
The line was actually ‘Welcome to the Tuk Tuk sessions, Phnom Penh.’ and was eventually delivered (with shades of Dennis Hopper I thought) enabling us to then pile in to the vehicle and generally both terrify and mystify the local populace in equal measure as we tootled around town filming several songs totally and utterly live in one take for the Tuk Tuk sessions. The results are online now, on a rather spiffing website where you will not only find the rationale for this fabulous project, but also other performances, from Rory and Al, and also Cambodian Space Project, with more to come. You can find it at and I hope you enjoy it and take it in the spirit in which it was intended and forgive the abundance of lyrical and chordal misdemeanours emanating from yours truly.

I’m off now, it’s time to listen to some Kinks, methinks…