I’m in Coventry with time to kill. In a few hours I’ll rock up at the Kasbah and will most likely be greeted by Dimitrius, one of the most friendly / crazy promoters I’ve come across in the UK. It’s quite cold and windy out so I’m happy to see a Waterstones bookshop with a Costa Coffee upstairs. I climb the stairs with my suitcase and guitar, take a seat and find that I’ve slipped through a wormhole. Time travel as usual. It must be about four years ago that I sat at this precise table, my guitar leaning against the adjacent chair, a large cappuccino in front of me. At the time, I’d just played my very first gig in the UK at the Golden Cross the night before and had decided to grab a cup of coffee before finding my way to Pool Meadow bus station. The gig had gone fairly well, but as time goes by, the gig itself slips into insignificance in comparison to the ordeal of getting there.
“Oh, Coventry’s dodgy… don’t go there!” No matter where in England you intended to go, people in Stratford upon Avon and surroundings would generally have this same response. Never mind the fact that the word dodgy was still fairly new vernacular to me; I just couldn’t understand this strange local patriotism and paranoia. Coventry was after all the same distance as my home had been from my school in Berlin, you know, just down the road if you’re from a capital city. Why then, did this seem like I was travelling to a different universe? I was also still culture shocked and couldn’t believe just how difficult a trip from Henley in Arden to Coventry was logistically if you were dependant on public transport. I remember getting increasingly more nervous as the X17 bus meandered through darkening countryside, horizontal raindrops racing across the windows. I had no idea where I was. As we finally arrived in Coventry city centre, about three long hours later, the bus driver asked me as disembarked: “Do you know where you’re going luv?”
“I’m going to the Golden Cross on Spon Street”, I replied.
“Yeah? Well be careful when you walk up it – it’s a dodgy road. Apparently, people from Coventry felt the same way about this matter.
It must seem silly to you, but turning around the corner on that dark and rainy night and seeing the Golden Cross sign outside the thatched pub, I felt euphoric. I’d overcome my fear of getting lost, not finding the way home and remember saying to myself “ I’ve arrived.