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Monday, June 05, 2006

Forget Paris in the springtime - if you really want to have a romantic weekend away, you need to head for Southampton. At least that's what I told Lisa. So at 1:30pm on Saturday afternoon we hit the road for the crime capital of the south. My final words to Lisa as we walked out of the door were "I've backed both Championship Point and Hala Bek to win the Derby, but I've only bet on Sir Percy to place. So he's bound to go and win it now". If it had been an episode of Eastenders, the drums would have come in at that point, leaving me staring into space with a pensive look on my face. But fortunately it wasn't. So we popped down the road for shampoo, and headed for the A27.

The drive to Southampton took an hour and a half, which was plenty of time for Lisa to fall asleep and get sunburnt down her left side. She looked like a barber shop sign by the time we got to Hampshire. A few u-turns on A-roads later, and we successfully located the Southampton Travelodge, conveniently situated in some kind of ghetto just outside the city centre. I'm not saying it was a rough area, but we counted an average of four police sirens an hour for most of our stay. Although on the bright side, we've gained a working knowledge of gangsta rap courtesy of all the passing cars.

As it happens though, my reasons for choosing this location consisted of more than just an overwhelming desire to keep it real - I'd actually brought Lisa to Southampton to see Roddy Frame, formerly of Aztec Camera, now of the HMV bargain bin, and still the only man whose babies she'd willingly have. Apart from Marc Almond. And possibly Julian Clary. But I digress. It's almost twenty years since Lisa and Roddy were last seen together, mainly due to the fact that Lisa would do anything for that man... except check his website and find out where he's playing. Which is where I come in.

So having watched the Derby on the second floor of a Travelodge, cursed my luck, and had a shower (just to get my money's worth) I revealed to Lisa where we were going, and drove us into town for something to eat. We ended up at TGI Fridays, where we were seated next to a group of girls on a hen night, who were happily sucking on penis-shaped drinking straws. I don't know who was more shocked - me or the table of young children opposite. Probably me.

Anyhoo, we eventually made it to The Brook, a live music venue which last month boasted performances by Coldplace, Green-ish Day, Roxy Magic, and my particular favourite, Deft Leppard. Let's just say they have a lot of tribute acts. Which is probably why they booked Roddy Frame - he's like a tribute to someone who was big in the 80s.

The support act was a girl called Helen Balding. At least that's what I thought. Having looked her up on Google and found only four websites in the entire world which mention her (five now I've put her name here), I tried some different spellings and found that she's actually Helen Boulding. She was very good though. A bit like Eva Cassidy. Only more alive. She claimed to be on the Radio 2 playlist, and introduced one song by saying "This is my next single" - five words Roddy Frame can only dream of.

Photo FrameAs for the Frame himself though, he came on at 9:30pm, played for an hour and a half, and was - even though I say it myself - bloomin' excellent. I'd decided not to take my camera, as these days they never let you take photos at concerts, so I was slightly peeved when flashes started going off all over the place, and the man standing next to me got out a camcorder. I had to make do with a fuzzy mobile phone effort, which doesn't really do the man justice. In reality his hair looked far more ridiculous.

He can clearly play a guitar though, and having watched him from a distance of about six feet all night (it wasn't the biggest venue in the world) I can now appreciate more fully just how rubbish I am myself. Although I think I'd be better if I had a Takamine guitar.

Anyhoo, we attempted to stalk Mr Frame by hanging around in the bar afterwards, but sadly, having emerged from backstage and caught a glimpse of Lisa charging towards him, he made a swift exit down the stairs, and jumped straight into the back of a fast car. He obviously has no desire to have children.