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VEHICLE, OR BEDROOM?
To Whom It May Concern:
I understand that you are an American musician touring England on a tight budget and, in pursuit of financial solvency and/or personal adventure, may forego an expensive hotel room to spend a night in your freezing van. Drawing on rich personal experience, I write to provide my thoughts on this issue.
As you are now aware, touring England and touring Continental Europe are altogether different prospects. On the Continent, lodging is provided for touring musicians. However, as Europe giveth, so Europe taketh away—-you have ferried ‘cross the Channel to the United Kingdom, where nothing is free, and those things that are for sale are very, very expensive. Are you aware that, at current rates, that attractive, clean “budget” Â£48 hotel room is $100! If your band can’t afford a $100 room in El Paso or San Diego, then you can’t afford one in London, Hartfordshire, or Stoke-on-Trent. Just as the New Testament presents God as Trinity—-Jehovah, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit—-your worthless American dollars present your van as both vehicle and potential English shelter.
But, before you curl up beside a guitar amplifier and say “nightie-night” to the bass drum, consider:
1. Are you absolutely sure there isn’t anywhere to stay? Remember: you don’t have to sleep in your van! But, when searching for a place to stay, debutante ball rules apply—-you won’t fill your dance card by playing the wallflower. Look around. Was anyone English at your show? If you see Englishpersons, odds are that these Englishpersons live in houses, apartments, or other semi-permanent situations. However, probability also dictates these Redcoats have not considered where you will sleep tonight. Thus, you will just have to march up to Britisher who looks like they keep a clean kitchen and don’t own cats, and ask for shelter.
2. Do you hate cats? Really? Perhaps you’ve found a place to sleep but—-UH-OH!!!—-your potential English host owns cats. Many British citizens do not understand that the menacing housecat is a filthy, allergen-rich beast whose feces causes birth defects and, inexplicably, cherish these aloof creatures’ companionship. If, by some miracle, you can stand cats and keep their claws from destroying your sleeping bag, do not sleep in the van. That moveable bedroom must be reserved for that bandmate who really—-really, really, really—-is allergic to cats and, most definitely, hates cats’ guts.
3. How cold is it? In the United Kingdom, the Celsius temperature scale is used. Zero degrees Celsius is defined as the melting point of ice. Certainly, 0C is much warmer than absolute zero, or 0Kelvin. 0K=-273C, a point at which molecular movement stops and no heat exists. It is physically impossible for anything to be colder than 0K. However, 0C is plenty, plenty cold. If you are used to the Fahrenheit system, as most Americans are, you should know that 0C = 32F. However, don’t let the “32” fool you. If you’re sleeping in a van, you don’t have 32 of anything, and will undoubtedly wake up around 5:00 a.m., freezing your ass off.
4. Make yourself comfortable. Just because you’re sleeping in a van doesn’t mean that you can’t be comfortable. If you have to rearrange a few guitars to make space for your sleeping bag, rearrange them! If there are any empty soda bottles under your head, throw them away! If someone left a jacket in the van, use it as a pillow! And watch out for the gear shift!
I hope this missive has proven entertaining and informative. If, as you close your eyes against the streetlight, you happen to feel lonely, remember Fievel Mousekewitz from An American Tail, who famously pointed out that “It helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky.”
Yours in struggle,
Justin Moyer CEO/President of the WeBlog “Iceland”