News April 2007
Great Wall Expedition
Sally has returned from her expedition to the Great Wall of China bringing some wonderful photos and video back with her.
She would like to thank all those who have already generously donated to her charity fund. She is still receiving pledges and donations and the fund will remain open for some time.
A video will be made available for sale later in the year to help boost her final total.
The engagements for the next few months are keeping the band on their toes. So much so that, after nearly 30 years, Ken, the group's veteran drummer, has actually purchased an item he has always wanted... a drum kit! Gone are the days when his annual visit to the drum store was simply to purchase a year's supply of drumsticks. (Usually 2 pairs at the most). Now he surfs the web looking for all sorts of turbo charged extras.
This enormous step forward has meant that very soon, Kenny, the lead guitarist, will stop having to remind Ken how each song in the set begins.
Another obvious change is that Ken is now able to adjust and tune the drum kits he encounters at all the different gigs, properly.
It is hoped that the only "drum solo" Ken plays in the opening bars of "Chirpy Cheep Cheep" might be expanded to some thing a little more ambitious in the near future.
Open Air with RSA Radio
At the end of May, the group were invited to appear at three open air venues in eastern Germany. The weather was behaving with its current universal disregard for human or animal welfare and provided the venues with torrential rain, thunder and lightning and glaring sunshine in equal amounts during the 6 hour concerts.
The determination of German audiences to enjoy themselves, whatever the weather, shone through, with the constant rise and fall of colourful umbrellas. With some degree of propriety, the elements provided the band with sunshine during all its performances of "Soley Soley".
The concerts were held in Borna, Dresden and Schwarzenberg.
Ken and Sally made a surprise guest appearance on "De Foute Quiz", a Belgian TV Show, in March, providing the Prime Belgian Commercial TV Station, VTM Belgian, with their surprise celebrity guests when the original star had to pull out at the last minute.
The show required two competing teams to question the visitors to try and identify them and their main hit record. Ken and Sally were only required to answer "yes" or" no" and their responses in English narrowed down the field substantially. After only a few minutes, their identity was correctly guessed by a team member who wasn't even born when their popularity was at its peak.
The episode was successfully rounded off when Sally and Ken, accompanied by the studio orchestra, lead the cast, crew and audience in a rousing chorus of "Chirpy", before departing to complete their schedule in Belgium.
In early June, the band made a guest appearance in German TV, ZDF's primetime Sunday Show, "Fernsehgarten", making it their third appearance on the show in recent years. The programme is transmitted live from an enormous open air set, in the grounds of the ZDF Studios in Mainz. For once, the weather behaved itself, which was just as well since the band were suffering from travel fatigue.
They had just experienced a 70s style travel schedule to make the appearance on the live show. With concerts in Ronneburg, Germany, on the Friday and Orbaek, in Denmark on the Saturday, an overnight trip by train to Mainz for the Sunday morning camera rehearsals at 9.00am, completed a gruelling 48 hours... and all this without the band's guitars.
A Tale of Two Guitars
I am a Fender Telecaster 6 string Electric Guitar, owned by Kenny McKay, lead guitarist with Middle of the Road, used to travelling round Europe in various aircraft accompanied by my group colleague, a five string bass guitar, owned by Stewart McEwan, the bass guitarist with the band. That's me in my cosy little case on the left. Stewart's guitar is lying down due to utter exhaustion and stress.
My story is a tragic one!
Our last trip out was to be fairly busy anyway with appearances in Denmark and Germany over three hectic days. The pressure was to be increased, considerably, by a sequence of events which sent us on quite a different European Tour to that of our owners.
At 9.00am on 1st June, we left Glasgow Airport on a flight to Gatwick and then on to Dresden, where we were being collected and driven to Ronneberg for an appearance that night. Unfortunately, in spite of our connecting flight being late, we were unable to make the Dresden flight and were left behind in Gatwick with not even a voucher for a cup of cleaning fluid to tide us over.
After a couple of hours enquiring how we were to get to Dresden, the very polite British Airways baggage handlers told us that we were to fly on to Copenhagen, to be collected the next day by our owners and taken on to Orbaek, a further two and a half hours by car, in time for an afternoon performance in the open air.
Much relieved, we bedded down for the night in the lost baggage area at Gatwick, getting a good night's sleep in the dark and dingy conditions we have grown to love over the years.
Next morning, we boarded our flight for Copenhagen, only to find that we were actually on a flight to Dresden. When we arrived there, our owners, who were now in Copenhagen, had realised our plight and were frantically trying to stop us being sent on to Copenhagen where they would already be well on their way to Orbaek for their afternoon show. They instructed those nice people at British Airways to send us home to Glasgow, as there was no possibility of us meeting up in time for either the Danish appearance that afternoon, or the German TV appearance the next morning. British Airways agreed to do this and we settled down for a nice relaxing day in Dresden.
Next morning, we boarded our flight home to Glasgow, so we thought. But no. Those nice people at British Airways had decided that we needed the emotional security of being with our owners as soon as possible and we ended up in Frankfurt. This just happened to be the airport from which the band would be returning home that day.
We waited one hour, two hours, three hours in Frankfurt and just when we thought we had been deserted and left abandoned to that infinite luggage carousel in the sky, wonder of wonders, my owner, Kenny swept into the already crowded lost baggage area and lifted us both into his welcoming arms. With floods of tears of joy from all of us we were escorted through the customs area, once again re-united with our guardians. There was only enough time to exchange brief stories of our travels before we were once again launched back into the baggage area to board our plane back to Glasgow, this time, accompanied by four suitcases belonging to Ken, Sally, Kenny and Stewart. The cases were keen to hear the story of our adventures, since we were separated from them all that time ago at Gatwick and this passed the time away on our first leg of the trip home.
On arrival at Heathrow we were treated with the respect that we all have come to expect from that heaving metropolis of lost and damaged baggage, near to the great British Capital. Already, Ken's suitcase had had a vicious argument with one of the baggage handlers, sustaining a nasty gash on its front pocket. Fortunately, there was no blood spilt since the pocket was empty. It wasn't until the light began to fade that all six of us realised that we had missed our connecting flight to Glasgow. I could only imagine the emotional state of our owners when they discovered that we were not on that last flight with them.
It wasn't until the next day that we finally made it to Glasgow, where we were crammed into the emergency "ambulance" service provided by British Airways and sent to our various destinations. I arrived intact back home with Kenny and so did most of my other fellow travellers... except Ken's and my owner's suitcases. Some how, they were mixed up and sent to the wrong addresses. After a further day and much intervention by Ken, we were all reunited and all was well that ended well. Ken's suitcase, which by now was in a dreadful physical and emotional state was taken to the British Airways lost and damaged baggage office in Edinburgh, where it was diagnosed as terminally ill and is now residing in a baggage "Don't Care Home" just south of Edinburgh.
And you know, the funny thing about all of this is that we travelled completely free from the security regulation that requires any baggage to be taken off a flight if the owner is not on board.
Never mind, we are all looking forward to many other adventures soon.
(We are sorry to announce that shortly after relating this story to us, Kenny's guitar suffered severe injuries on its next trip and is in intensive care with a broken neck. We will keep you in touch with any news.)