Beans on toast is one of my go-to comfort meals when I’m feeling down. It’s also the name of one of my favourite performers.
Inspired by his song 2016 I decided that in 2017 I would do the best I could to make a difference. In part to thank him for inspiring me and spreading positive vibes in the world, I emailed Jay (who performs as ‘Beans on Toast’) and with just a little bit of cheekiness, asked if he’d be up for letting me fund-raise at a gig of his.
I did not expect him to answer in the affirmative, but I’m so pleased he did.
I joined Beans on Toast’s “Down the Pub” tour on May 5th and 6th to raise funds for the Memusi Foundation’s girls’ dorms project.
May 5th – Bradford
I joined Beans’ at the New Bee Hive Inn in Bradford.
Bradford is a lot prettier, and a lot more welcoming than people would have you believe. I arrived in Bradford at 5 to 6 in the afternoon, after a pleasant sunny train journey, and asked the station ticket master for directions to the New Bee Hive. Despite his help, I managed to get lost, and luckily, ended up at the Alhambra, where the box office ladies gave me a map and directions. Setting off (still a bit lost) but armed with my map, a local lady stopped me and asked where I was headed, then gave me the final directions to the New Bee Hive Inn. I arrived there at about half past 6, and chatted with a sweet Scottish couple named Rosemary and John about the NHS/Rocky Horror Picture Show/University/Scotland/cruises, and told them a bit about why I was there fundraising.
The doors opened at 7 and I met some wonderful characters who were very supportive, whilst listening to the poetic, melodic Gerrard Bell-Fife. Alex, a Bradford native, generously donated and told me “where to check out” in Bradford, leading me to agree with him that “it doesn’t deserve the bad rep.” Two blokes from Skipton, who I failed to catch the names of , called to mind Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt in The Mighty Boosh and promised to give the Memusi Facebook page a “cheeky like” after emptying out their change into my collection tin. It was a fantastic night, but unfortunately, I had to leave at 9 to catch my train home.
Lizzy, Jay’s wife, offered to look after the collection tin for me, and I left it in her hands at the merch table, before making my way back to the train station (without getting lost!) through the dusky streets of Bradford.
I arrived home that night exhausted but exhilarated.
May 6th – Bolton
After finishing work at 4, I dashed to the train station for the 4:50 train to Huddersfield. As I walked from the bus stop to the train station, I passed a pub, where in the beer garden, a man stood feeding the stray cats kitty food. I switched trains at Huddersfield, encountering a man in full Captain America apparel and two women in psychedelic 60’s costumes as I dashed from one platform to the other. When I arrived at Manchester Piccadilly, daunted by the size, I had to locate Benjamin, leaving us with ten minutes to buy sandwiches. We enjoyed our make-shift-meal-deal-picnic on the train to Bolton, arriving there with 20 minutes to spare and utilizing Google maps (poorly, may I add) to eventually land at the Alma Inn. Beans was here supported by the fantastic acts, Arms & Hearts, Dog Coffee, Andrew Cream and the charming The Doublecross. All the musicians were incredibly talented. Poet, Oliver James Lomax, also read two of his poems between sets. A self-professed “poet with low self-esteem”, Oliver looked at me bemused when I asked if he was a professional poet, until a member of the bar staff helpfully added “Oliver! Yes you are! You have a book and everything!”
It wasn’t quite possible to tell if the Bolton locals were drunk, as their lilt has a ting of tipspyness, and as a lady told me “we’re a friendly lot, us Bolton lot, perhaps overly-familiar” but nevertheless, welcoming, supportive and open-armed. By the end of the night, most of the gig-goers were more than a bit tipsy but all were generous and supportive.
At the end of the night, Benj and I made our escape to the Holiday Inn, where we spent our first night together in a hotel (oooh snazzy).
We woke early Sunday morning and got our train to Manchester, where Benj treated me to breakfast and we got the train to Leeds. I arrived at work with 3 minutes to spare before my shift started, but super happy, and full of doughnuts.
Breakfast is served!
I am so thankful to Benji for supporting me in my impulsive undertakings (and buying me food <3). I’m also extremely grateful to Jay, Lizzy, Ivan, Liam, Oliver, and Sally for supporting my fund-raising attempts. Coupled with the money Benj and I raised in March through a benefit gig that my friends kindly supported me with, the money we raised this weekend is enough to build a dorm for two girls in Kenya, in order for them to remain in schooling and achieve their dreams.
Anything is possible, and I think this weekend shows how lucky I am to be alive and surrounded by supportive people, and how helpful people will be if you take a leap-of-faith and ask them.