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Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Folk Boy's tales from the sea

When Jim Causley left Mawkin:Causley last year, he probably didn't expect that his decision would lead David Delarre - whose Twitter handle is Folk Boy (second from right, below) - to run away to sea, inadvertently placing his virtue in mortal danger.

"We split up in August and had to cancel a tour that was due to start in October. The money from that would have seen me through to the spring... but I had an overdraft and credit card debts and I was offered this three and a half month gig on a cruise ship." He was telling me this over the telephone, a few weeks after it was over and he'd had time to recover his land-legs.

Well how was it? He laughed, perhaps a little too jovially. "Oh. You know. It was an eye-opener."

Er. Righty-o. How d'you mean? "Well, it was a tiny, tiny little boat, full of the uber rich. I think they'd paid between $2,500 and $25,000 each to be there for a week: the difference was all about what kind of cabin you wanted and how much 'free' champagne you thought you could drink. And it was just mental."

At this point I should say that I'm not going to mention the name of the cruise line, as I got the impression he hadn't quite decided whether he'd like to work for it again...

"I mean," he went on. "I'm a working class boy without a penny to my name and it was a real insight into how the ten per cent live. I was doing four shows a week of flamenco guitar to start off with and I had a few other duties: I was the assistant entertainment manager. The money was good but they worked us so hard.

"The policy of the company was 'social hosting', which means that it's your job to talk to people, make them feel comfortable and try and get them to invite you to dinner. I was also encouraged to host dinners for up to ten people at a time. You got free booze and there was six star food from a celebrity chef. But on the other hand, I got touched up by grannies quite a lot."

Good grief. I'm shocked, I said, trying to keep a straight face. "It wasn't cool. There was this one woman who was about 77, which is older than my granny. And she asked for a private concert in her room." Uh-oh. "And I had to because there was no such word as no, when it came to the guests.

"So I turned up to do my gig and when I walked in she just grabbed my a*** and hugged me and said 'Thank you, thank you for coming.' And then when I finished the gig and she said 'Come and sit down'. And then she fed me oysters and spent ten minutes grabbing my thighs. It was terrifying." And it was clear from the tone of his voice that he was undergoing some kind of post-traumatic experience.

"You get fired if you sleep with them. But you're supposed to make them feel as if they are the most special thing ever. It's really, unbelievably frightening."

Still, I expect you got the hang of it eventually and at least you got to see the Med a bit? "Yes, I've been in Venice sixteen times. It's gorgeous. We went up and down the Adriatic from the east coast of Italy and took in Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro. But I never got tired of Venice. It's absolutely amazing."

And has it been hard coming back to normality? "The sleeping style was hard to adjust back to because I got used to being in a tiny little cabin with some rocking - it was quite a small boat. So I couldn't sleep for about a week. And the quantity of alcohol was a bit intense on board. I mean, it was like being at a constant party for three and a half months, except you're not really a part of it because you're paid to be there. And everyone's pissed the whole time."

So what happened with Mawkin:Causley? "Well, we didn't want Jim to leave but he did. Our melodeon player, Goldsmith, announced in an email that he wanted to leave, because he had a girlfriend and wanted a more normal life. He's doing painting and decorating now. And then within two weeks of Jim reading the email he decided that he was going too.

"There had been a few alcohol-related problems. But we thought that on the whole it really worked. We're not looking for another singer because Jim might want to come back at some point and we thought that if we found someone else it might discourage him.

"So I've been doing singing lessons and I'm really enjoying that and getting into it a bit more. And then we're releasing a new record and going on tour next April. It's mainly an instrumental album but there are three songs on it too. It looks like I'll be doing two of them and we've got our fingers crossed that a couple of other people who've said they might be interested will join us as guest vocalists. They're both well known but I don't want them to read about it before they've definitely agreed."

Watch this space.

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