POP MUSIC / On the Road: Goodbye Lewisham: and hello Cincinnati. The solo tour over, our man is back with the band

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I have a theory that the Meat Marketing Board employs undercover people to make life unedifying for vegetarians. It explains why there are so many bogus health-food shops and, on a personal level, why on my flight to Cincinnati I'd have done better eating the in-flight magazine.

It's usual for the Squeeze personnel to change each tour. For this acoustic jaunt we have no drummer. But we do have Paul Carrack switching between piano and snare drum, and as well as the usuals (me, Chris Difford, Keith Wilkinson) there's Aimee Mann. This is a hard concept for journalists to grasp. Yes, we'll play each other's songs. No, Aimee's not joining the band, we're touring together for fun. Well, fun once we've got shot of rehearsals.

The next day we do some fine-tuning. After eight hours, we almost convince ourselves we're ready for tomorrow's show. Knackered, we eat and head up the wooden hills.

Two stories dominate the media here: O J Simpson and Prince Charles. We played Bogart's on the day Charles and Diana tied the knot - watching it after the show. Paul remarked he'd never expected to be back to see the thing out.

Our intro tape then was 'Land of Hope and Glory'. This time it's from Both Sides of Bruce by Bruce Forsyth. A Generation Game medley segues into the Sunday Night at the London Palladium theme, and then into a drum roll. Then the MC says: 'Ladies and gentlemen, the London Palladium proudly presents an evening with . . . '. Here we have crudely inserted 'Squeeze and Aimee Mann' - and the orchestra come in with 'Just in Time', and we stroll on, waving and winking. It is undoubtedly the highlight. In our post-mortem we conclude we haven't got the balance of the set right. Well, Lewisham wasn't built in a day.

Our driver, Hoot, played drums with Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, as well as on sessions by Jimmy Reed that were released as the first 33rpm album. He's been driving tour buses for 41 years, and recently picked up an award for clocking 3 million miles. On one tour, with Bobby Brown, the bodyguards sported AK47s. Hoot makes do with a Colt .45.

A mere 111 miles towards the fourth million and we're in Indianapolis. Chris prunes the set, and we are more relaxed. Aimee throws in a surprise number and is wonderful. In this game of two halves, we're keeping our cues firmly on the wicket.

Via Crown Point, Indiana, to Chicago for the Fourth of July Taste of Chicago festival. We arrive too early to check in, but as Ireland vs Holland is on in the hotel bar that's not so bad. Resignation soon hangs in the air. Oh dear. The gig, pleasantly early at 3pm, is the best yet. Later, to the Bucket of Suds bar where Joe Danno, 78-year-old jazz fan and dude, opens just for us. Us and Joe go back a reasonably long way. He makes his own spirits, and so, over a few Lucifer's Elixyrs, I see out 4 July.