POP MUSIC / On the road: Recognising the problem: Thrill as our fearless correspondent at the front finally finds a launderette

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I have always liked attention, for as long as I can remember. My mum tells me - though I have no memory of this - that when I was five I used to knock at my neighbours' doors and sing songs to them. I was the same age when I saw the film Summer Holiday which made a big impression, seeing Cliff and the Shads jump out of their double-decker bus to play on a beach, surrounded by adoring fans. I knew without question that this was what I wanted to do. What being famous was like didn't enter my mind until much later.

Having climbed halfway up the ladder of fame and having slipped back down a few rungs, I am not regularly pursued down the streets by folks breathlessly eager to touch the hem of my garments. People generally do not recognise me out of context - though it has happened. On one notable occasion a few years ago, Richard Branson recognised me flying Economy on Virgin back from New York and had me upgraded to First Class. Other responses range from the very welcome 'I loved Some Fantastic Place and just can't understand why it didn't do more' (quite a popular one recently, that), to the rather more mundane 'Aren't you that bloke in . . ?', to the completely deflating 'Didn't you used to be that bloke in . . ?'

The other day though, in a town that will remain nameless, I found myself making a purchase of a rather delicate and private nature. And to my horror, the assistant recognised me. He had a cassette-player on the floor and from a bunch of tapes he produced a copy of Some Fantastic Place and asked me to sign it. He said he had seen Squeeze last time we were in town and was very keen on us. By now, the other customers (all male) were looking furtively round at me. Feigning a nonchalant air, I signed the tape and chatted on about what we were up to, how I was on a solo tour, where I was playing - to the obvious interest of everybody there. Having your cover blown in a sex shop is definitely not a perk of the job.

Checking into my hotel in Portsmouth this week, I encounter a receptionist for whom everything is too much trouble. I assume she has had a helpfulness bypass operation, a complete contrast to a receptionist in New Orleans who once checked in Squeeze. On the wall of the lobby were the names of some of the members of staff, including the hotel manager, Beau Bumgardener. We fell about laughing hysterically, as only those who have just completed a 700-mile journey can do. The chap behind the desk said very politely, without losing his poise, 'I think it's best you know that I am Mr Bumgardener.' Oh dear.

Giving the hotel a wide berth after the sound check is a relatively easy decision, made more so when Cliff, the manager of the Wedgewood Rooms, where I am playing, recommends the Mexican restaurant down the road. By fabulous coincidence, the nearest place I can park turns out to be directly opposite a launderette offering a night-time service wash facility. My clothes re-cycling policy - getting increasingly sad over the last few days - is at last brought to an end.

Next day in Brighton, things come full circle. I find myself playing only yards from the beach, surrounded by, if not an adoring, then certainly a very enthusiastic crowd. The fact that it's the evening and I'm indoors in a pub does not diminish my enjoyment. Cliff, I know how you feel.

Next week, Glenn Tilbrook goes to Ireland on the final leg of his tour