My Life In Travel: John Cale

'Siouxie Sioux and I raced each other all the way to Albuquerque, New Mexico'

First holiday memory?

Weston-super-Mare. I have this memory of being in an old-fashioned lido. My parents told me they were sitting by the pool and suddenly heard an announcement saying: "Would the parents of the little boy who's climbing the diving board please come and retrieve him." My father came up, walked me to the end of the board and showed me how it was done.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Carreg Cennen castle in Llandeilo, near where I was born. Every Whitsunday, I would walk across the Black Mountains with a bunch of kids from school to chase girls. It was a lot of fun. We would trek from Garnant, past the River Towy and up a steep hill to the castle, where we hoped the girls would be waiting.

Best holiday?

There was a time when my parents sent me away from home because I suffered from very bad bronchitis as a child. Our house got damp in winter, so I'd go off to my uncle's vicarage, down by the water in Laugharne. It was always a relief to get there because I could breathe.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Joey Ramone once told me: "If someone ever comes at you with a knife and asks you for your money, throw it on the floor and run." I always thought that was sound advice.

Ideal travelling companion?

Someone with a knowledge of the language. Russia was impossible for me – I couldn't understand what was going on. I tried to make sense of it, but it felt like opening a babushka doll: there was always something else going on under the surface. I was well taken care of but the language barrier made the whole experience pretty opaque.

Holiday reading?

Crime novels – I love Ian Rankin, Elmore Leonard and James Lee Burke. When I go on tour, I always take about five or six with me, and one history book too. I've recently read Hilary Mantel's Bring up the Bodies, Denise Mina's Gods and Beasts and The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje.

Where has seduced you?

Ravello, on the Amalfi coast. I've spent some time at the Palazzo Sasso [soon to become the Palazzo Avino], which is one of those places that you just want to disappear into, especially when you've just come off tour.

Worst hotel?

I was on tour in Canada in the Seventies and got booked into this place in Winnipeg, which turned out to be a biker hotel. It was pretty horrendous. There was a police car permanently stationed in the car park.

I did what I had to anyway – played the gig, came back and went to sleep. Then, in the middle of the night, the door to my room opened. Some drunk lady had managed to get the key from reception and decided to pay a visit. I had to throw her out. It was really unpleasant.

Best hotel?

The Cawdor Arms in Llandeilo. Whenever I'm back in Wales, I make it my base. It's very relaxing and they take good care of you there. When I lived in New York, I used to come back and they would host Welsh-language meetings in the boardroom. I would sit having dinner in the bar and listen to the sound of home.

Favourite drive?

I remember being on tour with Siouxsie Sioux and the bus broke down outside Flagstaff, Arizona. Our manager hired us all cars so we could drive to the next stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The roads were like glassine – absolutely flat, smooth and gorgeous. Siouxsie and I raced each other all the way there. I won.

Best meal abroad?

A restaurant near Cinecitta Studios, in the hills outside Rome. My tour manager took me to this place and the film producer Carlo Ponti was eating there with his family. I had some pasta that was just amazing.

Favourite city?

Paris. I like rummaging around there. It's always interesting to find out where the new music studios are. They tend to pop up in very unlikely places.

Also, New York. Every time I go back, I get that same jolt of excitement. I'm always inspired by what I see.

Where next?

I'm on tour – playing in Cologne, Berlin, Munich, Basel, Luxembourg, Amsterdam, Hamburg and finally Porto.

Welsh musician John Cale was a founding member of The Velvet Underground. He performs tonight at the Royal Festival Hall in London as part of the Ether festival and his new album, Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood, is out now (

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before