Passport: 'Nobody could wake me - I was left behind'

Passport: SUGGS

One of the worst things about travelling with Madness was the early morning flights. Often, we'd stay up all night and then crash out at 4am, an hour or so before we were supposed to leave the hotel, and no one could wake us up.

"A couple of times we had to leave some of the band behind. There are relationships that still haven't quite picked up the pieces of that. It's happened to me a couple of times. Someone finally being able to wake me up saying: 'You've missed your flight.'"

There were seven members of Madness and the touring crew, to boot. What's it like being with so many other people? "Well, fortunately, there is always a tour manager, whose primary job is to make sure that everyone gets on the plane and gets where they're supposed to be going.

"It helps if they are ex-military, especially if there are quite a few people to look after. They take control, a bit like a dictator, and you just follow like sheep. We'd hand our passports over to him at the beginning of the tour, otherwise nine times out of ten someone would miss the flight or forget their passport. We always seemed to be running. It does make travelling on my own now a bit more complicated, as I have to deal with everything myself. You just start following anyone, hoping that they are going to the same place that you are."

Suggs doesn't enjoy travelling by aeroplane very much; he finds it stressful: "The whole airport is full of neurotic stress from people, even the people who work there. People think it must be great travelling all the time, but in the end I find myself sitting in an aeroplane with a real desire to jump up and shout, feeling I can't bear to be confined any more. I find it increasingly frustrating as I get older."

His tolerance was tested to the limit on a trip to the World Cup in France. "I was in LA with the band and a mate got me a ticket for a match in Toulouse. I got a flight to Paris. When I got to check-in, I was given a boarding pass for business class. The record company paid for my ticket, so I just thought: "Great, I am in business class.'"

Apparently, there had been a mistake and Suggs should have been travelling economy. "When I got to Paris there were security men waiting for me and I was frog-marched off the plane and told that, as I'd bunked off in business class, I had to pay the difference. They wouldn't let me get on the connecting flight to Toulouse where my friend was waiting for me with the World Cup ticket. I was absolutely furious and stormed out of the airport for a bit and thought about what I was going to do. I had to cough up an extra pounds 1,000 for the privilege of having eaten a few truffles and stretched out a bit. It was a really humiliating affair. I don't know if it is an ironic joke, but when I later pursued this with the airline they offered me an upgrade if I ever travel with them again. I think I'd be too terrified."

SUGGS, aka Graham McPherson, is lead singer of the band Madness. His new solo album, "The Three Pyramids Club", is out next month. His single, "I Am", the lead track from the movie "The Avengers", is released by WEA on 31 August in Paris.

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