Suddenly there's a crash, immediately followed by a couple of groans, from the back of the bus where the bunks are. "Hi," whispers Robert, staggering forward wiping the sleep out of his eyes, a book in his hand. He collapses onto the side of keyboard player Lol Tolhurst's chair and they laugh about the passage he's just read. "Murder! Death! Insanity! That's my kind of party," he murmurs. Everyone laughs and Robert wanders back to bed...
I next find him after the concert, lying on his back on the dressing room floor. "If I'm upright," he explains, "I just sway. And it's quite funny looking at the world like this. You can see up people's noses!"
Truth to tell Robert Smith is not terrifically cheerful at the moment: "I didn't enjoy tonight at all," he confesses. "I felt really ill and I sung really badly." He admits this may have something to do with the way the band have treated the last two days like one big party. "I only had an hour's sleep last night," he moans. "It feels like we've been on tour for three months."
He certainly looks like it. His whole body is covered by huge brown bruises, caused by hurtling round the bus after a three-and-a-half hour meal which included a E60 1943 bottle of Armagnac brandy. "We were dancing round the bus in one big mass while it was going at 60 miles an hour, and it's got really jagged edges. But we were so drunk we didn't realise."
As well as the bruises he's also got some writing on his arm. "Ah," he explains, "that says 'I am filled with an overwhelming desire to die'. That's what I woke up saying today so I thought I'd write it on my arm so I wouldn't forget it."
Just as he's starting to feel really sorry for himself a one- eared dog swoops in from above Robert's left ear and starts crawling over his face. It's a toy dog and it belongs to Jamie, one of Robert's three long-haired nephews who've come tonight with his 44-year- old brother, Richard, who "lives a self-sufficient hippie existence on a farm in Wales".
As the. other two proceed to mother Robert in kisses, Jamie (who's five explains that "we know him because he's in the paper". Obviously a fan, he says that the best song at tonight's concert was "the last one, because it had a trumpet in." Robert, who's too polite to tell him it was a saxophone, agrees. "The last song we do is usually made up on the spot and it was a good one tonight. A sort of, bursting into tears in the rain' song because I was so upset. I hate not liking a conceit because it makes the whole day seem redundant."...
"I feet dreadful." It's the next afternoon and we've just arrived at the huge deserted Shepton Mallet showground where The Cure are playing tonight. Robert's lying down again, this time on the stairs outside their dressing room. He's nursing a hangover after a quiet but rather over-indulgent party at the hotel the night before. "We've never been a 'wreck-the-hotel' rock 'n' roil sort of group," he says. "but we do tend to party a lot."
Which is why he's now desperate for some refreshment. He sends bassist Simon Gallup off to get him some ice-cream or Ribena, then, when neither can be found, some honey which he tucks into. Trouble is, it's not very easy to eat honey on your back and so there's soon a liberal spreading all over his face. Unperturbed, he mixes the rest up with a glass of milk and drinks it in one go, nearly swallowing a handful of his scraggly hair which happens to be hanging into his mouth at the same time. By this time a small crowd has gathered around him. "You lie down for a bit of peace and quiet and what happens?" he groans, "30 or 40 people gather round"
So he gets up and leads me into the middle of the nearby racetrack where he lies down again and comes clean about "all the lies I tell when people interview me. It's because I do too many interviews. I bore myself if I don't make things up. It's like having your photograph taken too often - you end up not looking like yourself. I started doing it because nothing ever happens to me yet people always expect me to do odd things.
So, for instance, he reveals that all the stories about adopting a lamb and taking it on tour with him are completely made up. And, he sniggers, he's just told some real whoppers to a trendy "style" magazine: I lied about everything. I said our suits were designed by Jean Paul Goude (v. hip designer who masterminded Grace Jones' career) and they believed me!"
It's not hard to tell that Robert doesn't really take the whole pop star business that seriously. In fact three years ago he was ready to give it all up but instead as a joke made a record "with all the worst bits from the songs I hated in - it was supposed to finish us off." But the public loved "Lets Go To Bed" and these days even Robert's coming round - "It's so tacky," he says with considerable pride.
However, Robert claims he's not too bothered how many records they sell: "It's pointless. If one person likes a record in a certain way it's worth a hundred thousand liking it in a Radio 1 way. Radio 1! Euuugh.'" He finds the idea disgusting. "They happily play Russ Abbot records endlessly all day!" Perhaps he's fibbing when he says he's not concerned about record sales, though, because now he says he is very keen for the new single "Close To Me", to do well.
"I've always said we'd never release two singles off an album-,-" he-explains, a little embarrassed, "but I was tempted because all the band were saying that if we release it, it will go to number one." He knows it won't but he still wants as many people to hear it as possible and also to see the accompanying brilliant video.
"The song's about being claustrophobic. Not physically, but about how you can feel confined even in the most expansive room if you're with the wrong people. The video (in which the whole band are crammed inside a wardrobe full of clothes, which falls off the edge of a cliff and then fills up with water) is very The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - they threw three empty wardrobes off Beachy Head cliffs and they had to use a fire engine to get enough water to fill the wardrobe they were in. Trouble was the water had been in the fire engine for six weeks and was disgusting so we were all violently sick the next day."
Still it was worth it - for "art's" sake, not because it might make him an extra bit richer: "When I feel I've got too much money," he confesses, "I tend to give it away to charities and things anyway. I have a weird sense of ethics: I don't think anybody should have too much money I've got everything I want already - I hate having a lot of things. About four or five years ago I threw everything away because I'd started to hoard silly things like bergamots from a good night out. If you've got to run. out in the middle of the night because the place is on fire. the only thing you should really take is your teddy bear."
Yes, he admits, he does have a teddy bear. "It was given to me on the day I was born..It's soaked with tears." So is that really all he would take? He thinks hard. "Yes. Except Mary - I'd take her."
Mary is, of course, the girlfriend he has been going out with since before he started making records and with whom he hides away from the public eye. "In my other life," he says, watching the fans beginning to arrive for tonight's concert, "I can get quite a lot of privacy. I never answer if someone knocks on my door and only the band and my manager have my phone number. In any case my phone doesn't ring so I never notice it. I occasionally just walk past and pick it up to see if anyone's there."
With that we wander back towards the queueing Cure fans. Few of them notice, let alone identify, the scruffy short bloke walking amongst them - even though that's who they're paying money to see tonight. "Nobody notices me," he chuckles with a mixture of amusement and relief. "Nobody thinks I'm me. But then I look less like me than most of the people coming, to the concerts"...
"I used to be good", puffs Robert a little disconsolately. He's lying down again. The Cure have just been thrashed 6-1 at football by the road crew and he's trying to get his breath back before the concert.
Robert doesn't enjoy tonight's concert much and afterwards, though as friendly as always, he's in a bit of a sulk. "When we're good," he explains, "we're better than anybody. That s not being big- headed, I just think we are. But sometimes, especially when my voice gives up, we're awful."
But everyone seems to enjoy it. "Yeah," he agrees, "well, we're always competent. It would be a bit unfair to charge people money to come and see a bunch of shambling duffers, wouldn't it?-But we can-be immense."'
"Days like today," he sighs, "I just-wish they would end. It's an awful thing to wish the days away but sometimes l do. This is a very bad patch - you've caught me on the hop." Tomorrow is a day off so it should be a lot better: "I'm going to phone out for a take- away," Robert grins, cheering up instantly, "and stay in bed all day.""