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Published: March 27th 2010
10th June ‘09:
'That's the building,' says Gentleman Steve. 'Look, no satellite dishes.' He grins knowledgeably. 'Or if it's not that one, it's somewhere else in Marseille.' He looks less eminent now, but his ramblings have been accurate thus far. 'No, I have it on good authority. It's definitely that one.' As it turns out, it isn't.
We're looking for Corbusier's Unite d'Habitation, nicknamed “House of the Crazy”, and it isn't opposite the stadium as first thought. Steve has got the right street though; a fifteen-minute walk brings us to a housing slab, raised above ground on sculpted legs. 'Ah, the iconic street in the sky,' he says. In 1947-52, to combat post-war overcrowding, a scheme to build upwards was introduced.
To be honest, it’s an anticlimax. Unless you’re an architect, the building won’t send shivers down your spine - you know, the sort of shivers that emanate from having your earlobe nibbled, or inner thigh stroked. But for some reason, I’m drawn to these things. Erm, I’m still talking about the building, actually. I guess it’s like knowing that a revolutionary hydrogen engine is on display nearby; it may be as dull as dishwater to the non-motoring
enthusiast, but I feel I ought to make the effort to see it.
Anyway, that’s it for the south of France. I haven’t had time to visit my manicurist in St Tropez, yet we’re heading once again up to Paris. Maybe I could finally get some washing done there?
11th June: “Clean sheets at last”
Trucking is a bit like camping. Locate the shower block and toilets, and you're free to explore the area. Arriving in Paris at midnight, though, means waking up with no clue how to get into today's venue, let alone find toilets within its depths.
Namibian stirs at 5am, desperate for the loo - it’s his age, bless him. Parked a five-minute walk away from today’s gig - the Stade de France - he scrounges a lift in a security car. Ablutions are duly completed, but the security man has vanished, leaving Namibian locked inside. The caged leviathan rattles the bars to attract attention. Eventually security returns, taking photos of one incarcerated Namibian on the wrong side of the railings. Ha ha. Sorry I wasn’t up in time to get a snap for the blog.
It's a very good job he
escaped, actually - I probably wouldn’t find anybody else to carry my second bag of washing across the river. 'Bloody hell Barny, how am I supposed to ride the bike with this?' he asks, balancing a bin liner of my pants atop his handlebars. A lunatic sidles up with a baguette, and yells at us incoherently as we wait for the swing bridge to St Denis.
Cackling and body odour greet us in the launderette. Two women dressed in full African garb fuss with coins and soap powder. And it's like a driver's convention in here - it’s a well-known haunt on the touring circuit because it’s cheap. Just next door, while we wait for our bedding and clothes to be dried and folded, is a bar. And an enthusiastic barber, who fails to understand 'short back and sides'.
I had been toying with growing my hair, you see - just a bit tufty like Robert Redford, not sprouting a ponytail and heading off to smoke dope on a Goan beach. The inclination arose in a mirrored lift in Berlin, when I noticed that the back of somebody’s head looked a bit stupid. Realising it was mine, I
felt I ought to do something about it. So I grew it a little, just enough to camouflage the actual contours of my head.
Alas, the exigencies of living in a truck have rendered the windswept and interesting look impractical. While Redford presumably has access to a basin first thing in the mornings, I often wake up and head straight out on an adventure. It’s only after I’ve been flirting with a waitress for a while that I realise my hair could be sticking up - a “truck hat”, as I like to call it. Ten minutes with an impassioned Parisian hairdresser, however, has put me straight back to Square One.
Feeling scalped, sightseeing in Paris seems too much. So I'm having the afternoon off. But if I’m staying in, I really ought to tackle the storage space under my bed - it's a mess. Well, it seems that even that task is beyond me; my sleeping area is clogged up with dishevelled Australian girls eating pizza in bed. Don't ask. I tell you what, though, if she spills crumbs on my nice clean sheets, I shall get jolly cross..
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