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Published: February 9th 2010
10th May ‘09:
A little project? Gordon Bennett! While Bettina sleeps off her drug-induced coma, I look through her pages of notes that she wants reading into a microphone - to be learnt in impeccable English for an imminent exam. The topics are transport and religion. Simple enough, yet I'm supposed to make coherent sentences from endless bullet points spanning twenty pages per topic. For example, under the subheading “Charitable work” in the religion paper, I'm faced with this: Quaker: social concern, peacemaking
Rowntree Trust }(Quaker history) funding for housing
Not restricted on basis of religos beliefs
Lordy, this is hopeless! Stoically plodding on and on, sentences are soon abandoned. Even then, the recording lengths are still 27 minutes for religion and 25 for transport. More than once I pause to sip tea, or sneeze, and say, ‘erm, sorry, that doesn't make any sense.’ The pronunciation, at least, was flawless.
By including “Namibian - the sequel” (it slotted so seamlessly and appropriately into the blog), I realise I'm a day out of sequence - not that it matters. Perhaps, after all, I will have to do short blogs every day, if only to keep an online
record of a young man's spiral into limited mental acuity. Namibian may have to permanently take the wheel - you see, I'm already using blatant split infinitives - as I have now bequeathed to him a knowledge of word processing software and resizing photographs. I will try and cope a little longer, however.
Today, then - or yesterday, if you like - Bettina, Eddy and I take a drive out to Fischbrunn for an eight-kilometre walking loop in the 'Franconian Dolomites'. We're still in Bavaria but window shutters are now red and white, instead of blue and white. Stout footwear is recommended for this forest hike because there are awkward climbing passages where a chap could fall fifteen metres or so, and perish. So, shod in flip-flops - safety flops, I like to call them - I embark on the soft, mossy, forest trail. Eddy is behaving like a girl's blouse, walking around most of the difficult sections in his hiking boots, while I have a stab at the worst of them. Actually, one bit is so bad that flip-flops are in fact unsuitable...and I'm forced to go barefoot for safety.
After nearly four hours of flirting with
death, we come to a lovely pub in Hirschbach, glinting in the evening sun. An elderly man, sitting on a haemorrhoid cushion - he turns out to be the owner - talks to me in German. I nod a bit, interjecting with the odd ‘ach so’ while Bettina translates. Apparently the mayor of Scotland was here not so long ago, and he shuffles off to find the visitor book.
Some minutes later, he returns, and painstakingly flips gilt-edged pages, licking his forefinger between each agonising turn. As our eyes glaze over, the entry is found and we are jolted into feigned interest. 1974 was the visit, possibly the last day in thirty-five years that anything happened here. He adjusts his croupier's armbands, while we demolish the last of the cheesecake, and he waves us off. His parting shot to me, in German of course, is, ‘greetings to the mayor.’
Back in Nuremberg, after our splendid walk, Bettina takes me to a party - three minutes walk away from her flat. A well-endowed, golden-haired girl called Connie loiters in the kitchen, catching my eye instantly. One has nothing to lose by grabbing a bottle
of red off the table, approaching with a quick and resolute step, and introducing oneself. In fact, ‘whatho, I'm English, don't you know,’ turned out to be a capital opener, leading to a very late night indeed, and licking spilt wine off her arm. German parties, it transpires, are not to be sneezed at.
All good things come to an end, however, which is where I find touring so irksome. Just when I meet somebody both intelligent and attractive, I have to move on to the next city. Sulking, with heart torn asunder and plunged into lugubrious dejection, we're off to Leipzig, and Connie will have to plod through life without me. It might be the other way around, actually - she'll be fine.
It isn’t just my heartstrings that are in dire straits; my notes are a shambles, too. Though still using the old moleskin notebook from Grandpa, I now have a “half and half” system in progress. Namibian's writing pad is dog-eared and full of my doodling, yet somehow I still have tea-stained scraps of foolscap in pockets (I sometimes take the rash option of carrying neither notebook nor pad). To make matters more complicated
- even inefficient, if you like - when I have been caught with neither of the above, nor even a pen, I've used text message drafts on the mobile phone to record anecdotes. So, to recap, writing the blog lately has been an exercise requiring a good deal of poor organisation. Not that anybody appreciates it..
Perhaps, before we continue with this outdoor leg of the AC/DC tour, you should know that we now have nine more trucks. Good grief, you ask, what on earth do twenty-nine trucks carry? Well, this and that. Don't quote me, but as well as Namibian's ‘load of crap in the back’, there are two other lighting trucks, various sound trucks, a couple of rigging trucks, two trucks just to carry the train for the stage, video trucks, and a truck for catering. You get the picture - add an inflatable doll and six cannons, and trucks start adding up a bit.
And all those trucks are only the ones that go to every show. There are also three stages, each pulled by a dozen or so trucks, and they're set up in advance for us to plonk our gear straight onto. Erection
of the stage takes a few days and so three teams of “steel” drivers are needed - to leapfrog to every third show. It is quite simply a huge operation, employing a lot of people. Now you know all that, we'll probably move back to pretty girls and tourist attractions..
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