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Published: February 16th 2010
16th May ‘09:
We've finally finished with Munich but, before we go, here is a snap of a Namibian roadblock. The 50cc Piaggio engine was gunned, fruitlessly, outside the catering tent..
At 8am this morning, passing Giessen on Germany's A45, I send Crazy Sandra a text. ‘Give me twenty minutes,’ she replies, and turns up at a motorway services, en route to her second Metallica gig this week. She wants to arrive in Oberhausen - only 20km from AC/DC’s destination of Gelsenkirchen - for 12pm, to be first through the gates at 5pm. Being as close to the stage as possible, it appears, is a priority for nutters. Oh, consider your ears, I earnestly beseech. Although outwardly in control, she must be mere weeks away, now, from a comfortable stint in an asylum.
After a bit of good-natured hugging and back-slapping, I photograph her leg, festooned as it is with tattoos, presumably idolising James Whatshisname, Metallica’s lead singer. ‘Oh, James,’ she gushes, eyes half-closed, weak at the knees. ‘He is different at every show.’ Well, after five shows last year, Namibian and I noticed very few musical nuances.
Now, seeing as we're all travelling in the same
direction, we play 'piggy-in-the-middle' with Crazy Sandra. No, not a “spitroast” (after all that football talk in the last blog); I'm talking about driving her car between Namibian’s truck and mine. This is real 'ten four on the back door' sort of stuff, and I'm hoping for a small shoot-out with a sheriff or two. Renowned for driving at speeds of at least 150km/h, it must be a new experience for her to follow me - at around 37 tons, I’m almost at maximum weight now - up hills.
Arriving at the Veltins Arena, Gelsenkirchen is amusing; faced with a choice of left or right at a roundabout - either of which would have been fine - Namibian panics. ‘I've f*%ked up,’ he squawks over the radio, before even reaching the first exit. We have a clear, printed map of the arena, and so I ask whether he's using that, or the spaznav navigational device. His reply has me looking skyward. ‘I'm using my head,’ he says, completing a full revolution of the roundabout and re-entering the motorway network, disappearing off towards Hannover. He turns up ten minutes later, shaking his head and making plausible (ish) excuses.
inside the venue, down to the football pitch, there is a sign warning of a height restriction. Now, 3.9 metres ought to mean a collision between the trailer roof and the building, but there is plenty of room above me. Yet in Leipzig’s stadium, capaciously marked '4.0m', we had to muck about adjusting air suspension...and still hit the ceiling. Oh, you don't get all this nonsense delivering potatoes to Tesco, you know..
At 11am, as I am beginning to despair, Crazy Sandra materialises - for an 'adwenture'. Patricia, her blonde pal, is in tow. Pat is also crazy because not only does she go to far too many Metallica concerts but she is also a member of their fan club. I don't know what that entails but it's probably fairly crazy.
A marathon has wreaked havoc on the roads today and so the girls are late, relying on an unfamiliar public transport system. We look at each other helplessly, and think what we can do. Ah, that wonderful tool, the internet, supplies the answer. Since the death of the coal and steel industries in the Ruhr Valley, Gelsenkirchen is now making waves as the centre
of Germany's solar industry. That's a potential scoop; we're off to the Pholtovoltaic Information Centre.
The girls lead off decisively, boarding a tram back to Crazy Sandra's car. As an international man of mystery I think of querying their choice of tram, sensing that it is heading north, not south. ‘Barn, we are wrong,’ they admit a little later. Yes, I know. What is worse is that it's nearly lunchtime now, and there isn't a sandwich vendor in sight - the situation looks decidedly unpleasant. After a good hour of embarking and alighting of trams, we pass the Veltins Arena - our starting point.
This blasted marathon is ruining everything; Crazy Sandra is wrestling with the wheel, thwarted at every junction by plastic barricades. The spaznav is going beserk. Exhausted from three-point turns, and foiled yet again by a closed road, she pulls into a carpark full of interesting cars, to turn around. Stepping out to take a photograph, I find that we are, in fact, at a tourist attraction: the Zollverein coking plant.
Beggars can't be choosers; intrepid reporters must remain flexible and spontaneous. We've stumbled into the neighbouring district of Essen now, and this is
Crazy Sandra and Crazy Pat
Translating a curious story of mating frogs
a World Heritage site, built in 1958. Extended in the '70s, it became one of the largest and most modern coking plants in Europe.
Rather than bore you with the coal to coke process, I shall instead recount the girls' joint translation from the information board outside, sending them into peals of giggles. ‘Er, the female frog when she m et the man frog. They have to met before the small sea (she means 'pond'), then the man frog has to jump on the female frog. They will not have sex before the sea. She carry him, and then they have sex. Yes, Barn - look, it is written there.’ Right...
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