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Published: December 17th 2009
24th March '09:
A flash in the mirrors illuminates a raccoon’s intestines on the trailer mudguards. In fairness, I don’t know quite what went under the wheels, but I can’t face removing animal guts, and am hoping a lengthy journey will dislodge them - hopefully somewhere in Austria. Aha, the flash turns out to be Namibian electrocuting himself on the tramlines - his trailer glances off the overhead power cables, attributable simply to a difference in trailer heights, not driving ability.
I need to butter him up a bit actually because foolishly - in the spirit of combat etiquette - I’ve granted him a blog entry. The rules allow that he may choose pictures to embarrass me, and the text will remain uncensored. If, however, it contains phrases like: 'Barnaby is brilliant', I may have made slight changes in light of readability. Namibian's entry, destined for history’s annals, will come shortly.
Electrocution is only a passing worry, actually, with eighteen rubber tyres underneath us. My pal, Turner - remember, from the Pink tour? Yes, that’s him, the chap that uses Clarins moisturiser - texts me a few hours later as he rolls under the same tramlines and partly
At the front is heavy black truss
dismantles them. Like the first person to try and unscrew a jar lid, Namibian had only loosened them. Turner, like me, has also had a recent hefty fine - this time from the “Go-box Gestapo”, an apt moniker for the Austrian road tax enforcers.
Jeepers, sleep-deprivation is a formidable opponent. Warding off the spectre of heavy eyelids, I spend a good deal of the journey to Frankfurt removing remnants of key lime pie from a stray inverter cable in the cab. My living area is in rather a poor state, actually. It’s simply a fact of life that some people are tidy (anally retentive) and others have tourist leaflets, tea-stained scraps of A4 and trombone mouthpieces surrounding them. With stinging eyes, on another 1000-odd kilometre push, I wonder about producing a mollycoddling note from my mother asking if I could be in bed by 11.30pm, and not to be out in the cold for too long during truck-loading at night. No, I thought not. It’s hardly the sort of thing that platoons tolerate.
There are few things worse than waking, after too brief a doze, to be told by a Namibian that there are still 711 kms to
go. It’s a savage blow, but one I take on the chin. Actually, an exploitative encounter with the Italian law-enforcer was significantly worse. I seem to be the talk of the town in that regard; Cookie said flippantly: 'phwoar, was she wearing boots?' and Turner, ever the cad, texts: 'you should have done her over the bonnet!!!' He likes exclamation marks.
Mulling the matter further, I think that being strung up by one’s testicles could be deemed worse than driving when tired. This would be a splendid opportunity to introduce my friend, “Sex Pest” here - who would gladly pay cash for the latter torture, ideally by a girl in boots - but he’s rather a long story. Maybe another time..
So, we knock off a few more miles and pull in at Neumarkt truckstop for a meal and a proper sleep. 'I don’t want anything too heavy' says Namibian, tucking into a Tudor-banquet-sized plate of food. 'Maybe just a burger and chips.'
25th March: (“From bad to worse”)
A good-natured joust takes place at 1am: Namibian has gone and made tea instead of coffee. 'You said you wanted tea in the mornings,' he squeals righteously.
Well, technically he has me there, but, as I say, it is 1am, which I think even a devout Muslim would regard as night time. 'We’ll have trouble getting out of here,' he adds, before I’ve even opened my curtains. As it turns out, he’s panicking needlessly again - we sail effortlessly out of our parking slots.
I’ve learnt to live with Namibian, you know. In Brussels once, he was on about “pulling the gig”, fretting about getting trucks to the loading door, his leg bouncing up and down ten to the dozen. I got out of my truck, prepared to grapple with any hardships. I pushed a lone wheelie bin out of the reversing path, thereby solving the difficulty. Goodness, he's a one. And what do you mean, I should be grateful he makes me a hot flask of anything? Oh yes, I’m supposed to be keeping in his good books re: the blog entry.
7am sees crew tape measures produced, pink tape - sometimes it’s orange - lining the arena floor, and ‘half ton/one ton’ marked in yellow chalk as fractions. Ah, that’s where all those motors from my truck go. Hard-hatted crew bang bits of
black truss together while, 100 ft overhead, T-shirted men in boots and tool-filled belts hoist the motor chains by pulley rope. The next step is lifting all that hanging equipment - lights, video screens, stacks of PA - that you see above a stage.
An army of local crew in orange hi-vis vests swarm like ants, pushing set carts and boxes. Everything is on wheels. This is an American tour and so there are two types of truck: empty and full. Small British tours, where only a few boxes are wheeled down the truck ramps at a time, can be a nuisance. “Tipping” (unloading) can take ages, and severely interferes with sightseeing and trombone practice.
Sightseeing is off the cards today, unfortunately; not only is it snowing, but we’re in Frankfurt - a banking town with few sights. A gentle cycle is also off the agenda as not one, but both wheels, have now had it. In the pandemonium of the last load-out, I lazily strapped a box, it moved, and the back wheel is now crushed beyond repair. Agh!
Outside the Festhalle - currently celebrating its 100th year - and dwarfed by skyscrapers, I stick out
a melancholic bottom lip. It is indeed a splendid building, and Hitler spoke here, but I’m in an unshakeably bad mood over the bicycle predicament. However, I read somewhere that tidying the house can prove therapeutic - so, borrowing a duster from Namibian, I begin the spring clean. Stepping merrily over to the passenger side of the cab, I tread heavily on the laptop - it's camouflaged under a jacket, in my defence - shattering both the screen and my short-lived joie de vivre. It really is just one thing after another..
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