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Published: November 27th 2009
13th March '09:
I haven’t told you what’s in the back of my lorry, have I? No, I realise you don’t care...but that’s not the point - it is all pertinent to a rounded rock 'n' roll education. Unlike Namibian’s 'load of crap in the back', I have “Rigging 2” (the second rigging truck), and a laminated sign to that effect. This sign inside in the trailer also reads “Barnaby” - so nobody needs to commit that unpardonable offence of calling me 'drive'. It’s my bete noire.
Throughout my working life, I've endured the occasional proper day's work: pottering round the English countryside collecting farm apples, or delivering trolleys of chilled goods to Tesco, for example. Aside from the mind-numbing aspect of normal trucking, what really gets up my nose is warehouse personnel greeting me with: 'all right, drive?' Other truckers seem unfazed. But imagine if I began entering offices saying: 'all right, clerk?' or 'OK, compute?' Wouldn't that be deemed rude? Apologies, I'm on a tangent again.
“Rigging” means motors - which are jolly heavy, and makes my truck struggle up hills - and bits of truss, which ought to be light but turn out to be
jolly heavy too. Oh, I'd better explain: truss is nothing to do with turkeys or bondage; put very simply, truss is the metal above the stage that supports the sound equipment and lights. Luke, an affable transatlantic cousin on the tour, knows which truss pieces are hardest on the biceps, and pulls a face when we reach them. The time is 6.15am, and he dreads this four-man lifting process. 'Time for a 10-200,' he says. Noticing my look of bemusement, he clarifies: '10-100 is peeing;10-200 is pooping.' Don't you just love Americans? '10-4,' I reply, as he sneaks off to the toilet.
Now, Rotterdam, according to the Philips 2007 roadmap, is the largest port in the world. 'What, second to Hamburg?' chimes Namibian. No, largest means...oh, never mind. The morning is spent extolling the merits of Radio Four with my pal, Cookie, who dislikes northern Europe. He would much prefer to be in Spain, but tolerates Holland and Germany for the radio reception. Today, however, he’s had to park inside the Ahoy Arena - without radio, he's in a mood. 'I'm staying in,' he says sulkily, as though he's living in a three-bedroom semi-detached, rather than a six-foot square
I, as you know, rarely “stay in”. We're in the Netherlands and I have a bicycle - a serious mode of transport here - and I blend in nicely. Unbroken paths, solely for two-wheelers, sport signposts for towns many kilometres away, and the bicycle parking areas can be two storeys high! Entering the Maas tunnel, rosy-cheeked, dismounted cyclists effortlessly accompany their steeds on the escalator. My balance is not quite as flawless; going up a moving staircase, behind a bike, is even worse than going down. Returning eventually to the Ahoy Arena via Erasmus Bridge, one girl’s bottom after another - ooh, that bucking in the saddle - becomes mesmerising. All sense of direction is lost; I'm unable to pinpoint my truck...but it's worth it.
14th March: (“Rotterdam - Dortmund”)
I’m afraid there’s a brief moan about tachographs again today: Namibian and I have been forced, through safety regulations, to struggle unsafely through the night. You see, in order to comply with a weekly rest period of 24 hours - as though we need it - we have to reach Dortmund by six o’clock in the morning. Tomorrow, at a similar hour, we’ll barely have
to do an hour’s worth of manoeuvring - but that, in the eyes of the fools that dream up these rules, is neither here nor there. On a brighter note, not only have I discovered a third umbrella under the bunk, but the diphtheria diagnosis was entirely erroneous. It was indeed a sore throat.
The sun is briefly out, and a city reconnaissance by bicycle is just the thing. Well, it would be if the front wheel wasn’t buckled beyond recognition - an ailment that can only have stemmed from erratic driving or poor loading procedures. Isn't it awful when you just know that the fault lies with yourself? Vengeance against another soul seems so unfair...but I look for Namibian anyway. That sweet-toothed creature is beginning his evening meal with dessert, this evening.
This front wheel setback is not as serious as misfiring stoves or running out of teabags, admittedly, but it’s not far off. The bike shop in Dortmund can have a new wheel for Wednesday…by which time the tour trucks will have toddled through the Czech Republic and Austria, and be rolling into Italy. Great. Meanwhile, Little Dick appears to be in training for a
sleeping competition; at 5pm - yes, 11 hours after arrival - his curtains are just beginning to twitch. And that’s only because I’m playing trombone outside his window.
Tot: 2.451s; Tpl: 0.047s; cc: 36; qc: 180; dbt: 0.0937s; 2; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.8mb