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Published: October 27th 2009
Norway, as you may know, rebuffed the euro. It has its own currency - kroner - as does Sweden and Denmark, but they’re different in all three countries. This constitutes something of a nuisance when touring, and has led to the dubbing of currencies as “shitters”.
The term applies in the touring industry to any European currency except British sterling. Take the Bulgarian Lev, for example. Now, imagine you've slogged through the night from Bucharest to Sofia. After a nice breakfast and a nap, you venture out to explore a little, perhaps opting to purchase a garish fridge magnet. Fumbling in pockets produces Romanian thingummyjigs but sadly nothing with Lev printed on. You see how easy it is not to even know what the currency is?
An inarticulate, articulated-truck driver must once have been in this very situation. Groping for a witticism, he floundered. Hence the coining - pun intended - of the term “shitter”. And, without further comparisons, the term stuck. Try it. Approach a British trucker at any rock show in Europe, mention shitters - straight-faced - and see if he/she bats an eyelid.
Erm, shall we get on with today's blog? Oslo’s
Telenor Arena isn’t finished yet. Norwegians fool about with electricity fittings while AC/DC's truckers squelch around the catering area, sticking to the freshly-painted floor. A local girl, off to Ikea to buy last-minute pillows for the dressing rooms, eyes my trombone case. 'The definition of optimism is a trombonist with a business card,' she opines. Oh, ha ha. Just for that quip, I use AC/DC’s dressing room for a chillblain-inducing shower.
My father, finger ever on the pulse, emails me. 'Do they still have that funny little guitarist hopping across the stage?' he asks. Tomorrow night AC/DC play the first ever concert in the building; I wonder if bands are booked alphabetically.
My colleague Richard, a veteran rock n roll trucker - in fact Motorhead request him for their tours - is vertically challenged. As a result, I thought it might be fun to apply the soubriquet, “Little Dick”. Anyway, this morning he is wearing one of the free, woolly crew hats that we’ve been issued with. The hat has a green, shorts-wearing gremlin on the front, and only comes in a size that leaves one’s ears exposed. Snow flies straight into my ear canal. “Gentleman Steve” (yet
another driver) opts for a flat cap instead, reminiscent of a character from Last of the Summer Wine, and looks as though he’s come from a nearby allotment.
These city breaks have their disadvantages, you know. Before the euro, turning up in, say, Portugal, we hoped someone else had enough escudos for a beer - we’re often only in a country for a short time, and understandably reluctant to change money. The point I’m circuitously building up to is that Namibian and I, and Little Dick, have arrived in Norway with very few shitters. So we’re confined to bumbling about the immediate area as pedestrians, and rushing back to Catering for thawing purposes.
They say that the best things in life are free. However, rolling around in the snow for Namibian’s video footage turns out to be a foolish idea at the start of a walk. My hands get so cold that I have to walk the streets with one hand, then the other, down my trousers..
The cleaner looks puzzled. As she mops the Catering floor, she exposes brick; the grey metallic paint is water-based. Already, on Day one of opening, the newly-painted
floor resembles an ugly patchwork quilt. Traipsing through in snow-covered boots rids the floor of any remaining paint, most of it now embedded in the carpets of trucks. Honestly, fancy using water-based paint in a country blanketed with snow for half the year.
Brave crew members are still taking the stoic option of wearing shorts - this is one of those quirks of the industry - which is fine if you’re not planning to leave the Arena. Even Angus, the guitarist, was wearing trousers last night for a rehearsal/sound check. Heavens, AC/DC are noisy, though it seemed all right from behind several heavy, closed fire doors. Now, all this shorts-wearing in frightful temperatures is reminding me of a certain young trucker on the Tina Turner tour. I won’t mention any names - James - but when discussing deformation of character on the blog, he did say: 'I don’t mind having my character defecated.' So, I’d like to digress for just a second.
A couple of weeks ago, a despondent James bemoaned the poor response he'd received from women on an internet dating site. Aiming at a demographic of 18-99, very few - well, none; we might as
well be honest, James - bothered to reply. I pointed out that it was the weekend, and so any decent girl would be out enjoying herself. 'I don’t want a girl worth her salt,' he said, slightly stooped and wearing short trousers.' I want one sitting at home, desperate.'
Returning nimbly to the AC/DC tour, Namibian is backing out of building a snowman. He’s probably exhausted from our two-mile trek yesterday, and is talking of cleaning his mirrors instead, as an afternoon’s work. So I totter off alone, in knee-deep snow, until spotting a passenger ferry going to somewhere called Nesoddtangen. Having decided I could spend my float of Norwegian shitters, ostensibly for road tolls, I board the vessel for fifteen minutes of smashing through frozen sea. This is the sort of experience that deserves a resounding whoop and a grin from ear to ear.
Another ferry, returning to Oslo via a different route, pulls in alongside, and the captain encourages me to leap aboard - my ticket is valid anywhere for an hour. I do actually have to get back to the Arena at some point - for dinner, if nothing else - yet...why not. The
captain of the second vessel kindly looks up my bus number (and timetable) on the internet as we plough noisily through shards of ice. It’s not getting any warmer, by the way - it is minus twelve degrees Celcius and there are icicles hanging off my truck - yet very few Norwegians even wear hats. And I definitely haven’t seen one in shorts…
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