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Published: March 7th 2010
2nd June ‘09:
Double-drivers make a mess - it's a fact. Jon merrily boards a plane this morning, and I'm left with the detritus of two men sharing a truck. Not only is the cab in a deplorable state - awash with discarded crisp packets and chocolate bar wrappers - but all the cupboards and side lockers look as though they've absorbed a small explosion. In short, things need sorting out.
Essential work accessories - my trombone, deckchair, bestselling novels, for example - can now be unpacked, and a semblance of order restored. It's nice to stretch out once more, in my garret above the engine, without encountering a man from Coventry. And with Jon gone, I feel more comfortable about pottering indoors in just a pair of underpants.
Talking of pants, I need to do some laundry - urgently. “Rock n roll Laundry” is a company that we use in Germany (and Austria) but elsewhere we can do one of two things. Either hand in a bag to the Production Office on show day morning - it is sent out locally, returning in the afternoon smelling of lavender, and often with a bra I don't recognise
- or we can do it ourselves, at a laundrette, which is cheaper.
As I'm deliberating - dithering, actually, in this heat - Davey (pictured) approaches purposefully, eyeing my huge sack...of washing (I'm dressed now). 'Laundry, Intrepid?' he asks, using a better nickname than “Lurpak”, I think. ‘Shall we make an afternoon of it? Have a coffee while the washing's on?' Well, he’s successfully twisted my arm. I was hoping to drop the sack off with one of those vertically challenged, plump old women that tend to run Portuguese laundrettes, venturing off to the seaside while I wait. But I guess I could spare a couple of hours with Davey.
Just as an aside, my generalisation about Portuguese washerwomen stems from the last time I did washing in Portugal. Actually it might have been in Spain, but no matter. I met a woman - another customer, and certainly Portuguese - who assisted me with all the buttons and powders that heterosexual men are so puzzled by. This is not boasting, sounding as though I’m above domestic duties; it’s actually rather embarrassing.
Anyway, this woman in her fifties had a chest merging seamlessly with her stomach, in turn
merging seamlessly with her knees. And she was short. She was jolly too, and enamoured by my feebleness in washing-related matters. As we got chatting - me in English, her in her native tongue - she began to write a phone number down. Hello, I thought, with notions of doing my bit for charity. But she was writing her daughter’s number. Now why have I mentioned this? No idea, but launderettes seem replete with blog material whenever I visit.
Coffee with Davey it is, then. Or rather, it isn’t. Three beers later, the coin-op laundrette turns out to be a dry cleaner; they want €55. Well, I didn't really want to break a €500 note, anyway. Sorry, I'm being daft, but I thought you ought to see one - they are rare. And useless, too, because nobody accepts them - it's far too much money in a single bill.
Well, laundry can wait, but my bicycle - the third of the tour so far - cannot. It's a new one, you may have noticed, but it has a puncture. Dutch Patrick, an ex-bike mechanic takes a look at it, setting to work with gusto. 'I used to know
a lot of girls in Europe,' he says conversationally, as he turns a spoke key and adds a sticky patch. 'But now I'm more busy eating.' Within twelve minutes he's adjusted the brakes and straightened the back wheel as well. Nice chap, Patrick..
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