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Published: March 21st 2010
7th June 09:
It's Sunday today, a day of rest. Or it ought to be, but we've been up since 05.00 - loading into Barcelona's Olympic Stadium. At 8.30, “Alice” and Cowboy set up the “Boneyard Beach Club”, carefully elevating sunloungers to the optimum solar-receiving position. 'The club opens at nine, dear boy,' says a shirtless Cowboy.
A local truck driver noisily enters the sunbathing area, shattering the tranquillity. 'What is that Spanish dingbat trying to accomplish?' asks Cowboy haughtily. The Spaniard in question is making a spectacular pig's ear of a blindside reverse. Oh, I suppose I can’t just throw in terms like “blindside reverse” without explaining them.
For those that understand the term, I apologise: for those that don’t, I shall be lucidity itself. You know we don’t have rear-view mirrors on trucks, right? OK, OK, just checking. All I’d see would be my unmade bed. And if there were a window in the back of the cab, I’d be staring at the front of a huge trailer. If you drive closely behind a truck - so close that you can’t see the driver in the side mirrors - the driver can’t see you. Think
about that next time you park behind a truck.
Will the driver get out and have a look, or might he reverse over your car? I say he, but it could just as easily be a lady driver. Now, there are two types of reversing: the blindside reverse, and the good side reverse. I suppose you could also say that there is good and bad reversing. Heavens, I’ve seen some bad reversing on this tour, but I’m not mentioning any names. But I will mention that Namibian backed into a bench in Milan a couple of years ago. ‘Nobody will notice,’ he said.
OK, so we have a driver in a left-hand drive truck. If he looks in the left mirror, he can see the trailer well. And if the point of articulation becomes too pronounced, he can hang out the window and see exactly what is about to be demolished. In the right mirror, however, the end of the trailer soon kinks out of sight. It is very difficult to gauge where the trailer is, especially if a Namibian has been neglecting his job of cleaning mirrors.
Consequently, you may see a truck driving past a
delivery area, and round the block, to approach from the other direction. This is so any reversing can be performed safely on the good side. Blindside reverses, unless slight, ought to be supervised; it takes the stress out of the manoeuvre. Sorry, I don’t know what’s got into me lately with all this truck talk; it must be even worse than the spicy, sexy stuff. Anyway, Cowboy refills his pipe and shuffles off for a lie-down.
There are now honorary members of the sunbathing elite. New recruits are given a starter pack of sun cream and bottled water. Dutch Patrick joins today, ignoring the former and burning his tummy a treat. I, too, am invited but by 10am I've had enough - enough of sun and of endless platitudes, tossed like Frisbees in the Spanish sunshine.
'That sun's come 93 million miles,' says Alice, 'and you have to stand right there.' He's reprimanding Little Dick for blocking out the precious rays. 'How do you know how far it's come,' questions Rob (yet another driver). He’s dressed in trousers, and is looking uncomfortable in the heat. 'Has someone measured it, then?' Namibian whizzes past, exercising furiously. Well, freewheeling downhill
on a bicycle, whistling a tune that sounds a little military.
Rob continues. 'I know it's three miles to town because someone's measured it. And the moon's OK because someone's been there, but the sun...How does anyone know? Now, if you're travelling at the speed of light, in space, and you put your headlights on, will they shine forward?' Ooh, that one has me curious. Truckers make awfully good philosophers, you know.
There's no time to sit around chatting, though; I have laundry to do. Blast, I’ve just remembered it is Sunday. I sulk and go for a pee on the grass behind the trailers, eyes peeled for policewomen. And what do I discover? David rigging up a washing line, that's what. 'Hello Barnaby,' he says genially, unaware that I'm sulking, and that he's rubbing it in a bit by lording washing all over the place.
He's used Travel Wash in the stadium showers, even laundering jeans. It turns out that quite a few drivers have been doing this, all unnoticed while I've been out getting scoops. 'You get used to doing it,' he says, noticing my jealousy at last. 'When you've driven out east, you don't
have much choice.' I ask him where he's been, where washing machines are unavailable.
'Oh, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, the usual,' he says airily. David's interested to learn that Kazakhstan is the birthplace of the apple, but it doesn't change this salient fact: I still have a huge sack...of washing. But I’m certainly not going to do it by hand..
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