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Published: November 5th 2009
23rd Feb '09:
As a truck driver, the job description entails driving...which is the bit I don't like. Trucks, as far as I’m concerned, are simply vehicles for travelling to the next interesting place. Yes, there's the occasional knickerless strumpet and, indeed, beautiful scenery en route...but international roads, like domestic motorways, are generally tediously dull.
While Namibian fawns over 660-horsepower beasts, and photographs eight-axle juggernauts - we discussed his steering wheel fetish, remember? - I would prefer almost any other mode of transport. Yet there is little call for rock ‘n’ roll shipping. And how many times have you seen a train delivering lights to a Metallica stadium concert? A rock ‘n’ roll cycling company would, of course, be absurd. So, I'll accept the driving bit...and stop moaning.
It’s nearly 1900km to Paris, yet we're off to a poor start. Pulling out of Stockholm's Globe Theatre, all eighteen wheels slide round the first roundabout. This is like ice-road trucking; we might as well be on a lake. The road remains invisible to the eye. And it’s minus nine Celsius - brrr! This time there is no black ice, just an interminable stretch of scary, powdered snow, and a
central reservation. The sight of tarmac, two hours later, is a jubilant, yet transient, moment. Soon enough, we're back to holding our breath and closing our eyes on the worst stretches. Well, one eye - just to reduce the ghastly spectre that peripheral vision beholds.
Now, next time you’re moaning about the price of concert tickets, consider this: to put a truck on the fifteen minute ferry-ride from Sweden to Denmark (Helsingborg-Helsingor), plus the forty-five minute crossing to Germany, costs €468. One way. So, multiply that by two for a return journey, and then by twenty for the number of trucks on the tour. Now add the daily rental price of 38-tonne trucks plus diesel. Understand why concert tickets aren’t cheap?
24th February: ("Namibian stranded in Denmark")
At one o’clock in the morning, Namibian is hanging off my mirrors. It reminds me that I should've been born into wealth. There is a rule in this industry: rock, don't knock. It means, in order to wake a sleeping driver, rock the mirrors - gently. Too much and you risk spilling discarded wine glasses inside; too little and the driver may continue his erotic dream involving two of Tina
Turner's dancers, subconsciously noting that the wind outside has increased. What you do not do, Namibian, is swing off them.
Are you thinking why not just ring the bell, as with a house? We don't have one. Well, how about knocking on the door then? Ah, we come to the crux. The noise from pounding fists - aside from the proximity to my weary frame - is amplified inside the cab. It always makes my heart race. Namibian has rocked me out of bed now, though. So, comparing awakening techniques, perhaps there isn’t much in it.
Ooh, I forgot to mention his forlorn face yesterday at the Danish docks. The ferry to northern Germany accommodated my truck but not Namibian's. Ha ha. As he revved in readiness of embarkation, a stevedore blocked his path. It happened to me when I was twenty-three: five out of six trucks got on this boat, heading for a gig in Copenhagen. Over the CB, I got snatches of directions: 'turn left at the …lights, then turn…' Help! I paid a taxi driver to lead the way on that occasion. Last night, though, when the stranded Namibian arrived, he became a little excited.
Parked next to us were several “trombone” trailers, each fifty metres in length, pulling electricity-generating windmill sails. I believe the expression for his enthusiasm is “like a dog with two dicks”.
Anyway, it’s 1am and Namibian has been up for an hour. He's woken gradually, prepared hot drinks, and violently awoken a trombone player. Why am I talking in the third person? I don't know. He's woken me. I check for bruises and draw the curtains. There stands Namibian, dressed like a beardless Father Christmas in a hat. Disorientated and squinting, I finally find the door handle, and an arm reaches in with the familiar pink thermos flask. A journey of 700kms would be perfectly unthinkable without this. An icy draught accompanies the flask and I wonder, not for the first time, why on earth we’re touring northern Europe in February.
As we head south, passing numerous motorway exits - “ausfahrts” in German - I'm reminded of my ex-girlfriend. She once remarked what a big place Ausfahrt must be, as it is signposted from everywhere. She's Australian; the language barrier got us in the end…
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