So....greetings fellow herbalists. Where do we return to?
Ultrecht. It was ok weather wise as it wasn't raining was my first thought as I poked my nose out of the tourbus. After the dismal downpour in Tilburg my jeans were finally dry. I had been forced to wear my spare pair...Which aren't worn in. We were playing the Tivoli, there being several in this town, we were at the outer club, a kilometre or so from the centre of town. But it wasn't wet so who cares. We've played there on several occasions so we knew the layout and the sound. Soundcheck passed painlessly enough and left us sufficient time for a stroll into town with DJ Pee.
We decided to try some of their beers. We had a couple of 'demis' as we were unsure of the tastes...we struck gold insomuch as the last lager we drank was awesome. Either that or the beer before was so vile that rats piss wouldv'e been an improvement. DJ Pee and I agreed we are not great fans of Weiss beer.....
The gig went well and our support band were a local rap outfit, who, to be honest, didn't say much to us. Perhaps they were in awe of our beauty and skillz. Or maybe not. We went on and did our thing. After the show we camped in the bus overnight as the distance between cities in Holland is so modest that a long night run is not necessary.
This also leaves us with the ability to roll around the bus and jump on and off at random throughout the night. If that's what you want to do in life. So....
We awoke in Amsterdam. ta da! As usual we were parked opposite the Milkyway. However this time we were playing at the Sugar Factory opposite the Milkyway building, but part of the same outfit. On entering the dressing room we were welcomed by a long list of rules that by and by we completely ignored. We live rock and roll on the wild side and do not need to count all the towels in and out. Bollox to the towels I'll use the curtains.
That afternoon I dined at Burger King just in case...well you know what I mean. Dutch cuisine...The pancakes are fine but when we were finally fed there was just too much and it was heavy...So now you want me to jump around on stage? Is that before or after I vomit over the crowd?
Anyway....we survived like waddling pregnant ducks till the gigs' end and then chilled in the dressing room with a company rep continually telling us we had to leave at so and so time.
Which bit of 'do I look like I'm listening' didn't they get? We stayed till the end and left when we felt like it. At one point a lady who must be some local DJ strolled in thinking we'd gone and complained about the smoke....er...It aint your dressing room byatch, and then she sensibly retract the statement to say well it's Ok for others but not her. Erm who asked you byatch? I think she'd realized by then you do not make comments in front of bands you don't know....cos they just might have been around longer than you, bigger than you and...may be around long after your gone. So there. Silly cow
Ergo....after the show we partied with a lot of Dutch 'fresh air' and as it says in the Bible, It was good. By 3am I was forced to return to Burger King to confront the hunger pangs...how strange. Must be something in the air. After this culinary expedition I slumped in my bunk and listened to the night sounds of central Amsterdam on a Friday night. It was noisy but luckily I have earplugs.
I vaguely recall the engine firing up the next morning. It was either that or my stomach. When I peered from bus the next afternoon we were in drizzly Zwolle. It's a nice enough place. A small town with a surrounding defensive canal. We had a while to kill so the band made a last foray into the town to maybe experience more of the Dutch fresh air. Then it was back to the venue Hedon, to start the soundcheck.
To be honest, everyone was a little tired after the gig in Amsterdam but we put on the best we could and the atmosphere was warm and friendly. I spent the last few hours backstage before the show watching BBC Iplayer on the history of British colonialism. As you do.
Food was served of which I only ate the soup as my intestines were still blocked from the night before. This was a good move in some respects. The show......Went well. Cool vibes in the crowd and a great 'au revoir' to Holland. We obviously partied after the gig as the bus moved off towards Lyon. Of course I was in 'easy company' mode, meaning at some point ie, at Luxembourg Airport, I would jump off into the night to catch my flight back to the UK. In theory this is great. However.........
7AM. I open my eyes while laying prone on the downstairs sofa. Back pack only as I am leaving my big bag on the bus and only packing my mac, passport and dirty clothes..
......fuck me sideways I am hammered...........
No...seriously....I'm fucked. I step out of the bus into the dark grey drizzle. I cannot focus, think, speak or walk properly. So the driver looks around blankly as his sat nav says this is the airport and who are we to argue? There's a black looking forest to one side and a barbwire topped fence on the other with some very shut looking buildings. I've seen this before in some of the more provincial airports in France so why not here? I have also seen this in horror films. The beginning bit where the stranger (me) gets murdered.
Our driver goes and rings a bell.....nothing happens so he gets back into the bus and drives of into the early morning gloom. I pull the straps of my back pack, and start walking. I am just not sure where. Into the forest with the wolves and trolls or along the closed buildings full of zombies or the half built bit of Hades behind? All of them!
First we stumble towards a car park. I see a man in uniform outside a car. I wobble up to him and realize he's a Luxembourg military pilot. In fact he is THE Luxembourg military pilot.
So at least he speaks English. Unfortunately at this point I can barely speak any language. I manage to describe my plight and he explains the that I am in the military and cargo training area......OK....and the bit I need is a couple of kilometres away. Great. So off we march.
After a while the road disolves into a half built industrial landscape. In the distance I see a portacabin and a Stop sign and another man. Wow, Luxembourg is the happening place. I go up to him and mumble something about airports while waving my passport. I am drunk, full of Dutch fresh air and incoherent....so he asked...
You work here? Which company?
WTF? The guy thinks I have come to work anywhere in this state? OMD.... Who's he think I work for? Amstel Air? Bob Marley Airport Services? Eventually Mr Brightbrain realizes I am merely a tired and emotional traveler from far lands wishing to return to dear Albion. Again the airport is a kilometre away...
So off we trek once more....now I am in a vast unfinished something or other. Fuck knows. Rubble, semi laid tarmac, I am actually in scene from 28 Days Later and no one told me. I am also getting a a slight headache. On and on....past wolves roaming the Lux forest. At one point a young girl in a red hooded cloak passes me with a whicker basket. Followed by a sweet old lady with remarkably long ears, and teeth. And to be honest a bit of a 'tache....Whatever.
Through the wasteland I trekked like in "The Road". Eventually under a lone street light I saw a garage just opening. The light was getting stronger, and so was my headache. I entered the aforementioned service station and two inbred locals put down there banjos and stared at me. I asked for directions to be told once again the the airport was a kilometre away.....on the left. Then I realized,,,,I was in Luxembourg. Everything in Lux is a kilometre away where ever you are. Something to do with space/time continuum and tax evasion. They appeared slightly more scared of me than I was of them, their bulk, and female gender making me worried that they may wish to use me for breeding purposes in their local community. I carefully backed out of the door at no time losing sight of the pair of them and listening out for the sound of bare feet running up behind me with hatchets. Time to go......
Luckily I had checked on Wickipedia the night before...so I knew what Lux airport really looked like. After a kilometre I saw a large squat glass building loom from the misty drizzle....As I clambered over the piled up gravel and unpaved sidewalks the construction grew closer. Eventually I found out I was on the wrong side of some barriers. Aren't we all? I climbed over them and fell to the ground. However with state I was in I frankly couldn't give a flying fuck.
It was like a vision. Dry, warm, inviting......I pulled myself up...and found a real path. The doors opened and I entered....I promptly bought a bottle of water and sat down...And passed out.
Time passed in a strange dream state punctuated by 'ding dong' of the airport announcement. And then.....I could hear talking. So nice was my dream state I didn't want to awake but the voices became more insistent.....Inevitably my eyes eventually opened to the sight of two Luxembourg coppers trying to loom over me. But they were too small. They woke me up. Why? I waved my passport at them while trying to find my glasses....they looked like children in dressing up clothes. Then I heard them speak but my mind recoiled from the effort of trying to work out what they were talking about so I pulled my phone out and brought up the boarding pass on screen and lazily flapped my hand round in the direction of their faces. They looked and said 'Don't miss your flight'....
Don't miss my flight? From this damp dump? I would rather roast my bollocks.
What planet are these cops on? Under what circumstances am I gonna miss a flight not due for another three hours from this damp tax avoiding muddy half built field?
Did you know Lux airport is one of the few countries' airports that is international only? That's cos the country is so small they can't fit another airport in it.....
So I went back to sleep....Then when it was time to go through security...I went straight to the cafe and had a hot chocolate. I needed it.
Eventually the burden of time passed by and we got on the propellor plane and off to London City airport.
At this point I realize my cold has come back. Thank you Luxembourg....
Two days later......we had repacked the back pack...and it was off to Paris. As ever the gig was sold out. Pretty good for a band from Lyon. I arrived after the others via Eurostar and made my way to the venue Bataclan. For the first time in ages I had guests on the guest list and to be honest it was lovely to see some old friends again. The crowd was utterly awesome and the rendition of Matter of Time went without a hitch. The sound was amazing. After the show we had a bit of a party as one would...and then back on the bus to Bordeaux.
Bordeaux....At Barby Rock School. Been there before but it was amazing to see a red London double decker bus being used as canteen. Not only that but it was the Number 6....which the route next to the one I used to use as a child! That was odd.
We tore the house down, but not only that but it was first actually warm day this year! I was too hot in my bunk at midday to stay on board. And we could wear a t-shirt for the first time this year which the gave the day a semi summery feel.....'bout flippin' time.
We played and stayed in the bar after the show with the chefs and techs. A real nice bunch of people. Ergo....it was bus time.
So......We arrive in Clemont-Ferrand, at the Cooperative de Mai.....been here several times and looking forward to the gig...I shall take a small beer I think...and ponder tonights adventure. Till the next time my honored hempologists...I say a till we meet again....