Have you heard of Walking With Dinosaurs? It’s a corking Arena Spectacular, well worth shelling out to attend, if only for the unmitigated joy of frightening your children. Yes, you’ve guessed correctly – I’m involved in the trucking. To be specific, I have an Ankylosaurus in my trailer. ‘She won’t bite,’ I say to bothersome Customs officers.
This week the 26-truck production is in Lyon, the infamous gastronomic capital of France. Well, I say infamous, but actually how well known is the city’s culinary prowess? It’s just that my colleague’s question on Monday evening rather nonplussed me. In fact it left me reeling. ‘Are you up for dinner?’ he opened, promisingly. ‘There’s a McDonalds over the road.’ Oh dear. Tut tut. Daft as a fencepost..
Anyway, the hall pictured above is Halle Tony Garnier, our venue for seven shows on the tour. Who was Garnier? In a nutshell, the architect responsible. But the building (1906-24) wasn’t commissioned to hold events; it was originally a slaughterhouse and livestock market. Nowadays, if humans are corralled through the entrance and made to stand – chewing the cud, if you like – it can hold 16.500 people, thus making it the third largest indoor venue in France. You’re correct again – that was bankrupt blogging, utterly worthless information.
The Butcher Of Lyon
How about Barbie, then? Who? You know, the Nazi sent to Dijon in 1942 after the fall of France. In November of the same year, at the age of 29, he was assigned to Lyon as the head of the local Gestapo. And persona non grata he was too, his arrival precipitating electroshock, bone-breaking and general ghastliness. His appellation “Butcher of Lyon”, was by all accounts well earned.
Queens of Lyon
As I cycled back to the Garnier gig yesterday – returning from evensong, naturally – I espied a light. Two candle flames danced merrily in the front window of a beaten-up Renault panel van, drawing my gaze. Kebab vendor, I mused? Or perhaps a mobile pizzeria? Now that I’d crossed the road, I saw there were several of these vehicles, essentially piles of shit parked behind one another at the side of the road. I peddled towards the mesmerising beacon.
Ooh, I say. Beneath the dashboard candle was a pair of still more mesmerising ebony thighs, a contiguous hand resting on them holding a lit cigarette in the gloom. ‘Doner with chips please, Nicole,’ I thought of saying, but, noting her crotch-grazing boots, shrugged it off as foolish and judiciously peddled on.