Namibian’s Little Secret..

‘Is this true?’ asks Little Dick. He retrieves a soggy roll-up from between his tonsils, regains his composure, and gazes levelly at Namibian. ‘Do you really sit down to piss?’

Namibian rears up, an indignant human beach ball. Yet his tone is more astonishment than defensiveness at this imprecation. ‘What if I do?’ he retorts, as though this is perfectly normal behaviour for an adult male. ‘It’s the way I was brought up – so you don’t make a mess.’ Good heavens, I need some feedback from other men here, I think.

Is this just a South African foible? Or the whole Southern hemisphere? (It wouldn’t surprise me if Australian men sit down to piss.) Or is this a more widespread dichotomy – between generations, irrespective of geographical boundaries? Dad? Gentleman Steve? Please don’t tell me you both prefer a nice sit down, eschewing the urinal as a confounded contraption.

I’m hoping however, that this is an isolated incidence. Perhaps Namibian was issued with a biscuit whilst potty training – as commensurate reward for a wee-wee – and simply never got out of the habit. Having just returned from the toilet, he treats himself to a little snack, smiling now with depthless geniality.

He’s got me curious though. Is he tempted to take a cup of tea with him into the bathroom, do you think? And surely, like any normal guy, he likes to browse through this month’s boat, car or motorcycle magazines while idling on the throne? Nope, I’m afraid not. Namibian is on and off the lav as though he were a girl.

Talking of girls, Vanessa is sitting here in her deckchair. She’s demurely crossing her legs, and probably thinking how nice it will be to have somebody to go to the toilet with, now that the secret is out. Oh yes, Namibian has certainly been caught with his trousers down this time. Ooh, I wonder if he’s happy to drip-dry if caught short in the countryside.

Well, as it happens, we are more or less in the countryside. The U2 tour has now reached an uncharted backwater in Denmark, a one-horse town called Horsens. And we’re having a little barbecue in one of its less salubrious quarters – behind the production trailers at the Casa Horsens Stadium.

‘My wife wanted another bottle of wine in the truck one night,’ begins Gentleman Steve, ever the raconteur. ‘So I let my air out of the driver’s seat and told her that I’m just popping down to the cellar.’ He smiles one of his ludicrously syrupy grins – that of an upper class buffoon – and locks eyes from across the barbecue. ‘I can see why Anna fell for you,’ I say, honestly. ‘She didn’t,’ he replies, ‘I tripped her up.’

Namibian, bustling industriously with tongs and Baby Wipes, could also do with replenishing his drink. He wobbles off to his lorry and – inexplicably – starts his engine. We frown at the shattered tranquillity, and ask why he needs to have the motor running to pour a drink. ‘To build the air up in my driver’s seat,’ he says, as though this is shriekingly obvious.

So not only does he sit down to pee, but he also sits up high – think of a highchair for toddlers – in order to pour a drink. How absurd. Surely even the most elliptical thinker would be poleaxed by Namibian’s logic this evening; I think I might need a drink in order to cope.

‘Is that rose wine?’ asks Gentleman Steve, after I’ve poured a cheeky preprandial. He’s elegantly holding a breadstick as though fondling a cigar, and sipping gut-rot from an inexpensive-looking carton. ‘That’s poofters’ wine, that is. You’ll be drinking Earl Grey next.’

Oh dear, this is rum news indeed. You see, I rather like a nice cup of Earl Grey – in the evenings, after my pudding. You know what the next step is, don’t you? Yep, I’ll be sitting down to piss. And quite possibly in the neighbouring cubicle to Namibian..

A duvet day on the U2 tour..

This was written last year. I’m in the process of transferring old blogs over to this site…so do scroll back through the archives occasionally:

I don’t know what happens in the other trucks – well, Namibian, of course, will be uttering banalities nineteen to the dozen to his double-driver – but, on our drive up to Sweden from Calais on the U2 tour, Wrecker Jon suggests I have a “duvet day”. Hopelessly out of touch, I don’t realise that one can do this in bed alone – ‘what, without a pretty girl?’ – thus negating the point a bit, no? Well, I’ll try anything once – except incest and morris dancing, obviously.

‘Right, I’m going to be idle, Jon,’ I purr, and I do my utmost to remain immobile, staring dispassionately at the bunk bed above. Jeepers, this is dull. ‘What are  you supposed to do on these duvet days?’ I ask.

As we discuss the finer points of inactivity, and how best to achieve them, Jon pulls in to a Shell Garage. Anticipating the need for a wee-wee later on, I seize the opportunity. But that means getting dressed, ruining the relaxation somewhat. One can’t saunter round German garages in dressing gowns and lounge slippers, clutching 50-cent coins; no, trousers must be fastened, flip-flops hastily donned. Oh, and what about my “bed hair” in case I bump into a sultry Teutonic maiden?

Well, Jon noticed one. ‘There was an Aryan delight in the petrol station,’ he avers, hopping lazily back into the lorry. Blast, I missed her. Now, as I say, we’re heading up to Scandinavia again, fretting in advance at the expense. There will be no pulling birds in bars for us, we declare decisively. ‘Library?’ suggests a parsimonious Jon, glumly noting the heavy rain and wrestling with the kettle. ‘Might be a bit mousey in there though, Jon,’ I retort, casting my memory back to bookish custodians. Jon opens a tin of Cola and says: ‘Ooh, I’d go mousey. I’ve had a mousey fetish for years.’

Sliding between the sheets once more, deciding I’ll go beserk and watch a film in bed, the phone beeps. My pal, Sex Pest, is on the verge of being arrested in a jazz bar in Oslo on the Madonna tour. Fine in itself, but I’ve had to sit up to grab the phone from the dashboard. Horizontal once more, breathing a sigh of relief, Wrecker decides he’d like a cuppa. Oh marvellous, I’ll do it shall I? Aside from singeing my leg hair on the stove while trying to cover a rogue testicle with the duvet, all is hunky-dory. But the selfish git, gripping the wheel and maintaing a whopping 84km/h, wants a biscuit, too.

Agh! Would you believe the milk is off, again? There is some Long Life under the bunk  – for emergencies – but this is becoming a charade. Jon appraises the situation, realising that my knickers are quite literally becoming twisted, and offers: ‘I could have my biscuits neat.’ No, we can’t have that. Laptop perched precariously, my toes splayed between cups and a too-slowly cooling stove, the bottom bunk is lifted and the milk sachets are retrieved. Bear in mind that roads, even motorways, tend to be riddled with bumps. These duvet days seem to be more trouble than they’re worth.

A little later, engrossed in a film and oblivious to all the driving that’s going on on the other side of the interior curtain, I feel the truck lurch. Jon peels off at a Kreuz junction. In Germany, this is a junction off a motorway that leads onto another motorway, often with a jolly sharp slip-road. And it’s being tackled at a higher velocity than an ordinary coffee cup can cope with. Right, well I might as well get dressed; this duvet day idea has been exhausting.

Jon hands me his cold tea – it needs slinging out the window, streaking the trailer with an impressionistic brown whoosh – and a bio-degradable apple core. And he has the gall to ask if I’d mind driving for a bit..

A quick one up the Alps..

Spielberg is playing Dad today. He’s trotted round to the local Europcar to hire a Lancia something or other, returning to take three of us on a little jaunt to the Alps. Little Dick eagerly hops in the back seat, and sits down next to a girl. A girl? Ah, I never got round to introducing Vanessa in the blog. She drives lorries, you know. In fact, we’ve got two lady drivers on the U2 tour, one of whom – a Dutch Rastafarian  – frightens me.

Nessie is a garrulous, giggly sort of girl, saddled with a Birmingham accent. Now I use the word ‘saddled’ for a reason – she is fond of, or rather obsessed with, horses. Oh, that familiar litany on horsebox transport that us rock and roll drivers hold so dear to our hearts. We have a standing joke at Transam Trucking: if a double driver is flying out to drive with Nessie, we advise them to bring along a sugar cube.

Actually, she’s lovely. But strewth, can she talk. From experience, I can tell you that it’s foolhardy to start a conversation if you haven’t got an imminent spare weekend. The trick, should you ever meet her, is to hold up a hand mid-sentence and say, ‘I’ll have to stop you there Ness, I’m bored.’ She never seems to be offended.

Our adventure begins from the truck parking area opposite Turin’s Olympic Stadium, Spielberg reversing perilously close to Namibian’s gazebo…and stalling. There is a short delay while he affixes a surveillance camera to the windscreen, wires trailing past the dashboard and around the gear stick. ‘If we have an accident, this records everything to prove whose fault it was,’ he explains. The delicious irony here is that he’s positioned it so that his vision is obscured, vastly increasing the chances of an accident.

As it happens, the cigarette lighter is kaput and so the whole charade proves fruitless. Just as well. He pulls out of the gate and drives on the left hand side of the road. Oops! Do concentrate, would you Spielberg, old fruit.

Ah, now when it comes to concentrating, I have a confession. Laughing heartily at the redundant satnav – sitting there lifeless and silent – I glance at the trusty Italian map. ‘No, of course we’re not coming off here, Spielberg,’ I bellow in a stentorian voice. ‘See, there’s no signpost. Tut and tsk. Honestly, some people.’  It slowly dawns  – as though awaking next to a startlingly unattractive member of the opposite sex after a crate of wine – that I’ve made a mistake. In fact, in the history of navigation, there can scarcely be a more egregious example of how to fuck up reading a map.

Wringing my hands, and feeling monumentally cretinous after pooh-poohing satnavs so mercilessly, I shift to Plan B. ‘No big deal,’ I venture blithely,  ‘we’ll toddle over Mount Frejus instead. Full speed ahead, Spielberg – a latte macchiato in Bardonecchia will be just the ticket.’ At this, Little Dick becomes a little perkier, an animated figure somewhere beneath the head rests. ‘Ooh, cheese toastie, too?’ he asks.

The closer we come to elevenses, the more serious my misgivings about this mountain pass. In Namibian’s vernacular, I may quite possibly have “dropped a bollock” here. Yep, that little yellow line that squiggles so appealingly in the Italian map book doesn’t actually go over the top of Mount Frejus so much as through it – on the motorway that we’ve all driven trucks through about a million times. Blast! My companions, bloated on toasties and milky coffees, are awfully good about the whole thing, instantly forgiving my singular lack of orientation skills. We retrace our steps back to Susa.

‘Ah, this is more like it,’ chimes Spielberg as we finally join the SS25 towards the crest of Mt. Cenis. ‘I miss driving,’ he adds, also missing third gear. The windows are opened and we begin to feel nauseous.

But not nauseous enough to ignore the precarious, looming uncertainty that has arisen, a matter of utmost importance. Pasta on the Italian side of the border? Or Steak Frites on the French? This, of course, elicits subsidiary questions: a bottle of Chianti, or a more palatable Chateau Neuf du Pape? We remind ourselves that we’re still being paid today, and so we plump for a pricier eatery on the French side – a glass-fronted restaurant overlooking the turquoise Lake Cenis.

As we drink in the sumptuous view – frowning at the lonely lettuce leaf that the French regard as a side salad – a donkey brays. Or it might be an ass. Or are they the same thing, like an aubergine and an eggplant? Either way, Nessie’s ears prick up, her equine intuition piqued. ‘Donkeys can live till 65, you know,’ she tells us. We didn’t know, and we wonder if those are horse years or human years. Or whether it is only dogs that have different length years.

Hang on, how can they? After all, dogs live on the same planet and their sunlight lasts exactly as long as ours does. OK, so they seem to spend an awful lot of time curled up with their eyes shut, but then so does Little Dick  – he won’t get up till 11 o’clock if left to his own devices. ‘Some twat made that up,’ he announces authoritatively, neatly concluding the debate. Well, there you are then – according to Little Dick, there is no such thing as a dog year.

Oh, by the way, after all that deliberation, the restaurant is fresh out of Chateau Neuf. We settle for a jolly smooth La Parrachee instead, and watch Spielberg polish off a tiramisu as though his life depended on it. ‘Eat it quick, get it done,’ he says, leading us all on a train of thought regarding his bedroom prowess..