Operation Grandslam..

Dutch Marco, predictably enough, was in the Sonisphere Crew Catering Tent, gazing gloomily at the leaden sky through an open flap. The only chink of sunlight lay in the form of two Red Bull promotional girls, one of whom had extraordinarily orange legs.

‘Red Bull has a positive influence on cognitive performance,’ read their little pamphlet, ‘and improves vigilance.’ Tssk, a spurious claim if ever I heard one. Skewed research statistics, I reckon, and I can’t believe Red Bull actually gives you wings. No, they can keep their foul, shiny tins of chemicals; the kettle was boiling nearby and there were plenty of teabags at hand.

Animal Instinct


‘Whatho Dutch Marco,’ I chirped affably, joining him at the urn. ‘Hello Mr. English Barnaby,’ he replied. ‘Nothing to do in this rain except go back to the trucks and watch porn again…’ – I smiled decorously – ‘…with dogs.’ Now, you know when an actor does a double-take in films? Well, imagine I’ve just done one. ‘Or horses,’ he gushed hurriedly, not wishing to cause offence. We call this, in English, digging yourself deeper into a hole

‘Yes, it’s legal in Holland,’ he revealed. ‘80% of animal porn films are shot in the Netherlands.’ How I get myself into these conversations I don’t know, but once I’ve started, I’m always curious to get to the bottom of things. And no, I don’t mean bottom, literally.

He wrinkled his nose at this point, indicating his disgust at the nefarious practice of bestiality. But I persisted with the impromptu interview. ‘You’re allowed to fuck a dog, isn’t it,’ he explained, reddening a little as the Red Bull girls glanced over, ‘or any animal, actually – it makes no difference – but you absolutely may not hurt them. For example, with a dildo on a stick.’ Good grief, you couldn’t make this stuff up. Furthermore, who actually passes these laws? Rabelaisian rascals in The Dutch House of Lords? Coo, the place must be brimming with rampant rogues, unstintingly devoted to savagery.

A Breath of Fresh Air


Marco paused and offered me a Mentos mint. ‘Sorry, my breath is like a dead bird this morning,’ he admitted. More like a vulture’s crutch, I’d say, but his choice of words set me wondering what he might have been up to overnight – in the grounds of Knebworth House, home to the Lytton family since 1490.

Frolics with a tethered goat, perhaps? He is Dutch, after all. A tussle with a lifeless deer? Ooh, I could branch into necrophilia, too, at this juncture.. No, maybe not. And anyway, another driver called Paul had just joined us at the table, unfazed by our topic. ‘The best place to shag a sheep,’ he said emphatically, ‘is on the edge of a cliff.’

Tourism in the Netherlands


Over a second cup of tea, I had a watershed moment; my entrepreneurial mind whirred, feverishly working through a marketing angle for travel. Yes, I could top those “Smokers’ Weekends” in Amsterdam, by offering excursions deep into the countryside. “Experiencing local Fauna” would be an innocuous euphemism for “Frolicking with Flossy, your four-legged friend”. Or how about, simply, “Dutch Grandslam. Ring for details”?

Crikey, I could be on to something here, you know. There could be pheasants on offer for the poorly-endowed male; cows in diaphanous frocks for those with a lingerie fetish; a foppishly cloaked bull for gays; and panthers flown in for dangerous, back-ripping sex. The sky is the limit. And why not round matters off with a barbecue, marinating that submissive pheasant in Calvados? I could even ask Pervy Ray, the ex-pornstar to be Stage Manager. Yes, I’ll text him when we’re up and running.

No, you’re right, perhaps it is slightly too intrepid a travel tour for 2011. Very quickly, though, just in case you think these conversations of mine are fictitious, check out this short article..






Sonisphere Festival 2011..

Did anybody come to Sonisphere this year? Yes? Well, if you’d stopped snorting MDMA at the Jagermeister tent for five minutes, we could have said hello. I was backstage, on tour with “The Big Four”..

The Big Four? No, not Boyzone, Bieber, Bros and The Backdoor Boys. Or is it Backstreet. Memory eludes me.. I was, in fact, at Sonisphere Festival with Metallica, Friday night’s headline act. The other Big Three, naturally, were Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeath. Coo, what jolly sounding groups, eh? Almost guaranteed to plunge one into a heady dysphoria.

Of course, “The Big Four” to me means a tantalising concoction of Alpen, Fruit and Fibre, Honey Clusters and Weetabix. With that lot to start the day – and a cup of tea – the world is indeed your oyster; no feat insurmountable. In fact, after mopping out my bowl, I was just about ready to face some seriously heavy metal. Which was lucky, because there was one hell of a riotous racket on the stage that night.

Heavy Metal


‘You want heavy,’ yelled James Hetfield, the undisputed titan of metal. The crowd, bedecked in tattoos, piercings and a miasma of suicidal proclivities, roared their approval. They certainly didn’t look like the sort of people who are content with the simple joys in life: a bracing afternoon walk and a game of Poohsticks; a stolen kiss beneath a riverbank willow; nibbling a knickerless damsel’s thighs, supine in the long grass on a summer’s day.. I digress.

The camera panned the front row, the screens filling with rubicund, studded faces, each fan leering more maniacally than the last. Crumbs, there wasn’t a girl in sight that you could take home to meet the parents. ‘Raaaa,’ sang James, whipping them further into a tectonic frenzy.

Singing in the Rain


As he launched into All Nightmare Long, I stifled a large yawn and wondered whether these chaps wouldn’t be better off playing a nice tune. Perhaps a gentle waltz at a sensible volume? The lyric, ‘Hunt you down without mercy,’ wafted over the PA stacks… and I thought dreamily of dancing with an umbrella, gaily singing in the rain. Actually, that is a bit gay. You want heavy instead? Well, you asked for it..

Backstage at Sonisphere, earlier in the day, we’d been living it up like nobody’s business. Oh yes, no stopping us. Gentleman Steve even abandoned a gripping article in Model Rail to inspect the moribund condition of Knebworth’s chestnut trees. ‘Canker,’ he said, pointing sorrowfully at the browning foliage. ‘You can tell by the leaves.’


What a Total Canker


Now, Steve’s anodyne tirades are something I look forward to, generally. But he’s been a trifle disapproving of my flip-flops recently – or “safety flops”, as I like to call them when unloading lorries. He lumped them in with a disparaging attack on contemporary women’s clothing the other evening in Sweden. And in the same breath, no less, as a diatribe on declining standards. I’m dashed if I’m standing for it, frankly.

‘The trouble with modern youth today,’ he ranted, grinning inanely as usual, ‘is that everything has to have hundreds of people making an incredible din.’ His hauteur precluded any further discussion, so I nodded curtly. ‘Very boring,’ I said, and collected my brolly from the hatstand. Steve was last seen talking contentedly to himself whilst approaching the toilets. ‘Ah, must remember to wash my hands before I Canker myself,’ he was saying..

Big Steve..

Down on the Somerset Levels, in a hamlet named Stathe, lives a paragon of virtue; a man regarding his peerless body as a temple. ‘They’ve got a brilliant new machine down the gym,’ he says languorously. ‘It does everything – chocolate, crisps…’

What am I doing here in the West Country? Well, I had an engagement in Bath and decided to drive the extra mileage to see Big Steve. Well, if I’m brutally honest, it saved me forking out for a hotel. Still, it’s awfully nice to see him. ‘Fancy a cider?’ he asks at 9am, leaning heavily on a kitchen surface and clutching a Budweiser bottle.

‘I’d prefer tea, my old kidney stone,’ I groan, brushing sleep from the corner of my eyes. Yet, surprisingly, in laying out the accoutrements of tea making, I’m faced with Pure Skimmed milk in the fridge. Eh? An injured glance at Big Steve soon explains the anomaly. ‘I’m not this shape naturally, you know,’ he boasts. ‘Takes a bit of discipline.’ Ah, I see.

Well, this is certainly the spot for keeping trim – the leafy lanes, a similar topography to The Netherlands, are perfectly suited to cycling. Once upon a time this area was seabed; the adjoining medieval village of Langport, as you might guess from its name, was formerly a port.

Paradise Personified


And Glastonbury, on the ancient Isle of Avalon, is but a stone’s throw away. The festival? Ah, that’s actually in a little village called Pilton, approximately twelve miles from Glastonbury itself. It’s known as Battle of Sedgemoor territory round here and simply glorious on a warm, sunny day.

So what does Big Steve think about gently peddling a two-wheeler in the sunshine through topography similar to the Netherlands? ‘Bane of my life, cyclists are,’ he says charitably. ‘I told one I’d wrap a scaffolding bar round his head and chuck his bike in the stream if he threw any more stones at me. And do you know what he said? He said, “Are you threatening me?” Bloody idiot. I said, “No, what that actually means is I live at Number Eight, why don’t you pop round for a cup of tea sometime.”’

He puts his feet up for a minute after this heated recollection. And contortedly takes a telephone call – his muscles don’t seem to fit if he holds a mobile in the normal fashion – before reminding me of a funny evening in Switzerland some years ago. Heaven knows what we were doing in an Alpine bar but the point is that I was approached by a handful of Scandinavian teenage girls. When I say “teenage”, I mean late teens, as in old enough.


Formula One?

‘Are you Mika Hakkinen?’ they cooed, blonde shocks of magnificent hair beguiling me. Well, having more front than Brighton, I nodded and in a nanosecond launched into a disingenuous spiel. You see, beneath this polished veneer lies a fool. ‘Wanker, you mean,’ corrects Steve. He’s got a point.

Anyway, I took a gamble and assumed this Mika lad that I’d never heard of was part of a boy band. So I tested the water with talk of working on my latest LP release. As Big Steve so rightly discerned earlier, what a wanker. The girls walked away, disheartened. Undoubtedly lesbians, of course..

Big Steve mops rivulets of sweat from his brow – the kitchen towel is never far away – after the exertion of retelling yet another story. Well, that and the mammoth five-yard dash to the fridge for a tin of Strongbow. And he sighs breathlessly. Now, on first appearances, one might erroneously infer that he’s out of condition. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, his latest medical report indicates athletic cholesterol.

Everything in Moderation..


Star jumps have been scaled down a little, though, over the last fifteen years or so. The trick, he maintains, is to do one leg at a time, preferably whilst sitting down enjoying a cigarette and a drink. Alternate arms, too, are occasionally outstretched in sequence but experience has proved it’s better to rest the lower limbs at this point. Overtaxing oneself through exercise can lead to dangerous overload levels of serotonin, apparently.

To that end, he regards the short walk this morning up nearby Murrow Bump as unnecessary. ‘I’ll stay down the bottom and look after the cars or something,’ he says, selflessly forsaking his daily routine. And he has a nice sit down, listening out for an infrequent passing tractor. Lovely spot, the Somerset Levels, but they do talk a bit funny..

Fancy An Orgy? (Part Two)..

I nurse my pint of Sprite – a guest ale, not the lemonade – and take in the rampant stallion before me. Pervy Ray brushes a 63-year-old hand through thinning grey hair, takes a sip from his glass and proceeds as interviewee.

‘You’ve heard of The Sex Maniacs Ball, of course?’ he asks rhetorically. ‘Well, I was kind of unofficial stage manager.’ He adjusts his appalling battleship-coloured waistcoat, a vestment that a vagrant wouldn’t be seen dead in, and clears his throat. ‘Do you remember Rock Bitch?’ he asks. ‘They came to my Ball once and performed at my peep show.’

He’s in a reverie now, lost in a smorgasbord of smutty memories. In fact, if I’d popped to the toilet, he’d scarcely have noticed. ‘They were great,’ he muses. ‘They pissed all over me, and I was up to my elbow with two of them. Christ, they were wild. They even got banned from Holland…and that takes some doing.’


Ugly mingers?


Throughout the evening, it has occurred to me that some or all of these women mentioned – “gangbang girls”, one could dub them – might not be supermodels. Rough as arseholes, perhaps? In fact, like the back end of a bus is an expression that leaps to mind. And, frankly, what sort of women are they, anyway?

‘Normal women,’ chirps Pervy Ray. ‘Two tits and rude.’ Coo, what a charmer. ‘Rudeness wins over looks, definitely,’ he adds. ‘But I’ll show you a few holiday snaps before we unload.’ So, the dregs of beer are promptly slurped and we pop back to the trucks – to revel in Ray’s pervy laptop photos, some of which actually were taken on holiday.


Pervy Photos..


He opens a Pictures folder at random, just one of a panoply of pornographic images. And, much as I’m loath to admit, the ladies are perfectly acceptable. Not that one could possibly judge purely on an aesthetic plane, of course.. Above is one of the more suitable pictures of Ray twenty (or possibly thirty) years ago. Sorry it’s so small. (I’ve added a random picture from my laptop to make up for it: it’s Lewis waiting for me to leave a hotel room in Barcelona. Notice his left hand.)

‘This is Jackie dogging in a lay-by,’ narrates Pervy Ray, candidly. ‘And this is Sue giving me a blowjob outside my truck. Ooh, that’s here, actually – right where your cab’s parked. And that’s my arm…it seems to feature quite a lot in these pictures for some reason…’ I think you get the gist.

Ah, but I think I spot a flaw at last in Ray’s hedonistic garden of delight. What about that yummy snuggling after making love with one special woman? Nope, the sanctimonious bugger has got that angle covered, too. ‘I’ve been happily married since 1966,’ he says airily. ‘Used to shag her on stage in Amsterdam, actually. You must know the Casa Rosso?…’ Oh crumbs, he’s off again..