Great Job Except For Driving and Loud Music..

We’ve had some monstrous drives on this Prince Tour, you know. One of them – Dublin to Oslo – required five drivers to get the truck there without stopping. Now, I never know whether this sort of information is as dull as dishwater and you’d rather I shut up. Or mildly fascinating because I’m taking you behind the scenes on a pop tour? I’ll risk it..

Briefly then, my man, Number Two  – also known as Rasputin, Catweasel or Frankenstein due to an unfathomably large forehead – drove with me from Dublin to Ashford (near Dover). Number Two then dived into a hotel and took a train home the next morning; I took a cab over to a hotel at Gatwick, then flew to Oslo.

 Long Distance Trucking

Meanwhile, a couple of chappies had hopped in the lorry and hoofed it up to Copenhagen non-stop. They jumped ship there and flew home – no doubt after a rowdy afternoon in the hotel bar – while another man drove the remaining eight hours to Oslo. Interesting? No, I shan’t bother going through all that again. But it’s good to be aware that it’s not all glamour. That said, I had a very jolly time in Oslo, thank you very much..

Well, let’s forward wind to the next show: the 10-Æren Festival in Copenhagen. Now, generally, nobody in the industry likes working at festivals – flip flops caked in mud, a foul stench from the slop buckets, trucks enveloped in dust etc. – but this one was reasonably groovy.

Danish Delights

For a start, it was at Amager Beach. OK, yes, there was the odd female naturist on the four-kilometre island, but the big draw really was swimming in the protected lagoon. Oh, and mini-golf, kite surfing and ice-creams. And all within view of the Copenhagen – Malmo Bridge, an engineering marvel.

(Actually, the bridge, while awfully impressive, is the bane of my life; my blasted office has done some deal so I have to use it instead of the jolly little 15-minute Helsingor – Helsingborg ferry. Extra driving, coupled with fewer cups of tea aboard ships, can only be a bad thing in my book. Still, I shan’t harp on..)

Music? No thanks..

Back at the Festival stage there was a great line-up of performers for the afternoon, a veritable feast of great music. ‘No, I won’t come and watch,’ said Princess stoutly. ‘I don’t like music.’ Eh? What a thing to say! How can somebody not like music?

‘I’ve had too much of it in my life,’ he explained. ‘It’s all just the same thing over and over again. “Wooo, I miss you baby”. Then a little solo [here he mimicked a guitarist] and then “Wooo, baby, I miss you.” See what I mean? They just change it round a bit.’ I did try to get a definitive answer on Mahler’s Third Symphony but some chips arrived and we ran out of time.

Anyway, ghastly louse that he is, he mooched off, socks pulled up to his knees, in search of more Kitkats. Oh, and here he is impersonating a mutual friend’s girlfriend – I think it’s supposed to be a rubber doll. Honestly, the sooner I get home the better…

 

Prince or Princess?..

As you’ve no doubt discerned, the rock and roll industry attracts some oddballs. Well, let me introduce an effeminate young fish to rival even the most peculiar. Meet “Princess” Rob. Cripes, he’s strange – maybe even cuckoo – and I do wish he’d stop scratching his willy in public.

‘Must be the soap I use,’ he explained in Helsinki the other morning, his right hand idly fingering his groin. Now, picture a man watching sport in his front room, absent-mindedly toying with his testicles, and then transfer the image to say, a supermarket aisle, a committee meeting, or indeed (as was the case) the load-in area of the Hartwall Arena on the Prince Tour.

 

Sulking Princess

 

As rigging cases sailed down the truck ramps, he put out his bottom lip, duly rebuked, looking as fragile as a porcelain doll. In fact he could scarcely have looked more vulnerable had he donned a flimsy cambric nightgown with lace ruffles at the wrists. Or, if one were to give him the swashbuckling benefit of the doubt, in pale cream pantaloons, an embroidered jerkin and sporting a tortoise shell lorgnette. I think that gives you more than an adequate mental picture; suffice to say he’s a trifle camp.

Despite his earlier gentle scolding, as we began discussing our imminent drive to Oslo, I noticed his hand had remained down his shorts. Perhaps it was a reassuring hand. Perhaps it was nothing more sinister than a comforter, akin to a toddler’s blanket or an infant’s dummy. But can we let societal norms of restraint simply evaporate in the face of an itchy knob?

 

Le Touquet?

 

‘I need to go tinkle now,’ he wailed with a   woebegone expression, bottom lip aquiver. It leads one, unfortunately, to form the unwavering first impression that here lies a buffoon. Yet, you’d be wrong; Princess is not nearly as guileless as he looks.

Yes, he’s certainly a queer fish, but not only is he a dab hand logistically, he has a pilot’s licence too. Ooh, and an aeroplane at his disposal. So, Le Touquet anybody? Apparently we have space for one medium-sized girl. Bikini auditions will commence from Aug 23rd. Hooray!

Oh, and bring some Kitkats. He’ll do anything for a chocolate finger..

Unique Scottish Wines..

‘Where does Bus 16 go?’ asked the bus driver, nonchalantly munching an apple-core. The route, admittedly, was not one of his, but I was hoping for a more reassuring response from a staff member.

Inside Perth Bus Station, two adjacent offices offered conflicting information, both encouraging me to secure a timetable from the other. Marvellous, eh? So I walked aimlessly along the “stances”, fruitlessly looking for a bus to Errol. The times, as it turned out, were posted at an unmarked stand – a forlorn area, noticeably absent of passengers, at the far end. I’d missed a bus by two minutes.

The afternoon’s destination was Cairn O’Mohr, a winery unlike any other. ‘We’re the only UK company that makes wine out of tree leaves,’ boasted Linzey when I finally arrived. ‘Others use sap, but it’s just not the same.’

Also on offer was an array of berry wines, raspberry being particularly good with venison and game meats. I tried a thimbleful in a paper cup. It was remarkably drinkable, strong (13.5%), but perhaps a little cold.

Optimum red wine temperature

 

Room temperature red wine has become misunderstood, however. Those heady days of stone buildings without central heating would have yielded considerably lower room temperatures, I was told. I wondered how the principle worked, then, when opening a Chateau Neuf du Pape in northern Europe during winter. Or, indeed, at lunchtime during a fierce summer. And aren’t wine-producing regions generally a scintilla warmer than Perthshire, The Heart of Scotland?

Linzey offered me a brambly drink next, a little acrid and tasting distinctly of hedgerows. Clocking my wrinkled nose, she said, ‘oh, you won’t like Musting, then.’ She was right – I didn’t. ‘Musting fruit wine is everything just thrown into the tank,’ she explained. ‘All the others have recipes.’

Food and wine

 

The plastic cups mounted higher as we progressed to gooseberry wine. It is, Linzey prompted, just the poison to accompany tagliatelle carbonara. And astonishingly, as she had confidently predicted, the first and second sips tasted utterly different. ‘What are you writing?’ she asked, as we moved onto Spring Oak Leaf Wine. ‘Linzey talks crap?’

I bought seven different bottles in the end – and a special yellow bag to carry them – forgetting entirely about the thirty-minute walk back to Errol. Perhaps there would be a nice bus back? No, I’d missed it again. ‘Wait twenty minutes and I’ll give you a lift,’ she said charitably. ‘Oh, and your gay yellow bag can be re-used for shoes and hair straighteners.’ Funny thing to say to a man..

(Photos courtesy of chatirygirl)