Killing Time..

‘I’m still looking for a bit of rope,’ said Princess, interrupting my chapter. He picked his nose for a moment, stood at my truck door and waited for a response.

Frankly, I wasn’t really in the mood for bothersome interlopers – Jules Verne’s Journey To The Centre Of The Earth was just hotting up. ‘Yes, what for?’ I asked at last, dutifully, though with a stolid indifference.

‘Hang myself,’ he explained. Well, let me assist you, old pal, I thought mutely. ‘Don’t you ever read?’ I questioned aloud, more in admonishment than polite curiosity. ‘Nope,’ he said, ‘don’t like it.’ It’s true – not a single book in his lorry.

And there we were with nine days to reach Zurich from Copenhagen – yes, still on the Prince Tour. It’s a journey manageable in two days…which meant a great deal of loafing in German truckstops amusing oneself.

Now, an ascetic way of life per se is nothing to frown upon, but eschewing books and music altogether? Is Princess some modern day eunuch monk, his ancestry stretching back to Katharoi monastery? Or a castrati magician of Arthurian legend?

More to the point, what he hell does he do when driving long distances? ‘Nothing,’ he said candidly. ‘Look out the window, I suppose.’ What, on night drives?! There’s sod all to see.

Train Takes The Strain

‘Come on, let’s go for a walk to see the trains,’ he implored, obviously bored out of his skull.

‘My mate Malcolm drives a Class 66, you know. Does the overnight from London to Birmingham. Ooh, imagine that: being in the cab and letting the train take the strain.’ Shall we pretend he didn’t just say that?

This was to be the third walk of the day together and, as I say, Mr. Verne, father of the science fiction genre, had me firmly in his grip. ‘Dicky tummy, I’m afraid,’ I said dismissively, picking up my book once more. ‘Think that ice cream after lunch might’ve pushed me over the edge.’

He looked up with tender solicitude…and began prattling total and utter codswallop, reminding me somewhat of A.A. Milne’s Winnie The Pooh.

Food poisoning?

‘Won’t be anything you ate today,’ he quipped. ‘Things take at least twenty-four hours to get into your system.’ That can’t be right, can it? By that reasoning, I could have four scoops of dog poo for dessert and be fine to run a marathon the following morning.

‘OK, Clever Clogs,’ I retorted, ‘talking of poo, which day’s luncheon was this morning’s disgorged turd from?’ See, I had him on the hop now..

‘Oh, that’ll be from two months ago,’ he said unswervingly, as Pooh Bear might have done. ‘Look how long your intestines are; they go on for miles. Takes ages for poo to get down them.’

I shook my head in stupefaction, wondering how some people make it to adulthood, then unlimbered my frame resignedly and agreed to stroll into Achern. It is a little German town not a million miles from the Swiss border.

Pizza Toast

‘If it makes you feel better,’ he began again, as wasps inspected our ankles by the stream, ‘I ordered toast for lunch and they brought me a massive great pizza. So what am I supposed to do about dinner now?’

He scratched his penis indiscreetly – it’s probably just a side effect of having one’s testicles removed – and continued soliloquising. ‘I could have a light meal at 8.30, I suppose. But I’m still fat and ugly, even after all this walking I do. Course, it all started when I passed my driving test. Did I ever tell you the story about…’

Suffering Jeepers, he’s exhausting, isn’t he? A smashing chum and all that, but I do wish he’d pick up a book occasionally..

(NB. For anybody as daft as my esteemed colleague, most foodstuffs pass through the digestive system within seventy-two hours. Two months! Honestly..)

Amager Festival, Copenhagen..

‘Yo, where’s all the nasty girls at!’ It’s a rhetorical question in American English, I’m told. Grammatical hokum, of course, but this is me integrating with a broader class of reader. Esoteric prose is all very well but…

What do you mean, you aren’t familiar with the words rhetorical, hokum and esoteric? Oh, it’s hopeless; I’ll just get on with recounting the Prince Tour. I’m continuing where I left off – at the Amhager Festival in Copenhagen last month. Hey, and touch the roof if u live 4 da funk..

‘You’ve had quite enough sausage already this morning,’ I said cryptically to a random girl in Catering. I smacked her hand playfully as she reached out for a second helping and I joined her for breakfast.

‘My name’s Baby,’ she said with a wonderfully warm, expansive smile…and she passed the ketchup. Crikey, it sounds terribly familiar calling a woman “baby” after the barest of introductions, doesn’t it? Even after exchanging condiments over a fried egg?

 

Faith

 

‘But it’s my name,’ she protested gently. ‘I’m one of Paloma Faith’s backing singers.’ Aha! You never know whom you might meet in Catering. I’m a big fan of Ms. Faith, actually – it’s that sexy, gravelly voice coupled with a self-deprecating manner.

In high spirits, I poured a second cup of foul tea and took a look at Baby’s schedule for the day’s line-up. Ooh, splendid, there were some corking acts that afternoon: the legendary Chaka Khan, Hypnotic Brass, Nikka Costa and a guest appearance by Maceo Parker. ‘See you later, Baby,’ I chirped, soldiering on under duress and rather warming to the occasion.

First up, that glorious Saturday afternoon, was Hypnotic Brass, the epitome of cool; no talk of thermos flasks with these guys. ‘We’re from the South Side of Chicago,’ said one of the trumpeters backstage before their set. I’d interrupted him mopping his brow with a towel and had offered myself up as a spare trombonist in the event of me accidentally kicking one of the regular players in the goolies.

 

Homey handshakes

 

He shook my hand in one of those groovy “homey” fashions, popular amongst chaps wearing hoods on their jumpers. ‘Yeah man, you’d really fit in,’ he laughed. What, so I couldn’t stand in as the decidedly lighter brother from another mother? This is discrimination! Couldn’t I swap my monogrammed napkin for a spot of rapping? I’m quite the beatboxing MC at weekends, you know. Oh yes, a wicked Master of Ceremonies – a grandiloquent title indeed.

OK, so I’d stick out like a sore thumb in Hypnotic Brass. Apart from being white, I’ve never quite got the hang of showing swathes of branded underwear. Isn’t it uncomfortable waddling with trousers clinging precariously to the top of one’s thighs like the garden ivy? I’m sure Gentleman Steve, speaking from his baronial hall, would have a word or two to say on the matter of standards.

Da Funk

‘Bang bang, skeet skeet,’ yelled one of the players on stage ten minutes later, encouraging the audience to dance. As a front man, this might be another area I’d fail to excel in. Close your eyes and picture me at the front of a stage, instrument in hand, crowning my labours with a half hour set at a major festival. How do you think the following asinine compering would go down with the melee?

‘I say, would you mind clapping? This is a dirty cute rendition of the Mozart Requiem trombone solo.’ Bugger,  maybe that’s not quite right..