Happy Christmas 2012

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That was unusual. I woke earlier this week to the sound of two fellows mowing the roof. Yes, I did say the roof. Why mention it? Because the building in question, to follow on prosaically from last week, is allegedly France’s biggest indoor arena – The Palais Omnisport de Paris-Bercy.

Yes, Walking With Dinosaurs rolls on, unimpeded by the brace of chaps playing tug-o-war with a Flymo on the arena’s near-vertical slope. One waggled his end of the rope, the other let out more slack from above. Thus the mower’s serpentine twists triumphed and the roof was trimmed. It was so interesting to watch, in fact, that I headed inside for a cuppa after twenty seconds or so.

 

Haute Cuisine

Now, there’s been plenty of undiluted nonsense over cups of tea on tour recently. For example, Roast Guinea Fowl was on the menu the other evening. ‘Poor little bastard,’ said one driver. ‘Probably spent all his life on a wheel in a cage.’ The confusion with guinea pigs, however, weakly compared with the misunderstanding between nasturtiums and Cistercian monks. Sound P1090644similar if said quickly? No. Funny then, that it was I who misheard, euphoric at the prospect of seeding a sprinkling of Cistercians before the last Spring frost.

 

Doomsday

Still, at least it looks like we’ll have a Spring. And, indeed, a Happy Christmas – Mayan prescience turned out to be iffy. An advanced knowledge of spherical trigonometry? Tick. Short fellows living in the jungle? Tick. Forecasters of impending doom on December 21st, 2012, presaging blackened skies and cataclysm? Whoopsydaisies. I’ll have to award a black mark there, Johnny Mesoamerican.

We’re still here. Ipso facto, your Long Count calendar contained a rather glaring error. Unless that “1” was shoddily written – a smudged “7”, perhaps – I’m afraid you simply didn’t know your onions.

BBC Weather Blooper

image001But don’t feel bad. If it’s any consolation, weatherman Michael Fish wasn’t doing any better in 1987. ‘Don’t worry, there isn’t,’ he assured the nation, dismissing reports of a brewing hurricane speeding across the Atlantic. The following night devastation struck; it was the worst storm to hit south-east England since 1703, and I can remember waking to a howling chimney and trees being uprooted. ‘Up yours Michael,’ said one irate viewer on Youtube recently. ‘Our fucking garden fence blew in through our fucking window. Ya shitter.’

On that note, Happy Christmas, Everybody. Would you like a crap joke, just in case you don’t get one in your cracker at dinner? OK, then. Q) What does a transvestite do at Christmas? A) Eat, Drink and Be Mary. Told you it was crap. Maybe check out this two-minute clip of Santa Claus disgracing himself instead, then..

Dinosaurs in Lyon..

P1090576Have 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.

This is the van. Keep reading...
This is the van. Keep reading…

 

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 P1090615crotch-grazing boots, shrugged it off as foolish and judiciously peddled on.

Aubergine parmigiana back in Catering, beneath venerable dinosaurs Jagger  and Richards, seemed oral treat enough for one day…