Backstage on the Beyonce Tour..

P1100327

Behind the scenes on Beyonce’s Mrs Carter World Tour? Well, as you know, the gear is moved nightly between shows in trucks. I’ll introduce you to a couple of the drivers..

Eddie (pictured), last seen dousing haddock goujons in saffron mayo as though it was the Last Supper, is an anomalous driver. Well, freak might be a better description, bearing, as he does, a tenuous resemblance to a mammoth – in demeanour, at least.

He left the UK on April 3rd – at the beginning of Beyonce’s World Tour – without any long trousers or a jumper. What, you ask? Is the man entirely without marbles? I tell you what, amid this imbroglio, nobody would bat an eyelid if a unicorn turned up with its hands in its pockets.

Yes, Eddie potters around outside, content as a lark, in temperatures hairier than a macaque’s bottom. Sleet, wind – it makes no difference; he doesn’t have a coat handy even if he felt the cold. Which he doesn’t. Whilst the rest of us had our night heaters running well into May, he cranked up the air-con the very second it stopped snowing.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Trucking

 

Montpellier
Montpellier

‘Wrong trailer, Old Bean,’ he reproved the other night in Montpellier through an open lorry window. Dunderhead that I am, I’d coupled up to the wrong one. Should I admit that the trailer wasn’t even the correct colour? Whoopsydaisies.

Anyway, it’s all very well his tutting high-handedly at my faux pas over the wrong trailer, but at least I wind the legs up on mine. There he was in Zurich at the previous show, wondering why the lorry wasn’t going anywhere with the legs on the tarmac. Ha ha. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Tongue-Twister

 

Or ‘Petal cock black,’ as Vicky, one of the female caterers, blundered the other day before covering her mouth in horror. She’d meant to start with ‘kettle’, I think, but got into a bit of trouble at the beginning of the sentence. Dissolving into a paroxysm of bladder-releasing giggles, it was a struggle to get a meal order out of her for the rest of the evening. ‘Any of that black cock left?’ I tend to ask now at dinnertime.

P1100326Talking of cocks, we have a “jizz” truck on the Beyonce Tour – for any bits which won’t fit in the allocated trailers after the show’s been packed away. And I can’t think of a better man for the job than Johnny Holan (pictured below), renowned as he is for wearing fiendishly obnoxious T-shirts.

But what’s he actually got in the back, taking into account that there are several female dancers and that he’s now been delegated to carry “Wardrobe”? ‘Oh, knickers and dresses, mainly,’ he drawls dismissively. ‘All the stuff you like, Barnaby. And I can’t be doing with all this driving business – I need to be in lay-bys trying it all on.’

Beyonce TV Interview

 

If you’d like to see him in action – in a Beyonce news bulletin on Croatian TV, rather than clandestinely slipping into a Size 6 – click here. I’m interviewed as well (both of us around the two-minute mark) and am available immediately at casting agencies for voice-over work and parties with glitterati. Or TV adverts if I’m given notice so I can at least brush my hair..

P.S. Don’t ask me about the persistent Beyonce pregnancy rumours in the papers – you know I never mention the popstars. Their private time is just that – their private time. What I can say, however, is that the Snickers Cheesecake in Catering is irresistible. Draw your own conclusions, by all means.P1100328

Engines and Secret Agents…

P1100163

Am I becoming a petrol head, I wonder? If I’m not astride a throbbing Fat Boy… Hang on that’s a bad start; it sounds a bit gay. The point is, having had a driving licence for twenty years, it’s only recently that I’ve taken any interest whatsoever in cars.

Take Belgrade Automobile Museum last month, for example. As the aged caretaker struggled to his feet and flicked an industrial-grade light switch, illuminating an eclectic fleet of gleaming antique cars, my heart soared. The automotive designs spanning several decades had me feeling like Dirk Pitt must have in the Clive Cussler novels when returning home to his lone aircraft hangar.

However, whereas Dirk tended to disassemble updraft carburetors whilst hatching rugged schemes to thwart megalomaniacs lusting for power and bloodshed, I took a few photos and wished I owned a garage.

Classic Cars

 

P1100171A two cylinder Czechoslovakian Aero from 1929 jockeyed with an English Alvis 50hp beauty from 1931. Here, a French 1908 Charron; there, a sleek, navy-blue 1958 Opel, its chrome radiator grille polished to perfection. What’s gone wrong in the last few decades? I mean, can we really compare a modern day Renault Clio to the chic finesse of a 1926 Lancia Lambda?

Well, there are cars and then there are cars. I mean James Bond wouldn’t have put up with a Seat Ibiza, would he? Armed to the sunroof with mine launchers, rear-mounted ink jets and front-firing torpedoes, in 1977 he chased Stromberg’s henchmen in an amphibious two-litre Lotus Esprit. Nice. Which reminds me, a bulletproof assembly periscope might just increase the value of my Ford Fiesta. They don’t call me 001-and-a-half for nothing..

National Motor Museum

 

P1090728Talking of Bond, that new bloke Daniel Craig looks a bit like me, doesn’t he? Bit narrower in the shoulders perhaps, and less vim and grit but… Seriously, if you’re into cars – and you didn’t already know this – the Bond in Motion exhibition at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu has been extended until January 5th, 2014.

Most of the cars from BBC’s Top Gear are on show permanently, too. And I’ll just let you know that Truckmania is being staged there on May 26th and 27th over this May Bank Holiday, showcasing vehicles spanning over a hundred years of trucking.

Youngsters can ride mini trucks on Beaulieu’s Dipstick’s Driving Circuit,  and Bigfoot, the original monster truck, will be crushing everything in sight. Yeehah! Whoopee! Keep that hammer down…P1090768

Madness and Motorbikes..

P1100209You’ve got to live life at open throttle.

Only yesterday I popped into Dublin town centre without an umbrella. Yes, I know – talk about living on the edge. As squalls ravaged the streets, a grim foreboding stole across me; I realised I was trapped in a pub with two bibulous Irish women. How could I leave, given the weather?

‘Ah, for feck’s sake, I’d offer it up to be sure,’ simpered Karen, thinly veiling a reference to sex. Adele smiled winsomely, mutely soft-soaping me, and ordered another round of Guinness. Gosh, if only I’d taken a brolly, I could’ve headed back to finishing my crossword instead of becoming steeped to the gills, drunker even than a bishop. Still, as Lord Byron said, ‘Man, being reasonable, must get drunk.’

Writers’ Quotes

 

As Barnaby Davies said, ‘Man, being a bit worse for wear, must go home and have a little lie-down.’ Possibly not as catchy as Byron, but equally as shrewd, I think. Now then, here’s a tip. Do not text, call or email after a skinful.

P1100312That ought to be obvious, yet alcohol does seem to engender the odd ripe-with-regret moment. Take Cockney Russ, Status Quo’s main driver, for example (pictured centre). Should he have texted the wife at 4.30 this morning, beset by a legion of confused thoughts? ‘Daddy thinks he’s still a teenager,’ she had to explain to their young daughter.

Lonely Hearts

 

Better still, how many replies do you think this world-beating advertisement in the Glasgow Lonely Hearts column received? “23 stone Gemini seeks nimble sexpot for tango sessions and humid nights of screaming passion.” I daresay our well-fed man was impelled by a superhuman quantity of lager at the time of writing.

Or how about this apocryphal blinder, also penned by optimism rising bravely from the boozy depths. “Ginger haired Paisley man seeks decent, honest, reliable woman, if such a thing exists in this cruel world of hatchet-faced bitches.” Yes, it’s always worth sitting on such mawkish gems until after the morning cuppa.

Harley Davidson’s 110th Anniversary

P1100206

Anyway, here I am borne along with romantic notions again when really what I wanted to mention was motorcycling. Would you like to ride a Harley-Davidson for free?

Well, you may or may not know that this year Harley-Davidson celebrates its 110th year. And if you’ve got a bike licence and fancy any of the places listed below over the next few months then you’re in for a treat. There are two lots of 24 brand new UK motorbikes on tour waiting to be ridden – all on 13 plates.

Turn up to any of the below events, check out the Daisy Duke look-a-likes in hot pants and cowboy hats, and exchange your licence for a free ride of a Harley of your choice. Try not to dump the clutch and fall off, though – these bikes aren’t cheap. Hey, and go easy on the throttle..

[Dates: 25th/26th May St Petersburg, Russia or Thessaloniki, Greece; 1st/2nd June Moscow or Athens; 8th/9th June Krasnodar, Russia or Rome; 15th/16th June Kiev or Rome; 22nd/23rd June Minsk or Zagreb; 28th/29th June Warsaw or Budapest; 5th/6th July Lodz, Poland; 6th/7th July Bratislava, Slovakia; 12th/13th July Brno, Czech Republic; 20th/21st July Presov, Slovakia or Beroun, Czech Republic; 27th/28th Ostrava, Czech Republic; 3rd August Poznan, Poland; 9th/10th August Wroclaw, Poland.]