I’d almost miss Australians…

‘Kiwis?’ asked my Australian colleague. ‘Yeah, you just tap them on the head and their knickers fall off.’

Doubt dandered along the embankment of my thoughts, like a nagging suspicion that you’ve left the front door unlocked. Nope, no matter how tightly I squeezed shut my eyes, my evening with a coquettish New Zealander remained a blur. Was there any tapping? In fact, was she even wearing any knickers to start with? Hmm.

Hang on, I’m getting my own in a twist. Before you try this at home – or preferably in teeming bars around London’s Shepherd’s Bush and Acton areas – let me double check. Are we looking at a researched, seminal declamation, or a generalisation based on Bugger All? ‘That’s a fact,’ he confirmed, in that nasal brogue that has me laughing even if it’s not funny. Well, then – it’s official. Do let me know how you get on.

G’day Bluey

Unloading Incubus’ gear in Switzerland

Now, shall we call my colleague Blue, given his nationality? After all, he is one of those stereotypical, fair dinkum fellows with a sense of humour more desiccated than the Atacama Desert. Or drier than a nun’s nasty, to use his own vernacular.

He’ll say frightful things like, ‘Yeah, I’ve got some culture…up my arsehole.’ Probably has a flaming galah on a perch at home, too.

Anyway, aptly, we were driving for Incubus together this summer. No, not the mythological male demon who lies upon female sleepers in order to have sexual intercourse – I meant the band. And we were sitting in deckchairs at Rock in Rio, Madrid, behind the biggest stage I’ve ever seen – a little like Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum further north.

All Went Pete Tong

As the sun lost some of its ferocity, Pete Tong took to the stage somewhere in the distance. One earphone on, one off, he did something clever with records and sporadically blew a whistle. Meanwhile, Blue had engaged me in the topic of the biggest killer in Australia. Now, what would be your first guess?

Box jellyfish? Snakes? Funnel web spiders? ‘Nope, bowel cancer,’ he said, smiling, pleased he’d caught me out. Apparently, over the age of 50 in Australia, you’re obliged to post – yes, I did say post – a stool sample every year. ‘A letter comes back, notifying you of the result,’ he added.

Several thousand people milled and danced to Tong’s groove. Festival goers trickled through the gate, ready for the ultimate party weekend as Blue crescendoed into prostate tests at the surgery.

‘Nice bloke, the doctor was,’ he said, uncapping another beer. ‘Used to be a bricklayer. Jeez, I wish he’d worn gloves.’…