You’ve noticed the mention of trucks and trombones in the tagline above, I assume. Well, there has been plenty of truck stuff…but scant evidence so far that I actually play a trombone. Or indeed even own one. In fact, for all you know, this could be dark subterfuge, a mythical gimmick in order to stand out from the travel writing fraternity. It could be…but it isn’t. I can prove it. Well, I thought I could.
Abandoning tour date chronology for a moment, I thought I’d post a jauntily-filmed video. It was shot at the last venue on the tour, the Stade de Suisse, Bern, Switzerland. The man behind the camera was a potty Dutchman named Tommy to whom we shall return in due course. My instructions to you were to be: crank up the volume, crane your neck to the point of dislocation and press “play”. However, at the critical point, I find that the file is too large to upload. So, instead, while I work on trying to calve the video into three manageable slices, I have only a photograph to offer. So we’re kind of back to Square One; I could have borrowed this instrument from a passing travelling salesman.
The evening began innocently enough with a chromatic scale or two in the back of a trailer. Yet AC/DC’s stage beckoned like the prospect of a generous snifter of port after dinner. I simply had to bask in thirty seconds’ worth of glory despite the empty stadium. Tommy whipped out a camera and asked me to pose “stage right” whilst giving a pretty decent impression of a standing ovation. The audient was on its foot, as Ronnie Scott used to say when compering at his Soho jazz club.
One of the reasons I’ve leapt ahead from Bucharest to Bern is because, before failing at the final hurdle, I was feeling rather smug. No, it’s nothing to do with the sonorous, booming pedal notes in the video that I can’t upload. Neither am I particularly proud of the mellifluous triplet doodle-tonguing in the opening phrase…of the video that you won’t be watching. No, it’s just that I’m rather chuffed to have – almost – conquered technology. When we downloaded the video onto my computer, the idiotic thing wouldn’t recognise the MOV format. However, after hours of concerted effort, assiduously discarding flv player downloads and threatening laptops with a gruesome demise, I finally managed to at least play it to myself.You’ll just have to imagine it, I suppose.
So what do you think my chances are of AC/DC requesting a bluesy trombone chorus in “The Jack”? It could be either before or after Angus takes his shirt off, I don’t mind. Fair to middling, or no chance at all? Yes, OK, I’ll put the practice mute back in and mind my own business. Now, while I’m mentioning this song (and the medium of video), I ought to report that we’ve had a jolly poor turnout apropos unleashed breasts this year. For the uninitiated, “The Jack” is a dirty, low-down blues. And, in between devilish guitar solos that tingle one’s spine, footage of the audience is plastered over the big screens. Traditionally at this point in the show, women sit upon men’s shoulders and…well, much as it pains me to say it, they get their tits out. Mind you, the weather has been a little chilly of late; perhaps warmer air at the forthcoming Spanish shows will induce less inhibited behaviour. We shall see.
Sticking with the theme of video, I’ve got another character to introduce: Spielberg. He drove a truck on a Rolling Stones tour a few years back and, as the Stones is his favourite band, he shot some footage. And some more footage. And some more. In fact, he was rarely seen without a video camera. Hence the nickname. I find him this morning perched on the kerb – on a street amusingly titled Wankdorf, next to the equally endearing Wankplatz – in the sunshine. He’s taking a relaxed ten-minute breather before capturing Bern’s charms on film. Bern is nothing if not charming: it has a fifteenth-century old town and a bear pit, to give you the briefest of brief overviews. Oh, perhaps it isn’t general knowledge that the bear is Bern’s heraldic mascot? Bears, incidentally, have been in the 3.5m-deep pit since 1857. Well, not the same ones, obviously.
‘Whatho Spielberg,’ I bellow convivially. ‘Sussed out the shower block yet, old onion?’ (I’ve been spending a little too much time engrossed in P.G. Wodehouse novels lately.) ‘It’s not a shower day for me,’ he replies. ‘So I wouldn’t know.’ Eh? Not a shower day? What is the old crocus babbling about? ‘I don’t go in for all this showering every day like some of them,’ he continues unabashedly. What, like every other civilised person in the Western world, does he mean? ‘Every four or five days is enough.’
Spielberg doesn’t smell, it has to be said. But, even so, I begin to retreat from whither I’d come. ‘I wash in a basin everyday, though,’ he concedes, back-pedalling lest I get the wrong impression. Now I wonder if this a generational habit, spawned from living eight to a room in the industrial north, possibly overlooking an aluminium smelter. After all, Spielberg is a trifle older than me and hails from Manchester. Actually, I’m rather curious to learn of anybody in their twenties or thirties that goes in for strip-washing on a regular basis. Discounting overnight bivouacs in the mountains where we douse faces with icy stream water out of necessity, isn’t it just as easy to take a scrummy hot shower as to strip to the waist in front of a sink?