Actually, there are two major impediments to my writing the blog: the first is choosing which pictures to use, the second is internet access. I find myself skulking near the AC/DC Production Office with a laptop, furtively crunching my photos into her WordPress.
Caterers brush past, furnishing dressing rooms with drinks and nibbles. Other drivers clog up the corridor, seeking fresh towels and bothering me. It’s a little like a school excursion – always somebody to have a natter with.
Bulgaria, then. Nambian and I were last seen narrowly avoiding a larcenous fine for speeding. Another of our drivers, who shall remain nameless, had not just a picture card up his sleeve for the police, but an ace.
Travelling even faster than I had been – with glasses perched on the end of his nose, and a map on the steering wheel – he skidded to a standstill a full two hundred yards past the checkpoint.
‘Too fast,’ was the predictable opener. Face suffused with mock remorse, this was my colleague’s reply: ‘I’m really, really sorry, and I promise never to do it again.’ Remarkably, this did the trick. He was on his way again, scot-free. Unbelievable. Perhaps I needn’t have signed that CD after all.
Meanwhile, I ordered coffee at a Shell garage while filling up with diesel. A lot of diesel. Bulgaria has one of those tiresome rules allowing international trucks to bring in a maximum of 200 litres when entering their borders. This is in practice rarely checked, but to be on the safe side we’d arrived with fuel gauges at the top of the red. Big trucks have big tanks – and big drivers, without naming names – so Namibian and I dispensed 900 litres apiece from the pumps.
The cashier presented me with a bill of 0.79 “shitters” for the coffee, presaging rather an awkward situation. Neither of us had a Bulgarian lev to our name, and, more to the point, after purchasing nigh on two tons of fuel, it seemed reasonable to expect a free cuppa.
The cashier disagreed, thrusting the bill further across the counter, as though I hadn’t haughtily, naughtily ignored it. ‘Oh, do stop being absurd,’ I proposed diplomatically as he began to chase us out of the service area, foaming unattractively.
The remainder of the journey went without hitch, although “smoothly” would be a poor description given the road network in this country. Sofia’s ring is rough (now if that’s not a double entendre I shall eat my hat), her surface pocked beyond belief. Seriously, you wouldn’t believe it is a European city’s orbital.
Waiting for us at Vassil Levski National Stadium was German Holger, adopting his usual appalling posture and holding both a tin of beer and a roll-up. ‘What is “pretending” meaning?’ he asked. Little Dick and I conferred before offering an explanation and an example of its use.
Holger proffered a sandaled foot, vociferously drawing attention to the nakedness of his toes. ‘No socks, look,’ he boasted. ‘So I am pretending to be British.’