You didn’t want a blog on Prague, did you? Hasn’t everybody been to Prague?
Well, if you haven’t, you ought to go – the City of 1000 Spires is captivating. It is possibly worth avoiding at weekends, though; English men displaying their penises on stag weekends can be a little off-putting.
So rather than exploring Prague, I’m more concerned with 92 local crew pushing AC/DC flight-cases up my trailer ramp, sweating and smelling rather ripe.
You see, rather than loafing about in the Czech capital, we are in a bit of a hurry to leave – so much so, in fact, that an evil has arisen: the dreaded “double driver”.
More and more frequently, scheduled drives between concerts are becoming legally unmanageable for just one trucker to complete in the allotted time. Ergo, a second driver must enter the arena (pun intended) – the O2 Arena in this case.
Today’s drive – starting at an unearthly 1am – is about thirteen hours, three hours too long for me alone. So my pal Rooster arrives, and this is the plan: one drives while the other, in theory, sleeps.
The whole thing is laughable – nobody but the deepest of slumberers could possibly fall asleep, never mind stay asleep, on Czech roads, particularly if I keep one wheel deliberately on the rumble strip.
Rooster, however, washing down a gout tablet with a chicken sandwich, makes rather a good attempt. As we pass through the South Tyrol Dolomites, I hear light snoring.
Unfortunately, all this rushing about has left the much-maligned Namibian rather on the sidelines – his “load of crap in the back” is less important than my rigging equipment, and he has to drive alone. With rheumy eyes and a quivering bottom lip, he hands over my pink thermos flask and waves me off, worried about finding the Milan gig on his own.
This necessary evil of double driving occasionally has its advantages, though: our tight-for-time plan to unload at the Milan Forum – which, incidentally, is hellishly-designed for trucks – gives me quite a lot of time in Milan.
So much time, in fact, that I shall take a small vacation – to Spoleto, Central Italy, for three nights with my grandfather. Rooster is last seen charitably guarding my ignition key while I dash to Central Station to catch the 17.45.
The arrangement to be on this train was made a week ago, and was to be regarded as in place unless I telephone. Grandpa, at a spry 83, must still be in possession of a marble or two because, as agreed, there he is on the platform at 00.09. ‘Now, where have I left the car,’ he asks rhetorically, squinting in the darkness.
Now, why is it that grandparents inspect their grandchildren in such depth? He doesn’t say: ‘My, haven’t you grown,’ but he certainly isn’t content with simple eye contact and a handshake; he peers suspiciously and tugs my cheeks as though perhaps I’ve had a spot of jaw surgery or a face-lift.
Satisfied my bone structure is indeed still intact, we drive into the shadowy Umbrian night and discuss AC/DC. Refreshingly, he’s no idea who they are. ‘Barnaby, I haven’t heard of anybody since the Beatles.’..