We have a cowboy on this tour.
No, not somebody who operates shoddily at the boundaries of legality, but a real cowboy who can perform rope tricks and ride bulls.
His name is Pete, but his nickname -used by everybody – is unsurprisingly “Cowboy”. When not driving rock ‘n’ roll trucks, or entering rodeos, he sunbathes. And I mean sunbathes.
I enjoy an hour or two in the afternoons myself, but Cowboy has the capacity and patience to lie in the sunshine for the whole day, turning on the hour. Alice sits nearby, vying for the deepest tan. I think that Cowboy, now late sixties, could just have the edge, but it’s very early in the mating season; perhaps we’ll compare on the next leg of the tour in the summer. What a job this is..
Although it is sunny, I ask another driver, Davey, whether I might need another layer to take with me for the day. ‘Intrepid reporters take backpacks and extra film, not cardigans,’ he advises, then asks: ‘Have you got a scoop, then?’ I don’t, but I’m off to see my pal Julian again.
This is the first properly warm day of the year in Zurich – so he has to dig out some short trousers from the cellar, and put some air in the bicycle tyres.
‘Ooh, look at his little legs,’ teases his supportive spouse, Justine, as she absentmindedly adds flowers to one of her fabric designs. ‘Watch him on the roads, Barny – he can get a bit wobbly,’ she adds, a trifle unfairly.
Well, we don’t actually get that far. In an attempt to inflate unused bicycle tyres, he rips a hole in an innertube. My attempt on the other bike also results in less air than when we started. So, out of two vaguely useable machines, we now have none. We walk to the river instead, armed with a bottle of wine.
Having discussed the meaning of life, and that in Windows Vista it is difficult to delete one’s unsavoury browsing history, we meet Justine further along the waterside. A hostess as always, she sets down a flask of Cuban coffee, and a picnic blanket, giving me an eyeful of her bust.
In the background, chaps in teams of two, punt skiffs against the current. Punting here, unlike in England, isn’t just for toffs – you know who I mean, right? Yes, those Cambridge chappies who have their bottoms used as toast racks by their rowing masters, and are so posh that they get out of the bath for a pee.
He explains that these chaps are not in fact messing about, but, literally translated, ‘poking up the river with a two-pronged punt.’ Justine forces dark chocolate upon me and asks how Namibian physically fits into his truck..