As a result, the inimitable Namibian generously loaned out my deckchair – an essential piece of touring apparatus – to a long-haired girl.
Strict instructions were left, to the tune of: ‘Leave the chair next to my truck or the blonde gets it,’ as I exited the gate. In fact, she did as she was told, but it was left resting on the nearside wheel – I couldn’t see it from the driving seat – which is no good to neither man nor beast.
The crux, then, is that I drove off in the dark, leaving the chair to a fate of abuse by trailer wheels.
You’re wondering why I recount all this? Well, because that dear Namibian, cognisant of partial culpability – and I would hope brimming with guilt and unable to sleep at night – has bought us brand new matching deckchairs. They are frankly ghastly, and we look very much like a betrothed couple in these ‘his and hers’ chairs.
While the pink polka dots may admittedly match my thermos flask, these items are rapidly shattering the rugged “Big Wheel”’ persona I’ve been building up over the last few months. Intrepid explorers, handling thirty-eight-ton vehicles around Europe on rock tours, do not sit in pink deckchairs sipping tea from pink flasks. Do they?
However, the deckchair is a superb vantage point from which to keep an eye on matters. Something is afoot in the car park overlooking the Thames; I go to investigate.
Ah, the age-old dilemma of whether we can squeeze our lorries northbound through the Blackwall Tunnel is in full swing.
Well, it’s tight – somehow more so in a “left hooker” (a term for left-hand drive truck, and nothing to do with prostitutes) – but doable. Or not, if, as in David’s case, your trailer is an abnormal height. The tape measure is out, and there is no denying that supposedly identical vehicles are wildly differing in height.
If you’re a girl, you’d presumably only notice that the trucks are black. If you’re a boy, you make measurements of about the length of a finger and say: ‘That’s nine inches, isn’t it?’ As it turns out, David is certainly four inches bigger than the rest of us.
He will have to head southeast – using Dartford Tunnel instead – in order to eventually travel northwest.
The rest of us, meanwhile, will attempt the nerve-wrackingly narrow Blackwall Tunnel, shaving fifteen minutes off the journey, and quite possibly a little paint off the trailers.
Nobody minds the random, arcane tidbits I throw into the blog, do they? You see, I ought to have done something special for my fiftieth travel blog, but how about pearls of information – meted out like raindrops – instead? Oh, and a reference to my youth, just for good measure..
Backpedalling for a moment to Zurich, and presumably the rest of Switzerland, I can tell you that bicycle owners there must buy a vignette. I know, how fascist is that? This mandatory certificate covers not only road tax – for a bicycle! – but also insurance in the event of an accident.
In England, though there may be advisory policies in place, one can remain unregistered. This leads to a general disregard of red lights – to be treated as “give way” or only for wimps, and surely not applicable to me.
I was very glad of the anonymity, actually, when cycling through Blackwall Tunnel as a youngster – yes, I really did, studiously ignoring the prohibitive signs. It was one of those occasions when you wish you hadn’t started something, but the point of no return had been reached..
And incidentally, Zurich is not the capital of Switzerland, as you were thinking – it is, in fact, Bern..