Forward or Back?

Julian, a pal from school days, lives in Zurich.

I hastily abandon the truck this morning, and board a tram to go and see him. The tram is travelling in the wrong direction.

With every intention to purchase a travelcard once in town, but with no Swiss money immediately to hand, I have to sit ticketless, quivering in fear of inspectors.

The trip, however, is essential, because his partner Justine has a staggering collection of audio books for me to borrow.

Handing back the last dozen I had on loan, we sit on their bed, leafing through every conceivable genre. ‘Now, we want a balance,’ she says, ‘between didactic and racy, and well-written.’

Julian, I am happy to say, is squinting rather less than at our last meeting. I comment on it, congratulating him on an unscrewed-up face. ‘He’s got a little thingy now,’ says Justine, helpfully. Well, I know that… But she is, in fact, alluding to a small plastic prism that sticks on his spectacle lens, aiding short-sightedness.

Julian swears that he recently opened another bottle of Tempranillo, but he is unable to find it. Ah, he hasn’t got his little thingy on, that’s why. While he hunts for the alcohol, squinting furiously again, I telephone his brother in Spain.

We’re planning to ‘do’ lunch in Barcelona, AC/DC’s next tour date. Julian asks me if I’d mind taking my sock out of his wine glass.

I hope I’m not giving the impression that this touring life is anything but hard work? It is ‘work hard, play hard’ in this industry; you can make a tour work for you but it’s no good if you can’t survive on catnaps. For those that need eight hours in bed at night – I like it but don’t need it – DO NOT APPLY.

Now, talking of playing hard, we were enjoying a nightcap in a dimly lit bar last night. And Justine, like most of us, was bemoaning the changing of the clocks. Why is it that we cannot decide whether they move forward or back?

Twice a year, this is a huge talking point in village post offices throughout England. ‘Ooh, Maureen,’ one old duck will say to another, ‘do we lose an hour or gain one, this time?’

Even when the point is settled, people (including me) still don’t know in which direction to wind their wristwatches. For the next fortnight, Justine will be asking, ‘yes, but what time is it really?’

Just to leave you on a spicy cliffhanger, I’m meeting a mystery girl tonight: Claudia, one of Crazy Sandra’s friends. Tut, now you’re going to want to know how I get on. If I don’t mention her, you’ll assume she’s ghastly, and if I do? Ooh, tricky. Assume I’ll just have a quiet drink and we’ll leave it at that..