‘Why don’t you do one thing at a time?’ asked my dear friend, Fat Paul, recently. You know, he’s got a point. Mind perpetually whirring, juggling multiple concepts, I’ve got myself in a muddle lately. So here’s what I shall do:
The blogs from last year – they need to be imported at some point – will go on the front page over the next couple of weeks. Then, when this bally U2 Tour finally finishes and I get some time off from sightseeing and socialising, I’ll write up this year’s touring notes. How does that sound? That way I can post a weekly snippet over the winter when not much travelling will be taking place. People like Superman (featured in Finnish Girls Part 2), continually hounding me for the next installment, can get stuffed until I’m good and ready.
May 10th, ’09:
A little project? Gordon Bennett! While Bettina sleeps off her drug-induced coma, I look through her pages of notes that she wants reading into a microphone – to be learnt with an impeccable English accent for an imminent exam. The topics are transport and religion. Simple enough, yet I’m supposed to make coherent sentences from endless bullet points spanning twenty pages per topic.
For example, under the subheading “Charitable work” in the religion paper, I’m faced with this: Quaker: social concern, peacemaking
Rowntree Trust }(Quaker history) funding for housing
Not restricted on basis of religos beliefs
Lordy, this is hopeless. Stoically plodding on and on, sentences are soon abandoned. Even then, the recording lengths are still 27 minutes for religion and 25 for transport. More than once I pause to sip tea, or sneeze, and say, ‘erm, sorry, that doesn’t make any sense.’ The pronunciation, at least, is flawless, if I do say so myself.
A little later, Bettina, Eddy and I take a drive out to Fischbrunn – for an eight-kilometre walking loop in the ‘Franconian Dolomites’. We’re still in Bavaria here but window shutters are now red and white, instead of blue and white. Stout footwear is recommended for this forest hike because there are awkward climbing passages where a chap could fall fifteen metres or so, and perish.
So, shod in flip-flops – safety flops, I like to call them – I embark on the soft, mossy, forest trail. Eddy is behaving like a girl’s blouse, walking around most of the difficult sections in his hiking boots, while I have a stab at the worst of them. Actually, one bit is so bad that flip-flops are in fact unsuitable…and I’m forced to go barefoot for safety.
After nearly four hours of flirting with death, we come to a lovely pub in Hirschbach, glinting in the evening sun. An elderly man, sitting on a haemorrhoid cushion – he turns out to be the owner – talks to me in German. I nod a bit, interjecting with the odd ‘ach so’ while Bettina translates. Apparently the mayor of Scotland was here not so long ago, and he shuffles off to find the visitor book.
Some minutes later, he returns, and painstakingly flips gilt-edged pages, licking his forefinger between each agonising turn. As our eyes glaze, the entry is found and we are jolted into feigned interest. 1974 was the visit, possibly the last day in thirty-five years that anything happened here.
He adjusts his croupier’s armbands, while we demolish the last of the cheesecake. And then he waves us off. His parting shot to me, in German of course, is, ‘greetings to the mayor.’