This idea of letting “Namibian” drive in front was, is, and always will be daft. One either has a nose for directions or… Well, let’s just say that Namibian doesn’t.
But we have a “safety net” system of very basic Tesco walkie-talkies: Namibian heads into a city, ostensibly following a map, and I try and radio him before he makes a complete dog’s breakfast of the route.
The system is by no means infallible, however; a circuitous drive this morning, courtesy of Namibian panicking on the ring road, finally brought us to the O2 Arena, Berlin.
The bicycle puncture, that I’d meant to fix since finishing the Lou Reed tour last July, finally gets repaired. Oh, all right, I fit a new inner tube – if you think I’m going to fool about with glue and patches in these temperatures, you’re mistaken.
With nineteen other truckers on the tour, most of whom are old pals, it’s terribly easy to lose a day chatting. But I’ve never been a social butterfly, preferring instead to explore alone. Or with Namibian – because he’ll follow faithfully, and he’s jolly handy for taking photographs of me.
From experience, as soon as more than two truck drivers embark on a cultural afternoon, stops for alcohol inevitably eclipse any historical interest.
Not one hundred metres from the Arena is one of the best sections of the Berlin Wall – 1200m long. In 1961 the East German military sealed off the city with this 3.6m high barrier, stretching 100 miles around West Berlin.
Although it was built – uniquely – to keep a country’s people in, rather than the enemy out, it was actually the enclave of West Berlin that was surrounded. To reach West Germany from West Berlin meant passing through East Germany and then through the Iron Curtain. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the city went beserk celebrating; aspirin soon ran out.
Namibian and I are having a silly day today. How many times have I been to Berlin over the last 10 years? Well, if I don’t know, I don’t suppose you will either. Let’s say about a dozen.
Yet today, in a fit of madness, we’re doing the tourist thing: taking photographs with guns and hats, and stamping my passport with “Checkpoint Charlie”. We warm up with lattes at Snackpoint Charlie..