Namibian, increasingly the protagonist in this blog, has burnt out the socket that powers our kettle. We’re keeping our spirits up while trying to keep it from Tina; she’d only worry if she knew the tour was potentially jeopardised by such a pressing matter.
Fortunately, as an old campaigner, and in the event of Namibian’s ebbing health ebbing further, I have a gas stove and spare kettle in the side locker. So, with staunch resolve, the essential items are brought out.
Hot drink accessories are transferred between trucks – you didn’t think that I was going to adopt the role of tea-maker, did you? – and everybody can breathe a sigh of relief. The next concert is still on. Though, if I had to go to Vienna, I wouldn’t start from Hannover.
Hannover doesn’t have the same appeal as Venice or Berlin or Barcelona, does it? The city has its sights, I’m sure, but today we have time constraints for sightseeing. Often with rock n roll tours, there is just one day in each city.
Mornings spell unloading and leisurely breakfasts reading newspapers; afternoons often involve little naps. Remember, trucks in this industry generally travel at night. I’m sure you’ve all seen eighteen-wheelers drifting between lanes at night, drivers’ heads lolling? Sleeping whilst driving is a little risky.
After a little nap – heavens, these hours are hideously unsociable – Namibian brings me the perfect flask of tea, with removed teabag, and a selection of biscuits in a napkin. Things are looking up.
As I stretch, fighting off lethargy and hypothermia, he pads about with kitchen roll, cleaning my mirrors. Ever seen The Odd Couple? Look at the kettle photo – pure Walter Matthau. He’s just hidden his unfashionable underpants, drying by the night heater, from the camera.
What’s a night heater, you ask? Well, although trucking is a little like camping, we have the added advantage of keeping comfortably snug at night without eiderdown sleeping bags. A small diesel pump ticks away throughout the night, draining the batteries but keeping the driver warm.
The temperature is controllable on a thermostat but, if set too high, it can still get a little steamy inside the cab. So, with windows lowered four inches, and curtains drawn, the intrepid trucker can snooze naked throughout a snowstorm. Hooray!
I suppose I should at least mention road tax throughout Europe. Oh god, do you have to? Well, I’ll skate swiftly over the issue because it is an incontrovertibly dull subject to readers other than truck enthusiasts. To cut a long story short, then, almost every country in Europe – off the top of my head, this excludes the UK, Finland and Latvia – charges trucks to use its roads.
Some countries use tolls, some a daily vignette system. Austria, which we are now entering, has a “Go-Box” which affixes rather ferociously to the windscreen. It beeps once each time the truck passes under a toll gantry.
Two beeps or more means there is a problem with the payment. ‘Halt immediately’, in other words, or you will be fined a fortune. Will we be OK? Come back tomorrow..