Trabants and Trucking..

Truck manoeuvres start before 6am, and Namibian has a flat battery after boiling his electric kettle to make my tea.

It’s a reciprocal deal: he makes the tea in return for following me to gigs. It is, therefore, a bit mean that I make him go in front into cities, I suppose.

It’s for his own benefit, though; one learns little about international trucking from following a pair of black trailer doors for months on end. And I don’t feel too mean – after all, he’s chosen a pink thermos flask for me this year.

Now, by the time I’ve unloaded – or in the industry parlance, we say, “loaded in” (to the venue) – breakfast is up and running. Most tours, certainly twenty-truck Tina Turner tours, take caterers on the road to feed the crew. And it’s invariably excellent food.

We sit down to a fry-up and intelligent conversation from truckers fills the air: ‘I had a toothless ferret once,’ says my friend Mark. ‘If I could teach it to cook, I could get rid of the wife.’

The reply, from a chap who is the spitting image of Captain Birdseye, is something of a Chinese whisper. ‘I’ve never had sex with an animal I could cook,’ he says, without trace of a smile. ‘There was a goat once, but that was love.’ Funny lot, truck drivers.

Down at the DDR Museum: ah, the trusty two-stroke Trabant. In a word – “crap”. But, and it’s a big but, the average motorist could fix one nearly as expertly as a mechanic.

If you can believe it, there was a waiting list in East Germany of up to sixteen years for one of these four-geared beauties. As late as 1985, only every other family here owned a car at all..

P.S. Tour life is decidedly bleak: we’re having to survive on blackened tilapia with mango salad and a choice of only five puddings.