He stormed past me, sullen and jowly, like a bulldog that’s just licked urine from a nettle. Two hours later, with loaded trucks, the radio crackles.
‘Hang on, Barny,’ he says, ‘I’m having a heart attack.’ Oh, great. This from a man who told me not two days ago what good health he is enjoying. I briefly wonder whether I should retrieve my stove from his cab, but a few seconds later, between oesophagus-displacing coughing bouts, he tells me he’s OK. What a drama queen: it’s probably only angina again.
It was 1000km from Hannover to Vienna; now it is 1100km to Antwerp. The next concert after that is Zurich. Remember I suggested that these itineraries are determined by cocaine-fuelled executives throwing darts at a map of continental Europe?
Well, thank heavens that a particularly limp-wristed lunge didn’t have us all trundling down to Istanbul instead. There are two travel days to reach Antwerp, so barely an hour up the autobahn sees us fast asleep for what remains of the night. After all, yesterday was my third consecutive day without an afternoon nap.
Parking tonight is at Geiselwind truckstop in Bavaria. Namibian upsets the blameless ‘dinner lady’ (waitress) with his terse mannerisms and pidgin German. His pork is too tough, which he indicates by making a sawing motion to her with his knife. The knife slides through the meat like soft butter.
He storms over to Burger King, tail between his legs. Meanwhile the rest of us exhaust the topics of lorries and perverts over a few surprisingly strong Kulmbacher beers.
Truckers, with so much time on their hands to muse – and I’m being serious here – actually make rather good philosophers. A conundrum emerges among our clan: what is the difference between a reason and an excuse?
A think tank in The Pentagon could chew on that for months but, at Transam Trucking Ltd, one of our team instantly remembers an incident at school which hits the nail on the head. ‘I was told off once, for putting my hand up a skirt. I had a reason but it was no excuse.’