We’re off again..

There is no excuse in 2010. The playful issue of whether or not to wear a moustache is not even a contentious one; the answer is a definitive no. Well, not unless you’re well into your fifties or a Sicilian woman.

Michelin Mat however, fails to realise this, strutting around an Italian pizzeria this evening with an ostentatious demeanour, as though on trial as a circus strongman. Sexy? Quasi-seductive? Nope. But I’m intrigued. He wears it so brazenly, you see, belying a formidable, towering personality hitherto unknown to the human race. Or he may just be as thick as two planks. Either way, one’s eye is involuntarily drawn to the offending growth; it piques the ocular sense, eyeballs bulging at the man’s temerity.

What is acceptable these days is any other type of facial furniture: interminable sideburns; jolly sailors’ beards clogged with fishing detritus and bilge pumps; and, of course, goatees. Take mine, for example, a distinguished affair strengthening the jawline immeasurably and halting barmaids in their tracks. No, I don’t mean swooning; I mean their internal debate about asking me for ID. Yes, without a beard, and in a pitch-black sort of light, I could easily pass for thirty. Oh OK, maybe thirty-two.

Now I mentioned Italy. To be specific, we’re in Turin, employed once again as truckers on the U2 European Tour. Blogging, as was the case last year, is frowned upon for some reason. So I shall relate only the occasional anecdote, and without photographs of the stage or the bewildering number of trucks involved.

On the drive down here, I asked Namibian what he had in the back of his trailer this year. ‘Dunno,’ he replied candidly, in the manner of a man that couldn’t care a fig. We’d pulled over to check straps were still taut, bicycles securely stowed, and to take a wee look at a map. Don’t you know where you’re going by now, you cry? Ah, but after we’d cross-loaded from Belgian containers, rumours suddenly abounded that Luxembourg ought to be skirted on Saturdays in July. Coo, these European restrictions are a nuisance.

‘Hey, you’ve got those umbrellas for the drum kit that they use if it rains,’ whooped Namibian, startling me. Ah, rumbled – I, too, had no idea what was in the back. Loading had caught me a little off guard, if I’m honest. There I was, shod in flip flops and happily devouring a nectarine – never one of those nasty, furry peaches that send shivers down your spine as though handling cotton wool – when equipment began wheeling out of the warehouse at full pelt. By the time I’d found a T-shirt and work boots, the trailer was almost full. C’est la vie. I shall have to say ‘stuff’ to the French police if stopped and asked what I’m carrying.

Well, whatever the stuff is in the back – “set”, they’re calling it – it’s appreciably lighter than the rigging on AC/DC. Hooray, I can ascend moderate inclines in thirteenth gear now, instead of ninth. Whoopee!

On one particular hill, Namibian contacted me on the CB. ‘Do you know what I’ve been doing while I’ve been driving?’ he asked. I shuddered, fearing the worst. ‘I’ve been noting how long the tunnels are, so we know how many kilometres of them we’ve done.’ We mustn’t yawn, but that was actually worse than I’d feared. For some reason, he keeps records of these things.

Incidentally, have you been wondering how many kilometres the production trucks travelled on the AC/DC Tour this spring? No, nor have I, but Namibian forced the statistic upon me. Apparently we drove 23, 136 kms. Even when converted to miles, that sounds an abominable amount. Keep on trucking..

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