Tie a rope to the back of the bus – 19th April 1989

22nd Feb 2021 – I’m not sure how long the ferry journey took but it was light by the time we were back in the van driving in France. Starving and sleepless we pulled into a bakery at a service station and enjoyed the warm French hospitality that non-French speakers probably deserve. But we ate a little at least.

Without telling anyone in the van, I’d stashed a smidgen of hash in with the tins of beer, without considering the consequences for myself or everyone else. Feeling happy with myself that I’d gotten away with it I announced my achievement to everyone and was met with much (deserved) criticism. I know we were on our way to Holland but what if we couldn’t find any smoke!? Be prepared!

A little journey, following the coast and passing Dunkirk (no time for any sightseeing) we found the Belgium border. Expecting a quick passport check, armed border guards approached the van and got irate with us when we all poured out. They took our drivers into a room and the rest of us waited nervously and impatiently, counting down how long we had to get to Hoorn to play our first show.

Sometime later, the boys returned looking gloomy and pissed off. Because we were carrying musical equipment we had to have a piece of paper with a list of all the items. Well, we had that, but what no one told us was that it had to be stamped or signed by the customs people in Dover. The boys had argued that they’d been allowed across to France as it was but the guards were having none of it. Perhaps they were waiting for a bribe?

As we contemplated going back to Dover, maps were investigated and it was decided to drive inland a bit and try to find another way into Belgium. I forget if there was even a crossing with guards but, whatever there was, we just drove straight through and were on our way again, seriously running behind time.

Looking on a map today the drive to Hoorn in Holland appears to only take 3 and a half hours but I’m thinking it took a bit longer 30 years prior. Also, our van, full of amps and smelly people, wasn’t racing anywhere. It was amazing to watch our two drivers plough on through and I think it was only after the tour had finished that I discovered they had been on speed for the journey so far. Only once did they take a turn into oncoming traffic, forgetting which side of the road to drive. Not bad!

Somehow we arrived in Hoorn without any checkpoint entering Holland but there was no time to settle in. It was straight to the cafe where the show would be held. This is where I discovered many cultural differences between the UK and Holland. Cafes in Holland were also bars and the focus wasn’t really around drinking but more just hanging out, with a snack, coffee or a beer. In 1989 UK, cafes and bars were totally separate things.

The place was surprisingly busy for a Wednesday evening. Tonight, was just us and Corporate Grave playing so there was little stress with timing and changeovers. The only adjustment that needed to be made was that the toilet door had to be removed to allow space for the players on stage. Fatty ended up playing with the head of his bass stuck into the doorway and having to move out of the way for anyone desperate enough to need a piss. It was quite an amusing sight.

I enjoyed the whole evening, especially after the long journey and stressful border situation and it was nice to receive a warm welcome from The Vernon Walters and their crew.

After the show, we went back to Mark’s place. I had connected well with Mark and enjoyed his company and it was a pleasure to stay with him for these few days. Our band was all here whilst Corporate Grave and Rich stayed with someone else.

Our next cultural difference was discovered in the bathroom. This was the first time I’d been in a bathroom with an open shower and just a drain in the floor, no bath. It somehow felt quite liberating but also a little insecure with no cover protecting my modesty in this big room. I don’t think I’d ever been naked in such a big space before.

And then there was the toilet. I had never imagined that toilets were different in other countries. Here in Holland, you didn’t shit into some water at the bottom of the bowl but instead onto a shelf, where you could safely inspect your work should that be necessary. In my 22 years up that point, I had never found it necessary. I was worried about the pile of poop stacking up and smearing all over my ass cheeks though I really had no idea of depth and proximity. So, I just squatted up a little and got it done and dusted as quickly as possible. I was too shy to ask exactly how one should use the toilet. I don’t think anyone else mentioned it either.

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