News Update: July 2001

Another train, another day speeding up the mighty Rhine (down again, tomorrow).

Since we last spoke, dear reader, we have journeyed through Euroland via Holland, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy and back to the Fatherland where we fell upon the ground, kissing it madly after a nearly thwarted attempt to leave Pasta-heaven. Strikes in the airports of Italy meant most flights were cancelled and we were lucky to find a way out to finally enjoy the last few minutes of our “day off” in the wilds of Swabia.

Doane has had a birthday, as did Jeff of the boy band (The Young Dubliners). Doane won by a couple of years (seven, actually) but Jeff looked the more rattled by the coming of age. The Dubs’ tour manager, Donnie, had a momentary moral crisis requiring confession, due penitence and an e-mail from the Pope.

Doane (Woody to his friends) received many fine and utterly useless gifts including a Chile pepper grinder, Mr. Grumpy and Mr. Happy books to counter whatever mood he might be in of a sunny morn, and a metal frame like you see at the airports to measure the size of your carry-on luggage.  The latter has proved ineffectual since the Woodperson was also gifted a personal travel welder and has altered the metal measuring frame to accommodate the jumbo roll-on which he still insists on dragging round the world in weighty imitation of notable and hardy Victorian explorers but without the benefit of even more hardy native porters (which he is too mean to hire, even at the discounted senior citizen rate of thirty Sudanese rupees per day, which he now enjoys).

Martin Barre has had a cold, Andrew G. has sore knees, Jonathan N. contracted posterioritis and I have a mild ear infection, probably from the smelly tap water in some hotel I seem to remember a few days back. Doane has entered an almost terminal state of depression – partly from early morning departures and partly as result of seeing his band mates afflicted with such mid-tour disabilities.

A few songs have entered and left the set. Rehearsed in soundchecke are a few more for inclusion in the USA tours coming up. Not telling you what, ‘though in case we change our minds.

Except that in readiness  for the Harley Davidson Party festival in up-state Michigan a couple of weeks from now, we are working on Born To Be Wild, Kick Out The Jams M*****f*****s, and a medley of Village People hits which Doane thinks might go down well with the bikers. I’m not so sure, personally, but I guess Doane knows the American Harley culture better than I.

I draw the line at wearing the tutu, however.

Looking from time to time out of the train window as I type this, I notice the steeply banked vineyards each side of the Rhine and feel the sudden and irresistable need to visit the lavvy-loo and then, immediately, the restaurant car for a bladder top-up of cheap but potent German wine. Back in a minute, dear reader……

Well, bugger me if it isn’t the Gau-Kongernheimer Vogelsang 1999 – in case you wondered – and I shall drinken-it-right-upski in a trice.

Boy, the Rhine looks swirly, dark and dangerous today, even with the sun shining on the plump and bared cheeks of the local frauleins who, sun-worshipping in their simple nakedness, line the shores, buttocks raised as if to toast my non-vintage but welcome grape.   OK, I made that last bit up, but I’m sure if I squint hard enough through my 1.25 diopter reading glasses, I can almost, me fancies, make them out on the opposite bank……..

Not a car to be seen on the roads either side of this proud torrent but the millions are abroad on pushbikes today. Sunday madness and legs a-tanning while turreted villages jostle for position on hilltop and riverbank alike, with picture book appeal and graffiti hardly to be seen.

And so to those lilly-livered journos who keep asking me, “Don’t you get tired of touring after all these years and aren’t you just doing it for the money?”: well, where would you rather be right now? Sitting in your newspaper tower at the desktop hell of downtown Gotham City or next to IA himself in the Deutsch Bahn first class comfy chair wine-sozzled splendour of a rolling room-with-a-view which is carriage 12 en route to Dusseldorf to meet the Woodster for curry lunch before the Formula One Grand Prix on TV, a quick zizz before soundcheck and an hour and three-quarters in front of my friends, playing the music I love?  Hmmmn….. no contest methinks.

See you soon, pals.

Damn, but that wine was good.

IA

Germany.