Last week we were in Holland. It went a bit like this:
Wednesday 19th May
The ferry over’s called the Pride of Hull (insert Hull-is-shit joke). We’re pissed before we leave the port and we go to dinner just as we start moving and it feels like we’re on a shake-the-fat-off-with-a-vibrating-rubber-band machine, only powered by AAAs. We drag along the muddy riverbed and I reckon the vibrating must help compact food in your stomach. Lucky, cause it’s a buffet, which Slurpy sees as a challenge to make money by eating so much food the raw ingredients would cost more than the price of the meal. He eats 4 plates piled high, much in the manner of Obelix at the feast at the end of Asterix books, but without the blue and white look-at-me-I’m-a-Frenchman leggings.
We’re like snakes stuffed with hippos after dinner and stagnate in the bar watching Eric Bristow and some other ex darts world champion chuck a couple of arrows with strangers. I imagine their fee is a bundle of dirty fivers each and a free bar, but they have to pack down their own board, stand and lighting pretty quick to make way for resident guitar-vocalist, Robbie! 35 year old Robbie is a bag of dreams beaten with the claw end of a reality hammer and thrown in a bin the striking binmen will never empty, even after the strike is over. He opens with Mustang Sally, follows with Summer of ’69, and we leave the 8 other people in the bar to their lethargic clapping and go to bed.
Thursday 20th May Luxor Live, Arnhem
In Rotterdam we find a coffee shop and 10 minutes later we’re smiling inanely at the table. On our way to Arnhem we stop by the side of a road and set up to have a jam. People stop to watch, including a couple of council workers, who say there’s no problem, they just want to listen. A small boy and his mum cycle past and she says he’s just been talking about wanting to learn drums. Lee offers the boy a go and walks towards him gesturing but the boy doesn’t speak English, becomes terrified his mum is selling him and jumps back on his bike.
At Luxor Live the crew cook a beautiful meal and we all eat together, unlike in England where you might get thrown a dodgy pork pie to fight over. The Dutch are so relaxed they leave long silences in conversation as though they can’t be bothered to say anything. If they were English these silences would be awkward, but really they’re just allowing time to pass and things to exist. When you ask, “Do you want us to sound check before eating or after?” they reply, “Errr you know you sound check before you sound check after it’s ok.”
On the way to the hotel back in Den Haag, Krish is desperate to urinate. There’s nowhere to pull over on the motorway and Krish is almost ready to open the van door and risk his life for some relief from the stretched waterbomb of his bladder. When we finally pull over Krish sprints from the van and bores a hole in the a tree he unleashes on, like a timelapse film of acid rain damage.
Friday 21st May Bazart, Den Haag
In Den Haag we spend the day at the beach. Lee drinks so much coffee that cardiac exercise becomes superfluous and when we leave, the barman gives the kind of ironman handshake that lets you know, if he had a fight with Jaws, he’d choke him to death. At the gym he neglects his quadriceps, biceps and triceps, in favour of a brutal chokerceps regime.
After we play, the woman sat with the club manager tells us she’s not drinking tonight as she got really drunk last week and was badly behaved. It’s penitence. She says it’s worth it just for how much she’ll enjoy it next time, like when she doesn’t have sex for a couple of weeks and then the next time is amazing. There’s a moment’s awkward silence as she just looks at us and Lee replies, “What’s sex?” Another silence as she tries to figure out the best way to explain sex to an English man who’s managed to avoid it for so long.
In a bar called Supermarkt Krish walks straight to the stage at the back, climbs the steps and calmly surveys his surroundings. He smiles and drops into his crab dance on beat. He chucks a few hip thrusts out and pretty soon some guy’s battling him before admitting defeat and trying to imitate. Back in the room Slurps notices the only decoration in the room, a small sculpture of a woman, has the head of Lovejoy and the body of Pat Butcher.
Most toilets in Holland have the hole right at the front of the bowl and a display shelf covering about 70% at the back half, so that after defecating you can admire your work. Not a great idea when you’re living on booze and caffeine and squeezing out thin, dark, wet, cat shits, but maybe the display shelf’s there so Dutch people can see what sort of health they’re in. Dutch people are probably too used to this faecal display mechanism to find these musings even remotely interesting but that’s cultural relativism for you init.
Saturday 22nd May Vera, Groningen
In the morning Lee goes out to get some breakfast and gets mugged by a St Bernard at the door. He turns round just as Beethover leans over him, stood at full height on his back legs, and pins him against the wall, before tearing away at the bread and cheese and paté Lee has bought. A man in the street tries to help and it all ends up in laughter and someone probably falls in love and then cries their flippin’ eyes out.
We drive up to Groningen, stopping to sunbathe by a lake. Vera is the coolest venue we’ve played at. Everyone in the world has played there from Nirvana to U2 to the The Flaming Lips and on and on and on. We smash the gig and the debauchery can begin. We drink with Sico, who works at the venue, and his girlfriend. At one place Me and Krish get in the middle of a developing mosh pit and slow dance them all to calmness. The Dutch are so polite and accommodating that it only takes a minute before we’ve stopped the moshing.
Back at Vera, Krish is forehead to forehead with a Viking stranger, each man’s hands holding the back of the other’s head and pulling towards their own in an effort to collapse the other’s skull. The first man to give up loses and after about a minute both men are gritting their teeth and grunting and it’s no longer a fun game. It’s David vs. Goliath, good vs. evil, England v. Holland. They draw, both agreeing to stop, and Krish is left with a graze and a bruised forehead. Meanwhile, Lee plays Sico at handslapping. They take turns slapping each others’ hand, whoever gives up first loses. Sico wins, and his girlfriend asks to play me. I don’t want to, and she accuses me of being sexist. In the interest of feminism I do my best to break her hand and she gives in, and I avenge Lee’s loss in the most manly of fashions. Slurpy falls down some stairs, we eat some pizza, we sleep.
Sunday 23rd May Waerdse Tempel, Heerhugowaard
The hotel rooms in Heerhugowaard are themed and massively erotic. Krish and Lee take ‘Marakesh’ whilst Slurps and me enjoy ‘Royalty’ and its silk sheets. Normally my keys and money never leave my pockets, but somehow I’ve managed to leave both, and my ipod, and my passport, in Groningen. I’m glad the stage is massive at tonight’s gig so I don’t have to stand in the others’ punching zones. After the gig, we can’t handle more drink and so just smoke. After a while Krish is saying, “I don’t even know how to stand any more. I’m trying things out but it seems like it’s all been done before, it’s all just clichés,” and we go bed.
Monday 24th May