Adrian, Didier and I all having left our respective bands in the last year, it seemed a good idea to play together one evening at a new local tapas bar. We were never going to be great, as we’d only rehearsed together a few times, only once with the drummer and never with the lead guitarist. It was an odd mix of styles, mostly rock, a bit of jazz and an occasional folk number. Adrian suggested this Friday as he had some motorbiker friends down from Scotland for the week, so it was agreed.
Unfortunately, this meant that Nick wouldn’t be here as he’d be cycling from Bordeaux to Sete, then back to Nogaro, around 900km in a week. Or perhaps Nick thought that was actually quite fortunate, having had to listen to me practice the same songs ad nauseam as I tried to learn tunes, lyrics and chords to songs that either I barely knew, or that I’d never heard a few weeks ago.
When Adrian learnt that I’d be on my own, he invited me to take the camper to his for a couple of days, so that I could go out biking with the lads. They all came over on Tuesday evening; could I get to Adrian’s for 10am the following day? It sounded reasonable, but my sleepless brain went into overdrive, making lists of what I needed to pack and what I had to do before I could leave at 8.30am. When Nick left for Bordeaux at 4.30am, it was obvious I wasn’t going to get any more sleep, so I might as well get up.
The first job was to make a lemon meringue pie, always very welcome chez Adrian; but it didn’t seem much among 4 hungry bikers, so I made a marquise au chocolat as well, watered the garden, filled the cat’s bowl, showered, packed and wondered what vital item I’d forgotten, as I found myself ready on time, an almost unknown phenomenon.
We rode into the Pyrenees, up the col de Somport on day 1 and into Spain the following day, riding the twistiest roads I’ve ever seen and stopping at the top for a picnic. The weather was really hot, 37C the first day; when we had to stop at traffic lights in towns it felt like being in a mobile sauna in our thick jackets and trousers. But the views were spectacular as we swooped around the hairpin bends up and down the mountainsides, Kieran joined us for the second day, delighting in showing off his new bike.
There was plenty of good natured, if sometimes distinctly un-PC, banter, but what can you expect of a group of 50-something blokes? And I thought it was strange, the way the clothes airer, full of tee shirts and trousers, seemed to inch its way closer to the door of the camper; it turned out they were hoping the ironing fairy might work her magic; sorry lads – no chance! Was it perhaps a sign of age that our plans to go for a drink at the village fete on Thursday night were altered as we were all too tired to bother?
Friday afternoon came; I came home to swap the camper for the car and get ready for the gig; I’d hardly practiced for the last two days and hoped it would be OK. About 30 friends turned up, more than the bar owner was expecting as Thursday was a bank holiday and the weather was so good; we made a few mistakes, but what can you expect when we’d never played together before; fortunately the audience was very forgiving. Didier broke a string, so I had to fill in with a couple of unexpected solos, but it was a very enjoyable evening. And I took it as a compliment when the lads said that I didn’t scrub up too badly……..even if they did add “for an old woman”!!!
Home today, it seems very quiet after the laughter and hilarity of the last few days; but I really feel as if I’ve had a holiday, it’s a long time since I’ve laughed as much.