The kindness of strangers
So if you look through the last few entries, you’ll find the usual features:
Snarky commentary, a drink or two, glamour photos of sausages being inhaled.
But there is one thing missing, these past few days, yeh?
10am Thursday: We go back and forth through the baggage claim in Brussels airport before finally admitting defeat in claiming Ant’s luggage.
That Anthony’s bags don’t catch up to us in Belgium, (and not Blackpool or even London as we speak)—this is another story.
We can only hope they are giving Ant’s worn dufflebag the mileage incurred on her roundabout journey—perhaps it can get that free Hawaiian vacation she’s always dreamed of!
We ask to have the stuff shipped ahead to the smaller Charleroi airport and head out to the curb where we said our goodbyes to Frank not 20 hours earlier.
So now, a funny thing, this leg of the journey.
Frank had obligations to pick up another band for yet another loop around the continent, leaving us to our own devices between Sweden and Blackpool.
Listen, you can bitch about Facebook all ya want, but on this journey it has saved our ass a few times at least. The last minute gigs, a plea for a decent Tikka Masala in Hamburg—it is through the vast web of faceless friends that the answer is found.
And so when a friend with Belgian roots hears our dilemma—need to get to the countryside festival gig from the airport for an afternoon set, then back to a different area of Brussels for tomorrow’s flight to UK—he chimes in with informed options:
Train? Car rental? Hitchhike by side of road with guitar in hand and weepy eyes or flashing calves?
Tim puts us in contact with Luc, who assures us via email that he will handle everything and be at the curb: a dozen correspondences compressed through the binary code and translated at the other end….done!
I suppose this whole thing, I mean, the relationships of the internet—-they require if not a bit of a suspension of belief, then maybe a blind trust, no?
Yeah, I know you Match.com people must know what I’m talking about here, but really, how do you know I’m not just posting this shit from Alex’s Bar the last week, simply photo shopping pictures of Ant eating a sausage in front of the Danube, hmmm?
So the thought crosses our minds as we stand curbside in the wan Brussels light, waiting for a stranger in a van, with set time not 98 minutes to go, that perhaps we’ve been had.
Maybe this Luc is really just a 12 year old brat from Chino Hills, fucking with us through his Xbox account a world away.
But a clean rental appears on the horizon, and we meet Luc, a proper gent and well humored man of the world.
There are angels out there people!
Ieper is on the out-outskirts of the countryside, with only a few circus tents and the smell of braising tofu to guide us backstage.
We set up quickly, no time for the usual primping & preening in front of the full lengths this day, as it’s on in 10 and away we go!
The set is fine if a bit rushed, and then we are out in the Summer sunshine, waiting for the rest of the crew to arrive.
We sit on long benches, vegan snacks in hand and free range beers before us, and chat the afternoon away with Luc. He is a swell fellow, and it’s not long before we are introducing him to the royalty of So Ca Punk!
It’s high school reunion backstage once again, class of 19-eighty mumble mumble, and we are caught in a blizzard of bro hugs and grandchildren photos , as the crew compares battle scars and blood pressure medications!
Another grand fest we have to leave all too early, as Anthony’s bags have refused to touch down, and circle our innocent heads as silent and uncaring as enemy drones.
Luc drives us out to the Charleroi Airport area as we all crash hard, the days finally getting to us.
We calculate Tuesday was the last full night of sleep in a bed, but that must be little comfort to Luc, as he drives 4 sleeping, farting men across the country yet again.
Sundown, we rouse to go inside the lounge for one last toast to our new friend.
But earlier, out on the highway we sleep with smiles, comforted and cradled as babies.
As a gentleman we’ve met but 8 hours earlier stands guard over us far better than we could ever guard ourselves.