Friday 11 January 2013

                            Legends of Brocklehurst   Chapter 9

After the last London show on Saturday 30th of May we had a night’s rest, and set off for mainland Europe on the Sunday morning. We arrived in Calais, and headed for Amsterdam. Surprisingly, to me, Neil was amazed how easily I adapted to driving on the “wrong side“ of the road. In fact being a left hand drive car it was actually easier on the continent. The next gig was at the Ahoy stadium in Rotterdam but we were staying in the ‘Dam. That has to be the worst place I have ever driven as it is almost impossible to get parked, especially in such a large car, so much traffic, and so many narrow streets. No wonder people choose to travel by boats on the wonderful canals.
I had wondered just how much of a party this tour would be. The truth was up to now it was all driving, or sitting about venues, and hotels. Exactly what my boss Mr Peart had told me to expect. But as this was a major rock band, surely there had to be some wild times ? I did have an excellent night in Amsterdam, but that was with Dutch friends of mine, and with no one from the tour. The closest to having a ball I had got by then was a couple of joints with the road crew on nights I wasn’t driving ! The Ahoy gig sticks in my memory for two reasons.
My best mate from Holland, Dick, and his wife Yvonne came to the show. So did the parents of a friend of my son Mark, who were working there at the time. The other reason was the reception of the crowd. Although all the gigs had been sell outs up to now, this was by far the loudest, and most receptive. Young kids at the front who strummed air guitar to every note Alex, and Geddy played, and kept up with all the movements of Neil’s arms. An incredible sight, but not so for my Dutch friends, who excused themselves after an hour complaining it was all much too loud.
After the show we travelled over night to Frankfurt, and as the next day was a day off, Neil wanted to have an afternoon in the Black Forest. This was the only time he drove during HYF tour although initially he had said he may do some of the driving. He put the BMW into sports mode which dropped the suspension, and enabled it to be driven manually. Then he drove it like a rally car round the narrow winding roads. As with everything NEP does his driving was excellent. He had taken racing car lessons in Canada, and it showed.
On the autobahn returning to Frankfurt as I passed a turn off, Neil said we should have exited there. I was sure he was wrong but 47 kilometers at the next exit I had to concur he was right. I guess in some ways Frankfurt just wasn’t my lucky place. A view which will be proved later in this tale If the HYC tour was a let down from the partying front there was one occasion when being involved with Rush did enable me to meet an attractive German lady. On the day of the Frankfurt show, 4th May, I was filling the car up at a petrol station. A very sexy young lady, who worked there, no doubt attracted much more by the BMW than me, asked what I was doing in Frankfurt.
Naturally I told her the story, and when she didn’t look too disinterested I asked if she would like to come to the show that night. She said she would love to. After dropping Neil off at the rear of the Festhalle, I parked the car outside because I wasn’t allowed to leave it, as I normally would at most venues, in the hall. Eagerly looking forward to my date, I obtained two tickets from the production office. For once I would be watching Rush from a punters viewpoint, instead of wandering around various venues trying to look important wearing my triple access pass, or if we had a night drive, sleeping part of the gig in the back of the car. ( On those occasions I always had someone wake me in time for Neil’s solo ) We met as arranged, and took our seats in plenty of time to see the performance start.
We were in the upper circle, and the only entrance was from outside. Because of this, during the interval I just stayed in my seat. At the end of the show having made arrangements to meet my fraulein at the Gravenbruch Kempenski Hotel, where we were staying, I wandered back stage. There was no hurry as I knew Neil was having a couple of drinks before we left. As I passed the place where I had parked the car I realized it wasn’t there. Total panic immediately set in. I had been playing the “ I am the drummer’s personal assistant “ role, and the car had been stolen.
I found a security guard and managed to explain the problem. I showed him the empty space and he explained I had parked over a sign written on the ground which said, in German, “ parking for emergency vehicles only “. It had been towed to a compound. Not only was it over a mile away, there was a hundred marks fine to pay. As we were staying that night in Frankfurt I had left most of my money in the hotel. I quickly found Liam Birt, and borrowed the necessary marks without telling him what it was for. As the concert had just finished the road was full of people, and I couldn’t find a taxi anywhere. I ran to the compound, and after a lengthy argument, could I prove the BMW was legally mine, and numerous other questions ? They released the car, I paid the fine, and drove it back to the hall being very careful where I parked  I was still out of breath, and no doubt totally dishevelled, as I tried to casually walk into the inner sanctum. I entered everyone looked at me, then Neil came over and, asked if I had found the car. The whole room burst out clapping, and laughing. I thought I had got away with it but one of the security guards had asked for the driver, and when I couldn’t be found, told Liam Birt it had to be removed because it was illegally parked. Everyone from the band to all of the crew knew about it, and they were highly amused. That wasn’t the only time I would “lose” a car on a Rush tour but more of that later in the story. No need to say there were car jokes aimed in my direction for the rest of the tour.
However the young lady was waiting for me in the hotel bar. Alex, Geddy and some of the others came in later, and seemed suitably impressed with my companion. There was a happy ending to the night as she stayed over, and once again I was out of breath, and sweating, but this time for a much more enjoyable reason  So I guess I had some luck in Frankfurt after all, but what was to happen on the next tour in 1992 proved it was to be an unlucky, yet in some ways a very lucky city, for me.
The next day, when I asked Neil, why they didn’t just announce over the sound system that I was needed before the car was removed, he replied, “we couldn’t do that”. Something I don’t understand to this day. The whole episode did keep a lot of people amused for a while, so I guess some good came out of it.

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