FL12Sept - Page 146



Made In England
This month, we’ve been on tour,
so no album reviews; just a few
little stories. You left us at Brixt o n A c a d e m y, h a v i n g b e e n
blown away by Lynyrd Skynyrd,
but our next stop was much further afield, Ben and Porky and I
set out a couple of Fridays later,
bound for Brussels, to see ZZ Top
that night.
Porky and I were on the trikes, and
Ben was my passenger, and within
about eight hours of leaving Crawley
we were parking up in our hotel in
Brussels. I must say that my impression of Belgium can be summed up in
one word – flat! We’d taken the
autoroute from Dunkirk, and by ‘eck it
was boring. We vowed that the next
day, when we were heading south to
camp for the night in Northern
France, that we wouldn’t touch a
motorway – and we didn’t.
The Top were due on at nine, so we
went to the surrounding area and
mingled, had a few beers and a
strange sausage, then made our way
to the gig. It was very much like the
Brixton Academy, maybe slightly bigger, but we were no more than twenty
yards from the stage, and that was
fine.
As the stage went dark, a thumping
drum’n’bass number pounded out,
then the microphone stands lit up.
With a flick of a switch, the lights
came up, the intro stopped, and the
two coolest bearded dudes on the
planet stood there smiling, before
launching into ‘Under Pressure’. And
that’s what we did for the next two
hours – smiled. It was such bloody
good fun, and they are such good
musicians, it’s just no hardship. You
don’t have to grope for the lyrics, or
144 FREE LINE
wait patiently whilst one of their
lesser-known numbers gets an airing
– it’s just all too cool for that. Sure, we
had ‘Legs’, ‘Give me all your loving’,
‘Sharp Dressed Man’ and the like, but
there was also ‘Cheap Sunglasses’,
‘Heard it on the X’ and ‘I’m bad, I’m
Nationwide’, and it seemed like the
latter was what the audience wanted
to hear. It was all great, but the encore
was just bloody sublime. ‘Tube Snake
Boogie’ was followed by ‘Tush’ and
finished off by a fantastic ‘La Grange’.
All in all, one of the coolest concerts
I’ve seen in years. (They then went to
the Download Festival on Sunday and
Our leaving
brought whoops
and cheers
were one of the highlights there).
The next morning we headed off to
Waterloo, but I don’t know how
Wellington managed to vanquish the
French there, because apart from
Waterloo itself being a lovely little
town, there was no obvious sign of
where a battle might have taken
place, and we left, defeated. I wonder
how well it may have been signposted if the French had won? From
there we headed to the French border, planning on staying in a lovely
forest campsite just south of Lille. On
the way we stopped in a small town
that was preparing for five days of
local festival, and when we tooled up
on the trikes you would have thought
that we were the star attraction. People came up, gawping, taking photos,
then some guy asked if he could sit on
it and have his photo taken. No problem, we said, then he came back with
t h r e e b e e r s – n i c e. O u r l e a v i n g
brought whoops and cheers (maybe
because we were leaving!), then we
were gone, chuckling away.
When we reached the campsite, we
pitched the tents, went to the Intermarché for food and drink, and prepared to settle down for the evening.
But it was early, and sunny, so I suggested we go to a little bar we’d seen
in the forest, a couple of miles away.
There were half a dozen old Frenchies
there, and they immediately came up
for the photo run, plying us with
beers. Ben and I loved it, but Porky
was a tad dubious. Then we had to
take a couple of them for a run on the
trikes, were plied with more beers,
then asked if we’d like to join them for
dinner. I thought it would be fun, but
didn’t realise we were going to
another small town with another local
festival going on. Once again, we
were the star turn, and drinks were
plentiful, although Porky and I did our
best to keep them to a minimum. One
of the old guys, Jean-Claude, seemed
desperate to feed us, but I kept assuring him that we were fine, knowing
that once we sat down we would be
there for hours, so I told him that we
had to leave by ten because the gates
to the campsite closed at 10.30
(which they actually did). He kept on
insisting and even when we’d said
our farewells to everyone, he followed
us back to the trikes and practically
begged us to come with him.
“I reckon there’s a cellar with our
names on it,: I said to the other two.
“Bruno and Grand Pierre will be there
now, shining up the shackles.” We
giggled as we drove away, passing
the café to whoops and hollers, as if
we were rock stars.
Escaping with our lives seemed to
affect our sense of direction a little,
but despite Porky’s constant “We’re
doomed” from behind, Ben and I soon
got us on the right track. The campsite was closed, and Porky took on his
soothsayer role again, ending fairly
rapidly when someone came to open
the gates for us. The night ended with
us finishing off a few more beers and
wine, and enjoying some nice French
bread and cheese. All in all, quite a
night.
The trip back to Dunkirk, the next
morning, was undertaken in torrential
rain and we were saturated when we
got there, but once the white cliffs
hove into view, it was blue skies all

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