Abort Takeoff
With virtually no sleep in the last 36 hours, the crew arrived at the city square in Floriana. It was as you’d expect any Southern European show, hot and dusty but at least there was power unlike in Taormina the day before where the local electrician failed to show up at load in. The dressing rooms Winnebago style were unusual but adequate but it was caterers Chris, Dave and George who had the roughest of the day. They had been here for the last two days along with some of our lighting crew, and had met with the promoter to arrange the catering areas. There were some issues which were sorted out. The crew are a tough bunch and they know the show must go on. It must be said that everyone so far in Malta has been very friendly and helpful.
The truck was loaded by 4:30am and headed for the ferry over to Malta. The backline crew rested for a couple of hours and were driven to the airport for the use of our jet. It was to be a day of complete contrast in terms of luxury. After dropping them at 10am, our flight crew headed back to Catania airport on Sicily to collect the band party. We were enjoying one more morning of sunshine, incredible views and warm hospitality of the staff at the hotel Timeo Taormina, a jewel on the tour. At 3pm after a typically Sicilian airport security screening fiasco, we boarded the plane and proceeded to the end of the runway for take-off. The plane charged down the runway and suddenly there was an alarm in the cockpit and the pilot applied the brakes. We weren’t up to anywhere near rotation speed so it was undramatic, just unnerving. The plane had decided there was not enough fuel on board and automatic alarms sounded. The pilots confirmed there was very much enough fuel on board, repeated their pre-flight checks and taxi’d round for another try. With much anticipation and an element of butt-clenching at the back, we left the ground without incident second time around. Only 93 miles from Sicily, we were descending into Malta before we could polish off our Antipasti platters.
Malta is so different from Sicily in every way. Firstly, most speak English, they drive on the Left and the traffic lights look like they are exactly the same as in the UK. The dusty, brown island itself is a mere 122 square miles in size yet its strategic importance historically means that at some point, just about every nation has had a go at ruling. Malta was of course a part of the British Empire for a long time and gained its independence finally in 1964. Malta is known as the Land of Honey due to an endemic species of bees living on the island. There’s a lot more to this place than at first meets the eye.
The band deplaned and were greeted by Parliamentary Secretary Jose’ Herrera. Maybe he’s a fan.
Bernie’s team then drove us to our package holiday-style hotel where the pool area was full of families on their holidays. A slight contrast to the Timeo of Taormina a few hours earlier. Due to the inclement catering conditions it was decided that we should have pre-show dinner at the hotel so as to relieve some of the strain on the caterers. Henry J. Beans it was then…. ’nuff said.
The packed square was ready for our show by 8:45 and we enjoyed a typical Maltese welcome from the crowd. As usual, we had a ball and were back in the hotel bar in no time where I met up with a chap called Joe who I managed to contact to arrange some paddle-boarding for tomorrow’s day off. Joe has single-handedly introduced the sport to Malta and distributes Stand Up Paddle-boards here. After seeing the show, Joe, his wife and son came to the hotel and I bought them a drink and we talked SUP.
Expect a full SUP report in tomorrow’s diary.