Avid diary readers will recall a few diary entries ago (12th July) I mentioned I was working on an end of tour project? I can now reveal what exactly that was as the big day is upon us.
The day began in beautiful Barcelona and a very welcome check-out of the uber-modern but over-designed Mandarin hotel, not high on our list of favourites. The journey in Bernie’s Range Rovers through teaming Barcelona traffic was slow but we were at the GA terminal for the final time on this tour in about half an hour. Ilze and the pilots were waiting on the tarmac and we soon started our extremely long taxi to the runway for our departure. In the air, my mind was filled with anticipation as waiting for me in our Madrid hotel was ‘hopefully’ a package.
We soon started our endless approach into a very hot and dusty Madrid airport. As always in the Summer, the thermal currents mean aircraft on approach get pretty buffeted and today the thermals were accompanied by a 15-20 knot Southwesterly. We finally touched down and taxi’d for what seemed like ages to our final stand at the GA/cargo terminal where Gunther and his ‘Ranger’ team were waiting. We leapt into the air-conditioned cars and sped off in the direction of the city center. The plan was to spend the rest of the afternoon at the hotel and head down to the venue at around 7:30pm. It’s another late show as they all are here in Spain. At the hotel, we received our keys and I rushed up to the room where sure enough, two large boxes were waiting for me. I reached into my Briggs and Riley and found the Swiss Army knife, slipped out the larger of the two blades and carefully cut open one of the boxes. There they were. The books.
It won’t have escaped your notice reading these diaries of mine and Richard’s that the favourite topic throughout has been FOOD. I had an idea a while back that it would be great to produce a cookbook. A Touring Cookbook, featuring and celebrating the culinary wizardry that the catering team exhibit each and every day in sometimes very challenging circumstances. They really are the backbone of the tour and I thought it would make a fantastic end-of-tour gift for the whole touring party, band, crew, drivers, management etc. After weeks of gleaning recipes from Dave and design work and typing and assembling images on my laptop, sometimes very late into the night, today was the day when I could actually hand them out to everyone. Of course the first copy had to go to Dave in the kitchen and I handed it to him together with a chilled bottle of champagne to celebrate his first cookbook. He loved it and I gave Chris and George their copies. The smiles on their faces told me that it was a success and I spent the next hour or so distributing the books to our beloved crew who were almost literally ‘fried’ from the day’s setup. This is one of the toughest legs of the tour in terms of distances and they had driven overnight from Barcelona, only arriving around midday to find the temperature inside the bullring to be well above 40ºC. Even though they were exhausted, they were clearly delighted to receive books detailing some of the favourite recipes of the tour which they may well decide later to have a go at cooking. I’ve yet to find anyone on our crew who doesn’t cook to some extent at home. Of course, the dinner menu today was typically spectacular with Shrimp, Chicken and Chorizo Paella on the menu. I had to have that.
And so with flags atop the magnificent Plaza de Toros at half mast, in recognition of the terrible train disaster in Northern Spain, we donned our in-ear packs and headed toward the incredible cauldron of excitement inside this stunning bullring. The crowd were brimming with anticipation and so we took to the stage and were almost deafened by the roar. Memories of those Dire Straits shows here came to me but this experience, 25 years later is certainly no less moving. Because of the levels of excitement in the audience, even with our in-ears, we struggled at times to hear. No problem though and we steamed through the set relishing every note and enjoying the moment to its maximum. At the end and after our bows and encores, to repeated periods of the traditional ‘ole, ole, ole, ole chants, we left the venue in the cars and headed back to the sanctuary of our usual hotel of choice in Madrid. In the bar together with our good friend an DS ex. manager, Paul Cummins who was in town for the show, we relived some of the evening’s finer moments and toasted once more another memorable night. After the drinks, the session continued as it used to so often, in my room with music, drinks and of course…tea.