3 in 1
Milan – Only the second ‘pack’ of the tour as I successfully manage to cram my stuff into the Briggs and Riley, most of which is completely unnecessary and should have been left at home. Luckily, we have our own wardrobe compartments in the cases which travel with the gear. These spaces are usually full by the end of a trip. Luckily the Brits can offload as we pass through the UK in a few weeks. With bags on their way to the plane, I finish up with the diary entry for Milan only to find that it’s impossible to upload as the internet during daylight hours at this hotel is about as good as their Eggs Benedict attempt. I manage to fire a few emails off though, shower, and dress for the warm conditions awaiting us in Slovenia. I remember to lay out the correct amount of clothing always remembering the fateful day when I miscalculated on a tour long ago…bags having left the hotel and me in my room in a pair of underpants and no trousers. I think one only makes that mistake once.
We cough up (almost literally) our bar bills and say arrivederci to the Four Seasons in our shiny black ‘Chelsea-tractor’ convoy and make our way through the streets of Milan with pedestrians along the way gawking at the spectacle of our four brand new, gleaming icons of luxury and somewhat temporary superiority. At Malpensa airport, we pick up an airport official who escorts the motorcade onto the tarmac. Airside at last. This is where the going gets good and having your own jet really (no, THAT’S superiority) comes into its own.
Slovenia – On board the plane, our new hostess, Liz brings out delicious antipasto plates which I cannot help devour. As we head for Slovenia at I would guess 25,000 ft. I notice the weather closing in a little and what were light puffy clouds over Northern Italy turn into darker, quite fierce looking thunder-heads. On our decent, we narrowly avoid an intense hail and thunder storm, indeed the crew were all talking about it upon our arrival the the venue. The gig is a another fabulous, multi-purpose arena built in 2010 and with all the backstage facilities to keep a touring crew happy…including in the kitchens…a deep fat fryer. When Dave and Chris the caterers saw that they knew one thing had to be on the menu tonight, Fish and Chips! At dinner time, I was far from hungry but managed to resist the star dish of the day and instead went for the Sea Bass and oriental salad. Utterly delicious of course, there was also chicken Kiev and Beef and ale pie on the menu.
It’s VERY difficult to resist these utterly delicious treats and our Americans amongst us rated this evening’s Fish and Chips and mushy peas as probably the best they’ve ever had. Backstage, Georgina discovers that in Slovenia, she is the new Coca Cola mascot.
Glenn Worf is always to be found practicing with the upright for a solid hour before every show..
John and Kerry run through some monitor adjustments…
9pm is soon upon us and we head for the stage with our in-ear monitors banging away due to being out of transmitter range. It’s only advisable to insert when near the stage. We patiently wait for the call and then we hear the call for “house lights” and we take to the stage to the dulcet tones of Paul Crockford’s announcement. “Good Evening ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back to Ljubljana, MARK KNOPFLER”
The show isn’t without its mystery monitor issues (the sound on stage is often the cause of these) and indeed one of Mark’s amps decides to play up as I notice Mr. Saggers running around the stage locating the source of the issue. One thing is for sure, all will be well tomorrow such is the dedication and expertise embodied in this crew. Much to talk about in the cars and on the plane. Another wonderful show with moments of brilliance from all quarters, a fine crew performance as they were late arriving once more (borders).
pic Boštjan Pilej
Czech Republic – With the day nearly at its end, we pull up to the Augustine hotel in the heart of old-town Prague at around 1am and as usual, the staff are ready and waiting with our room keys in envelopes with our names on. Having now stayed in 8 of the 13 Rocco Forte hotels, the chain is well established as an old favourite. Straight to bed and no problems falling aslee……….