Tuesday, 2 October 2012

On Tour

Now that I am devoted to travelling around Europe for the next 7 months, these seem to be the main recurring motifs in the symphony of my life:

1.   Never knowing where my toothpaste is

EVERY SINGLE TIME I get to a new hotel, which is almost every night, all I want to do is brush my teeth and go to bed, but my toothpaste is always ALWAYS at the very bottom of my bag.  Because of this I have to unpack and repack my entire suitcase every time I want to brush my teeth.  While I’m brushing my teeth, all I am thinking about is how I simply MUST put my toothpaste somewhere accessible this time, but every time thus far I have forgotten my own advice when the time comes to actually put my toothpaste away, and it goes back to the bottom again.  (It is worth noting that a similar thing happens with my pyjama bottoms as well.)  Yesterday I thought I had been clever by putting my toothpaste and toothbrush in my handbag instead of my suitcase, but, of course, by the evening I’d forgotten all about this and emptied out my suitcase to look for it before I remembered where it was.  You win again, past me.

2.   Stealing stuff

I’d never considered the little toiletries and knick knacks that you get in hotel rooms to be useful before, but at the moment I’m stealing everything I can get my hands on…pens, paper, plastic cups, teabags, sugar sachets, shampoos, body lotions, and soaps.  This may seem crazy but it all adds up; I’ve not had to buy a single bottle of shampoo since the beginning of August.  I’ve also got into the habit of putting breakfast food into my bag to eat later; sometimes I merely slip a banana in while nobody’s looking (that’s what she said) and other times I brazenly butter bread and construct magnificent sandwiches right under the noses of the people running the hotel.  I’m such a rebel!

3.   My food bag

I need to have somewhere to put all the food I have stolen, and in this case it is a medium-sized cloth bag that Foofy bought for me in Munich.  Despite being washed several times, the inside of this bag tends to resemble some kind of biological disaster; you never know what you might find when you delve into it; will it be a piece of stale bread? Some sweaty 3-day-old cheese? Or perhaps even a rotten peach?  At the moment I have 3 bars of ‘Ritter Sport’ Chocolate which each have one square missing because I couldn’t decide which one to open first.  Other people would have been crippled by indecision but I simply opened all three at once.  Also taking up a large amount of space in my food bag is a huge packet of Leberkuchen, or, soft ginger biscuits, which doesn’t seem to be decreasing in volume despite me eating several of the biscuits a day.

4.   Endless BREAD

Because I cannot exactly put soup or porridge into my ever increasingly disgusting food bag, I am forced to take bread-related items and graze on them slowly throughout the day.  Even things like yoghurts are out of the question as they might burst, ruining everything in my bag.  Some theatres very nicely put on food for us when we arrive, but, again, it’s always ALWAYS sandwiches.  I’m certainly not complaining about this because they are under no obligation to provide us any food at all, but due to my utter stubbornness surrounding how I spend my money, I cannot possibly go out and buy different food if there is free food available.  Rather than buy something delicious for a few Euros, I despairingly struggle my way through my third sandwich of the day, only marginally happy that I’ve managed to save some money.

5.   Laundry

Although I did visit a laundrette once (while we were in Denmark), at the moment doing my laundry usually consists of washing each item of clothing separately in my sink with a stolen bar of soap, or, if I’m feeling luxurious, some hair conditioner as well.  I am both lucky and unlucky to have a bright pink costume; It looks wonderful, but anything it is washed with will inevitably turn pink.  My clothes then need to be hung out to dry for a number of hours to ensure that they are wearable the next day, and one time I grossly failed at this, meaning that I had to wear a wet costume in one of the performances.  Thankfully the wetness didn’t show, but it felt very strange indeed. 

6.   Mess

I am not the tidiest person in the world but I have significantly improved recently as I’ve grown up and have had my own space to make nice.  In tour we don’t have a space to make our own, so this doesn’t happen.  I also used to be incredibly considerate when it came to hotel rooms, making sure that I cleaned up after myself meticulously so as to not make any extra work for the hotel staff.  However, after a month of travelling my laziness has slowly increased, and I have taken to leaving a trail of pure destruction in my wake: within one minute of entering a hotel room every surface will be covered with screwed up receipts, bread and croissant crumbs and dirty underwear, which I will attempt to tidy up later by randomly stuffing in my suitcase next to all my clean clothes.  I need to develop some kind of a system.

This was my current hotel room on arrival:

And this is it LITERALLY three minutes later, including the apple core which I still haven't moved from my bed:

7.   Bruises

Although I have an (albeit, limited) knowledge of how to fall safely, yet dramatically on stage without hurting myself, the little injuries can build up.  Every day (sometimes twice a day) the same part of my thigh suddenly and sharply comes into contact with a corner of a heavy solid metal structure.  Although each incident in itself is not enough to cause a bruise, the repetitiveness of it has led to a large cluster of bruises on my right inner thigh.  Very appealing! I’ve also hit my head a number of times, but it’s all part of the fun.  There’s something strangely satisfying about going back to my hotel room and showing Foofy all the new 'owies' I have received that day over Skype.

8.   Music

Although I have a Kindle and a computer at my disposal, I find that my primary form of entertainment on long van journeys is listening to music on my iPhone.  Yesterday we had an 8-hour-long journey and I thought I’d listen to every Leonard Cohen song I had in my collection. (But in fact 8 hours wasn’t enough to get through them all!)  I was giddy and delirious from flu and at one point I could have sworn that I’d been listening to ‘Waiting for a Miracle’ for about 20 minutes, and I realised that, despite putting the songs on shuffle, it had played my three different versions of this song one after the other.  Apart from Leonard Cohen I have very little choice; I have the complete works of The Divine Comedy, The Beach Boys and Gilbert and Sullivan, as well as other bits and pieces.  The most shocking moment for me on this journey so far was when I was relaxing to Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ and feeling very artistic, when, very suddenly, ‘Here’s a case unprecedented’ from the Gondoliers screeched through my headphones and made me almost cry out in fear.  I love Gilbert and Sullivan but I HATE that song.  I could go into more detail as to why that is but I trust that only a tiny handful of people would be interested.   

9.   Losing all sense of time and place

This is the first time in my life that I’ve repeatedly woken up not only having no idea what bed I’m in, but also what country I am in.  One time we were on the border between Germany and the Netherlands and I didn’t want to ask which one we were in because we’d already been told and I'd forgotten.  I have also entirely lost the concept of days of the week and have given up trying to refer to the past or the future in conversation.  I feel like I don’t really have a solid location in space and time at the moment and that my situation could more accurately be described as in constant physical and temporal flux.  Before I look at my phone for the date and time, rather than being aware that we will be at some kind of time and I just don’t know what it is, I am positive that time has just stopped existing until I look to see what it is.  What is time, anyway? That’s another story. 


  1. I am one of the tiny handful... Why? I agree it's not their best work, but I can't see how you can hate it more than "This is a boring song" from Patience, or (most renditions of) "The sun whose rays" (which I admittedly formed an opinion of from the Sargent recordings, so the era of the singing never helped).

    1. I hate the song for the following reasons:

      1. It's suddenness, loudness and shrillness just plain irritates me.

      2. All the mathematical jokes have already been done earlier on and they weren't funny then either. The lyrics are dull and don't further the plot. "Oh moralists all, how can you call marriage a state of unity?" Well...marriage is STILL a state of unity; they just don't know who they're married to, and they've already been going on about it for TWO HOURS. Besides, they've already done a song which described the predicament that they are in: "In a contemplative fashion." They DON'T need another, and the shrillness of it is far removed from the rather civilised conversation they had just been having.

      3. Even though I like some of the Marco Giuseppe unison bits earlier on, in this instance I find it jarring.

      4. It is physically impossible to sing "I am divisible into THREE" where the three jumps up an octave onto a high A.

      "Love is a Plaintiff song" and "The sun whose rays" are both beautiful lyrically and musically. They may be boring when they are done badly but they certainly shouldn't be. I never said "Here is a case unprecedented" is boring. It's only boring in the sense that a shrieking baby is boring.

    2. Apologies for the incorrect 'its!'

  2. I quite agree! In fact, I believe Case Unprecedented should always be cut. As it was last year when I did Gondoliers for the first time, which is probably why I now like the operetta.

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