Minggu, 05 Oktober 2014


As mentioned in a previous post the venue for the Bulgaria show had to be switched due to a roof collapse, and what this meant in reality was that Anathema became the first rock band ever to play the prestigious Sofia Philharmonic Hall, a grand old room that was the perfect setting for a great show in front of some nine hundred-odd very loud and eager punters. Later a good few of us tucked in to some top grub at a local restaurant while others bopped along to "Shakey and the Blood Rain" at an after-show party, Shakey being a fat greebo with a builder's cleavage. We then set off on the punishing journey to Bratislava, a trip which would take us through much of the terrain already endured over the past few days. So I retired to my bunk, drifting off to Doug Stanhope on the iPod.

I don't know how much later it was but I woke to the sound of Les screaming,

"Everybody get up and get off the bus now!"

So we did, quickly. The bus was filled with the kind of foul smelling smoke which comes from burning plastic. Not good at all. We stood in the road in the dark as Tim explained that the brakes were overheating as we'd just come down a particularly steep mountain road. Indeed, smoke was billowing out from the wheel arches (where you could warm your hands if you so wished) and some of this had found its way into our quarters, leading us to think quite understandably that the bus was on fire. We stood in the night for a while to let the brakes cool and to let a bit of air in, stepping out of the way for the odd passing car and the even odder old man on two horses.

The next time I woke was the next morning around ten o'clock. I wandered downstairs to make a cup of tea and found several fellow transportees still drinking heroically. Les was sporting comedy Fu Manchu eyebrows fashioned from gaffer tape and was spouting gibberish between blowing raspberries at people. He decided he needed to be off the bus for some reason, taking advantage of the fact we were parked up in the middle of ugly nowhere. Just as he stepped off the bus pulled away forcing him to run like hell to get back on board. In a scene reminiscent of the opening credits to "The Little House on the Prairie" he fell head first into a ditch. Most amusing.

A short while later we were required to show our faces for the cops at the border with Romania (these particular public servants not requiring several hundred euros in bribes unlike their fat, lazy counterparts in the traffic service) and it then became apparent we were taking a shortcut - hundreds of kilometres shaved off the journey by taking a ropey little ferry across the Danube - a good idea in theory though the reality was somewhat different. First of all the bus got stuck for a good twenty minutes trying to get on the thing, the entire vessel having to move to level the ramp and free us. A short hop across the river later and we were ready to disembark, though this time the trailer hit a kink in the ramp and the tow bar was ripped clean off the back of the bus. Not good news at all. A kindly soul hooked the stranded trailer to his truck and pulled it off the ferry for us while we drove a hundred yards or so down the road to a staggeringly dreary yet extremely handy garage for a spot of emergency welding. Thankfully we weren't stuck there for as long as expected. While the welder welded, a two litre bottle of cheap lager always by his side, we fed pressed ham to stray dogs and then scared them off with weird chords, watched two massive cranes do their work and marvelled at the sheer depressing ugliness of this Romanian border outpost.

After two more bored coppers relieved us of another hundred euros for no good reason and then ordered us out of town (we were leaving anyway, thanks) we drove through interminable nothingness for hours until we finally set up camp at a weird roadside truck stop where we ate undercooked sausages while soft porn played on the television in the background. We then drank sickly local wine at a bar across the way, arriving just as the house band were packing up for the night - a lucky escape I think. We're currently making our way to Bratislava where we hope to arrive at around six pm so it'll be another mad dash to get set up. Crazy times. 

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