In October 1998, BAiT and their then management team: Julian and Ian, celebrated the first anniversary of a daring exploit to bring their brand of British music to Johnny Foreigner. In recognition of the band's first European tour a member - who shall remain nameless - has been persuaded to cough-up selected bits of his diary to reveal the true story of wot went down on the Côte d'Azur.
(ALL OF THE FOLLOWING IS CLASSIFIED ABSOLUTELY TRUE!! Do you think we could make this crap up?)
Caught early ferry to France. Drove in convoy across miles of flatlining flatlands. Stopped at the occasional service station for fuel, appalling biscuits and Manga porn comics for Ian. Dan decided to try a local dish of diced animal scrotum wrapped in a saggy sausage-like exterior.. boy was he hungry. Julian is not too impressed with the medieval toilet facilities. I think he's in his element, or is that excrement?
Stopped at a Campanile outside Dijon for the night. Got rooms and set up a CD labelling production line before going down to the restaurant for dinner. I chose the buffet. Everything I bit into featured a choice niblett of gristle. Dan and I got pissed on Fiddler Crab Music expenses while John opted to test his excellent French and love of all things European on the locals. John returns later with story of rudeness from a shopkeeper refusing to sell him his water. I go to sleep wondering if John's fluency is just a myth.
First part of the journey via empty expensive toll-roads. Stopped off in Grenoble where John used to live for a while. Spent a delightful couple of hours driving around the city looking for the railway station (????). Julian is concerned at the insulation surrounding the city's nuclear powerplant: a housing estate!!. Leave Grenoble and the toll-roads to dice with high-speed death on the route nationale winding through the mountain passes down towards the Mediterranean. I spot a very tall Alp to the west. Arrive tired, dirty and late at the main Thor Pub venue. Have an argument about the mysterious French PA. The owner takes a digital photograph of us for his posters.. IT LOOKS GREAT!!! Get fed, do the gig (went well, considering) and retire to the dazzling flat.
Flat is remarkable and very marbled. Had a great night's sleep sealed behind shutters. Ian goes out and buys more porn. Julian and I set off to track down a Marks & Spencer. We buy frying-pan, bacon, eggs, HP Sauce and lard. Check-out girl guesses we are English. On the way back note that the area is a bit dodgey (to say the least). Cross the road to avoid walking past the large broken window of Jean-Marie le Penn's Happy Fascist Party HQ. Dan, John and I set off for an afternoon at the beach. Weather is great. Gig that night is fine. German tourist buys first of our Plan B CDs. Julian comes to take us back to the flat, warning to keep eyes in vehicle to avoid attracting attention of transsexual prostitutes. Ian duly attracts attention of a TSP who drapes large member across off-side wing. Julian breaks the sound-barrier.
John and Dan wander off into town while I go shopping with our two cultural ambassadors, Julian and Ian. Eventually find out-of-town (country) Hypermarket. Laugh at large advert for Hamburger called LONG CHEESE. Saunter round aisles. Julian and I spot a shelf full of potted song-birds in a vinaigrette dressing, as well as a jar of decaying rabbit served with its own layer of soil and body liquor. Ian attempts to help a local get some cereal off a top shelf. woman runs off screaming!! Get caught in a queue at the checkouts. Ian makes a loud and somewhat unwelcome quip about the Maginot Line being less of an effective barrier than these tills. Locals are not impressed. Arrive at Venue. Decide to step outside to warm up voices as the 3-hour gigs are beginning to take their toll. John notes his favourite smell in alleyway before encountering a perfectly severed head of some decidedly foreign fish. Not impressed. Get fed, do gig, have a beer, go home to flat via kebab shop, go to bed. far too knackered to lob TV out of window.
Wake up to find parking ticket on John's car, but not Julian's (ARSE). Drive in convoy to Monaco. Find easy parking opposite the casino in The Car Park at the Centre of the Earth. Ascend from the Earth's core only to find Ian suffering from his recent encounter with a Fruits de Merde. Race round Monte Carlo looking for a public convenience before Ian explodes. Consider trying to smuggle him into a posh hotel, but decide against it. Finally locate a privy that takes our credit cards back at the Jules Verne NCP. Ian is now constipated (ARSE II). Decide to help him forget his problems by walking the Grand Prix Circuit. Run through Casino Tunnel pretending to be a Damon Hill's Jordan. Break down half-way when a bunch of tourists start looking at me funny. Have lunch. Julian eats a fish-eye to prove he's a hard carnivore to John. Get back and do a really good gig and almost loose voices (SHIT). End of night kebab replaced by several pounds of Fisherman's Friends.
Early morning and Dan calls out, "Hey John, isn't that your car being towed away? It is. John storms outside to direct his excellent French at a nearby Gendarme. The officer is a little brusk and not at all helpful. Dan and John proceed to take the Digital Camera and photograph the area where the car was parked - I think they wanted to put together a PowerPoint Presentation on John's Laptop to show the fuzz he was legally parked. That idea is deemed silly and is forgotten. Julian drives us to the pound (should that be EURO?) to collect the vehicle. John indicates his displeasure at the French parking regulations and advises the receptionist in his best sinister gallic that she'd "better watch out if she comes to England!!" None of us is sure what this means exactly but after that no-one messes with Johnny ever again.. except Julian who observes that John's journey toward the EUROPHOBIC DARK SIDE is nearly complete, before proceeding to knock a French Geezer off his bike in the centre of town. A Gendarme looks on seemingly content at the accidental clipping. That night, all three of us loose our voices and we have to drop many of the higher songs from the set (BOLLOX).
Woke up to find the toilet blocked with porn and the sink full of blood: Managerial nosebleed apparently. Flat now completely trashed. Porn mags have multiplied. Diabetic insulin needles are everywhere (Ian's). Open fridge to find a slab of horsemeat with DOBBIN written on it. John and I stroll into town and are informed by an old lady that a statue of Mary has apparently vanished on her own accord. Weirdsville Arizona. I need a beer. Afternoon, drive to Cannes with John and Dan. John, now a lot happier after yesterday, buys a yaughtsmans jacket. It then rains a little (the bastard). Eat some crêpe and get back for the gig. Thor Pub is packed to the ceiling. Great gig even after going easy on our voices. Sell a stack of CDs. Dan sweats a world record and John gets obsessed with a yo-yo. Ian performs some stirling duty on security protecting us from an over-enthusiastic crowd and gets molested by a young lady. Turns out her boyfriend whom she'd been erotically dancing with moments earlier wants to meet the band later. Later we have a beer with this bloke who is in fact a cop.. and HER BROTHER!! This Place is FREAKY. Go home, go to bed.alone. ROCK'N'ROLL.
Morning photoshoot in the mountains leads the famous five across the heavily defended frontier into Italy. We make the mistake of trying to order food in an Italian café at lunchtime. Stupido!! Dan spots a pizzeria and in his best SPANISH orders us all a monster. Jules, John and I take a stroll through the market place munching our pizza, heading for the banks of the beautiful river. Unfortunately nobody told us that eating in public is only slightly worse than pissing on a cardinal. Strange looks aside, we survive to do a blistering last night in NICE. Then we sensibly pack up at 4 am and begin the 800 mile non-stop drive back to Blighty. MISTAKE. Several near-fatal incidents up the road we decide to stop and further complain about the bogs and the biscuits. Thanks to several imperial gallons of coffee we somehow we make the ferry and get back on Sunday night aiming to unload kit at John's house. By now severe sleep deprivation (and in Julian`s case a mortal fear of Ian's driving) has reduced all us to repeating LONG CHEEEEESE over and over again in order to stay awake on the last leg from Dover to Coventry.
Well there you have it. A truthful if not slightly strange and highly abridged account of a band's first tour on foreign soil. The question is. would we do it again?
TOO BLOODY RIGHT!!