‘Appy Days: The Mick Box Column (No. 14)
This week, Mick makes it home for Xmas, after a 22-hour journey!
SUNDAY December 20, 2009 City: Salzburg, Austria to London.
Well, we left the show buzzing and it was the perfect show to end the tour on. We all went back to the hotel and showered, before starting the long arduous 22 hour journey home. That is if there are no delays, and with the snowy weather conditions as they are, it could add a few hours to the journey. The bus was quite jovial for a while, before exhaustion set in and we all went to our bunks.
It is a really funny feeling at the end of a long tour as you have the buzz of elation coupled with the feeling that the plug has just been pulled, sapping you of all energy. Because of Charlotte’s distance to get home she is flying, ‘J’ our merchandiser is from Austria, so she is on home territory. Peter Weber lives in Germany, so he took the train and, of course, our German TM Bernie lives in Germany, and will probably take the train too. So the bus seems empty without them, and to be honest even Latex Linda, the blow up doll strapped in the chair opposite me, is not a good substitute.
On the last night in the dressing room, ‘J’ had her family there, and we presented her father with a signed drum skin, which he loved, as he has been a fan for years. Early on in the tour ‘J’ was asking if anyone could get an autograph from Iron Maiden, and my old guitar technician Johnnie Allen works in their management office now. After a quick email, he was kind enough to get me a couple of signed CDs, which Daniel from our management brought out to Hamburg from the UK. I gave them to her, and she was delighted. It is always nice when you can do this sort of thing , and a big thanks goes to Johnnie.
On the bus journey home when we arrived in Luxembourg, some of the guys got off the bus to get some duty free. This was at 8.30am, so it was mostly the smokers who made the effort to go in and buy what they needed. The rest of us slept through, enjoying a few moments of the bus not moving, and not being thrown about in our bunks. In parts, the roads have been treacherous thus far. It has been a bit like snow, snow, quick, quick SLOW. Well, Pete our monitor, engineer after a few beers or three, gaffa taped up Latex Linda to the outside of Christos’ bunk after he went to bed. When he climbed out in the morning, she was hanging there provocatively, hitting him full in the face, and it was a sight for sore eyes, I can tell you. For those that saw it, including me, it was hilarious, but I missed the opportunity to take a picture unfortunately. We just made the ferry in Calais on time, which was great, and once we were through customs, it was not long before we were on the boat. We headed straight to the café, for some much needed food as we were all starving. We paid an extortionate price for some less that average fodder, and then we hit the duty free. This was also disappointing, as it was very small with very little in it that appealed. Still the boat soon docked, and once through customs we were on English soil, and on our way home. Phil Lanzon was dropped off at Dover as he lives along the coast from there, then Russell Gilbrook and Bernie Shaw were dropped off about an hour into the journey, and the rest of us sat and chatted killing time before we arrived at Leighton Buzzard after another two hours.
Eventually we got there, only to find that we could not get the trailer up the long driveway track to where we store the equipment, due to ice and snow. The only thing to do was to load up our individual cars, and the crew will come back at a later date to unload it, when the road is clear. So everything had to go back to where the bus is parked at their yard until then. Pete, a friend of Trevor Bolder’s who was driving him back up north, kindly helped me to re connect the battery on my car, and de-ice it; there was as much ice on the windscreen on the inside, as there was on the outside.
I loaded up all of my stuff, and started to drive, another one hour 30 minutes journey home. Luckily, the traffic was not too bad, but I had to take it easy as there was a lot of black ice on the roads. My prediction of 22 hours from Salzburg to my front door was indeed spot on. On my front door was a lovely welcome home message from Sheila and Romeo, which after all of that journey, and being away for quite some time, was wonderful. Once inside the house there was a raging fire in the sitting room, and it felt great to be home. Elvis, our dog, went ballistic when he saw me, and it took a long while for him to calm down, as he was so excited.
MONDAY December 21, 2009. Home
It was a lively household in the morning with everyone pleased to see me, and me to see them. There were a few domestic chores to do, and then Romeo and I went Xmas shopping, and Sheila had to go to work. We had a great day just bombing around, and we pretty much got everything we needed. The house looked marvellous, as the Xmas Tree was up, plus all of the decorations, and everything had a nice festive feel to it. I stocked the cellar up with wines, and we were pretty much there. I spent a good hour just going through my snail mail, and it is always a good feeling to find that all is well in that regard, and there were no nasty outstanding bills, or even something you have completely forgotten about, waiting to give you a headache.
TUESDAY December 22, 2009: Home.
Another day of running around and picking stuff up, but it was all good. There is always something you forget, but in the end you just make do, and get into the spirit of everything. Sheila is working, even on Xmas Eve, so I am responsible on the home front to get all that we need, though in all honesty, Sheila has done a fabulous job by getting most of it done already. Took Romeo to the doctor’s as he has had a bad cough and cold for two months now, so the doctor has put him on antibiotics, which will soon take effect, and he will feel much better.
Sheila came home from work, and we had a nice dinner, and it felt really good to be home and relax. It is nice not to have to get up in the morning and pack your bags, then jump on a bus for hours, before you then in effect start your day from the sound check on. The downside is that by 9pm at home, when you are usually getting prepared for the stage, you start getting a burst of energy, and start tapping your fingers and just relaxing in front of the TV just doesn’t do it for you. Still it soon goes, and gets better as each day passes. This is always helped, of course, with a nice glass of wine or two.
WEDNESDAY December 23: Home.
Today, we did some more Xmas shopping, and then Romeo went for a two hour swim. I wish I could bottle his energy, as he is really just amazing. We then had lunch, and then Romeo had his hair cut! It has been impossible to park anywhere today, and I really get annoyed when you see a number of cars parked over two spaces instead of just the one they should be in. They are so inconsiderate.
Rant number two is coming up, as I am sure the whole driving world is on drugs or something, with some of the driving I have witnessed today. Some of the manoeuvres I have seen are incredible. I know you have to be careful driving on snow, but on the main roads, where it is really nothing but wet, people drive at a snail’s pace, and do the most ridiculous and dangerous moves. Using their signals is almost nonexistent, especially on roundabouts. As for giving way to the right, well that does not exist. Still I remain calm, and listen to classical music on the car radio, which works for me. Other than that I have been trying to catch up on my emails, and generally getting on top of things here in the office, but there is still a long way to go. We had a quiet evening in, and I had a good long chat with Martin Darvill, our manager, reflecting on the success of the tour, along with discussing future projects that we are trying to put together. There is a lot on the touring front too, so 2010 looks like it will be a busy year in the Heep camp.
THURSDAY December 24, 2009: Home
Xmas Eve! More last minute shopping for presents, as well as shopping for last minute food items. Romeo and I went into the city to pick up Sheila from work, and we had a bit of lunch there, and then drove home. We went to Sheila’s cousin for the evening, and it was lovely to be with both family and friends. We left later than we had planned, and we still had some major gift wrapping to do, as well as planning everything for Santa’s arrival. Romeo left his letter for Santa by the fireplace, and then the pressure was on to get it all done. We finished at 3am!
FRIDAY December 25, 2009: Home
Xmas Day: We were up at 7am with a very excited Romeo waking us up. The rest of the day went…presents, walking the dog, drink, food, nap, walking the dog, drink, food, DVDs, drink, drink…bed! This was a fantastic day with the family, and with a few friends. It was just as it should be, with everything spot on!
SATURDAY December 26, 2009: Home
Boxes day or should I say Boxing Day: In my book, it is the most important day of the year for some reason! Well, our house was jammed packed with family and friends and it was brilliant. Plenty of food and drink, and everyone in a fabulous festive mood.
It cannot get any better than that!