Bloody hell it’s twenty past five in the morning on the first day of the tour and we have to be out and rolling by six thirty to get the Channel Tunnel. Germany here we come. Whoops we are half an hour late. We have failed our first task; still we are on the road to Aachen, hurrah.
We can still make the train as we have plenty of time until……….. “fucking Operation Stack”. Why the fuck can’t we drive down the side of them?” etc, etc. We hit a massive traffic jam caused by the aforementioned Operation Fuck Stack. Luckily when we finally arrive late to the Chunnel we are allowed on the next train. Being on a train, in a van, in a tunnel, is very weird. It’s a bit like being on the world’s worst fairground ride or a really boring van driving simulator, you don’t appear to be moving but still bounce around on the bumps. It doesn’t take long to get to France and we are off again.
“The road goes ever on” wrote Tolkien, and on and on and on. It feels like we have been driving forever and this is only day one. My arse aches and so do my knees. We hit lots of traffic and are running later and later. God only knows how the drivers keep going. It’s getting hotter and hotter as well. All of a sudden we arrive at Aachen after ten hours. We go to the flat of our man in Aachen, Alen. He has cold beers (brilliant) and a very fat cat (cute) whose name I have forgotten. He also has a brass model of a man in a barrel, that when you pull the barrel down flops out the little brass man’s enormous, red ended knob. Hours of fun to be had for the Viz readers on the bus.
After an hour we are off again to the venue The Wild Rover, without our little brass friend unfortunately. We unload and get ready to go. I have my own merch table and plenty of handy nails for t-shirts. We drink free beer and eat a really nice, welcome soup, made by Alen. There is fruit as well to keep us healthy and then more beer; well I drankmore free beer, the band had to play. It was very hot in the venue, that’s my excuse.
There is a large crowd of enthusiastic people and The Pukes rip it up. Lots of happy people tell me how much they are enjoying it. A vast herd of humanity descends on the merch stall after the show. I will need to evolve and grow more arms and heads to keep up with this. Bloody hell it was full on, I struggled to recognise notes and coins and must give a big thank you to the brilliant English speaking Germans who helped me out no end when my thirty year plus O-Level German failed me.
It was not over yet, however, some of the Pukes were staying with Alen and some of us with his friend Nic. Deb, Cil and Lindsey and I were staying with Nic who took us to the after show party about a mile away, Chris came along too. The rest of the Pukes went back to Alen’s for a well earned rest (lightweights).
If I had thought our new German friends had been hospitable so far they pushed out the boat for us even more. As soon as we arrived at the bar we were told that we could not drink beer until we had consumed a shot of “Vitamin Punk”. This we did. We were then allowed beer. The lovely bar owner who looked like Grizzly Adam’s dad then kept the free shots up all night. Alen reappears on a bicycle after putting his Pukes to bed and reading them a story. I got to kiss a dog and feed it biscuits from my mouth. I spoke to a nice young lady about politics, Shakespeare, Christianity, conservative Christian farmers, the gentrification of Aachen and my hatred of Harry Potter (What the fuck was in those shots?). We leave the bar at about two am. We pile into a taxi only to find that he has spotted the extra one we tried to squeeze in so we have to order another one. Debs and I jump in the new taxi. We then realise that if the driver does not know where he is going then we don’t either and have no way of contacting anyone as Debs’ phone has run out. Luckily we make it and don’t get lost. Our lovely host beds us down and we remain unconscious until……….
Up at five twenty again. Fuck no!!!!!! Oh yes! I go for a quick five mile run to sort myself out; alright I don’t, I sit on the sofa at Nic’s flat holding my head and wondering what my name is. A quick wash later and Nic who has gallantly got up at this silly hour orders us a taxi and makes coffee. We get back to Alen’s flat and after thanking him for a brilliant night pack up the equipment and get back on the road for Glaubitz and the Back to Future festival. We leave on time as well!
Our glorious drivers (Lindsey, Kate and Chris) keep us rolling through another day of jams and heat. It’s supposed to be thirty five degrees today at the festival. The only good thing about the heat is that I need to piss a lot less.
We have an interesting encounter with some German voles that have made a colony at the side of the road at a truck stop. They have little runs and holes all over the place near where we are sitting on a bench. It’s like a real seaside “Whack a Mole” game. A little head will pop up from a hole and then disappear only for another to reappear out of another one seconds later. I could have watched them for hours. Some of the female Pukes rather unscientifically call them “mousy things” for goodness sake, they are bloody voles.
Leaving the voles behind we rumble off to the East again. Hours and hours later we arrive at the tiny little village of Glaubitz which is playing host to the festival. It is unbearably hot and we can’t find the back stage entrance. Poor Chris is getting crosser and crosser as we go from place to place trying in vain to find our way in, not easy in a huge minibus when you have to reverse back up single track roads full of people. Clara rings the promoter for the tour who is meeting us there and he guides us in before Chris loses it completely and starts running people over in their tents.
Blimey, the festival is in the middle of a forest which means I love it from the start. Luckily there is a full stage set up with equipment so we don’t have to unload all the stuff from the van. We have time for a quick drink before going on, there’s always time for that. I get shown to the merch area in which is my own little wooden cabin with a door, serving hatch and some local ants, I love this too. It could only have been better if it had air conditioning and was made of gingerbread and had a big golden bird on the roof. Everything is so well thought out and works really well, plus I have little tickets in my pocket that give me free beer and food.
I set up on my own and it passes the Deb test for the first time….yes I’m shocked as well!
I’m quite a long way from the stage so I can’t see much but The Pukes sound great and the crowd is dancing and singing along. Once again there is a big rush on for merch again when they finish. I try to give away a free ant with every t-shirt but due to communication difficulties no one seems to want one. Lots of people want to talk to the girls and Chris and have things signed. BTF loves The Pukes.
We have a lovely dinner laid on back stage. Lindsey has a swim in the lake. We drink strange blue/green shots which are like Listerine and probably are. Yum yum. We watch a band called The Inciters who are brilliant and make me dance. I get molested up my kilt by a man, a long hard Paddington stare sorts him out. I meet another man who has a long tartan kilt on, he doesn’t stick his hand up my kilt; he does show our agent Nico what is underneath it though.
We have a go at knocking down cans by throwing balls at them and win ridiculous yellow sunglasses. We chat to one of the ladies from The Inciters . It’s all gets a bit like a scene from Grease 3 the German chapter only I can’t manage a quiff anymore only a hardened salt crust on my head. I have still got my collar turned up on my cut off though; Rock n’ roll man. It’s still bloody hot.
We have to get going to our hostel Clara goes off to the festival “watch tower” to fill in some paperwork so we get paid. We stand in the dark. We can see Clara’s little red head near the window; she looks like she is having to an exam. Half an hour later she has obviously passed it and is let out. We are staying in hostels for rest of the tour, so with Clara, who is designated navigator along with Cil, and with Lindsey driving we set off; luckily it’s only about mile away. About half an hour later Cil discovers Clara has got the map upside down and we are lost. How we laughed, we did actually! Lindsey even gets out of the van in a local village I’m sure I can see shadows behind curtain moving and the sound of shotguns being loaded. We drive off quickly and with the map restored to its correct orientation we get to the hostel. We unload the van in case anything gets nicked and head into the hostel. It absolutely reeks. I track down the stench to a packet of chicken breasts on top of the communal fridge which is buzzing with fat flies and going black. At the risk of upsetting any visitors for whom rotting chicken is a delicacy, I chuck it and some other dubious looking unidentified things in a bag and remove them outside. The rooms are very clean though. A large spider has set up camp under the duvet in my bed however and I persuade her to move out with some difficulty. I have a shower it feels fantastic! Trains rumble past all night there is a massive storm and people coming and going all keep me awake.
We have a bit more time today so we go back to BTF for breakfast. What a great festival absolutely fantastic and in a lovely setting. I thoroughly recommend it.Next is Hamburg, back to the Pukemobile Pukes; it’s time to drive, again.
Oh traffic jams how I love you.
We are running late again almost too late for something special but not quite. We get to the next venue Monkey’s Music Club and meet Sam the owner and Cil’s chap Mike (who has flown in from England to see her and The Pukes). Sam has laid on food for us and drinks as well which go down a treat.
Then something happens which we will all remember for a long, long time. Sam gets us to follow his car down to the FC St Pauli stadium. We park up near the stadium. Sam introduces us to Sven who produces VIP passes for us to see the preseason match. We have missed the first half but can see the second half. He shows us an enormous stage at the beginning of the walk up to the stadium and says that after the match The Pukes will be playing four songs there in front of thousands of people, WTF? Exciting or what!
Clara says she feels like Victoria Beckham as we get into the stadium. Girlie squeals of excitement and delight ensue at every level of the stadium, Chris and I just hunch our shoulders and try to look nonchalant. We get free beer and food if we want it. The girls like the singing when FC St Pauli score a goal. Luckily FCSP win 4:2.
We get bought beers again after the match and then go wild in the St Pauli shop. I buy a new hat. Getting carried away Esme buys a St Pauli dog bowl even though she hasn’t got a dog. Back to the big stage the crowd is enormous. We have to wait for player/coach interviews and then they are on. Having no merch duties I creep around on stage taking pictures and videos of the band. The size of the crowd is amazing such a brilliant thing to have been set up, thanks to Sven and Sam for getting this sorted it meant such a lot to all The Pukes. The songs go down really well and everyone sings along. It’s over all too quickly but what a thing to be able to do!
To make things even better some familiar faces have turned up from England, the Essex posse and Gary from London are all down the front with Mike.
The Pukes are playing with Sham 69 at Monkey’s tonight and we head back there to set up.
I haven’t got a wooden cabin tonight for stall but I have a table to share with the Sham. I get roped in to do their merch as well as their merch lady is not well. It’s a mad night The Pukes are brilliant even though I can only see half the stage. The crowd love it again and I sell, sell, sell. Everyone is so nice to us it’s a great experience……… except for one person who is from the British Isles. He says we are all English cunts and he hates us because we are so nicey nicey. I explain that we are actually nice but he disagrees and says “You are all fucking cunts and I fucking hate you, you fucking English cunts”. Oh well no pleasing some people I suppose; he is very drunk.
After the gig there is a club at Monkey’s but the dance floor’s empty. Problem solved The Pukes are here; cue a massive dancing session. Several congas get started; I leap around in my kilt to every song until I run out of steam. Time for a pick me up called a Mexicana, which is like a Bloody Mary only much hotter. I have lots of this and feel refreshed. I finish off the remains of the bottle and feel even better; back to the dance floor for me.
It’s all over too soon and we head back to the Hostel, which is in the Reeperbahn. Some interesting shops around there, but no Lidl. It’s the place to shop for Naughty Nurse outfits etc and also for ladies and men of the night if you so wish, ooer.
Only a short trip to Dusseldorf today we board the bus and off we go.
Nearly eleven hours later we arrive in Dusseldorf after rain and traffic jams all the way. Not even any interesting service station voles to keep me amused. We are all knackered especially the drivers. Unpack, food, gig!
It’s Sunday night and a bit quiet. I speak to a couple from Romford who moved to Germany fifteen years ago and who have seen The Pukes at Rebellion. Mr “Romford” gets up on stage to play along to “Part Time Punks”; he has brought his own uke especially for this. Even though the crowd is small they are very enthusiastic. The band is watched by Vom from Die Totenhosen. He talks to me about The Pukes and seems to love it. He has to go early but gives me a big happy drunken kiss as he leaves. After the gig we pack up and accidently hold the police up in their car as we have blocked the road with the van, whoops.
We go back to the hostel where we meet a middle aged stag party from Gateshead, who I chat to. They have left the groom “somewhere” and one of them has a burger tray on his head; good night then.
It’s our last day, sob. We don’t really want to go home but cats, kids, partners, work and reality are all waiting for us, and we haven’t got any more gigs!
We wend our weary way back to France and actually arrive early somewhere for a change. We are ushered on to an earlier train. In a last frantic effort to keep us all together, forever and ever, Clara unleashes a deadly gas attack on the bus. We only survive by opening all the doors and windows and the band lives to gig another day; but only just. It was much worse than the rotting chicken at the Hostel.
We make it back to London tired but really happy with the way things went. A massive thank you goes out to Nico, Sam, Alen, and Sven and to the really lovely people of Germany. We loved it there and will be back don’t you worry. See you soon Germany you ain’t seen the last of The Pukes.