Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Why Sat Nav Is Important

Once upon a time, getting to gigs was an affair fraught with difficulties. Yes, such things as maps have always existed, but did you really want to buy a map of Glasgow just to find King Tuts Wah Wah Hut? No, doubtlessly there would be some friendly local who could point you there from the city centre, you'd just have to point yourself north and drive... (Obviously, that example is because we once spent an hour in Glasgow's one way system being less than 500 yards from the venue..)

And so, in Europe, sat nav has been the most unbelievable change in how we get about. It's been a couple of years since we did this kind of journey and the all-permeating sat nav is standard kit to most people but for me this is like - wow! - I can ignore the person holding the map upside down and just listen to the soothing tones of the nice lady telling me "in 500 yards turn right" or the equally soothing tones of the bell that rings to say "Exceeding 110 km/h" - yeah baby, we are exceeding like crazy. Nice. 

So you'd have to ask the question: why did our 287 km journey from Krakow to Vienna take 9 hours? No typo - that's  n i n e  hours. Well, Chris, who had sourced the sat nav machine, had loaded maps for Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland. But not Poland. Or Slovakia. Or Slovenia. 

Still, no matter, surely - we bought a map from a petrol station. That should sort it, right? 

I suppose I should have been more concerned with all that snow ans the disappearance of familiar road numbers at a particular roundabout. "No no this is definitely the right way," says Chris, brandishing the map as proof. This was to be our version of Bugs Bunny's repeated "left turn at Albuqueurque." In fact, within half a mile the road had turned to a pleasing mixture of compacted ice and snow, to the point that there wasn't a single patch of un-iced tarmac. 

We went up and down two very large mountains. There was skidding, spinning, some panic amongst the less courageous of our team (Chris).  There was much mention of the lack of a sat nav map and whose fault it was that we were in this predicament (Chris') and weather or not beatings / bodily penetrations should be administered with a small shovel, and to whom (Chris). Fortunately there was one hero on hand, someone who'd learnt the art of focus and driving mastery from ardent following of a fine sportsteam (me, Liverpool) as opposed to those who had learnt their cowardly and foolhardy ways from lesser sporting mortals (Chris, Ev***on). Let this be an important lesson - if we take nothing else from this, it's that Ev***on are a sack of donkey crap. Funny how often that comes through in life. 

Anyway, there's nothing like arriving on time. In fact we arrived 10 minutes after we were due on stage and had to load in through the Viennese audience. A quick linecheck and we started up. How rock and roll is that? (A. Not very, we were just very late). I think the audience appreciated our heroic efforts not to blow the gig. In fact, we went down so well I'm thinking that we should engineer such circumstances for every gig.  

Usually, we have to contrive to leave the stage and wait in the wings / dressing room for the thunderous applause that demands an encore (or, in the case of the refined and restrained audience in Halle, just go back on and ask if they want another one). In this case, we didn't know where we were. So we loitered awkwardly and had to do a second encore (rarity) as we had nowhere to hide... 

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