I have to say, all things being equal, this leg of the European tour didn't kick off particularly well. Imagine five people converging on Heathrow from various locations about the UK only to find out half way there that your flight has been cancelled due to a monumental balls up by British Airways.
We were supposed to fly to Munich at 7.10pm and probably be in a German Bier Keller by 10. A leisurely morning would have followed, perhaps ein caffe crema and some fresh brotchen mit Konfiture for fruhstuck. Maybe even a breakfast wurst or two. We would arrive at the theatre refreshed and ready to go at 2pm to set up.
The result of evil BA thwarting our plans was, for me, a mad sweaty dash to Leatherhead, of all places, to meet the van and then a drive to Folkestone for a Chunnel crossing with a lot of overweight, sweaty lorry drivers (guys, please...deodorant!) who looked on us esoteric types as a curiosity to gawp at. Another half hour negotiating the darkened roads around the port and we check in to a hastily booked hotel in Calais at 2am, asleep by three and up at 6am for an epic hop, skip and drive across France, Belgium, Holland and Germany to the gig in Offenbach. Let's just say that the hysteria of adrenaline, lack of sleep and a little incredulity that we'd made it to continental Europe at all, took hold in the form of occasional bouts of uncontrollable laughter. If you've never witnessed a bunch of actors with a puerile sense of humour guffawing over the word 'funf' (German for 'five') because it sounds onomatopoeically like someone breaking wind...then you haven't lived. And when you're funf point funf kilometres from your destination, the inane giggling reaches a pant wetting crescendo. Dangerous for those of us over fifty. Lord help us at 5.55pm. Well, you get the picture.
Much to our relief, and the relief of the Vamos office and our promoter in Germany, Angelika, we arrive at the venue bang on 2pm. A little exhausted perhaps but in one piece. Offenbach is baking under a sweltering 34 degrees of heat but the theatre is an air conditioned beauty and the show a great success. And then we drank beer. Quite a bit of it. But the relief is tempered with the knowledge that...
We are up at 6am again for the drive to Recklinghausen and the international festival. I navigate. But we still manage to get there anyway.
The venue is a large tent. Having performed in tents before, I was filled with a little foreboding. In the UK, festival tents are a bit grubby, somewhat rickety and a little smelly. But this was Germany. The stage and seating were clean and well-designed and we even had our own backstage Vamos-dedicated dressing room. A pot of fresh coffee brewing was a welcome sight. Even a little basket of biccies to accompany it. We are civilised people after all.
Half way through the run of six shows, civilised people are reminded once more that not all people are civilised. News comes in of the attack in London Bridge. We feel strangely out of the loop. Thoughts fly home to friends and family. My chums and I regularly drink in the Borough Market area and, from a distance, it all feels rather close to home. Which we aren't, of course. We're in Germany being silly for a living.
I'm now sitting on my bed in my hotel room. Last night we played to a packed house. They even had to put in extra seats to cater to the final performance crowd, something we are told 'has never happened before'. In the curtain call I suddenly get a little choked up. We have three more shows left in this run, in Bergen, Norway. And it will be there that I say goodbye to my character Danny for the time being. I'll miss him very much.