The hire van is receiving a severe punishing on this tour. Yesterday we acquired our second flat tyre. And not just flat, but ripped open. Flapping in the breeze. Rim to the bitumen. Google maps was to blame this time. Cloher was driving us to the ABC for a live interview, with Google maps navigating, when we sailed past the ABC building in the wrong direction, Ms Google instructing us to 'Continue Straight'. Jen decided to chuck a U-bolt and mistimed the manoeuvre, slamming the front tyre into the curb. I had my drink bottle open at the time and water crashed forth dramatically from it on impact. Tempers were frayed but Jen and I managed to make it to the radio interview while Dyso dealt with the NRMA who, by some miracle, arrived within five minutes of her hanging up from the operator. Nothing tests the nerves like driving in Sydney. And we've all had some hire car disasters. This one pales in comparison to some of them. On my last album tour I managed to lose the (electronic) key to our hire van and we had to wait a few days, the van parked on a street in Coogee with the entire bands' gear still locked in the back of it, until the new $350 replacement key arrived. I've heard stories of rear windows exploding, crashes, being chased for years for money after not taking out any vehicle insurance. Luckily this Toyota we have this time was already battle scarred. "We will drive this van to its grave" said Jen last night on stage after we'd recounted the days happenings. "Yeah" said Dyso, "Canberra".
We've been making our way down the East Coast. It's gig number ten tonight, in Katoomba, and the vortex of touring has already closed in. I was having a smoke out the back of the Brass Monkey in Cronulla last night, reading an Age newspaper blog about a Melbourne Cup reveller vomiting pink alco pop all over her boyfriends' shoes, when a homeless guy appeared looming over me from street level. He proceeded to talk at me about the state of the economy in Australia and the false sense of security that we've been lulled into in this country. What he was saying was making a lot of sense. When I told him I was a musician his voice raised as he explained that musicians these days don't sing with any conviction because no-one's got any soul anymore. I politely disagreed. He completely lost me when he started suggesting that more women than ever before were getting breast cancer because Germaine Greer had encouraged them all to burn their bras… That was an intense few minutes with him out there. I returned to my soda water, nursing my hangover, and pondered (some of) what he'd said until we went on stage.
It was Danny's birthday on Monday. In true band spirit we 'got on it' with him later in the evening, after Mia, Jen and I conducted another workshop. There was also Yum Cha for lunch. Danny's request. Without any days off it's hard to really celebrate with gusto but we gave it a red hotty. And Danny's enthusiasm for all things birthday was incredibly infectious. We've decided to extend the day's celebrations to an entire week.