Monday, July 29, 2013

The morning after Padova

Ole and I had breakfast in the hotel. We were staying a 5-minute walk out of the town and a 10-minute walk from the railway station. We were heading to Rome on the 1 pm train along with Stuart, Glenn, Frank, and Dora.

View from the hotel breakfast room!

View from hotel panorama (Large)

Ole had not seen the wall exhibition, so we decided to check out of the hotel and grabbed a taxi to the conference centre. After having a look around at the pictures and exhibition, Ole and I got invited to morning coffee with Gerald Scarfe! I’d met him briefly once several years ago in London and remember him being ever such a nice guy. We had 90 minutes to kill before our train, so we took a short 10-minute walk to the cafe bar and met up with Gerald, his wife Jane, and his son Rupert. I felt so honoured to be sat at a table with the guy, let alone chatting to him like we were friends! The seven of us shared stories about Roger and the show last night  over some great iced coffee. The three of them were heading up to Venice today, hiring a car, and setting off for a couple of weeks driving around Europe—wherever the wind took them! I think you can see by my smile how proud and honoured I was to meet him in the pictures below, Even though I was sweaty from the heat, as I put my arm around him, I felt he was sweaty too!! Gerald and I sharing the sweat together LOL :)

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Ole and I said our goodbyes and took a taxi to the train station. We met up with Stuart, Glenn, Frank, and Dora, all of whom were taking the same train as us down to Rome. Stuart, Ole, and I had booked the train early enough a few weeks ago to get a cheap first class ticket while Frank, Dora, and Glenn were a few carriages away in second. You don't know how much of a good thing Glenn being 3 carriages away is!! Glenn has been around the “Floyd Scene” for a long time, we've known each other going on 15 years and have always met up at shows, hung out before shows, and done sightseeing in cities around the world. He’s written a couple of books on Floyd, the main one being “In The Flesh,” and then one called “Echoes” a few years ago. He’s a great guy, and I love him to bits, and we always have a laugh when travelling, but, he does seem to be………..I don't know how to put it. Not accident prone but……. Well, let’s just say things always seem to happen to Glenn! I’ve copied a couple of his Facebook status posts from the last couple of days and posted them below, and you’ll see what I mean! You know I’m only messing with you mate, and once again, a great time was had by all. It wouldn't have be the same without you!

Glenn Povey, Day 1:

Today I headed to Padua via Venice airport to give a talk at a Pink Floyd exhibition that’s tied in with Roger Waters’ concert at the local football stadium. Listen to some annoying Australian two rows behind me holding court on global warming and the ice age. Keeps saying “Epileptic” instead of “Apocalyptic”.So far so good. Get taxi from airport to hotel in Padua with the man with no name (or voice). Drive past stadium en-route. The stage looks fucking enormous! Taxi driver does not get a tip, even though he was on 10 Euros per word.Get to hotel and bump into mien host, Alberto. Known the guy for 25+ years but never met him. It’s like meeting a long lost relative. His associates, Marco and Gian-Luigi, also there, become my new best friends.
We go to the exhibition and after a quick look around and a cheeky beer I take my place. It’s not so much a talk as press conference and audience Q&A on my various books. All goes well, but remember that Italians talk at 300mph and use 20 words instead of one, so my translator has difficulty translating and I have to talk really slowly to make my translator understand what I’m saying to the point that I’ve forgotten the bloody question.Fortunately I get through it, but not before some pedant points out a typo on a date in one of my books, which in the Italian edition is incorrect. Fuck me, I didn’t translate the bastard! Another seriously deranged man wants to know the name of the fan Roger Waters spat at in 1977. Like I’d know or even give a shit about? He then shows us his paintings, all of which makes Van Gogh’s look like the product of a sane, rational man.
A few signings later and its back to the hotel. Dinner with Gerald Scarfe and Jane Asher. Eh? That’s right, Mr. Scarfe has not only designed the poster for the exhibition he’s also doing the press conference thing tomorrow, and hence dinner with the Scarfe's and the organisers this evening. Dinner is via a long walk through the old town (architecturally spectacular as most Italian towns are) and into a traditional Italian restaurant with an alarming collection of old radios, gramophones and typewriters on the shelves. It’s a museum. I manage to sit myself next to Jane Asher. We have a good old chuckle all night long (she is a genuinely lovely person), but not before managing to completely fuck up our orders by both accidentally ordering a prawn cocktail for starters (pictured) and some weird meat dish for a main.
The family Scarfe take an early night, but the rest of clan eat pudding (me tiramisu) and order coffee (me a huge brandy – they’re all lightweights!) followed by limoncello. I attempt, but fail, to convince the rest of the party that the night is young (despite being up 17 hours) and so we all head back to the hotel and our respective beds...

Day 2:
Begins well, ends in bruises.
Get up and have breakfast. So far so good. Meet up with Alberto and the gang and the family Scarfe in the hotel lobby to head off to his press conference. We’re led into the holding tank before Gerald takes to the stage in what was the old courthouse cells, although thankfully now renovated and looking very plush and, more importantly, very cool as its a furnace outside and its only 9.30am.
Gerald gives a remarkable talk about his career and fields many questions from the audience over the next two hours. Afterwards I meet up with some very old friends who are in the audience and we have a natter whilst Gerald signs things until his hand drops off.
This takes us neatly into lunch at the art centre and we all sit down for a couple of beers and food. However, presenting the menu seems to be a difficult task for the waiter to accomplish and after six attempts and an hour later the menu finally appears. We order. I had a rather excellent tagliatelle, so I conclude that the wait was indeed worth it.
As the party dissipates, Gerald and his son Rupert go for a stroll around the exhibition and I sit and chat to his wife, Jane Asher. After a while she decides to join her husband, and this is where things start to go very wrong because she completely fails to see the plate glass door that I thought she was going to open and crashes nose first straight into it. Ouch! She didn’t see it. Blood everywhere! I then become her first aid carer and take her to the bathroom with a box of tissues and with the help of one of our friends, Stefano, get a pack of ice from the bar straight onto her hooter.They go back to the hotel and I head off to meet friends Simon and Phil at a nearby bar. Many beers later and Phil, his wife Laila and Dave (who I kept calling Steve and has an Australian accent but insists he’s Irish) are heading to my hotel to pick up the shuttle bus to the concert via a bar to grab some bottles of wine for the show. The bus takes us to within a mile of the show and a vast influx of Pink Floyd refugees make their way to the stadium. We drink wine. I have heard rumours that the show was very good. In the excitement I lost my hotel room key, which would have made for a very entertaining episode in a sit-com as I tried to explain to the night porter that I was a fine upstanding English gentleman, a guest at the hotel and no, I wasn’t some staggering drunken British idiot with a bloodied knee who was trying to blag a room for the night.

The train journey was fortunately uneventful, and 3 hours after boarding, we arrive in Rome. I’d looked at the weather forecast before leaving the UK and had seen Rome was 37`C (about 95`F). Padova had been hot, but the second we walked out of the station into the sun, we looked at each other in amazement as to just how hot it was in Rome!

Train speed!                                                                      The weather for all of Italy as shown on the train. SUN!

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Stuart took the bus to his hotel, and Ole, Glen, and I walked the couple of blocks to ours. Phil and Laila had flown down from Venice, and as for Fran, Ray, and Mike (known as “the Americans”) who knows where they were! Last I saw of them was outside the gig at Padova, and for all I know, they could have still been there or anywhere else in Europe for that matter!

Mike, Ray, and Fern the last time I had seen them!                                   Don't let the water in Mike’s pocket put you off. Its a front!

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It was just gone 4:30 pm, and we arranged to meet Stuart at an Irish bar he knew around 7 pm. When we got checked into the hotel I e-mailed Phil to let him know our plans and sent an e-mail to Frank, too. I also sent an e-mail to “the Americans.” None of them had a cell phone, and only Mike had e-mail access. Would they get the e-mail? Who knows. Would they turn up ? Who knows. Were they even in Rome ? No one knew!

We chilled out for a couple of hours before walking over to the bar. I‘d been to Rome a couple of times before and seen all the sights. So had Glenn, but it was Ole’s first time visiting. We walked past the Trevi fountain and a couple of other sites before settling down at an outside table at the Irish bar with an ice cold pint of Strongbow. The heat really was unbearable. The second you stepped out into the street, everyone broke out into an instant sweat! And walking in it wasn't nice at all, but hey, we were in Rome. Pasta, wine, gelato, and with great fiends—we didn't complain much.

Ole at the Trevi fountain                              Glenn doing who knows what!                     Glenn, Stuart, and Ole at the Irish bar.

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The last we had eaten was at breakfast around 9 am. Glen had eaten a tennis-ball-tasting bread roll on the train. We hadn’t had the luxury of eating such a delicacy and were all pretty hungry. We got to the bar around 6:30, Frank arrived around 7:15, and we ordered something to munch on while we waited for the others. Phil and Laila arrived around 8, but where were “the Americans” ?

2 minutes later I looked up and saw Mike, Fern, and Ray. Phew! They had made it back! But only just after listening to their story! Mike had received the e-mail I sent but, due to them only just getting up and showered, had taken no note of where the bar was. He just knew it was near the Trevi fountain. I headed inside the bar and had a chat with them to find out how their trip back had been. After the show in Padova they had taken a taxi  to the bar we had met up in before the show. After listening to their tale I’m still not exactly sure what happened but the phrases, “Wrong train in Bologna,”  “Fern chased by homeless people on bikes,”  “Children telling them they were in the wrong part of town at this time of night,”  “Our taxi was overturned by Italians,” and “We finally got back at 11 this morning,”  had me very thankful that they had made it back to Rome in one piece!

Glenn, Stuart, Ole, and I walked up the street a little to a small Italian restaurant just up one of the small alleys and had dinner while the others remained at the Irish bar. After a couple of bottles of wine and some great pasta, Ole started to tell us all a story about his couch being flushed down the toilet! I have no idea what on earth he was talking about, but it had us all in fits of laughter. I need to hear this story again, Ole, when we’re all a little less “happy.” Before paying the bill and leaving the restaurant, Ole asked our waiter where the bathroom was. I don't think any of us were expecting the reply he got when the waiter looked at him, smiled and said “Bangladesh!” I said he better start walking now if he was desperate to go, and that we’d see him in a few months’ time. Either Bangladesh has moved several thousand miles round the corner from a restaurant in Italy, or the waiter thought Ole was asking where he was from in his heavily accented NorwEnglish!

Stuart left and took the bus back to his hotel, and the three of us decided we would do the Rome sightseeing bus the next morning and arranged to meet for breakfast around 9 am.

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