This is the last installment of the Dutch Tour Diary. I hope you have all enjoyed the trip as much as I did.
We got back to Groningen at Dusk. I still believed in my heart that there was relaxation and sleep in store for me somewhere soon so I was a bit antsy, but we were in no hurry and the rest of the lads where up for a bit more skit. We ended up driving back and forth across Groningen as we wanted showers and a bit of down time in Pierre's house, but he had given us the wrong key. So we headed to the train station car park for a few last cans together and a bit of a natter.
We had spent a week and a half together and had had a great time and it was coming to an end. It felt strange. A bit of it was the paranoia of a van full of freaks screaming, laughing hysterically and drinking like there was not only no tomorrow, but like there was nothing beyond the next few hours. I realised that I will never fully kick my American paranoia. I can control it and even kind of ignore it for a while, but it will always be there.
Dirk chased the train conductor down to make sure that it wouldn't leave without us and that put me at ease again. I can't help but stress out at the thought of missing trains or planes. I can't help but stress out about a lot of things. The tour made me realise that I am powerless to be anybody except the guy that I have always been. I get paranoid. I stress about being late or missing things. I feel guilty when I push it too far. I can only rock so hard before I need a bit of sanity. So with the train stopped for us, I could relax and say goodbye to the lads. It was actually very emotional. We'd made such a connection and were so fond of each other. Adam ran the whole length of the platform along the train as we pulled out of the station.
The train ride was pretty uneventful. I found out more of Gaz's sexual likes and dislikes than I'd ever have liked to have known, but it was dark and I think I might have even got about twenty minutes sleep. We arrived in Utrecht Station and set to stashing some of our gear in a locker. There was nowhere to get change and the lads were getting cased by the local hoodies. I was running around frantically trying to get change as Tommy and Gaz were getting ready to be jumped and robbed. At the last minute, I got it sorted and we headed back to the ACU, the place JW worked for a few drinks. We followed my directions this time, and despite a rotten shwarma, (served on a burger bun!) we made it straight to the pub. It was pretty full, but we got tables next to an extremely obnoxious group of punters. The organic lagers were ice cold and went down an absolute treat. We were back in my world. The pub. Cold beer. Regularish people. I could do it. The previous days had made me wonder if I would ever be able to drink again. I would and I was. The tour had come full circle, we were back to where we started, and for the first time in days I felt like I could keep it up for a while longer.
Two very attractive young ladies sat down beside us and started chatting us up. Actually not us, me. I have been chatted up a few times in my life, but I never realise it until the opportunity has passed, usually by a few days. These were definitely chatting me up. I didn't even try to go along. I wasn't even nice. They kept trying to teach me Dutch and I kept refusing to even try. I kept speaking a bit in Russian and trying to find a way out of the situation. I wasn't interested, couldn't pretend to be and knew I'd never see them again. Why did this never happen to me when I was single for years on end? I guess it did and now we have two kids, two dogs and a house in negative equity.
There were a bunch of English twats sitting on the table we were sitting at. Not twats because they were English, twats because they were twats, being English didn't help. Closing time came and it was time for them to leave. The last two made a huge scene complete with shapes, threats and abuse. I thought that Moutpiece was going to have to come to the rescue, we were the only men left besides JW, who would have been useless in a scrap. I learned right then however, to never underestimate European women. The female bartenders dealt with your man, made him look like the arsehole he was and then proceeded to wear the face off each other. The ladies in this bar were pretty wild. First the two at the table chatting me up and then the lady bartenders making out on the table in the middle of the place. Gary was mighty impressed.
Everyone legged it off and it was just Tommy, Gaz, JW and myself in the bar. By the time we left, the sun was well and truly up and the day had started for the rest of the world. We walked back through the old town, across the bridges, along the canals, talking shite. We walked back into the train station/shopping mall, Gaz riding circles around us on JW's antique Dutch bike, skidding here and there for effect. I was giddy as a school girl, completely overcome with giggles.
From there it was a train back to Rotterdam, a bus to the bus station, another bus to the airport, then home. By the time we got to Rotterdam, the lads were giving me a wide berth. I think they thought I was really cranky so they were being as nice to me as they could, reassuring me that everything was ok, helping me carry my drum gear. I was fine. I was a zombie, I hadn't slept in days, but I was fine. None-the-less, I was happy to drag my ass around as long as it was in the effort to get home. By the time we got to the airport we were filthy and exhausted.
Tommy had read the fine print on the tickets and realised that they could refuse to let us on the plane if we were drunk. Gary was demented. You could barely talk to him. He hadn't slept since the night in the Vera. Outside of the airport we all did one last check of our pockets, brushed our teeth, straightened ourselves up as much as we could. Gary was the worry. He was talking marbles and to add insult to injury, after brushing his teeth, with our shared toothbrush, he necked a half can of Grolsh. We put him behind the two of us and checked in at the desk. He was mumbling something about hanging out with hookers in New York or something equally as unacceptable at a check-in of an international airport, but they let us through. It was shambolic. We stumbled onto the plane, stopping long enough to buy our girlfriends bags and bags of tobacco (how romantic) and off home.
We touched down on the rock and it was straight into the airport bar for a few scoops. The Guinness tasted great and we bought ourselves a few out of the Moutpiece money. Onto the bus, upstairs and onwards towards home. We must have looked insane. It was Monday morning rush hour on the Santry bus. Gaz was drinking a can of Grolsh, he hadn't shaved or slept in days. He was caked from waist to eyebrow in the remnants of the few morsels of food he’d eaten as well as the copious amounts of drink he’d taken since we’d started the tour. He had only changed his clothes once and hadn’t taken a shower the whole time. Tommy and I gave him another score out of the Moutpiece money for a few pints in town. He wasn't ready for it all to be over. We were and jumped off the bus in Phibsboro and caught a taxi for the six hundred remaining yards home. Home, bed, done.
In the hindsight, the tour was amazing. Everything it should have been and more. It was a bit more work for me than for anyone else. My childhood and young adulthood didn't prepare me for anything like this. I saw a world that I honestly didn’t know existed. I pushed myself as far as I could go for the state of mind that I was in. I do honestly think that I would have enjoyed it more had it happened at another point in my life, but that hadn't been an option. Gary played a blinder the whole time. While it doesn’t' really sound like it, he kept his shit together and barely missed a note in any of the gigs. We were stunningly well received and it gave me renewed confidence in the band, myself and my place in this world I sometimes find myself in.