It’s a tad sad that topics of discussion on band tours tend to get increasingly scatological as they progress. Maybe it’s the ever-smelly toilet on the bus or the persistent smell of morning farts that tends to linger on the top floor of the tour bus, incidentally where the folks do their sleeping.
The worst instances involve a still morning, as they are called, when you wake up sweating in your coffin. This happens when you don’t have air blowing into your bunk, which is screened off with curtains and normally very cosy when properly ventilated. However, sometimes the engine is turned off—effectively shutting off the air supply. The bus may have been sitting in a location in front of a venue for hours or local staff might have bungled the ever important power cable that is supposed to be sitting outside the venue, ready to hook up to the bus, so as to keep the air flowing.
God help you if the above fails, and the sun has been shining on the top of the bus for hours. You wake up in something resembling a cross between a sauna and a foul crypt.
Seeing as bus toilets are merely designed for number one rather than number two, queues tend to form for the venue toilets when people rise to their feet in the morning. These gatherings naturally tend to bring out stories connected with the matter at hand, and so the stories come like laxative.
I will spare you the details, but will include a wonderful story that is nicely unconnected to the bus at hand, yet takes the cake so to speak in stories of this sordid, often comical nature.
No matter how lofty you want to get, you can always laugh at a good poo story. My friend, the brilliant Icelandic saxophonist and recent knitwear fashion mogul Jóel Pálsson, told me this one a few years ago. Some years ago, he was lounging in a seedy jazz joint in lower Manhattan, listening to one of his heroes blow the horn, as one does. During the intermission, he wandered down to the men’s toilet to relieve himself of a few beers, also as one does.
As he is standing by the urinal tending to the business at hand, an older man of indiscriminate age enters the men’s room and takes a stance by the urinal right next to our man. He was obviously drunk, and his state indicated he had probably been that way for quite a while. He had on a very dirty white suit, stained to perfection, and mumbled an incoherent sax solo as he proceeded to relieve himself. As everyone knows, the unwritten law of men’s rooms states that you never stand right next to a guy at the urinal if it can be avoided. Personal space and all that jazz. The man in the white suit is obviously in his own little world, which happens if you drink enough.
Jóel minds his own business, making an effort to not look at the guy next to him. The guy lets out a huge fart while urinating and humming and Jóel tries hard not to breathe, concentrating on looking at his shoes. This leads him to notice the man’s shoes are of a tattered brown variety, and around the left one a small yellowish-brown puddle is slowly forming. At this disgusting revelation, Jóel loses his concentration and sneaks a look at the man next to him, who is ready for that look and says with a demonic grin: “I gambled, and I lost!” That phrase has since become a classic amongst my travelling companions.