Oh, how I love being woken up at 06:00, especially when I’m in serious need of a kip. Still, I managed to doze a little until 11:00 when I wandered down to the NAAFI shop for some postcards. After lunch at 12:30, we sat around waiting for Andy Pandy, as everyone calls tour “manager”, Andy Muniandy, to turn up. Half an hour’s rough four ton truck ride into Belize City later, we arrived at the Civic Centre – a concrete floor with a tin roof on girders and open sides, normally a basketball stadium.
When we arrived, they were trying to supply us with 220 volts of leccy, instead of the local 110, but unfortunately their method would have blown us up – “We’re sending 110 volts down each of the live and neutral and using the earth as a common return”; “Um, no you’re not!” – so we sent back to APC for a generator, which didn’t arrive until 18:45. Belize Radio was supposed to be broadcasting live from 19:30, having interviewed Eric and Ian (plus Jerry and Simon) in the morning. The chaos was compounded by the arrival of several unbooked acts, with the result that we only played one track – Still Life – for the radio. By the time we got back on stage, it was 22:30, and we played just another five numbers.
Then followed one of the most bizarre experiences I can recall: we’d agreed with Cat ‘n Fiddle that we’d do a joint version of Whiskey In The Jar every night, so we made our first attempt, as a torrential rainstorm whipped horizontally through the open sides of the stadium. One by one, people downed their instruments and walked off, keen to avoid electrocution, and I joined them when I started to feel a fizzing sensation from the mic on its stand. Immediately after this, Andy Pandy and Simon had a massive row, culminating in Andy telling Simon he was sending him home tomorrow. This, the sheer bulk of equipment and the awful roads meant that we returned to APC at 01:10.
Setlist – Radio:
Setlist – Gig:
Johnny B Goode
You Really Got Me
Young, Free & Simple
Pack Of Lies
Whiskey In The Jar (with Cat ‘n Fiddle)
Woke at six to find that the Taca Airlines desk didn’t open until 09:30. As our flight was at 10:00, this was a little worrying. We were more than a little miffed when we found out that the flight was, in fact, at 15:00, as we had already returned the hire car. Spirits did not improve on finding that we each had to fork out $13 airport taxes which hadn’t been paid by the Belizean government. At this point Cat ‘n Fiddle decided to liven things up a little by busking in the middle of the concourse. At 10:45 we left the airport to catch the bus downtown. At 11:15 we re-entered the airport having discovered that the bus ride was a two-and-a-half hour round trip.
When the Taca aircraft finally arrived, Simon from Cat ‘n Fiddle was delighted to note that it didn’t have propellers – it was actually a Boeing 767 – and we all had a giggle watching Jerry’s Caterers and the incompetent baggage handlers loading the ‘plane. I like Taca Airlines – the stewardesses kept up a constant shuttle from one end of the ‘plane to the other and felt strangely obliged to give you a drink each time they passed. For a two-hour flight, large Baileys, red wine and dark rum were quite sufficient.
In fact, because of the time difference, we landed at Belize’s International Airport at the same time we had taken off! On arrival at Airport Camp (APC) we were shown to our quarters, showered and dined in the Corporals’ Mess. At about 18:30, Wayne and I wandered down to the NAAFI bar, watched Midnight Run and were later joined by the rest of the motley crew. Beers galore were drunk and Blackadder III episodes giggled loudly at. And so to sleep, perchance to be woken up very early, I should think…
This tale would be completely unbelievable if it did not begin with the words, “We were five minutes late leaving home”. Hence this tale is unbelievable as it begins with the words, “This tale…”. A combination of Eric’s directions and Mum’s driving conspired to make us twenty minutes later at Reading Garage, where we picked up Eric, Ian and Alan. All this became highly insignificant when Eric uttered the words, “I’ve left my wallet in Reading”, on arrival at Heathrow. Eric took Mum’s car and drove back to the garage, whilst Ian, Alan and I checked in. Ian’s bass guitar (in hard case) had to go through twice, as all the security man could say the first time was, “What the hell’s in here?!”.
Johnny and Wayne arrived on the airport link bus and promptly disappeared and Eric overheated the car but eventually we were safely on board Pan Am 099 to Miami. It was a shame that they ran out of beer but the double scotch did nicely, thank you, and this, combined with the drastic editing, convinced me that I hadn’t in fact seen Star Trek V before. Amazingly my ears held up on the descent to Miami International Airport, where the temperature was 82 degrees and the humidity 92%. Someone quoted us almost our entire spending allowance for a taxi into town, so we hired a car – a Dodge Shadow – for our trip to Power 96 FM, for whom we may do an interview on the way home. Personally I found Miami (North, South and Beach) tedious, the “highlights” being someone threatening the assistant in a corner store and the fuzz booking the car next to us for being in a disabled only space. At 11pm we crashed out in MIA Concourse C, being unable to take any more of Eric’s driving. Perhaps we’ll have some tickets to Belize in the morning.
Well, it’s been some time since this ship last sailed – October 1989, in fact! Over the last month or so, we’ve been relearning a few songs, some last played in a Belizean whorehouse over 26 years ago. Amazingly enough, Al, Rich and Ian seem to kind of remember them.
Rich is currently working on typing up his 1989 tour diary from Belize and Mexico and scanning in various photos, posters and articles. They’ll appear here shortly. As for what happens after that, well, we’ll see, shan’t we…