I hope you’ve packed your Sudoku, folks.
After the somewhat demanding past couple of weeks, we find ourselves staring down the barrel of a pretty extensive bit of travel to get down under. We’re leaving London on Tuesday at 10pm and not arriving in Perth until 2am on Thursday. Now, even with a half hour to change planes in Singapore and a chunky time difference, there’s time enough to twiddle your thumbs to stumps as the world slowly slips past below us.
Luckily for us, the springs on our body clocks pinged spectacularly out of place some days ago now. Time is now viewed through the hall-of-mirrors eyes of the truly knackered. I wander about dazed in London Heathrow and a familiar voice jolts me out of my bubble. It’s Mr Berryman. I would have walked straight past him. He greets me with a warm smile and I explain that I’m slightly adrift, still a bit on the pooped side. He agrees and between us we try to work out what time it is where we’re going. Guy’s iPhone tells him around 6am. It feels much more like the middle of the night to me right now than it does the 8pm that the clock above us reads. Perhaps I’ll be ok….
Not only are my mental and physical conditions beginning to appear well worn, so too are my travel accessories. My suitcase saw me right the way through the X&Y tour and really should have been retired after that. They’re such uninteresting things to spend money on though, that I’ve been struggling on. It’s pretty much had it now and no amount of black PVC tape is going to see it through. Every handle is one baggage handler away from being gone for good. Every zip has lost its tag and requires careful coaxing to open or close. I decide to take a look in the Duty Free shops for a bargain. Anyone else think six hundred and fifty quid for a bag is a bit much?
My passports are also almost at the end of their tether. I did say passports – it’s perfectly legal to have two and also completely necessary. Whilst you’re in one country using one, the other is often away having Visas installed and so on. The two that I have now both came into service when I started working for the band in 2002. One is now completely full, but cannot be replaced, as it holds my American Visa. The other, which I am travelling on today now has only two blank pages. My latest installation is a New Zealand visa and a letter from the Australian government letting me into the country.
On closer inspection, this folded computer printout is a Temporary Entertainment Visa (Subclass 420, no less). Apparently, I am to be granted entry as an entertainer, provided that I "not cease to undertake the activity in relation to which the visa was granted".
This would appear to be saying that I must be entertaining for the entirety of my three weeks in the country. They don’t ask for much, do they? I’m going to be double knackered after this. I’m thinking that I’ll have to get some kind of comedy mask, or some of those glasses with wobbly eyeballs on springs – if only so that I might get a chance to sleep…
The truth is though, that for all the travel, the jetlag and the missing home, I do utterly adore Australia. Visiting here is the best pot of gold at the end of a jetlagged and exhausted rainbow that there is. (With the obvious exception of home and the ones that you love.) I was last here when the X&Y tour finished. Myself and one of the world’s most naturally gifted photographers (Miss Penny Howle) changed our flights back home from Tokyo and snuck down to Brisbane into a hired camper van for a month of waking up on the shore in Byron Bay and driving round the mountains up in Cairns. We both decided we could and probably should live here.
To be honest, I’m not sure why we don’t….