Chapter 9: in which we separate entirely

“It’s honestly not my job to do that, and I think it’s a pisstake you’d even ask.”

We’re early to rise, largely because our Italian host has to go to work and doesn’t want us in his house whilst he’s not here. Can’t really blame him. We head to a coffee shop underneath his flat and make small talk for a bit. The guys want to see the sights, and I want to desperately not go anywhere near the centre of Milan with the van as it’s a god damn hellscape. We decide i’ll drop them off in the centre of the city and then drive back out to find somewhere a bit quieter to park/catch up on some sleep. On the way to the van I see and stroke a dog, which is always a morale raiser.

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Milan is truly terrible. It’s like Paris in the respect that people seem to have a certain perception of it as a wonderful, romantic city when in fact it’s a trash city full of some of the worst driving outside of playing your mum at Mario Kart. I’d say there was nowhere to park, but what I mean is that there are no designated spaces so people park ANYWHERE. Nobody seems to care. I guess they’ve got more important things to worry about.

Anyway. I drop them off in the centre and make a quick escape. I drive 10 minutes or so out and find a space big enough for old blue. The van has become an oven in the midday sun, but i’m so tired from lack of sleep and being in a consistent state of heightened anxiety that i fall asleep in the back seat for most of the day.

I awake some hours later a horrendous sweaty mess, and sigh as I realise it’s time to pick the guys up. I drive back to the centre of Milan, find somewhere to temporarily park and let them know where i’m at. After a fair amount of faffing about, I have the guys in the van. I also seem to have acquired 2 Italian girls, neither of which speak fantastic English and both of which have been made to sit in the front with me. It’s a bit odd. I’m told they’re fans of the band who had previously seen them in London. After a day together, the band apparently have zero interest in any further interactions with the girls. Great.

We arrive at the venue, and after some trial and error with parking I decide i’ll just park fully on the pavement. It’s stressful but i’m satisfied after discussing it with the venue staff that the van will be fine to stay there for the duration of the evening. I’m happy with that, and now i’m just keen to get the night over with as i’ll be leaving the party in Milan after the gig.

The band soundcheck, still awkwardly ignoring the girls who joined us. The girls i guess have gotten the hint, and let us now that due to a bus strike they’ll need to get the train home which means they won’t be able to stay for the night. They explain that the train station is about a mile away, which is easily walkable.

Here’s where it gets awkward.

Aussie 2 butts in and in a tremendously patronising manner advises them that ‘Summers will give you a lift there.’ I’m noticeably uncomfortable about this prospect for a number of reasons which should probably be evident at this point really. They sense my hesitance and insist that it’s fine, but Aussie 2 pushes it further.

‘Summers doesn’t mind, he’s a nice guy.’

Fuck. Off.

I’m equal parts anxious and angry, faced with the dilemma of wanting to straight up tell him to get fucked which would cause an unnecessary argument mere hours away from the end of this tour. The girls are clearly a lot more perceptive than he is, and insist that they’re fine. I walk off and leave them to say their goodbyes, and sit upstairs.

A short while later, feeling a bit guilty, I head outside to find the girls. I double check with them that they’re fine, and after they assure me that it’s a short walk in a busy area, I leave them to it. I re-enter the pub and see Aussie 2. He comments that ‘that was fast’ and I let him know the girls were fine walking to the station on their own. He disappears outside, and I don’t see him or Aussie 1 until just before doors. They let us know when they arrive back that they decided to walk the two girls to the train station. Great. Good for you guys.

A short while later, i head backstage to grab some food, and am confronted by Aussie 2.

‘Would it really have been so difficult to just take them?’

It’s delivered in such a snide fashion that I momentarily contemplate dumping the plate of pasta i’m eating on his head. Showing remarkable restraint, I explain to him that I was confident they were fine, and it would be so much more of a hassle for me to move the van, navigate Milan and then hope the space we have is still there when I return than for them to walk 15 minutes. He’s not satisfied with this, and continues with the snarky remarks. He delivers some macho bullshit about how ‘we’ve all got sisters, wouldn’t you want to make sure they were safe in the same situation?’

Jesus christ. First of all, you’re talking to the wrong guy as far as that train of thought is concerned. Both my sisters served in the navy, one now lifts big weights for fun and the other fixes snow ploughs in the french alps. Unless it’s a situation in which the danger can be diffused by a Pokemon card battle, my sisters are generally going to be able to look after themselves a lot better than I am. Secondly, what year is this? Is this patriarchal garbage really the way you want to go about this? And third, the girls clearly politely declined my offer to drive them. Why then would I, a complete stranger, insist these two young girls get into this van with me? Not that i’m any sort of a threat to anyone (unless as previously stated we’re playing Pokemon cards) but i’d rather take a 15 minute walk in a city i’m comfortable with than get into a van with a complete stranger.

He won’t let it go. He follows this up with ‘this is your job. it’s what we’re paying you for.’ I respond that first of all, he’s not paid me a thing, and secondly my job is to get the musicians in my party from point A to B. He states that as guests of the band, these girls are also my responsibility. Save for the fact that the guys lost interest in these girls hours anyway, it’s crap. I don’t back down, because ultimately it’s the last day of tour and i’ve had enough of being treated so shoddily. I’m also full of wonderful righteous anger, because I know i’m right on this one and can’t believe i’m even having this conversation. Eventually he backs down and leaves it, still of the mindset that i’m some terrible monster who values a parking space and my own sanity over the safety of other humans (spoiler: he’s right, but that’s irrelevant.)

I’m severely fucked off, and i’m fairly close to just leaving. I really, really should have, but despite this entire blog being evidence to the contrary i consider myself a professional and want to finish what i’ve started.

The show itself is surprisingly busy, and turns out to be the best night of tour according to the group. It’s a late one, and as per usual there’s no sense of urgency as far as unloading. We probably leave the venue at 1, and I ask where i’m driving to. They have no idea, as apparently it didn’t cross anyone’s mind to arrange for somewhere to sleep tonight during this entire day of free time they’ve had. I couldn’t care less as my plan is to start my 15+ hour drive tonight by getting the hell out of Milan and sleeping in the van at a rest stop somewhere down the motorway.

We fuck about for so long as I gently remind them all I’d like to leave asap to get some driving done tonight. As usual, nobody cares. After driving to a McDonald’s so they can use wifi to find somewhere and then driving to 3 different hotels they finally find somewhere they’re happy with and unload their bags to leave. I say a faux friendly goodbye to Aussie 1 who’s been more of a general irritant than a true bad guy, and I discuss when and where i’ll be meeting the band back in the UK to drop their backline. I ask for some cash to cover fuel and toll costs, and they give me 200 euros. I explain that due to tolls in Italy and France it’s incredibly unlikely that this will cover all costs, however they’re unwilling to get any more cash out and at this point I just want to leave so we decide i’ll keep all receipts and settle it when we next meet. I’ve got a boot full of their gear, so it’s not a massive gamble, although i’m not happy i have to put these costs on my own card.

Aussie 2 is nowhere to be seen. He has disappeared into the night without so much as a wave goodbye. It turns out he was the true villain of the piece all along. Who knew?

A huge smile spreads across my face as I blast some music on and pull away from the dead weight i’ve been carting around for the past week or so. I pull over about an hour outside of Milan, and have the most peaceful night of sleep since the start of the tour, ready for the epic drive home ahead of me.

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