Brenda’s Unfortunate Record #47


I’m sat at the bar chatting with the barmaid. Rain lashing at the windows, wind whistling, leaves flying … it’s one of those miserable cinematic nights, premature for this time of year. Not quite down from the weekend, I’m nursing a vodka soda in the low light, content in the company of my fellow human beings but relishing the minimal-social-expectation. I find this is what the bar is best for. Maybe it’s cause I’m North American, but I don’t get the same vibe from a pub. Perched on your own and facing a wall of liquor, you’re awarded a form of semi-anonymity. Talk if you want or just sit there. It’s a little less lonely than an empty front room but you can still zone out and contemplate. 

But me and Alice had got to talking about summer – that now distant season. She was having to pick up extra shifts after a stint down Antibes, living above her means. Turns out she has a thing for yachts – the bigger the better – not like she managed to get on any, but she still subscribed to the lifestyle. 

It got me thinking about years ago, the time I made it onto one… 

I’d been touring with a DJ. Some big Russian promoters had invited him down to this crazy festival in the fringes of Crimea. Getting there had been epic. Three flights followed by a long and terrifying drive. We raced too fast down an unmarked motorway, dodging swerving lorries as the adjoining fields burnt and a thick & jaundiced sky hazed over the setting sun. The talent slept whilst I kept my eyes wide, glued to oncoming traffic. Knuckles white, clutching the imaginary safety belt, I tried to bring myself round to the idea it could all end there. 

By the time we arrived at the edge of the site it was dark. Two dirt roads made up the village. We were dropped at the door of this old babushka, who made us take off our shoes before showing us to a little alcoved room at the top of the house. Pulsing baselines rattled the windows, edging us back downstairs quick. She forced us to eat a bowl of borscht (super tasty, 100% vegetarian) before we could reclaim our footwear. It was a good shout. The night was long, swollen with one-off wild experiences, and stretched well into the following day. 

By about 2pm we’d been ushered about from stage to stage and DJ had just finished a prolonged morning set. As I lolled about in the sand one of our hosts came over and asked if we wanted to go on a boat. Having somewhat exhausted the surrounding scenery, my ears perked up. 

‘Boat? Oh my god, yes please!!!’

He took us down to the edge of the water where a small but speedy vessel was waiting. We climbed in and as the engine revved, I made my way up to the bow, taking in the surf as we bounced out over the waves. I was beyond excited. ‘This is amazing!!!’ I cried, before DJ piped up.

’Calm down. This is just the boat to take us to the boat’

Sure enough, anchored on the horizon was one of those mega-yachts. ‘We’re going on that?’ I asked in disbelief. As we neared, bodies on the upper deck stood up and started to wave. The artist had arrived! He was first to board and bounded up the stairs to a chorus of cheers. I was last off and my attempt to follow wasn’t as smooth. Two really big men held me back. ‘Wait’ one of them curled, with a thick no messing accent. I tried to point, do the whole ‘I’m with them’ thing, but as I stood there looking up my cohort’s superstar welcome, a hose was brought out and I proceeded to get sprayed down. Like a proper, hard jet of water. I struggled to keep my balance and honestly thought they were trying to expel me, ‘no one will notice if this one goes over’, but then it stopped and I was thrown a towel. Talk about demeaning. 

Needless to say by the time I did make it up, the confidence had taken a bit of a knock. This was compounded by the fact my short hair, pale skin & tomboyish fashion didn’t exactly meld with the other girls, who were all made-up, fit and on show (having just had a dig through the photographic archives, this seems to have been more in my head). But I think our host sensed my discomfort and ended up taking me to the roof of the wheeldeck, where we lay in the shadow of the radar dish, chatting & smoking cigarettes til it was finally time to go. 

What can I say? It actually looks more fun in the pictures. All I know is that I didn’t feel like I belonged there, then or ever. Back nuzzled against the bar, listening to Alice’s luxurious dreams, I think Czukay might have a better chance of capturing the essence of my inner boat woman. Might just have to accept I’m more oar than ore.


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