The Queen of Rock turned and smiled at me, ‘Hello’ she said sweetly.
We are soon to depart on our budget airline, yes I know, the glamour. But at least our destination is glamourous, a paradise island set in the wine dark Mediterranean Sea.
The seat next to me had been empty ‘til just a few moments before we are due to take off. I had been lazily gazing through the in flight magazine and didn’t see the Queen of Rock board the plane and take her seat next to me.
Slim, petite and clad in black, with Mediterranean good looks and sartorial elegance, she holds out her hand and introduces herself. ‘Charmed’ I respond.
I note the full sleeve tattoo as she offers me her hand in friendship. Her dark hair cascades over her shoulders as she leans forwards towards me.
We have mutual friends it transpires. She is an accomplished musician, from a little town in Italy called Rome, and also appearing on the same festival as Letz Zep this weekend.
I offer her a Gin and Tonic, well it is the least I can do and the 4 hour flight seemed to…..well……to use a term of phrase, to fly by. The Queen of Rock is the most engaging of company.
We are welcomed on our arrival, it is late afternoon and the heat reminds us that we have arrived at our Mediterranean setting. As beads of sweat start to trickle down the brow, the Queen of Rock takes her leave and we part.
That evening there is a welcome party for the artists and the VIP guests and the setting couldn’t be more beautiful. A tropical bar upon a golden beach, as the sun sets and the moon rises the reflection dances upon the silver sea. The band strikes up.
The various artist, all here for the celebration of music, all introduce themselves, nice people some I had met before, some are new. As I approach the bar the Queen of Rock is sitting serenely and unaccompanied.
‘Can I buy you a drink?’ she offers. I of course decline, being a gentleman and all that, some would say old-fashioned perhaps. However, a gin and tonic quickly appears. The first of many.
It’s 4am when I stir from my esteemed repose. The early morning sunlight gently illuminating the room in a golden haze bringing promise of another beautiful day.
I feel drowsy and slightly hungover. I notice I am fully dressed and totally alone, only, the room is unfamiliar. How did I get here? And more importantly, who’s room is it?
I scan the corners of the room for clues, all is quiet, all is calm. Although the bass guitar in the corner of the room offers a clue to the inhabitant.
My thought go back to the night before, what was the last thing I remember? oh yes the Queen of Rock buying me a Gin and Tonic, then a tequila, or whatever it may have been, I’m not entirely sure but I do now recall our shots being quaffed from the cleavage of a young blond lady with generous breasts.
Several of these later and the Queen of Rock is a little unsteady on her feet, I take it upon myself as a true gentleman to escort the lady back to her apartment, thankfully not too far from the beach on which we revelled the previous evening. But where is she? She is absolutely nowhere to be seen.
I rise from the comfort of the opulent bed in search for my missing drinking partner. The apartment is large and airy but she is nowhere to be seen, I don’t recall the journey back to her accommodation, but she must have entered with me, otherwise I couldn’t have accessed the room! Or even know where it is for that matter!
But where is she? I further check the room for signs of life, of revelry, of anything, but the apartment is empty and pristine. A puzzling mystery, a bit like the Marie Celeste, only we aren’t at sea, or in a boat! Ok nothing like the Marie Celeste then.
The only room I haven’t checked is the bathroom but something is stopping the door from opening, an unknown object blocking it from the inside.
I push harder, there is a thud but eventually I push hard enough to open the door and there laying curled up comatose on the cold marble floor lay the Queen of Rock looking most indecorous.
With the utmost gallantry I lift up the poor girl and help her to bed. Unfortunately she has taken a firm grip on the shower curtain and the whole thing comes crashing down, she continues to hold on and drag it across the apartment floor and into the bedroom, ignoring my instructions to let go of the shower curtain she continues to drag the curtain and the rail halfway across the bedroom floor.
But I am still weary, and she never really had regained consciousness as we both slipped back into the arms of Morpheus and slept soundly, despite the heat we are both fully dressed. I did manage to kick my shoes off however.
‘What the hell happened last night? The voice of the Queen of Rock rudely waking me from a rather pleasant dream. It is now nearly noon the sun riding high as we had slept long into the day.
Glancing around the room it did look liker a bomb had hit it, or a wild party, neither were true of course. The room looks wrecked, the remains of the shower unit strewn over the bedroom floor. The Queen of Rock examines the extent of the damage in the bathroom as I attempt to get another 15 minutes or so of shut-eye. My rest is disturbed by the figure of the demure bass player standing full square in front of me, she points at her face. As if awaiting an explanation of some sort? I am a bit mystified.
‘Yes?’ I respond, wondering what the matter could be.
‘I have a black eye’ she continues, ‘what happened last night?’
‘I have no idea’ I explained, as I examine the swelling and bruising which blemishes her right eye.
Then a dark distant memory came flickering back. The bathroom door wouldn’t open, something was stopping it from opening, it couldn’t have been her face could it? No surely not, it couldn’t have been, no, I wasn’t really slamming the door into her face was I?
Of course I wasn’t, I convince myself.
Well. Valour? Discretion is the better part of it or so they say.
'I have no idea how you got that black eye’ as I shrug my shoulders in innocence.
‘Humph’, she sighs as she reaches for her phone, 25 missed calls and 23 unread messages the led display informs us.
‘Oh shit’, she declares, ‘I’m meant to be rehearsing, I can’t do anything before breakfast so let’s go eat’.
The Queen of Rock dons the biggest pair of sunglasses I have ever seen do disguise the blackening around her eye and we leave in search of a decent lunch.
There is thankfully a cool breeze, as we stroll up the gentle incline towards the local tavernas when a voice calls out breaking the silence.
‘I have been trying to call you’.
It is the voice of the singer in her band bellowing across the parched dry lawn which separates the apartments from the street.
‘we have to rehearse the……….….; he never finishes that sentence………………….’ Oh………hello Billy………..’
He says in abject shock.
All time stops, as we all stand motionless, faces appear at windows and from doorways, a scene frozen in time, some brushing their teeth, other with half a bacon sarnie unceremoniously stuffed in their gob, we all stand there motionless. No one speaks, no one moves. Even the birds cease their singing. Like a Mexican stand-off, or the final scene from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
I turn the Queen of Rock, and she looks up at me through her dark glasses.
‘Busted’ I say to her and we continue on our search for a decent breakfast and a black coffee.
Rehearsals will have to wait.