Here we go, here we go, here we go
A headache-inducing catalogue of booze and bawdiness as Eleanor Levy and a coachload of Frankie fans journey to Belgium. Joe Shutter holds onto the Party 17s
RUGBY PLAYERS wearing Tommy Cooper hats? Statues that piss at tourists? Frankie Goes To Hollywood? What wonders a coach trip to Belgium holds as intrepid hack plus fearless photographer join the second of two coaches that Mead Gould Promotions of Brighton have put on to transport us raving Frankiephiles over the sea and far away to see our heroes play.
The venue? Brussels’ acclaimed Forest Nationale Stadium. The cost? £46 to take you there, see the show and whizz you straight back again. 36 hours without sleep, a chance to see the Mannequin Pis (a statue of a little boy urinating into a pool which the good people of Brussels dress in naval uniform on special days of the year) and the opportunity for the English abroad to do what the English abroad generally do—
Or so I thought as we set off for Dover and driver Geoff tells us of his times taking a herd of metal freaks to a Monsters Of Rock Festival with the beer cans gaily rolling around his ankles. I sit back and wait for the wackiness.
We are soon befriended by two girls who are probably looking for something to divert their minds from approaching seasickness. The soon to be heard “He put his bottom in my ear, Deborah!” indicates seasickness would have been preferable.
IN ONE corner some English football fans have arrived from nowhere with a hearty ‘Here we go, here we go, here we go’. These turn out to be Chelsea supporters with a lone—
They grin laddishly, pose with beer cans and confess they might not go to the concert at all but go off and explore the city’s red light district instead. Some of the rugby clubbers, seeing the camera, are drawn by some primeval instinct towards the bright light of the flash. “Get your plonker out Johnnie,” someone yells, and oh dear, Johnnie does just that.
It’s almost a relief to arrive in Ostend in the dim light of a Belgian morning. We drive off to have breakfast and for Kelly and friends to go to the loo again. Afterwards, various people pose for the magic lens of Joe Shutter. Michael from Sunningdale reveals an impressive collection of hats concealed in his haversack.
Soon we are in Brussels and the unheard of has happened.
IT TURNS out that the most exciting thing on the journey to Dover is counting the times Kelly from Letchworth has to stop ‘the coach to go to the toilet. Amiable courier Joe concedes he’s been on more exciting trips. Even going to see Nik Kershaw with most of the punters’ mums and dads in tow was more raucous, he says.
It’s half past one in the morning and we’re on the boat. Kelly and friends Rachel and Amanda are probably off somewhere inspecting the loo. Suddenly something really horrible appears. Wearing fezzes, they have large rolls of flab around the middle, they specialize in v-neck jumpers and loud exclamations concerning a particular gender-related organ of the human body.
They have ‘rugby club’ written all over them. They emanate from Abingdon in Oxford and take over the bar area—
They have left wives, girlfriends, mothers, etc at home in Abingdon, and in the safety of the all-male group are out to PARTY!
Everyone goes off to spend the day in this ‘marvellous, historic, yet lively city’ and to pay our respects to the Mannequin Pis. At six o’clock we meet up to travel to the Forest Nationale for the concert. Kelly, Amanda and Rachel rush up excitedly. They’ve bumped into Holly Johnson strolling around Brussels with his companion Wolfgang. “Is that your boyfriend?” asks one of them and Holly nods. Kelly’s reaction to meeting her hero is not what you might expect.
“He was a right pig,” she says. “I linked arms with him and said ‘come and have a drink’ and he said ‘no, go away’. So I said ‘Oh, big pop star now!’” When the three tell him not to be nasty because they’ve come all the way from England to see him Holly answers “You’re mad, then.”
WE ALL drive to the stadium. The Belgian audience are, to say the least, raucous. They even stand on chairs and scream for support band the Promise—
The concert is a replica of their English dates, except with a louder response from the crowd and signs of humility and genuine feeling from Holly at their noise and excitement.
Then Joe Shutter, a mite miffed at having been hustled out of the photographers’ pit and his film taken by a bald, fat bottomed bouncer, remarks that the crowd reacted the same for Yes and Kool And The Gang on previous trips he’s made to the place.
After the show, everyone piles back into the coach to be driven straight home. As courier Joe is about to close the door a voice pops up: ‘I haven’t been to the toilet yet.’ Kelly disappears into the night. Brussels is a fascinating city.