We were dripping with sweat (okay, so the ladies amongst us didn’t sweat; they glowed) but we had forgotten the heat by now. The bus had managed to continue to inch forward steadfastly. There could not have been much more than the merest whiff of fumes remaining in the tank by the time we somehow managed to reach the petrol station, rolling gently to a stop aside a bowser. Thereupon, we sprang as one out of the bus, spewing ourselves onto the concrete so that we might cool ourselves in the 52°C (125°F) heat! Thank God! we were not going to be stuck out in the middle of the Western Australian desert and be forced to miss our next scheduled gig!
We were nonetheless late to arrive at the Walkington Theatre in Karratha but the crew were very understanding when we recounted our near-stranding. The lighting guy located a spare jerry can for us and advised us to fill it with extra fuel before the next leg of our tour. I imagined the stage manager was tut-tutting us, but most likely it was no more than the product of an imagination excited by the embarrassment of our ignorance.
Walking onto the stage for our sound check, one of our party remarked, “Wow, it’s pretty hot in here!” Hot it was indeed. In fact, it was stifling.
“Yes, the air conditioner broke down in the heat,” the stage manager explained.
It’s amusing now in the retelling. Today, we still laugh over drinks about our show that evening, when we recollect the discomfort of singing in collared shirts, bow ties, and tuxedos, the temperature climbing up over 50°C under the stage lights—but at that time standing on the stage, salt stinging our eyes, unseemly sprays of sweat sparkling under spotlight on every plosive consonant, our suits literally soaked through with sweat, I was in, well… hell. I love singing and I love performing. I love the interaction with an audience. The Karratha audience was so appreciative and—pardon the pun—warm… but, help me! please, please let that be the last time I need ever endure that again!
Karratha was one of the last performances in a marathon singing tour through some of the most beautiful but rugged places we’d ever had to travel through. In that minibus in Western Australia, we drove 4,134 kilometres (2569 miles) in just over a week! If we had started in Dublin, Ireland, driven across the United Kingdom, crossed the Channel into France, passed through Belgium and The Netherlands, traversed the entire span of Germany, Poland and Belarus, then continued on to Moscow in Russia, we would still have covered 500 kilometres less than the distance we did in Western Australia alone! And there was still the second part of our tour down the east coast to come… but that’s another story altogether!