Back in the summer of 1990 I jumped on a plane to Switzerland with my good friend Roger. Our first stop was the Lugano Fife & Drum Muster in the beautiful Italian part of Switzerland. After a brief stay in Lugano, which involved meeting my good friend Massimo for the first time and escapades at a youth hostile, Roger an I boarded an overnight train to Basel. The train was full, and Roger’s drum case was too wide to fit into the train car. So, his drum spent the night between cars and we spent the night trying to sleep in the aisle way. Being young and naive, and hearing horror stories of how the train cars often split during the night, leading the unsuspecting traveler to Liechtenstein instead of Basel, we felt fortunate to arrive in Basel in good shape, good spirits, and with all our instruments.
We then made our way to the airport, where we were to meet up with the Ancient Mariners, who were arriving for their visit with the Swiss Mariners. We walked in to find the Swiss Mariners, who we had never met, all standing in the waiting area, looking through a glass wall, where they were expecting to see the Ancient Mariners arrive at any moment. We walked up behind them and said hello, which entirely confused them since there was only one way through that glass wall…and we didn’t come through it. Apparently nobody told them we were coming early by train.
After a brief explanation, a good laugh was had by all. The Ancient Mariners showed up ten or fifteen minutes later, we all had the first of many beers and a week of celebrating had commenced.
Later that week, we performed for a couple thousand people at the Augst Roman Theater. The memories of that concert, until now, had been slowly fading, being replaced by more recent escapades in Switzerland. Today, however, I saw a video that was posted from that concert and the memories came rushing back.
This is a video of the Ancient Mariner Chantey Men singing a goofy, crowd-pleasing song called the German Clockwinder. What the Chantey Men didn’t know was that the rest of the Swiss Mariners and Ancient Mariners had spontaneously lined up behind them and started bopping up and down, and singing along…if you can call ‘boop, boop’ singing. And, in the end, for reasons I never understood, we all decided to fall down. Goofy, corny, odd, but the crowd loved it. I guess sometimes people just want to see the entertainers make clowns of themselves. And we did. But, more importantly for me, it was the first real moment that I understood what a special group of friends I had, both here and abroad.
Incidentally, Roger and I are the baby faced ones hanging out somewhere over in the left side of the line.