Nov 23

Sunday November 1st

Tag: Abu-Dhabi F1 2009Kal @ 5:49 pm

Race day, the day we’ve all been building up to and, despite the organisational difficulties that have come before, I actually feel reasonably prepared for what we’re about to do.

We’re about to help run an F1 Grand Prix.

I am still dressed in combats and a teeshirt, the FIA having utterly flunked out in providing me with a pair of fire-proof overalls that I can actually wear. I have a chat with one of the bosses and between the two of us we agree that I’ll work in what I’m wearing and that “If there’s any chance of fire, stay away.”

Oh trust me mate, I’m a green-suit, I’m a world champion in keeping myself safe at the possible detriment of others. Also? If I make too much of a fuss about things, I have a nasty feeling I’ll end up in the clinic handing out Immodium to Marshalls. I want to be track side.

The day trips past at a fair lick until tea-time when the Formula One boys are scheduled to race. The crowds pile in to the stands and, from our vantage point at the bottom of the VIP “Sun Tower” we watch a steady stream of helicopters and limos deliver a steadier stream of tall men in dishdash arrive, flanked by shaven headed gorillas in black suits.

The F1 cars have zipped past all afternoon, practicing or qualifying or something. I don’t know. As far as I’m concerned cars go vroom-nyeow past us, they’ve been doing that all week; other than the audience of 50,000 people – how is tonight going to be any different?

Bryn and Mark plug their laptops into the cigarette lighter on the car and hijack the WiFi from the Sun Tower, there are websites out there that track races minute by minute and I listen to their excited chatter, recognising the occasional name or team.

Personally, I don’t even know what colour our team is wearing.

Lewis Hamilton drops out because his car breaks, or something. I wait excitedly to see if he’ll call the RAC to come and tow him back to the pit, but like the big spoilsport that he is he just casually cruises back to his team mates and goes off for an early bath. Other than that, I’m completely oblivious to the race’s progress and I wonder how spectators manage. Is there a commentary, or are they, like us, just watching cars going vroom-nyeow? Do they go home and read the results online?

The race ends, chequered flags wave and flash and the hotel alongside the track flashes checks across its illuminated surface. In the excited crowds that throng the pit lane, nobody notices Bryn and I slipping in. We stand under the balcony as the winners are presented with bottles of champagne and it’s only because I take a short step backwards that I avoid tasting it as they spray bubbles over the crowd. It strikes me that there are 50,000 people here today who would kill to be standing where I am now.

It’s fun :)

And then suddenly, it’s done. We make one last lap of the track and head back to the clinic, where the whole place is a flurry of staff stuffing clothes into kit bag from their lockers and bug out to the gig.

Because the F1 was great.

But we have a date with Aerosmith to be getting to.

At security I discover the best way to smuggle a camera into the gig is to bury it in my bag first under my stinking, sweaty clothes and then laying a tourniquet and stethoscope on top of them all. The guard zips open my bag and stops.

(well…not really, but…)
“Yes. Doctor.”
“Sorry, doctor…camera?”
“No, no camera. Laundry.”

He tentatively reaches out for the clothes before the whiff hits him. He zips it shut and waves me through. Thank god for lying and smuggling. What’s more alarming is that at no point did they find my shears/hammer and lock knife. Security indeed. Pshaw.

It turns out I know more Aerosmith songs than I thought and with the lubrication of the occasional light ale, we become increasingly raucous. The photos will remain private for the sake of our professional reputations.

Back to the OV for dinner an drinks, I chat to Gus and Hurls about the Desert Challenge 2010 and they let me know that this year’s team will be cherry-picked from those participants of previous years’. I learn that my strop-fest over evacuating a patient who wound up having a skull fracture has earned me a space already.

Not having to get up in the morning, we all congregate in “the green room” a collection of sofas and tables that have been set up around the cabins. It’s pushing 0300 before I roll back to my mattress for my final night.

13 Responses to “Sunday November 1st”

  1. Ross says:

    Does this mean we can look forward to some Desert Challenge stories in 2010?

    You’ve left an avid F1 fan jealous. Standing beside the podium. You lucky person, you.


  2. Fee says:

    “vroom-nyeow” is the best description – evah! – of the noise those damn cars make. I did try to watch a bit of the race (in case someone had a boo-boo and we got a nice shot of Kal-to-the-rescue) but my brain turned to mush after about, oh, five minutes. Plus I have the attention span of a small child ….


  3. Cath says:

    Know what? I seriously envy you all the cool stuff you get to do, but the F1? I think I’d be too concerned with my hearing and mental health, with all that noise.
    Wonderful stories, though. I really like them. Your way with words makes an old teacher’s heart warm. So young, and such a language… *sigh* :-D


  4. Ellie says:

    Congrats! I’ll look forward to hearing more stories from the desert next year.


  5. Sewmouse says:

    Ok, so like – it was the real Aerosmith – but was Steve Tyler well enough to perform? ‘Cuz, like, Joe Perry was being a bit of a jerk about him after he fell off the stage and broke his collarbone, or shoulder or something like that…

    Sewmouse REALLY likes Aerosmith, and as the band has a Very Special spot in the adolescent history betwixt myself and my daughter – inquiring mice want to know!!

    Oh – race thingy sounds cool. Hope you had earplugs.


  6. David Bain says:

    Another very enjoyable piece – not a piece ‘n’ jam, of course. (Scottish joke to confound the furriners). I haven’t followed F1 since John Surtees drove for Honda . . . then the money grubbers screwed it up as they eventually did the WRC. That doesn’t mean I’m any less jealous though.

    (takes the huff and looks for a cat to kick)

    Here, kitty, kitty, WALLUP!


  7. AinoTheFinn says:

    I dun linked to your blog! Woot! These stories are brilliant, well done with the smurgling :)


  8. Sarah says:

    Another great way of smuggling a camera into a gig is by putting something on top of it in your bag that the guards can confiscate, like a bottle of water. They feel big, you look disappointed and they don’t look any further through your bag.


  9. Metamor4sis says:

    “The photos will remain private for the sake of our professional reputations.” Awww Kal


  10. Metamor4sis says:



  11. kirikate says:

    Whats the fastest town in Scotland?

    The desert HAS to be better than Nairn though. (where isn’t better than Nairn).


  12. PeppyPilotGirl says:

    Way to go. Went back to reread the prior entry. Great work.


  13. me says:

    You didn’t miss anything – ’twas fizzy water I believe!!! They don’t drink alcopops there remember – so neither can you in public, even if you did just win their first ever Grand Prix. Oh well…


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