ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

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 — shout at foreigners, go to any shop that vaguely resembles an English one and drink excessive amounts of alcohol.

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 — and highly intelligent — Spurs supporter on their way to Amsterdam on the other MGP trip to see Frankie and UB40 in Holland.

They grin laddishly, pose with beer cans and confess they might not go to the concert at all but go off and explore the citys 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.

Its 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. The sun has come out.

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 hes 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.

Its half past one in the morning and were 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 — leering at Germans and bearing down on groups of 16 year old girls on their way to see Holly and the chaps in Belgium.

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 oclock we meet up to travel to the Forest Nationale for the concert. Kelly, Amanda and Rachel rush up excitedly. Theyve bumped into Holly Johnson strolling around Brussels with his companion Wolfgang. “Is that your boyfriend?” asks one of them and Holly nods. Kellys 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 theyve come all the way from England to see him Holly answers “Youre 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 — irritating when youre trying to catch up on the sleep you missed the night before.

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 hes 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 havent been to the toilet yet. Kelly disappears into the night. Brussels is a fascinating city.