Had a stroll along the Canal du Midi in the afternoon. I was walking towards two plain-clothes police officers walking a young woman away from one of the locks. There were another two uniformed officers obviously examining the scene, a medic followed the two policemen with the lady. She had a Mia Farrow kind of look to her, a tattoo on her arm, maybe the left one, looking terrified, staring at some spot somewhere behind me. I thought she should have been trembling but I think she wasn't. She looked like someone who had just seen or discovered something really terrible, something unspeakably scary, something not meant to be seen by anyone. It was a dim, mid-November afternoon, not particularly cold or warm. I remember there was some Italian chanson or schlager from some open window from across the canal adding a surreal soundtrack to the whole scenery.
As the following day was off I went to see two guitar shops for fixing my guitar. Paprika's Workshop had a look at it but couldn't help as they were up to their neck in work, the other one, Fred's Guitar Parts, was equally helpful but had no spare part for the out-of-phase switch being apparently the trouble maker that cut off the signal as soon as I touched it. Advise: well, can't do anything about it now on such short notice but...erm... maybe just don't touch it. There you are!
Checking the route to my next show in Tarbes I realized this little town in the south of France is just about a 30 minutes ride away from Lourdes. It may sound silly but that's the kind of thinking you inadvertently get into being on tour. "What's good for the blind and the crippled can't be bad for Mäkkelä's guitar." is what I thought... You might figure what I was hoping for.
I drove there. I parked the car. I felt a bit stupid about the whole idea so I didn't take the guitar out of the car. Instead I walked down towards the St Bernadette church or grotto or whatever it is behind it's massive iron gate. I've been told about endless rows of water tabs where one can fill own bottles for some take-away holy water for home healing business. Unfortunately I didn't have a spare bottle on my walk down the hill in the old town of Lourdes. Down the deserted main drag of Bernadette merchandise wonderland, past closed memorabilia shops, through the drizzle, across the river... This was like a film set of some weird road movie. I took a photo of the gate with the Bernadette fountain behind it, at least I assume that's what it's called, turned around and walked back. That's when I spotted what's very likely one of the biggest merchandise supermarkets I've seen all my life. All kind of useful things you would like to take home from your pilgrimage. Candles all sizes, snow globes all sizes, Bernadette shaped bottles (didn't find the dildo shaped ones I've been told about), both filled with water and empty in a broad variety of qualities and makes, a huge selection of things I don't know what they're for, a dashboard-pope and to my big surprise also a dashboard-Mr Bean, the latter in the bargain section. If you ever get there have a look at the Palais du Rosaire. Highly recommended. And still, please believe me, I'm not taking the piss here. It's just yours truly stumbled into a slightly surreal scenery totally new to him. And yes, there was still that thought something around here might help me with my guitar. I did spend about 18 Euros in holy merch for which I got a surprising lot of things including a very small vial with sacred water. Picked up my car and headed for Tarbes. On the drive, mulling over the afternoon, I had to admit my belief has apparently got it's limits. No, I wasn't going to pour the water on my guitar. If that healing power was strong enough just the effort of going there, willing to believe in it, should be enough. Even though I turned out too much of a sceptic at the end of the day.
You should also know I'm still brooding about the fact my guitar worked perfectly ok for that night and all the rest of the tour. So...