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  • Writer's pictureKatie

Le Mans Tattoo Convention 2020

Ok so its not that long since my last post but a lot of crazy stuff has been going on!

First up, myself and Johnny Strange just got back from Le Mans (France) after a fantastic weekend performing at the second Tattoo Convention Le Mans. This was a fantastic tattoo convention- superbly organised and really friendly. We performed our double act show over both days, taking with us a whole range of stuff including tennis racquet contortion, the bed of blades, the ladder of swords, razor blade swallowing, pierced weightlifting, the chainsaw and more... despite the audience speaking little English we think the shows were pretty well received. The convention itself was super cool, we made some great new friends from All Steamed Up (a steampunk prop making company), ate some amazing French fries, drew a tattoo on the very cool scribble mannequin (such a great idea!), watched some very unusual bands and art competitions and we also got to catch up with our good friend Pascal Tourain- the tattooed man. He is a great guy- we haven't seen him since Mulhouse in 2018 but he hasn't changed a bit and as always his incredible tattoos were amazing to look at.

Thank you for having us Le Mans- you were amazing!

So here is where things get crazy... when we first got this enquiry flights were already pretty high (despite the airport being right next to the venue which would have been convenient) so I booked us the Eurostar instead. In theory it meant we had less luggage restrictions, they just request 'no more than 2 cases each and you have to be able to carry your own luggage' - so this seemed super smart... we always have a nightmare with weight on planes- I often have to pay extra or take another case etc so the train was sounding good. I didn't want to drive or park in London so I booked our tickets via Ebbsfleet in Kent, we parked the car at the station and we were off... then came the first hitch. Sure- you can take as much luggage as you like- but they were really strict on what went on that train...

When we fly we take swords, chainsaws, beds of nails, broken glass, scimitars and a whole range of other things and the baggage security guys we have to get approval from as we leave the UK just laugh and smile and actually recognise us now. Eurostar- different story. They were not impressed. We did manage to get everything through just fine as long as we took the blade off the chainsaw and locked the cases. Actually, travelling by train was a delight- way easier and less stressful than flying, we changed at Lille which was undergoing maintenance but was easy, and although it was a long day we arrived in Le Mans way less tired than when we fly to gigs.

Getting back however, not so easy. Our journey back was via Paris Gare du Nord, as soon as security opened my case at the Eurostar terminal they weren't so happy. Despite explaining what we did for a living, them looking at photos, them realising we travelled on the same train just two days prior with the same items they wanted to keep my props. I said I'd rather miss my train and complain than leave my props (FYI nothing I was carrying was prohibited for travel, all of my items were on the safe list, we had printed the banned items list and had it with us for this reason just in case) so we eventually agreed that my case could go in the hold of the train (£30 cheers for that!) and I could collect it when I departed the train. A solution which seemed fine until I got on the train and realised the hold wasn't opened until the train arrived in London St Pancras... not Ebbsfleet. The very sweet train manager tried his best to arrange for a staff member at Ebbsfleet to board the train, locate my case and take it off for me there but with Ebbsfleet being a short stop they declined. He then arranged for Johnny to stay on with the case to London, retrieve it and then go back to Ebbslfeet and get off there. Whilst he stayed on the train I got off at Ebbsfleet, took his case and ran to the car park where I spoke to the attendant to increase my prepaid parking. I then sat and waited for him to go to London and return with my case- the craziest thing is that the case that "wasn't allowed on the train" was returning to Ebbsfleet from London on the train... we sat in the car after what felt like the longest day ever and then I had a five hour drive home...

The other crazy stuff going on is that we were unsure as to whether this weekend would go ahead or not as a highly contagious new virus (2019 Novel Coronavirus) is spreading across the world. Turns out in all of France ours was the only event which went ahead! It was slightly worrying that there were no travel warnings or social distancing measures in place at the Eurostar service... we don't know much about it really but it seems to be causing a huge problem in China. Our lovely translator from last time we worked there messaged me back in December to warn me not to come to China as there was a bad virus there but I never expected it would spread like it has... though I guess in the world of today where travel is so easy a virus has a better chance than ever of spreading. Thinking back to Blackpool Magic Convention in February we are so lucky to have squeezed it in before this broke out, and I'm surprised there wasn't an outbreak there with so many international performers attending. Anyway, stay safe out there, I think we'll be staying in for a few days before we visit anyone in case we picked anything up on our travels...


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