Henry Hart, via e-mail...
“I’m a sound engineer, and recently spent two months touring Europe with a fairly massive Swedish band. The lads were okay, but having grown up in rural Scandinavia, had a slightly ‘old fashioned’ attitude to race relations. Still, on the last night we had a proper boozy send-off, despite the fact I had to fly straight to London at 8am for a friend’s wedding. Anyway, 2.30am and I’m completely comatose and – as is the way with these things – stark bollock naked. I’ve obviously mentioned to a few of the lads that at the wedding I’m due to attend, my friend is marrying a guy whose family are from Trinidad and Nigeria.
So the lads decide it would be hilarious to take advantage of my out-of-it state by painting my entire face, torso and limbs black, using indelible marker. I lurch to life at 6am with my alarm call and stumble into the bathroom. I turn the light on to be confronted by what looks like a below-par Al Jolson tribute act from the waist up. They’ve coloured in everything completely black – hands, face, neck, eyelids. The horror of meeting my friend’s new in-laws done up like some BNP carnival clown – let alone getting through passport control like this – is sinking in.
I leap into a scalding hot shower, but that shifts about 1% of the ink. Nothing else for it: I just bite the bullet and set about scrubbing myself with a nail-brush, almost boiling water and nasty cheap hotel soap. Eventually, the colour starts to shift, along with the top three layers of my skin. I eventually get to a light enough shade of grey that I can board the plane, where I promptly hit the toilets and keep scrubbing myself frantically. I make the wedding just in time, my face pink and swollen with scabs, and looking distinctly like I’ve been beaten up. Still: could have been worse…”