August 15, 2006

I am back home lying on my own bed, head spinning, feeling out of it, hoping that I can unravel this haze that shadows over me. The last 48 hours of my life have been surreal.

Upon arrival at London Euston station on Sunday afternoon, we opted to walk to the Cambridge area instead of entering the tube. Dodging foot traffic, the walk took less than an hour which included a couple short bursts of rain. We found the Enterprise where I was to play and I asked Chris to go inside and find out details for the night. With my back facing the club, Hiro said "Something is going on"? Chris came back out with the owner and said person had no information about my engagement that evening. Ugghhh!!!

The London show had already been moved twice and now they don't even know I'm playing. I scramble through my contracts to get the promoters info.. and head to the pay phone. Pay phones cost 30 P, but that lasts you only 20 seconds and most pay phones are broken, so finding a functioning phone is always an adventure. STRIKE ONE, STRIKE TWO, STRIKE....Yes, third one worked.

Jon was the promoter and I believe he was surprised by the calm of my voice. Though i was angry inside, I've learned it never does any good to get angry. He explained the confusion and apologized profusely. Upon further discussion it seemed the show was doomed. Even if he was to find a place to play, there was no sound man, no way to get the word out and he asked if I just wanted to get paid. I agreed and he came down to the Enterprise, gave me my money and that was it. It was just past 5 PM and my tour was officially over. Not the best way to end such a marvelous time, but that's the way things go sometimes.

My original plan was to go to the airport after my show and just wait there until the morning. But since it was still 5 PM ish, I decided to venture onto hotline and get a hotel near the airport. Chris wanted to get a hotel also, so we decided to go halves on one. The cheapest one we found was a 3 STAR for $89. CLICK CLICK CLICK and we had purchased our hotel. Hiro stayed behind to meet up with some friends of his, so this would be goodbye until ZURICH, SWITZERLAND where I will meet up with him again for my European tour. Chris and I headed down to the Chalk Farm tube station. Northern Line to Leicester Square and then the Picadilly Line straight to Heathrow. Our timing was perfect, we caught the train as soon as we got down to the platform. It wasn't so packed which was nice, but the transfer on the Picadilly Line was insanely crowded. We caught our breath and just inhaled deep to squeeze inside. 22 stops this train would make until we hit our final destination. The train spilled out a little bit of people with each stop and halfway through we were in seats.

Uggghhh.... it took so long. So many stops. The total time to Heathrow was over an hour, but probably less than 10 miles away. The plan was to grab a taxi once we got there. The hotel was a mile away, so it couldn't be that much. We guessed 4 or 5 pounds. Well, we guessed wrong. First of all, where the heck were the taxis?? We couldn't find any. We walked aimlessly outside the bus terminal at Heathrow, but nothing. We found one down the road in an unconventional spot, but hey it worked....we found one. And then the meter went CLICK. And then it clicked more and more and more. And our 1 mile ride cost us 12 POUNDS. That's almost $24 US for a one miles ride. Damn, if I knew how to get there on foot I would have walked it. So here we are at the THISTLE HEATHROW HOTEL. Kind of fancy, but not really. Everything overpriced. Dining in would cost a fortune and all amenities were extra. Phone, internet, fitness center, etc...

Our twin room was super small with beds that sat exactly two inches apart. I joked with Chris asking if he could live in here for a year, never leaving for 1 MILLION dollars. No was his reply. Next quest.. FOOD. Hotel food was out of the question, so we asked what was around? McDONALDS and a gas station they said. Well, no way I'm going to McDONALDS, so we checked out the gas station. Slim pickings my friends... Here's what I got. HOB NOBS(digestives), Baked Beans, and a loaf of bread. I used the iron to toast the bread(I've done this in the past with other foods such as cold pizza) and the kettle to heat the beans. Result.....Perfection. Though it took forever to toast the bread, it worked and it only cost me 2.84 Pounds.

The rest of the night we just lay in bed flipping aimlessly through channels hoping for an amazing movie to pop up, but it never happened. We opted for PRO WRESTLING and realized the genius behind the sport. A multi million dollar industry based on common knowledge that the events are fake. So basically wrestling is theater and the participants are actors. You have great actors and mediocre actors. You are paid based on how good you can act. Dispersed with BBC news, we learned of the ceasefire in Lebanon and carefully watched the current situation at Heathrow as this would directly effect me for my flight in the morning. Absolutely no carry on would be accepted. ZERO!!! no computer, no books, no pen, no nothing. Just your passport and wallet. Damn, that would make for some boring flying. Hope there's some good movies.

I woke up at 5 AM for my 10:05 departure. Took a shower and headed down to the lobby to catch the shuttle to Heathrow. To my surprise the lobby is packed with travelers. They too got the memo to arrive early. And what was taking the bus so long?? A new one was supposed to come every 20 minutes, but we waited and waited and nothing. And the crowd grew larger and though I was still four hours away from my flight, I started stressing out. That's when a guy in a suit with a mini van, walkie talkie, started loading up some people. In this confusion I walked up and said terminal 3?? And I was the perfect match as he could only take 5 and I was the fifth. 5 pounds was the cost, but he would take us directly to the airport as the bus which was just pulling up would make 3 diversions to other hotels. And now I was on my way. Heathrow traffic was unbelievable. GRID LOCK!!! The driver tells everyone that he knows a short cut and that he would drop us off at Terminal 2 where we would walk. He says it will save us a lot time. I believe him, get out, pay my 5 pounds, and start walking towards terminal 3. The place is a mad house. Police are everywhere, military presence in there. Machine guns are in plain view along German shepherds. Airport employees hand out plastic bags for carry on items and all the while I march forward towards my terminal.

Luckily the United Airlines section is pretty calm. I check in without incident and now have 3 hours to kill. I march around the airport with my plastic bag in hand. First through duty free, but what's the use?? You can't buy anything as there is no carry on allowed. I decide to get some food and stop at a bagelry for a toasted hummus bagel. I chomp on that as I walk some more. To dine in, you have to pay an extra 20 P. It's the principal, so I walk and eat. The English breakfasts are filling the different restaurants and the temptation is to much to deny myself this last pleasure in England. I get a vegetarian breakfast that includes sausage, eggs, beans, potatoes, and tomato. And that was it. Goodbye to England and onto the plane.

A packed flight and again no personal movie screens. I fall asleep before the flight takes off and awaken thinking we are somewhere in the air. To my dismay we are still on the ground getting ready to take off. DOH!!! And then I sit through the most painstaking 10 hours of my life. With only three movies:
and some movie where a girl pretends she's a boy cause she wants to play soccer???

Anyways, all movies were horrible and the final 3 hours were spent in utter boredom. The inflight magazine was my only entertainment and continuous walks through the cabin. Eating the complimentary snack mix over and over, plus shots of toblerone chocolate. When we touched down in San Francisco. tears flowed down my cheek.... Damn, i hate flying. Now I've got 3 weeks until I do it again only longer next time.
Be well.
Peace, mike park