A most arduous homecoming

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized


              Whenever I’ve taken that Transatlantic journey, something has always gone awry, but rarely has it been “many things” and never has it been “I’m not sure this ordeal is over yet,” as this return trip to England has been. My adventure started upon leaving the hospital, maybe seeing my dad for the last time, and driving to SF Airport to leave the rental car. Thankfully, no problems there, no extra charges (as some companies will do), and I was at the check-in by 4:00, three hours before flight time. They weren’t ready for ME, though, as they had decided to change planes, so the computer wasn’t set up for check-in. Fine, I went to have an over-priced burger. When I got back 45 minutes later, they still weren’t ready, but assured me that the flight would still leave on time.

                  They were almost right, but they hadn’t counted on three things: 1) Extra paperwork 2) A very ill passenger, who was plunked down in my seat, and 3) A total twat passenger, who kept having a go at the person behind him, claiming the man was kicking him. I recognized the accent of the twat as most definitely not London, could have even been Essex. Five security guards came on to escort him off, and he was still maintaining, “Well, tell this bastard to quit kicking me!” Meanwhile, the ill lady was quietly escorted off by flight attendants. All this delayed the flight by about 45 minutes, not a catastrophe, but an inconvenience.

                   We made up some of the time by having some good tail winds, and got in at 2PM Thursday, only about a half hour late. The line through customs was its predictable slow, with only two booths set up for non-Brit passports, while all the British passengers hardly stopped walking as they went through. That took a good 30 minutes, by which time I figured, “Well at least my suitcase will be there.” Yeah, if they had actually put it on the plane! How does that happen that when you’re among the earlier check-ins, they somehow neglect your bag? It’s certainly not the first time that’s happened, and in fact, most memorable for me was a flight from New York to LA with a stop in Baltimore. While we were stopped in Baltimore, for some ungodly reason, they sent my guitar back to New York! I was flying TWA, which is no longer around, and if they cocked it up that badly that often, it’s no surprise.

                       The people at United were very sorry, and assured me they would make sure my suitcase was on the next SF-Heathrow flight, by which time it arrived, I would be in Preston, Lancashire. No problem, they said they could deliver it wherever, and sure enough, when I told them the Holiday Inn in Preston, it would arrive there before I did, which created another problem, but that’s all part of Friday, and I’m still not done with Thursday yet.

                      Next came the tube ride home, which usually takes about two hours, counting the walk from Dagenham Heathway station to my house. This day, it would take nearly three, as for the first time ever, I was actually on a tube line when a signal failure happened. So we sat about 300 metres (maybe it was yards, I dunno) from the East Ham station for about 20 minutes, and then had to move very slowly for the remaining five stops. Got home at 5:45, but at least I didn’t have to unpack anything since all I had was my carry-on bag with my Mac.

                        Since I have an American comic and his girlfriend staying at my house (though I didn’t see them), I planned to turn right around and go to my girlfriend Eileen’s house in Crouch End, London. This meant navigating the tubes again, which still hadn’t completely recovered from that signal failure, nor a subsequent incident of someone leaping onto the tracks. I only had to go on that line from Heathway to Barking, a mere three stops, but that took nearly 30 minutes. 

                           No further problems until about 3:00 in the morning, when I woke up with unexplainable abdominal pains. Those pains got bad enough that I was thinking of canceling my gigs, something I couldn’t afford to do. It was still pretty severe when I went to Euston station for my train, which was completely sold out. Preston was only the third stop on this train to Glasgow, but it would be 2 hours and 12 minutes of mostly sitting (and at one point LAYING) on the floor. I tried to sit in a seat that had been vacated, but after about 20 minutes, I found I was better off on the floor. Happily, the train wasn’t delayed, and I got a cab to the Holiday Inn. 

                           I asked when I was checking in if a suitcase had arrived, and the receptionist asked, “Oh was it from United?” Yes, it had gotten there, but they couldn’t accept it, as the passenger’s name was Brian Seff, and the hotel had my room listed under “Wick Wright,” (Nice try!) with no Seffs on the register.  At this point I didn’t care about the suitcase, I just needed to lay down until I had to go to the gig. We were able to reach someone from United, and they planned to bring it back over by 9:00 AM Saturday, which they did.

                            Meanwhile, there was still that stomach problem, and not sure what was causing it, but there was absolutely no comfortable position I could get in where it didn’t hurt. Was it indigestion from airline food? Or from the Indian takeaway that Eileen and I had? Either one could have been guilty. Something was backed up in that area, and while I continued to drink fluids, it only meant peeing like a race horse, but from the back end, not even a fart. 

                              The gig mercifully had me going up first, where I was originally booked to close. I was happy about  that, but advised the sound man to put a stool on stage, in case I couldn’t stand. As has happened before, somehow performing is therapeutic, and only once in my whole performing career have I ever cancelled due to illness or any physical problems. With that gig, I still showed up, but having gotten a bad sunburn earlier that day, I managed about 5 minutes before I started hallucinating and the guitar felt like it weighed 100 pounds.

                          Last night, I emerged unscathed, the crowd was friendly, and I got out of there shortly after 9 PM, trekking back to the hotel to see if I could pass out. I’d have a few minutes here and there, but finally around 4 AM, there was about three hours of uninterrupted sleep, and considerably less pain when I woke up. And while I’m still weak today, and took another three hour nap this afternoon, I at least have more energy for the show tonight, which last night was pretty paint-by-numbers. I’ve gotten my suitcase. and this morning while I was bathing, I farted! Several times, even. The next step hopefully will occur sometime soon.

                               There’s still the dilemma tomorrow of carrying two suitcases (Eileen loaned me one, since the handle on my overnight bag broke while I was walking back to Heathway, another cock-up I failed to mention) and a guitar back from Preston to London, then navigate from Euston station to Dagenham. Perhaps that’s a whole nother blog! 

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