No Time For Jet Lag

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized

                    In 2003, I was returning to UK from a trip to US with my future ex-wife and was notified that I was to play Jongleurs Birmingham that same night, an add-on to the next two nights I was already booked there. It meant that as soon as I got back to Dagenham, I had about an hour before I had to turn right around and train it up to Birmingham. I had a chance to nap on the train and the hotel was about 50 feet away from the venue, but I still pretty much sleepwalked through my set, then returned to the hotel to die for about ten hours. Good thing I had a nice crowd that night, and that my absolute worst Jongleurs audience ever was saved for Saturday of that week. That set would go into my archives as the  “Fuck Off Yank Wanker” set. 

                       Flash forward to October, 2010, or actually before that. I’d originally booked my flight to leave San Francisco on October 2nd, arriving at Heathrow on the 3rd. A booker calls me about a well-paying private party gig on the 2nd in London, where the people wanted no one but me, after seeing footage on my website. Yay, after 11 months with that damn thing, has finally paid some dividends! But I had to change my flight to leave a day earlier. OK, so I’m out about £100 to re-book a return leaving SFO on the 1st, arriving at Heathrow 7 AM on the 2nd. That would mean about three hours later, I’d be home, still have most of the day to nap before heading back into London to do the gig. I think I managed about an hour somewhere in there, since my landlady was there a good part of the day doing some cleanup.

                        Just to complicate my evening, a second gig on Saturday was booked last-minute, meaning I’d have to be out of the party by 9:15 to be at Jongleurs Hammersmith by 9:45. This was a lovely party, a 40th birthday party, where both the birthday boy and his wife (who hired me), and a large portion of the partiers were US ex-pats. They had not planned on me starting until 9:00, but I was able to convince her to let me up at 8:30. Since I was to do 45 minutes, I figured on 20 minutes for the cab, still there by 9:45 or so. I noticed at 8:15 that there was enough people in the reception area to qualify as an audience, so great, I got going at 8:20, quit at 5 after 9. Piece of cake, right?

                         Well, no, because Jongleurs had called to inform me that there was a horrific accident in Hammersmith that made street travel impossible for most of the evening, so I needed to take the tube. OK, about 7 stops from Marble Arch, one train change, 30 minutes, still no problem. How about it pissing down rain? All right, a 10-minute discomforting walk, and then at that train change, I needed to leave the White City tube station and walk about 200 metres in more rain to the next station. And just to put a trifecta, the heavens were putting on their best show for me in my walk from Hammmersmith Station to the actual venue, which I passed by twice before figuring out where it was. That would not be my final drenching of the evening.

                              At Jongleurs were the two sons of my cousin, one of whom is living in London for a year with his fianceé. After the show, we all had to walk back to Hammersmith station, with more rain though one of them had an umbrella, and decided to find a pub for one drink. This was a big fat oops. We managed one, but with closures of Victoria Line for weekend repairs as well as a crucial part of the District Line, it meant a huge throng of people at midnight queueing for the remaining Piccadilly Line trains. The trains got so ridiculously crowded that at every stop the driver had to exhaust every variation of “mind the doors,” while his tone was clearly saying “you fucking drunken idiots.”  

                            While I was being squashed like everyone else in there, at least I was with my cousin’s kids instead of alone, but I also couldn’t really take notice of which stations we were passing. Finally I saw we were at Holborn, and decided to get off there and transfer. BIG mistake, for starters passing up the offer to stay the night with my relatives. I heard from them later that their journey involved bus,  30 minute walk, and finally a cab to get to their place in Islington. As soon as I got off the Piccadilly Line came the announcement that the last Central Line train had left from that station, putting me outside at about 12:45, still a good 10 miles from Dagenham, again pissing rain, no cabs available, and also carrying a fair-sized wad of cash from my party gig, which already seemed days ago. Well, wouldn’t this be a perfect re-entry into London if I’d gotten mugged on top of the drenching? Being so wet certainly took away any possible jet lag. 

                          I had no idea what to do, but started basically walking in an Easterly direction, hoping to catch a night bus, something I dreaded, for I knew of one comic who was mugged on one after rejecting a ride offer from me, but at least he got a large body of material out of it. The rain had decided it hadn’t come down on me enough, and after about 100 yards of newfound hell, I found a Thistle Hotel with a bit of shelter, and also a taxi rank, though the cab service booked through the hotel had about a 2-hour wait. 

                              The thing is, much as I’ve struggled with my beliefs in any godlike superbeing, there was something heaven sent that happened, though I had a hand in orchestrating it. I overheard three girls also stranded, who received the same story from the hotel. They were going to Harlow, which like Dagenham is in Essex, and had managed to call a cab to pick them up in about 10 minutes. Of course, ten minutes in London time can be as many as 30, but I didn’t care. Even though their combined age was only slightly more than mine, I managed to convince them I was OK, and I’d give a sizable donation to their fare if they could persuade the driver to take me to Dagenham first. There must be something in my body language, or the fact that I was carrying a guitar, or maybe that we were all cold, wet, and suffering, but they had no qualms about prolonging their night by possibly another hour just to allow me to ride with them. Since the driver wasn’t expecting this detour, I was expecting him to double the fare, but he only added £10. So maybe this belief in god thing has some merits. And to Laura, Sarah, and Rita, thank you for being so kind! 

                                I got home at 2:00, stayed up for another hour, took lotsa drugs, and woke up at noon. Could you blame me?



One Response to “No Time For Jet Lag”

  1. Michael H. Lake Says:

    What the hell, Brian? Your writing is fun and funny and jerks like the one above send you ads for commercial loans. “There ain’t no Justice, just us.”

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