What a week!

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized

I should have figured there was something up when I got a call last Monday from BT Internet, where the caller, so obviously reading from a script, said more than once, “Brian Seff, this is your lucky day!” He might as well have been a robot. Except he clearly faltered when I interrupted him, then, in trying to regain his pacing, went back to “This is your lucky day.” What he was selling was a phone plan that was almost identical to the one I already have, and they would charge about a pound per month less than my current provider. Of course, what would then happen would be my current provider would match or better the offer if I were to decide to change accounts. So I hung up on Mr. Lucky Day after a couple of refusals failed to deter him from his soliloquy. And thus began the first day of what would be a not-so-lucky week.

Nothing much happened the rest of Monday, and a meeting of my co-op management committee, of which I’m a member, but mostly asking myself why I’ve agreed to this, was better than I expected it would be. I mean, I actually said something that MATTERED, plus I injected some much-needed and well-received humor into the tedium that these meetings can sometimes be.

Where Tuesday should have been a wonderful remembrance of Eileen on the 2nd anniversary of her passing, there was an unexpected downer. The whole day had been good up until about 10 PM, after my quiz was done, and I realized my mobile had been nicked. My FB post of me and Eileen from Christmas 2010 earlier in the day had gotten lots of lovely comments, and I got word from several co-op members that they would be coming by for the quiz, and raising a glass in memory of their friend. They were a team of seven, and they did win one round, but also failed to claim their prize because of the “distraction.”

Happily, the reality didn’t show itself while the quiz was still going on, for it would have resulted in a very bitter quiz master. It was when I went to award the cash to the winning team that I noticed all the notes from the ante jar were gone. So I had to go to the team and deliver the bad news, while the bartender immediately offered a bottle of wine as consolation. I went back to the microphone to make this unfortunate announcement, then since my jacket was near where the money jar was, my bigger fear was to be confirmed. Sure enough, the coat felt lighter, and the mobile was gone. Now really, this mobile retailed for about £25, but had some classic texts from Eileen in her final months that are now gone to cyberspace. I can only hope that whatever this callous woman (definitely female, as determined from CCTV and other sources) got for this little piece of machinery didn’t net her even the one hit of heroin she may have been hoping for. She put a damper on our celebration, and we completely forgot to raise our glass. I got rather sloshed to console myself.

On Wednesday, I got a new phone, an even cheaper model than what I had, just for the sake of having one. The only consolation I’ve gotten so far is being able to keep the same number I had before, and thankfully there were no further charges made on the stolen phone, as we were able to call EE and get a block put on the number until I could activate it with another SIM card.

On Thursday, as I was beginning to move on with my life, I once again was confronted by visions of hell in the one part of my life I feel most secure. My gig this night was in Ipswich, about 70 miles northeast of Central London, and this was one of those few times I would have preferred still living in Dagenham, but only for the convenience. I foolishly believed that from North London to Ipswich could be done in less than two hours. I seemed to forget little obstacles like an accident going opposite from the direction I was going could still affect the London traffic leaving the city. At one crucial stoplight whose green signal lasted maybe 10 seconds with a waiting time of a couple minutes before the next one, I wound up going about a mile in about 25 minutes.

I had left my place at 6:30 for an 8:30 gig which fortunately I wasn’t on until the middle section. Even with the problems getting out of London, I still had an hour and a half to get to the gig. But then we encountered obstacle number two, discounting long stretches of road where the speed limit was cut to 40 MPH. No, this obstacle was Ipswich itself, where I arrived at about 8:25. I’ve said it before that when U2 was composing their tune “Where The Streets Have No Name,” they could have been inspired by nearly any town in UK. I missed one very crucial turn, and wound up taking a tour through nearly the entire town centre of Ipswich, which I had to navigate until I could get back to some familiar landmark on the town limits, and find a petrol station where I could check directions. Unfortunately, people who work at petrol stations here rarely live near their workplace, and the lady at this station was no exception. I pulled out a street map of Ipswich, and asked her if she could determine where we were, as I could see where my destination was. Absolutely no response or help whatsoEVER!

My salvation was a guy who came in to the station, and I asked if he could help me. He was very kind, and had a Sat-Nav, which I have stubbornly refused to buy for myself. The guy asked me to follow him, and at one point I envisioned him leading me into the sticks then robbing me at gunpoint, maybe taking my guitar and new mobile as well. My suspicions weren’t helped by a couple of turns onto backstreets. He did get me on the road where I needed to be, though he didn’t lead me directly to the venue, which of course I passed the first time around. I finally got there at 9:15, but they had started late and the first act, a magician, was still about 10 minutes from closing.

I had time now to have a beer, get settled, and I was introduced onto the stage at about 10:00. I wish I could say my travails were worth it, but this was a first-time gig for a venue that I doubt will have a second one. I was set up on the middle of a dance floor with audience members scattered pell mell around the room. We had little rapport, and thus would be my fate for most of my half hour. When I closed my (to be kind) lackluster set, the guys running the gig weren’t happy, though most of their anger was with the booker, who wasn’t there (possibly because he’s owed me money for several months now!). The audience was promised stand-up comedy, which by definition was not either one of our acts, plus there were two guys who never showed and were supposed to do short spots, which would have at least satisfied the desire for straight stand-up. I really didn’t care much about their plight. I wasn’t in the happiest of moods and just wanted to get paid and get the fuck out of there.

I did that, but the road gods had other things in mind. Not only would I be dealing again with 40-mile speed limits, but there’d also be crucial stretches of major roads closed, meaning I’d be taking grand tours of other suburban metropolises. Every single road I encountered had some segment closed, and though I pretty much drove straight through without getting lost at any stretch, the drive home took two hours and 15 minutes! It should be about a half hour less. And just to pile it on, I discovered later on that in my haste to leave the gig, I left behind my guitar cord, or jack lead as they call it here.

I didn’t discover the loss, or even care that much, until I showed up for a gig last night. Now before you think (assuming you’ve waded this far into the misadventures) that this is another tale of woe, fortunately it isn’t. Just the opposite! I might have panicked if I hadn’t had a second cord in my guitar bag. My gig last night in the town of Luton was, first of all, reached within an hour’s time, during which I did not make a single wrong turn. I got there with over an hour to spare.

To say I needed this one was an understatement. Not only was the audience great, but I was able to reconnect with people that would be great sources of future gigs. The fact that they saw me get my first encore of the year certainly helped my cause. It was not a perfect night though, because as I was heading back home, the main road leading to the motorway was shut, and the diversion took me on another exasperating and unwanted tour of Luton’s town centre. Still, I got home before midnight, just happy that I could end the week on a happy note.

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