Written Saturday 7/22/06 - 5:45am EST, JFK airport terminal Generally I have pretty good travel karma, and I guess I still do although our flight last evening was the only JFK to Heathrow flight CANCELLED! At least we had no pressing engagements or shows booked right away in England. I figure when you rely on transit as much as I do being a non-car-owning subway-taking Brooklynite, you're bound to experience delays, frustrations and even catastrophes from time to time. I actually give thanks when the unexpected occurs and I'm not on the way to an important appointment or fighting off the flu or something. It's been a rough night getting shuffled about by irritated, confused, over-worked airport underlings: checking our bags and then getting them back, going through the check-in and security process twice, and spending the hours of 1am to 4am on the hard hard floor bonding with our fellow Flight 46 refugees unsure of our fate, but all's well that ends well as they say, and here am I high on sleep deprivation, with a ticket on the next flight due to leave at 7:30am (no jinxes!) although of course we're dealing with far more luggage than we've ever brought for vacations or duo shows. My purple suitcase jangles with the sound of a packed tambourine, and as they say where we going to go (eventually) I'm all shagged out, but that's okay darlings. I put the rock in rock n' roll. Now the sun comes up, and I'm actually looking forward to the airplane breakfast, the first real food (not snacks) we'll have had since yesterday lunch. And of course my company cannot be surpassed. ***** Written Sunday 7/23/06 - early afternoon England time, the house where we're stayin' in Owslebury We are here! Thank goodness! The gorgeous country-side, air so fresh, sun much kinder not blazing down through grimy pollution, and the slow meandering conversation of people not in a New York hurry. The rest of our journey was relatively uneventful, just long and I felt horribly smelly from all the luggage schlepping after 36 hours of being awake and in transit. We landed at Heathrow around 8pm last night and disembarked to the horrifying sight of one of the longest lines I've ever seen going into UK immigration. Usually we fly that overnight flight and get to that point around 7:30 in the morning and breeze right through. This time we were behind several large flights from all over the world and another hour of slow line shuffling, never stopping long enough to really put your luggage down, was about the last thing I needed. We struck up another in a series of pleasant trapped together chats with one of our fellow Flight 46 survivors commiserating about having just been stuck on either side of one of the worst behaved toddlers I've ever seen. Now I'm the first to admit that I'm not a big baby person, and I think you'd have to be a major masochist - or someone with very important reasons - to fly Transatlantic by yourself with a two year old. Yet, I have a knack for making friends with babies. I find it generally easy to get them to stop crying. I just have no desire at this time in my life to raise one up 24 hours of the day. So we made friends with one solo Mom going to see her hubby working in London with their two year old back when our flight was just in the major delay stage. And we visited with her several times over-night and on the plane. That was my designated "it takes a village" action, and I entertained the inquisitive little chap, let him get spittle on the outside of my laptop bag and even helped liaison between some kindly British youth who were psyched to stay in NYC on more vacation and were at the back of the line watching the little chap as his Mom fought for one of those precious seats on the next out-going flight. Thankfully I missed the part of the adventure where the little guy chucked up all over his Mom's shirt (is there a flight attendant rant blog? those people must see a whole lotta every type of human behavior), and of course he did cry more than once, but generally he was a good kid with a nice Mom. On the plane we ended up next to Satan's Child. And by Satan I think I'm referring to his Mother. Thing one is that these people were not of the cancelled flight, although of course the regular act of getting across the ocean is a long and tiring day. Thing two is the cultural difference factor (Middle Eastern appearance, no head covering, accented English) and of course thing three is that I'm not a Mother myself but still... from the moment they got on that plane that little guy was crying his head off, a full-on red-faced non-stop I-will-keep-this-up-until-I-make-myself-puke tantrum. Ooookay... timing sucks but still not abnormal for a toddler occasionally to get that bent outta shape. What killed me was his Mother not dealing with it at all. And not only did he cry his head off pointing and demanding to get down from his seat to run around, he hit his Mom repeatedly in the head, hit her with his little fists, grabbed her hair and would not let go, grabbed his sisters hair and pulled until she had tears in her eyes, grabbed everything within his reach and threw it... just amazingly bad behavior... and the woman sat there, with a vague smile on her face occasionally making the shush face at him, but making no motion to quell his violence or calm him down. It just seems so clear to me that this Mother allowing herself and her other child to be hit and pulled without correction - with barely any interaction or acknowledgment even - will produce a Man who will one day think it's perfectly okay to take out his frustration by being violent to the women in his life. How can you not try and correct his behavior? Just gently grab his little fist and say "Ow, that hurts Mommy. You love Mommy, right? Don't hurt Mommy." Hello - teach the little bugger cause and effect. All of my sympathies are with his long-suffering older sister who looked about 8 and bravely fought back tears after a vigorous hair-pull and continued writing in her diary. About 20 ear-splitting minutes after take-off, I had to butt in. So, that is how even after a night spent sitting on the hard marble floor in front of the check-in counter at JFK, I was able to stop a chubby little Damien from being murdered by about 65 other sleep-deprived travelers by calming him down and getting him to stop crying. In about 30 seconds. I still cannot believe that Mother... On the flight I watched the movie Crash, mostly because even I know it got some award for best movie last year. I don't see a lot of films being so busy with music, also TV screens don't hold my interest much, so I'm finally seeing this movie that millions of other people have seen, analyzed and awarded and... are you kidding? I felt dirty after that manipulative, shallow, six-degrees dreck. The acting was amazing of course, high caliber talent going on there, but the story? The story? So you can make me cry, that doesn't make your movie any good. All that coincidence-y crap where the same few people keep running into each other all over LA. What bullshit. Art illuminates life. Life is not that simple. ***** Written Monday 7/24/06 - mid-day England time, the house where we're stayin' in Owslebury The brothers Roure are just getting up after a lovely Sunday spent 'round one of our favorite pubs, the Hampshire Bowman. They've expanded, and were doing quite a brisk trade it being a gorgeous sunny Sunday. We mostly shared picnic tables on the patio and lawn out back which led us into conversation with many interesting people including a really articulate and interesting gent who's run for local political office here as a third party candidate. We had a lively discussion of the various rights of wo/man and how well our respective governments are doing at respecting them at this time. I also met the young chef who made the delicious gravy that was served in a separate boat to top the Sunday roast plate that we shared, and an older couple, local farmers who've been going to that pub for 50 years. Flyers were distributed for next week's shows, and I sold a copy of MEET THE ANIMAL and was paid in pounds for the first time. ***** Written Wednesday 7/26/06 - after dinner evening England time, the house where we're stayin' in Owslebury Monday we headed into Winchester. First stop: a pub - the Bishop on the Bridge - to cure our hangovers with tasty mature cheddar sandwiches served with a too-sweet Fullers ESB brand chutney chock full of ill-advised strawberries which I replaced with HP Brown sauce. Then on to the bidness of getting one of our American cellular phones switched over to European service, which was much easier than I expected. We just had to buy a new SIM card (£10) and went pay-as-you-go, another £15 for a charger that can do the electricity over here and we're off, although reception is sketchy as we're fortunate to be staying in a country house located out in beautiful rolling fields. The quiet is disturbed only by the occasional truck going by on the road, or sometimes the shooting range a couple miles in on the estate. UPDATE - or the helicopter-like buzzing of a huge flying bug! Internet is another story... I visited my first foreign library on Monday, and we were able to snag 30 minutes of free online time there. Enough to triage the e-mails, but since I'm writing this on my beloved laptop the words are pretty much trapped until we find some Wi-Fi, or worst comes to worst a place where we can camp out while I re-type, oh yeah that sounds like fun. We had an early evening and watched some Brit-TV: a comedy featuring a pest control guy with a penchant for quoting Rush lyrics, then a stylish hour on the mystique of French actresses. Tuesday was a lovely day: we went to Hayling Island, located just off the south coast of England near Portsmouth. We knocked out our business calls on the drive down, then adorned with my new favorite necklace - my digital camera - we strolled down the stony beach past multi-colored beach huts towards and through a deliciously tawdry beach-side amusement park. We stopped to cool off at a pub called the Royal Shades and struck up a conversation with the new landlord who's planning to shut down and renovate over the winter. Then we walked back through the beach neighborhoods enjoying the visual display of impeccable British gardening. Today was our last quiet day before the exciting music-stuff kicks off with a radio interview to tape with Sally Gates for WinFM. We kicked about and cleaned up our homestead-away-from-homestead. At our host's request I helped to paint a gorgeous dark wood breakfront with two coats of plain white paint. What we would call a fantastic antique piece of furniture in NYC is just old stuff over here, and apparently light furniture and lemon colored walls are in fashion.