“Gather round, it’s story time. Are you sitting comfortably? Good, then we’ll begin…”- Watch with Mother BBC 1950’s children’s show.
After a long time thinking about it, I thought I’d finally re-visit my original visit to Illinois and Michigan, despite the downbeat ending. So I’ll put a little background detail here, a long time ago back when I was in college I used to co-run a jazz group on MSN. Here I befriended a young lady called Andrea and we used to post reguarly about jazz, then got talking a lot and started exchanging e-mails and talk on the web virtually everynight. Soon after this we started sending one another birthday and christmas gifts. So one day I was looking to go on Holiday and mused on a possible destination and Andrea suggested Michigan’s a nice place. We finally settled on a date and it was agreed I’d visit over thanks giving. So after a hectic week before departure, including a major car problem and a rapid staff change at work, I finally made my way to London. I stayed in a B&B I’d stayed in when I first visited the devine Amy as it was literally a couple of miles from the airport. So after a full breakfast and doing a spot of interpretation for some French visitors I was off…
The problem with London Heathrow, from which the whole escapade began, is that for such a part of the British Tourist industry it is incredibly small for what it does and as a result there is much in the way of crowd madness and general confusion. Add on top of that, the terrorism restrictions bought forward due to the potential threat of smuggled bombs and what you get is a nice colourful picture of organised chaos. So in order to minimize my disruption I did arrive nice and early to do check in and what not; granted that meant I ended up waitng with in the concourse for what seemed like an eternity but it was a better option then missing my plane. After quite a bit of waiting and wandering nowhere in particular around the concourse I realised that the great muppet of a bird had gone and left his alarm clock at home, so I quickly went to duty free and purchased an alarm clock.
Eventually the plane started boarding and as luck would have it I had a window seat, more in line with my luck today I discover it is directly over the wing; so for the entire 8 hour flight I had a thrilling view of….. a wing. Still not to worry I told myself, the lovely Andrea had sent me some CD’s to listen to on the plane, I’d purchased two albums on the way down plus a couple of Big Finish audio plays and not to mention that old stand by Inflight movies and Inflight Radio. The films on the way there didn’t appeal to me (except for an old Captain Pugwash cartoon complete with ambigously named shipmates Master Bates, Seamen Staines and Roger the Cabin Boy) so I planned to spend the flight indulging in audio delights. Turns out my shiny new CD player didn’t work so that scuppered that idea, so I ended up listening to the Jazz channel on the flight and watched some of Tokyo Drift, what a load of drivel that was.
The flight was pretty calm with minimal turbulence and no excessive delays and I even managed to grab a little bit of shut eye on the way, then we finally came into chicago for landing. Now when I was small I used to hate the way your ears would pop when a plane lands so that bit of the flight always makes me feel a bit uncomfortable so I always get a bit tense at those moments, amazing how small things come back to haunt you isn’t it?
Well getting through immigration went fairly quickly and I had a quick debate as to whether to get a Taxi or get the train to get to my hotel. I decided that being a stranger in the city meant it was pretty unwise to grab the train so I settled for a taxi. Took about 40 minutes to get to the Essex Inn and the taxi driver was very nice and chatty. Bizarrely midway he turned round and said I have some DVD’s if you wanna watch something, unusual but fun so my Taxi ride was spent watching a Jimi Hendrix concert, he also pointed me at a place to visit: A Blues Club called Buddy Guy’s; A club which had not taken the man’s name in vein, this was a club founded by the Blues legend. The hotel was reasonble with a nice bed, good TV, an Iron and Ironing board and coffee facilities, I decided to make myself a cup of coffee and was a little confused as to why the coffee perculator wasn’t working. After much fiddiling I discovered the answer: it was unplugged haha. The was only one real big issue I had with the Hotel, it was about 200 yards from a railway line, so It was a bit like Elwood’s flat in the Blues Brothers.
I decided to have a quick scrub up and then got ready for a night out.
To be continued