Okay I left you with a very sketchy detail of my first day in Michigan with the lovely Andrea. This was partially due to my lack of memory of the initial day but looking back on the entry I can recall a bit more, so rather than edit the previous entry I’ll back track slightly. As before I’m now writing this purely from my hazy memories so I apologize about the lack of details.
When we arrived at the University we had of course, to register the car with the appropriate people, the lady on the desk was very helpful and evidently was very well acquainted with Andrea. She was at first slightly bemused by the fact that our hire car had a Louisiana License Plate and was evidently figuring out how Andrea had been to Louisiana and back before realizing we hadn’t been to Louisiana. On the journey up we’d listened to the first CD of my Brit/Euro Jazz disc which was principally Dixieland, Swing and Trad; I won’t claim to remember all of the tracks on each disc but from what I recall disc one ran along the lines of this:
1. Nat Gonella and the Georgians: Singing the Blues
2. Harry Roy and His Orchestra: Leicester Square Rag
3. Humphrey Lyttelton: Bad Penny Blues.
4. Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen: I Wanna Be Like You
5. Bob Wallis and his Storyville Jazzmen: On Ilkley Moor Bah’tat
6. George Melly: Good Time George
7. Acker Bilk: I’m an Old Cowhand
8. Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen: Midnight in Moscow
and that’s all I can recall for definite on that disc. My original plan was for the disc to open with Harry Roy’s Orchestra performing the Original Dixieland One-Step but at the time of making the discs I couldn’t for the life of me remember where I’d put the album with it on. This was a deliberate choice to open the album with as the Original Dixieland One-Step was the B side to the first commercially released jazz record, the A side being Livery Stable Blues. But since this was not to be, the second track became the opening number. Again this was a deliberate plan as I wanted a rough reflection of some of the classics of jazz transferring to the UK, Singing the Blues of course being famously recorded by the late great Bix Beiderbecke. More importantly it could be argued that Nat Gonella was the first real Jazz star to emerge in the UK, so there was some method in my madness. Bad Penny Blues, was the first British Jazz track to enter the UK top 20 and more importantly for Andrea was the tune to which I had written lyrics for her on a birthday card I had sent in July. From then on its more or less a foray into the trad boom with some swing thrown in for good measure. One track which did raise an eyebrow was Ilkly Moor Bah’tat which is a traditional Yorkshire folk song written and performed in thick Yorkshire dialect, well I say raised an eyebrow… “What bloody language is that in?” was her remark.
Once the reeds had been moistened, the horns blown and the banjos plucked we had a change of pace in music and Andrea put on a band she claimed I would never have heard of… Tenacious D. I didn’t have the heart to tell that at work Tim and Debbie Doo-Dah played it constantly. Also I’d bought with me a little memento of England for her, a Build a Bear in a Beef Eaters uniform and I christened him Barnaby-Barnaby (don’t ask I don’t recall), I was going to present it to her at Thanksgiving as a surprise but I felt eventually that’d involve too much too-ing and fro-ing in the car to keep it a secret so I presented it to her that evening. Before we retired for the night we watched an episode of South Park entitled Stanley’s Cup.
After a reasonably pleasant night’s sleep on the spare mattress I was woken at first at about 4:30 by the tooting of a train and then about 7:30 by what sounded like either a gun being fired or a car back firing, I hope to god it was the latter. The subsequent sounding of police sirens didn’t encourage me much. So trying to sleep and failing I read a bit more of the Midwich Cuckoos and re-listened to the final episode of Something Inside… that was very depressing ending I can tell you. After that I listened to a CD I’d bought during my London stopover which was a collection of Nat Gonella tracks. Some I’d heard before, some I hadn’t; the rendition of Hoagy Carmichael’s Moon Country was a particular highlight and as was the Isle of Capri. Finally deciding that I could lounge around in bed all day I got up and decided to get showered and dressed, little known to me the lock on Andrea’s bathroom didn’t work and I’m guessing her flat mate had forgotten they had a male visitor. Thank god for the shower curtain… I understood at that moment why people sing in the shower. After that little interlude, I was washed and dressed and preparing coffee for the girls proving that some single men are house trained, I noticed that there were lots of Sesame Street colouring books around. Quizzing this Andrea’s co-ed, Whitney(?), informed me it was a way they had found was best for them to release stress. Fair enough. So it was about 10 now and Andrea emerged from her room proving she wasn’t a morning person, thanked me for the coffee and did wonder why I didn’t bring it in. My reasoning was a, if a random person going by saw me emerge it would give a bad impression and b, I didn’t know what attire she wore, if any, in bed and didn’t want to embarrass her or myself. Andrea went for a shower so I went for a wonder round the campus and chatted to some of the people I’d met the night before and I ended up kicking his as on some Playstation game. Andrea was by now decent and was busy working on her essay leaving me to ruminate and watch some telly and read my book, she felt bad about not being able to spend time but as I informed her education is more important. Once the essay was done, there was a fire drill and we all had to evacuate, bloody nippy it was too. Then we started chatting to a guy whose name I never caught but I remember he had a Tom Baker like miniature scarf, once the drill was over we met up with Andrea’s co-eds for dinner in the canteen. We had a nice little lunch and chat, the girls wondering why I had left a space between me and Andrea. No really reason I’m not too big on being close up when eating. After lunch Andrea gave me a proper guided tour of the campus and as Unis go, it wasn’t too bad. The original plan was while in Mount Pleasant we’d go to a little music bar called the Brass in the evening and eat out as the next morning Andrea had a meeting with her tutor about her coursework, but the tutor cancelled so we decided to head back to Rochester Hills. This presented me with a minor problem as I had to book an extra night at the motel I was staying at, luckily this wasn’t a problem and as a result because I now had four consecutive days I actually had one day free, so all was well. Before we departed we went for a walk around a park as we’d been cooped up for a while and would be for a while yet. It was a pleasant park and we duly respected the memorials for the soldiers and did some goofy photos with the car. So with our legs suitably stretched we went off back to Rochester Hills and found our way to the Red Roof Motel where I dropped my stuff off, it was a good budget motel I recall with two spacious double beds and a nice bathroom. When I arrived I was informed they had lots of rooms free so I could pretty much take my pick of which one I wanted, I settled on one in the second building around the back by the tress and a lake and watch looked like a creepy old house in the distance…. Evidently I had been watching far too many bad horror movies. If I had one complaint about the place it was that it didn’t have very good coffee making facilities which would be a problem later on. Once I’d dropped my stuff off, we went into Rochester for lunch at Jimmy Johns which for me seemed like an up market Subway. Still it was a nice little snack but really I think we should of had something more substantial, mind you Andrea was also after inquiring for a job as she’d had experience at the Jimmy Johns in Royal Oak. Once we had completed our meal we went over to her brother Nick’s for the evening, stopping en route for some beer and ciggies. This was the only time I never got ID’d although Andrea did, we went over to her brother’s to present him with Birthday and Thanksgiving gifts as him and his girlfriend weren’t going to be able to make it. If I recall correctly Nick and his girlfriend were soon to be moving for work in Hawaii, I do believe they married in Hawaii a year later. Nick worked as a carer for adults with special needs and he regaled me with some stories of some of the things he’d had to do in the line of duty. His girlfriend joined us later and we sat down to watch the latest episode of Heroes, which was nearing the end of its first series, I believe it was the episode were Silas tries to suck the brains out the Cheerleader and the other guy gained the cheerleader’s power. Never followed it when it came to the UK so I can’t really tell you, but it seemed to be going down a hit with them… possibly because they were smoking pot. We whiled away the evening by playing a game of Cranium which was very good fun and plenty of laughs at attempting to draw with our eyes shut. Time was drawing on so we made our excuses and left, stopping off only for fuel. Andrea nipped in to pay and when she returned she greeted me with “close your eyes I’m going to give you a big surprise”, a little perturbed by this I nervously closed my eyes. When I opened them I found she’d presented me with a Detroit Tigers hat which was nice of her. Music wise we went onto my second disc for the journeys that day. This one was a mix of mostly vocals and some more modern jazz, I arranged it so there were male vocalists first and then a instrumental break before closing off with female vocalists, the opening and closing tracks on the album were big hits with Andrea (and later her brother Casey). A bit later on the disc there was a fun little track from an album called The Little Radio by Iain Ballamy and Stien Cassterson, which was an album of Tenor Saxophone and Accordion duets… no really. This would of been about the middle of the disc and it the track opens with a lengthy improvisation before hitting the melody… so at about the 2 minute mark Andrea starts humming the tune and then pauses and looks at me and laughingly smiles “Nick? Is this the Teddy Bears Picnic?” Indeed it was, I put it on their deliberately to make her smile.
I’ll go onto the track listings in the next part.
So I was returned to the Motel gave Andrea a good night hug and saw her depart. I sat down and watched a bit of TV before lying back and listened to the first disc of the Sandman. Once this was done over and curled up for a really good night’s sleep.