Norweigan Airlines. That was the quietest flight I’ve ever been on. I was able to get some sleep and everything.*
Landed in London, small wait at Customs as they checked my paperwork out - Yes, I planned ahead and got my Tier 5 Sponsorship for musician coming into the country to play music - but it is still a disconcerting feeling when they take you to a sectioned off area and tell you to wait there and then they disappear with your passport. You end up with that feeling of “I know I did everything right, I hope there’s no problems.” And the woman who was sitting across from me who they were very calmly telling that she did not do things correctly but they know she’s a student studying abroad and they will work it out with her.
I make my way out of London Gastwick airport and find the train that is right there, ez pz. Hop on and head to Reading to make my transfer to Plymouth.
Reading is a nice little town, I’ve got some time to kill between trains as I purchased a later train so that I wouldn’t be rushed and I start walking around until I see some outside tables and chairs and two men and a lady start inquiring about the guitar case.
“What kind of guitar do you have in there?”
“He has a Gibson” the woman says “A ‘73 Les Paul.”
“I like the stickers on your case.” she says.
I can’t tell which sticker she is pointing at but I think it might have been “this machine kills fascists”, my nod to Woody Guthrie.
So I sit down and order a sausage roll and a drink.
We keep talking about traveling and where I’m going and what-not. Now, I know they are speaking English but sometimes when the guys talk I cannot understand anything they say.
The woman introduces herself as Annie and she asks if I’m playing in Reading that night. I tell her no and as we’re all talking I hand them one of my postcards with the website info and stuff.
“Your last name is Byrnes. My mothers family is Byrne. Maybe we are related.”
“It’s certainly possible.”
“Where you going now?’” one of the guys asks.
“I’m heading to the Cornwall area.”
“Was that an expensive ticket?”
“Not too bad, I think about 25 pounds.”
I hear them talking amongst themselves and hear one of the guys say something to her like “You’ve got the money, why don’t you go with him?”
“It’s been lovely chatting with you, got to run.”
Maybe that was hasty of me, but it made me feel very uncomfortable. Sorry folks.
I return to the train station and I still have about 2 hours before my train when I get a message from Joe Turner.
Joe Turner and I were in a band together in like ‘91? When I first met him I remembered being in his room and he had an enormous poster of Kate Bush from “The Dreaming” album cover and I immediately thought “this guy is cool.” We made a lot of noise in a basement in Newton, Ma before going our separate ways** Nick Gianotti and Jeff Turner also played in that band and it was good for a little while. I can’t even remember the last time I saw Joe but we have stayed in touch through FB to the point that when I saw Kate Bush was doing some shows for the first time in forever - I immediately messaged Joe to make sure he knew and yes, he spent a small fortune buying tickets to Kate’s show in London (when Joe lived in Boston).
Am I going on too much about Kate Bush? I don’t care.
Anyway - Joe now lives in Reading with his wife Jennifer and we met up and had a great catch up and fish n chips.***
And then a long train ride from 9 pm to 12:20 am to Plymouth where Peter Crawford was waiting for me. I’m now about to crash because it’s nearly 6 pm PST and 2 am UK time which means I have spent 26 hours traveling to get here.
Peter has a nice flat and I just met his cat and dog. I’m sleeping next to Darth Vader and a Stormtrooper. I feel strong and stable.
*But no wifi??
**But I still remember that we had a great song together called “God Given”. Really catchy and yes, I do remember the chords.
***And Joe told me all about the Kate Bush concert!