As I stepped out of the International Arrivals of Heathrow Airport last week, I imagined I heard Hugh Grant's voice in Love Actually smoothly saying, "Love actually is....all around". The reality is: I didn't have anyone waiting for me, arms open wide, flowers in hand. Instead, a Costa Coffee held her arms wide open offering some caffeinated alertness despite the two Dramamine that ran through my system and allowed for solid sleep throughout the entire flight.
Speaking of which, I'm convinced that I should be hired for Dramamine's marketing team. Forget motion sickness! This product insures that I sleep through the night when I'm camping in the middle of the desert. This product allows me to board an international flight, eat dinner, and wake up as the Customs Arrival cards are being passed out. A wonder drug! The only side-effects are grumpy (and jealous) co-travelers that watched as you slept through turbulence/crying babies/boring movies.
While we waiting for a van to carry all of our luggage and instruments to Penge, London we were approached by a nice Jewish man with a kind "Shalom". We responded with "Shalom" and he gave us a glossy card with the 'messiah' on the front. He looked to be about 65, with salt and pepper hair. Unfortunately, I left the card on the table.
After a day of rehearsal, we took the tube (subway) into Central London for a whirlwind walking tour. We started at Westminster Abbey, walked to Big Ben, shoved 8 people into a red telephone booth, watched street performers by the National Museum and drank coffee in Piccadilly Square. We've eaten fish and chips, I've tried a Turkish Delight, and consumed more tea and salt &vinegar crisps than I thought possible.
At dinner one night, my new friends, Sam and Rich gave me a tutorial in British slang. When it was my turn to share California slang, I defaulted to Sean's lingo with words like gnar, shred, and steezy. The other day I heard Rich say "buckets of steez!" As a team, we've even made up our own slang and have fun defining situations of use and its figures of speech. The bass guitarist, Manu, is from Germany so we've been learning random German words. I now know the German for words like plumber's crack, swallow, and sweat. Instead of saying we're hungry we'll say something like "I'm ready to schlook (swallow) some breakfast."
With fake rats in backpacks, exploding Pringles cans, and salty coffee I find that I'm on the defensive with this group of pranksters. The other day a woman approached the CD stand. She was dressed perfectly normal, but when she opened her mouth she was (as the British would put it), "absolutely mad!" She started exclaiming, "Where's the celebration?!" in a thick Irish accent that was almost unintelligible. I started laughing and looking beyond her for our electric player Joe from South Africa or Manu who have become a tag-team. I was sure she had been sent by them. Turns out this woman was indeed insane and my laughing just made her more crazed. I don't know if it was even possible for me to help her find the celebration she was looking for.