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London, May 30-31

Next time I intimate I might be going to London, do me a favour? Remind me to avoid Luton Airport at all cost. I mean, it's alright for coming in, but it's murder using it to get out again. The check-in queues are miles long, the security checks queues twice that, and the staff are a bunch of complete and utter tossers. And why is it always me that has to be picked out and frisked, even when I'm wearing a frigging see-through top (or almost) and it's plain to see that I haven't hidden any contraband around my person? Of course, they confiscated my nail clippers and deodorant again -- bloody wankers. Such a contrast to my recent experience at JFK, where my fellow travellers were allowed to take their 2-litre bottles of Coca Cola through and onto the plane, to the not inconsiderable dismay of the stewardesses on board.


I got to London and King's Cross halfway through the morning and soon realised I'd made the wrong choice as far as my outfit was concerned; yes, it was rainy but it wasn't cold and I was soon feeling pretty uncomfortably hot in my woolly jumper and great big raincoat, so after having treated myself to a full English breakfast, I headed for Oxford St and spent half the afternoon shopping for gigwear (and that's how I came to be wearing that sheer top I mentioned at the airport the next day). The day flew by and I hardly had time to check into my hotel and freshen up before I had to go out again to meet up with anonypooh, her husband, and miss_fairfax outside Baker St tube station. We spent a pleasant hour getting (re)acquainted in a pub nearby, and then headed to The Spice Cellar in Dorset Sq for the evening's entertainment. It's a small, intimate venue and our first impression was of a congenial atmosphere...in which we were, sadly, proven wrong during the second act's time on stage.

The first act had been by a young man called Sam Isaac, who was alright. The second act was a New York lady desperately trying to make herself out to be the new Joan Baez, and who didn't go down very well at our table (at which we had, by now, been joined by miss_fairfax's boyfriend Nick). However, although her music wasn't to our taste, we were mindful of the fact that others in the audience were listening attentively and we were therefore careful to keep our voices down while continuing with our conversation, and were having quite a good time -- until suddenly the owner appeared at our table and with barely concealed hostility asked me (and the rest of us by extension) if we were alright or whether he needed to call us an ambulance (WTF? I'm still puzzling over that one); then sat down at the head of our table and kept giving us filthy warning looks if we so much as stirred in our seats -- and I was squirming a bit as I needed to go to the toilet. I asked Jules where it was. "Pass David, turn left", she said, and so it turned out.

He was standing at the back of the audience, and I couldn't have slipped past him if I'd tried, because as soon as he saw me, he gave me a big smile and a hug, and thanked me for coming all this way to see him. It never fails to amaze me how these musicians always seem to remember everyone who's ever been to their shows, and can recall little things like where they're from, too. It fair warms the cockles of the heart, I can tell you!

The girl up on stage finally sang her last dirge and as soon as she'd finished, several of the punters lay into us with 'if you don't like the music or know how to behave, don't come here'-s, but Mr. Jay deftly defused the situation by agreeing pleasantly with everything they said, leaving them with nothing more to add...but the sudden air of hostility had cast a pall over the evening and I'm sure we would have left if David hadn't been on next.
The owner introduced him as a singer-songwriter from New Jersey, back by popular demand, and couldn't resist another menacing look at our party as he exhorted everyone to 'show respect to the artist', after which David set him straight and told him he was from New York, actually; then launched into his usual banter and an immaculate performance of all our favourites - I almost forgave him for still not having finished with his final touches to the new album, which he had better bring with him next time, 'in the fall' (this means October).

We talked a little bit with David after the show, but the owner was still in high dudgeon and reiterating how our uninterested demeanour during the second set had been 'disruptive and disrespectful', so we made a solemn promise to ourselves never to go back there again, as it's clearly full of the worst kind of musical snobs. Let's hope David doesn't include it in his autumn tour.

The next morning dawned sunny and bright, and I suddenly had this idea that I wanted to do something touristy, which I never normally do when I'm in London. On a whim, I decided I was going to spend the morning at the Tower. In the end, I spent the morning and half the afternoon there...I certainly got my £16 entrance fee out of it!

I joined one of the Yeoman Warder guided tours, gawped at the ravens, looked at the Crown Jewels, climbed countless spiral staircases, had tea and scones for lunch, made a circuit of the walls, and watched some reenactments; then belatedly remembered I had a camera on my mobile, and snapped a few pictures.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Then I had an early supper of fish and chips, and went home.


( 20 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
Jun. 1st, 2007 07:47 pm (UTC)
That venue certainly sounds like a place to avoid!

The Tower really is pretty good value if you take the time to look at what's there - I loved all those 'empty' crowns - were they still on show when you were there? They were somewhere near where you have photographed that warder.
Jun. 1st, 2007 08:14 pm (UTC)
The crowns with all the stones taken out? Yes, they were still there. To be honest, I wasn't too impressed with the jewellery on show. I've seen much more impressive pieces in other collections. But I did enjoy my wander around the castle, and was quite surprised to see that parts of it are still inhabited. I imagine it must be quite a desirable postcode. ;-)
Jun. 2nd, 2007 01:04 am (UTC)
I love the contrast of the Tower and the Sexy Gherkin. :)

As for that bar and its owner -WTF? They book a BAD act, and then get mad a t you for being restless?
Jun. 2nd, 2007 01:17 am (UTC)
I wouldn't say she was bad per se; just not our cup of tea -- but pretty much, yeah. Being restless equates with being rude in his book, and as it was his club, it's his rules you have to comply with. It would have helped though, if he'd made these rules known beforehand.

I love the contrast of the Tower and the Sexy Gherkin.

Thanks. And as you can see, so do I!
Jun. 2nd, 2007 08:45 am (UTC)
You crammed in a lot to a flying visit!! I really must go back and be tourity at the tower again - haven't been since school!!

Urgh - that arse. Oh for the benefit of hindsight, when we could have paid our entrance fee, and gone out to the pub until 10pm!! I wonder if David noticed we were completely evil ;)
Jun. 2nd, 2007 10:09 am (UTC)
I think he may have been too deep into The Zone getting ready for his time on stage...I hope so, I would hate for him to have noticed any ill felling going around at one of his gigs. Pity I kept feeling that arse's beady eyes on us all the time; as you said, I could have gone back and hung out while you lot went home, but I simply felt too uncomfortable.
Jun. 3rd, 2007 05:22 am (UTC)
So cool of you guys to go and support him - *G*!!!

And you got Mr. Jay to go?! Bless him for his stepping into the breach there - *G*.
Jun. 3rd, 2007 05:16 pm (UTC)
Mr. Jay seemed to be enjoying the argument and the chance of winning it; while the rest of us were struck dumb by outrage.

We'll be supporting DB again when he comes back for his autumn tour. He's one of our favourite people!
Jun. 3rd, 2007 05:20 pm (UTC)
I know - he's pretty amazing - *L*!
Jun. 2nd, 2007 08:46 am (UTC)
and p.s. - did you get "October" out of him then? I like that month. That month sits well with my dream scenario. (also - not booked up in my diary *keeps free*)

see you then!!
Jun. 2nd, 2007 10:01 am (UTC)
Although it's by no means certain, Oct is what we're aiming for! I'd better hang on to the holidays I've got left this year till then, because ::dreams of a month of gigs:: what if CoRo decide to come over at that time, too? You never know, it could happen!
Jun. 2nd, 2007 01:03 pm (UTC)
Tut tut how naughty of you all ;)
Jun. 2nd, 2007 05:26 pm (UTC)
Can't take us anywhere, I know! ;-)

Hopefully, you'll have a better time in Glasgow.
Jun. 2nd, 2007 05:35 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you had a pretty good time, except for being hot. I totally envy you going to London. I miss it a lot and haven't been there since the Halloween con in 2004. I really want to go again and take my husband and son this time, but that will have to wait as the little one is only 14 months old. Also, I've flown into Luton, but never out, so it's good to know how hard it can be to get there.
Jun. 2nd, 2007 10:03 pm (UTC)
I used to dart in and out of London through Luton all the time, but that was before there was such a wide choice of cheap airlines, and, more importantly, before the heightened security measures came in last year. The last couple of years I've been mostly using Gatwick, which is much better organised, or seems to be, and offers a better variety of shops to hang around in while waiting for your gate to be called.

I love coming to London. There's so much more to see and do there than there is here. Sadly, I can only afford to go once or twice a year, because much as I love it, it's so darn expensive!

Having said that, I hope you get the chance to go to London and bring your family soon, though.
Jun. 2nd, 2007 08:18 pm (UTC)
It's really too bad that everyone was so impolite. That's just...weird. Very weird. I'm glad that the rest of your trip was good, though.
Jun. 2nd, 2007 10:07 pm (UTC)
Well, apart from the weird behaviour of the owner and regulars of the venue, all of my trip was good -- and hearing David again was a total delight, well worth my flying in for! ;-)
Jun. 5th, 2007 07:48 pm (UTC)
Uuuh, thanks for the heads-up about Luton.
I always take the Eurostar, but I'd been considering of going back to London for a gig, and seeing as there are no cheap Eurostap tickets for those days, my only other affordable option was EasyJet...
But it lands in and departs from Luton, and I was wondering how practical it was.

Judging from your report, really not much :(
Jun. 5th, 2007 09:47 pm (UTC)
easyJet fly to Gatwick and Stansted, too...or they do from Amsterdam which is where I always start out from. I wouldn't pick Stansted as it's miles out and only comes in handy if you happen to be going to North London (and Ryan Air ply that route from Brussels), but Gatwick is usually a good alternative...if you can get a cheap flight.

But as I said, Luton's fine for coming in -- you just have to allow for plenty of time for flying out again -- for intercontinental flights, you don't expect to have to be there at least two hours before your plane is due to leave. Bring a book, is my advice.

Jun. 6th, 2007 07:25 am (UTC)
Ack! Did I say 'intercontinental'? I meant 'continental', of course!
( 20 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
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