GREAT, GREAT BRITAIN: SATURDAY/SUNDAY
All this week, I’ll be recapping the London trip, one day at a time. This first post technically covers the first two days of the trip, but because of the eight hour time difference and ten hour travel time, they were really only one extremely long, extremely tiring day.
London Sneak Preview: The night before we left, Drew and I got ourselves in a London state of mind by seeing Regular-Sized Renee in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, figuring it would be full of beautiful panoramic shots of London. It turns out Bridget spends as much time in a Thai prison as she does in our destination city. So instead of London’s beautiful exteriors, we had to settle for close-ups of Hugh Grant’s increasingly craggy face. (In addition to the extremely fake fist fight with Colin Firth, who conversely looks better and better with age, Hugh looks like he’s been in a number of extremely real fist fights in the last few years.) But at least the movie featured a Will Young cover of “Your Love is King” by Sade, which is like the audio equivalent of crack for me. We stopped and bought the soundtrack on the way home.
No Sleep Till Brooklyn (Beckham): Drew and I tried to prep ourselves for the massive jetlag by sleeping as little as possible the night before we left. That way, we figured, we’d take a sleeping pill on the plane, catch up on sleep and be ready to go when we reached London. We limited ourselves to about four hours of rest Friday night and, once we got on the plane, we saw a video narrated by Dani Behr (host of Boy Meets Boy in the U.S. and some sort of well-known TV personality in the U.K.) telling us that in our attempts to beat jetlag, we had pretty much done everything wrong. In truth, we should’ve slept extra-long the night before. And sleeping pills, according to Ms. Behr, only leave you groggy when you reach your destination. Making things worse, we actually paid to upgrade to an exit row, thinking the extra leg room would help us sleep. What we didn’t know was that the exit row would be right by the flight attendant stand and all the passengers would congregate there looking for water and snacks. No leg room, no peace, no sleep whatsoever.
iPod, Therefore I Am: To help myself stay up late before we left, I found gargantuan, obsessive tasks to tackle, like compiling a playlist of every track on my iTunes by a British artist and then transferring it to my iPod for the journey. (I currently have 6,386 songs on my iTunes, so it was no small feat.) Adding in the time I took for internal debates (Should Irish artists be included? What about lame album tracks I don’t really want to hear?), this took me about two hours, about twice as long as I would actually spend listening to the playlist on the plane. Total number of songs on the playlist upon completion: 1,043. And given the approximately 9,000 CDs I purchased on my trip, that playlist is already woefully obsolete.
In-Flight Entertainment: If you’re going to fly Virgin Atlantic airlines, try to get yourself on one of the bigger jets, which have a bonanza of entertainment options available. Each seat has its own TV monitor and comes with about twenty movies to choose from, a dozen or so TV shows, tons of games and lots of special informational videos about the destination produced by the airline itself. Even better, they must be saved on some sort of individual hard drive, because you can stop and start them at will. There’s a trivia game you can play against the other passengers on the plane (which I spent way too much time on) and a bunch of British movies and TV shows that aren’t available in the US. There was an episode of Little Britain we never saw on BBC America, and the new Pedro Almodovar movie, a few weeks before its American release. We saved a lot of this stuff to watch on the way back, but unfortunately, we were on a smaller plane that time, and the entertainment options were much more limited. So I’ll have to catch “Bad Education” in the theaters like everyone else.
“Girls, Lisa. Boys Kiss Girls…” Although I had specifically requested a double bed when I booked the hotel on the internet, when we arrived, the desk clerk told us with a friendly smile that she had secured us a room with two twin beds. “But we want one bed,” I explained. She looked back at me, seemingly baffled as to why two grown men would want to share a bed. She tried explaining again, as if I were the one who misunderstood, that my room had two beds. Two!
First Stop: Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised to learn that the first stop I wanted to make was to the Virgin Megastore. Unfortunately, it was Sunday, and everything closes early on Sunday. So as soon as we stepped in the door, we were told to leave. However, as this was the day before the new U2 album came out, the store was planning to reopen at midnight for a record release extravaganza. I’m all for extravaganzas, but after being awake for 29 hours straight, there was no way I was going to make it to midnight. So Drew and I just walked around, searched in vain for the gay area and had dinner at a place called Tiger Tiger, which had extremely tasty chips.
I did get to do some CD shopping later in the week, and I brought back a souvenir for this blog. It’s a Scissor Sisters cover of a song you probably know. To say more would ruin the fun. I’m equally afraid of the RIAA and bandwidth restrictions, so I probably won’t keep it up long. So download it fast and enjoy.
Click here. (This is my first audio post, so I apologize if it doesn’t work.)