Sunday, October 12, 2003

Milton Keynes
This must be Heaven!

We met Tiny Dancer in the lobby of our Washington Mayfair Hotel- quite luxurious with a nice sized room -nice bath, complete with robes, minibar 7 little bottles of shampoo & lotions (The Radisson had all that stuff too- but not quite as nice). From there we set out to take the underground (our only ride in the tube it turned out) over to the St John’s Wood- Hampstead area where we were all meeting at David’s (London Werewolf) flat. We took pix and hung out for a bit and at last were back on the road, off to Milton Keynes. This ride was a quick one compared to the previous ones.
About the countryside, normally the beautiful rolling hills are green and lush but last week the minidrought was still in progress- the landscape resembled parts of California...We had heard Milton Keynes described as a “Concrete Cow” by an English cabbie and so, hadnt expected the place to live up to the photos found at The Stables website. Down a woodsy lane, left here- right there and suddenly we were there- A very pretty place, and where you would expect to find an actual Stable, was The Stable Venue! A very contemporary glass building, bright and clean too! To make sure we all felt a little like we had arrived in Heaven- there was a parking spot right in the very front of the entrance..And just where one might expect to find God welcoming you in, there was MK doing the greetings!
Realizing there was still quite awhile to go before showtime, we all packed into the blue van and went out in search of (yes) food....The ride was really confusing- every roundabout looks exactly like the next or previous roundabout...We couldnt quite find a town but did find a shopping mall where of course, the only food outlets open were Burger King and McDonalds (not so heavenly)..and both places were getting ready to close early (it was something called Banker’s Holiday)...We ate what we could - Warren’s tray -full of food, had been picked up and dumped by a zealous Burger King employee before he had even unwrapped it- so he had to order all over again!
Back in the van again, we returned to The Stables which now had quite a bit of familiar faces milling around. At last count in Manchester, Scotto & I have made over 30 new tour buddies (LOVE TO ALL OF YOU!)There was no smoking in the venue but in & out was cool. Hanging outside, it was like a party- everyone knew or recognized each other from the other shows. Going over and striking up a conversation with anyone was never easier to do. It was friendly and everyone was happy. I was happy to see that Luke and also Teelo had made it- I didnt see them at Canterbury. Luke is a young and friendly fellow, felt badly we hadnt had the room to offer him space in the vans-but with Saint possibly showing up somewhere plus everyone’s assorted luggage....While I was mid chatter with Luke, I realized from his haircut, build, youth and Southern friendliness that he might be I asked where he was living- he looked a little surprised but the answer was Manheim Germany...I ventured to ask him if he was a soldier and he told me he was but that folks seemed really uncomfortable when he mentioned that so, he hadnt been mentioning it. Delving , I found out that he had already been to Iraq and was hoping he wouldnt have to go back again. His one word summary of his time in Iraq was that it was “Serious”.

Well, my heart opened up to this soldier, just a few years older than my own college aged son. From then on I bugged whichever bandmembers I could find to get in a picture with this boy- which is why you see him all over my webpages (really! as cute and buffed as he was, my interest was a maternal sort...really!)

Showtime at last! I don’t know what I can add to what already has been saidabout the venue? It was really a slice of Heaven- no bad seats, small, great acoustics...Those who wanted to flooded the floor. I was happy up in my seat (on the aisle) It was a great view of everyone (I could see Tiny Dancer and Cousin Bud dancing!! for the very first time! ) There was no one anywhere near me- even Scott was down front somewhere. When someone did come to sit near by- I moved into the one point, a lady usher was heading directly toward me- which had me thinking that I was going to be told to sit down or move but when she got next to me she turned to the band and started doing her own dance!

It was another awesome show. As I posted elsewhere- Bilston and Manchester were great shows but Milton Keynes will probably have more meaning in the long run for me.
Earlier in the day, I managed to find an internet cafe in London and read my daily e-mail from the SF Giants fansite. I found out that Hometeam favorite, Bobby Bonds (pop of homerun legend, Barry) had passed away. Scotto and I wondered if our other hometeam legend, Bobby Weir knew and if he would honor Bonds with a “He’s Gone”.
So, now look at this setlist and imagine having just had a serious conversation with a young soldier as well as remembering Bobby Bonds, our friend Saint falling off tour and add all the untold tour moments into the mix and see if you can understand my point of view:
Feel like a stranger>she belongs to me>october queen>the deep end>even so>Lost Sailor>saint.Tennessee Jed
FOTD> Karina>eyes>He’s Gone>Knocking on heaven’s door>Help on the way>Slipknot>Franklin’s Tower and the encore: Liberty

Time out in London

Back in London at The Mayfair, Tuesday was our only No Show day & night. Scott and I were off to do shopping - couldnt be returning empty handed ! We hiked over to Picadilly Circus, passing through Soho- which is London’s ChinaTown, Theaterland- past all the famous old theaters,and on and on...At St Martins of The Fields Church was a small outdoor market...We found a pair of jester type hats with Union Jacks on them and decided they were just the thing to wear at the Manchester show and also to wear when our kids got home - the kids loved them but Bobby scowled at them-yikes! Well, I’ll just hope I thought he was scowlin at them-that he really didnt see them or us and some other odd thing was on his mind....

Onward we stumbled to Covent Garden- Covent Garden is NOT a garden nor a park but a series of stalls and shops - a tourist-market area that I thought would be THE place to buy major amounts of the sort of shlock I love to bring back and give away..But things have changed, Covent Garden is a nice sort of upscale shopping place now. The stalls are really nice artsy items- very unique handcrafts...I found an incredible scarves stall which had really lovely one of a kind painted velvet items- something for mom and my pal Julie-who was taking care of my daughter while we were gone...As I said there are lots of unique little shops at Covent Garden and we filled Scotto’s backpack with a variety of trinkets for the kids...Time to get back towards Picadilly...first stops at some of the gazillion used book stores.Not a single 2nd hand Harry Potter in the whole district...I promised my kids Harry Potter as written in the Queen’s English- ended up having to buy fresh versions afterall...I’ve not read any of those books so couldnt tell if there was any difference tween the UK & US versions til we got home and the kids noticed that to begin with, the titles are all changed..

I was disappointed that there are no low priced schlock shops..Everything is priced high in the UK. I did find a souveneir stand, the salesguy loved my enthusiasm for his shlock and started giving me extra schlock freebies! If only I had a free hand, I wouldve taken his picture...moving right along Picadilly, We finally arrived at Fortnum and Mason- A major stop for foodies. Scott was lost immediately in aisles upon aisles of marmalades and jams...I had my own work to do...hunting around the store, I found just the right spot to whip out a bottle of Weir Sauce and start snapping pictures..I wanted Bobby’s sauce to feel special, ya know?

Weir sauce
Like last year, I brought some bottles along to give away..last year, I used the bottles as trade for tour posters. This year the venues have been using OLD print outs from last year- advertising Rob Wasserman instead of Robin- so, I didnt want em..This time, my bottles were going to go to people who made the trip special- unfortunately, I hadnt packed nearly enough to give to everyone I wouldve liked to...My first give away was to the lad from Canterbury-Neil for being the coolest kid in the UK- maybe the only kid in the UK who is into Ratdog..I gave it to him at the rail, when the show ended- I walked away quickly and spied on him from afar...He stood there, turning the bottle around..then rushed across the lawn where a gathering of folks were sitting on a blanket- I could see him showing them the bottle, a man (the dad?) and then a woman (the mom?) took turns inspecting the bottle (it was sealed). Then, their friends came over to see it...then the mom told him to do something and he turned around and looked all around til he saw me then walked over to thank me once again....:O)
My next bottle of WeirSauce was given to my soldier Luke at Milton Keynes. I had only 2 bottles left. One was for Theresa for doing ALL the driving and the other one I had to give to the beautiful Geraldine and her handsome Dad, the little family I had enjoyed meeting back in London..I will be sending a Weir Sauce care package to David in London for organizing the vans...

We werent finished at Fortnum & Mason til we had one of their famous ice cream concoctions- So beautiful and delicious! Unfortunately, Scotto refused to let me take a picture- afraid It doing such a thing would have us forever banned from Fortnums...

I wasnt the only one to bring treats to the UK though, Less Than/Brian had dog tags made up with Ratdog UK Tour August 22,23,24,25 & 27 2003 on them- these were the most coveted prize on tour - Scott hid mine til we got home so I wouldnt end up giving it away...

Scott and I met up with Tiny back in Mayfair- the plan was to go on a double decker tour of London by night- but I hadnt checked into it- just assumed such an activitity existed (wouldnt it make sense?) Sadly, no night tours according to the concierge...however, he knew someone who for the right price would drive us around to look at stuff- PASS!
We toddled over to Shepard’s Market grab some dinner---Pizza...Then we three moseyed back to Picadilly and got creative with the route back to Mayfair...Not very sure of where we were, we eventually found ourselves wandering through Grosvenor Square..a block or two later we were passing by the US Embassy, complete with concrete barriers to block would be attacks, or so I guess....Eventually we ended up back on Curzon street- where our hotel was located...Bed sort of early because bright and early we were off to Gatwick Airport to catch our flight up to Manchester for The tour’s grand finale

Scott and I originally hadnt planned on making it north for the Manchester show...Wasnt that we didnt want to go, it was a matter of finding our way to Gatwick Airport (not in London but about 40 minutes south of London in a place called Crawley) the morning after the show .Manchester is something like a 4 hour train ride from London..Unless we flew into Gatwick from Manchester, there wouldnt be enough time to catch our plane back to the US ....
..After many hours of probing online, I found that it would be cheaper to fly RT from Gatwick to Manchester than it would be to just fly one way up to Manchester. Go figure?
We wouldve otherwise taken a train & joined the remaining van pool members- Theresa, David, Angela,Robin plus a variety of tour friends (Brian, Ellen,Warren and Les had already left the UK for their homes in the US)...
.It was hard to get the idea of missing Manchester out of our heads- knowing it was the last UK/Eurodog show until whenever....knowing a big fun Eurotrader party would be happening preshow...knowing it would be an experience which might never be repeated, we had to go....even if it meant no sleep til we were USA bound 24 hours later...We did it!