So, yeah. Like I said. I AM BACK.
Which is more of an achievement than one might imagine. That I got to New York at all is pretty amazing. You already knew I'd been through a week of foul adversity before I left. Who knew there was more to come? Who knew that getting Akira The Don out to New York to judge an Awesome Piano Battle between Chilly Gonzales and Andrew W.K. was going to be such a fucking epic struggle?
Perhaps I should have. That Ignorant Old Testament Skygod was testing me, brothers and sisters, that was clear from the start. And so it was to continue. If there was a thing to go wrong on that outward journey, then it would. While my acting debut was a success of Olympian proportions, what was to follow was like something from John Cleese's Clockwork.
First off my flight from London to Milan was delayed. Not too much, but enough to get me antsy. Enough to tighten the stomach and shorted the fingernails. I knew Milan was trouble when we arrived and I tripped over my shoelace and hit myself in the back of the head with my brown leather sports bag. And when security wouldn't let me through the gate and told me to go upstairs to check in, a cold sweat crept across my forehead and prickled my palms. I tore through that rotten place - yellowed, musty, and foul of carpet, like an airport from The Seventies - but when I got to check in, it was empty, and nobody knew any English, or at least pretended they didn't. I dashed around the airport in what could only be described truthfully as "a tizzy", eventually finding the ticket office for the company behind my precious flight to New York.
The woman behind the counter, who looked like she had just stepped out of a seventies holiday camp, and eyed me with a languid, suspicious derision, took twenty five (25) minutes to come to the conclusion that I would not be allowed onto my flight (which departed for New York City but fifteen minutes after that swineheaded decision) as the security "should" have let me through downstairs, and I "should" never have set foot in the main terminal.
"But... but... but it's not my FAULT!" I wailed, deep from the glacial insides of my tragic World Of Anguish. Seventies Lady didn't care. I wasn't getting on that flight. And her shoddy-ass airline wasn't flying again until tomorrow.
"But... but... but I need to be in New York city by 11! Tomorrow Andrew W.K. and Chilly Gonzales won't be battling anymore!" I cried, nay, warbled, desperately. "It'll be too late! This isn't fair! It's your airport's fault! You must sort this out!"
She eyed me coldly, like that dinosaur in Jurassic Park eyeballed the fat guy from Sinefeld before it grew giant bat ears and sprayed him with black acid. Then she sighed, and explained: No they would Not be putting me on a rival's airplane, under any circumstances. Anyway, she said, there were only two other airlines flying to NY from Milan that afternoon, and the "cheapest" was going to cost £780.
A great white rage filled my brain. Then I headbutted her desk.
Seventies lady shrugged her shoulders, and wandered off out back.
Another fucking ticket. ANOTHER FUCKING PLANE TICKET! That would be the fifth one now. 5th. 5. Five. FIVE FUCKING PLANE TICKETS and I couldn't afford my fucking RENT oh dear shitting Christ what the FUCK! WHY ME, what did I EVER DO, apart from that one thing but that could have happened to ANYONE right? Well OK there was that other thing but I was ONLY SIXTEEN GIVE ME A BREAK I wasn't THINKING STRAIGHT was I oh WAH WAH WAAAAAAAAAAAAH!
I paced around in a frenzy for some time, before deciding to do what any other mildly-sane late twenties male would do in such a situation - I called my girlfriend, and said, "WAH! WAH! Wah-wah WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"
Then my money ran out.
Then I begged an Italian lady who could hardly understand me to change my fiver into some euro coins, and she laughed at me. I didn't realise how totally worthless the pound had become of late. So, I ran, with all the grace of a crippled pelican, to...
Oh, bugger it. That's enough. To cut a long ass story a bit shorter my Mother ended up lending me the money to get another flight to NY. It was actually closer to £500 than £800 in the end, but still. I banished all thoughts of rent and bills and insolvency and exhaled a sigh of relief so huge and pointed it might have taken someone's eye out, had they been in the way.
So, me and the great big lump on my head flew to New York, via Paris, whose airport looked like something out of a glamorous near future, and didn't have a single fast food joint in it - just an uber-posh restaurant section, which I resented as I could not afford to eat in it. They also had a relatively luxurious-looking smoking bar, which I also resented, as I No Longer Smoke. Oh, and the swine stoke my deodorant! Foolishness on their part, given the stress levels I was under. I'd already changed my top twice.I was wringing wet when I left Milan, and a sodden dishrag by the time I got out of Paris.
Still. I got to JFK airport at 9:30, and got to the front of the que of America's scary-as-ever security pretty quickly. Last time I came, the latest addition to their arsenal was an eyeball scanner. They now have a bleeping, flashing green digital fingerprint machine that scared the utter crap out of me, for reasons some of you may understand, and the rest of you will have to guess at. But the bleeping stayed civil, and they let me through. Only for me to go and outdo my self by getting into what the New Yorkers call a "gypsy cab", which took over an an hour and a half to make the half an hour journey to Joe's Pub in Manhattan. It was gone eleven when we arrived, and when the incompetent, George Michael-bearded, Keanou-In-The-Matrix-Sunglasses-wearing, stop-and-take-a-piss-up-a-firehydrant-when-he-knew-damn-well-I-was-in-a-rush, piss-taking asshole fake-cabbie said, with a straight face, "that'll be $97 plus tip," it was all I could do to stop myself from tearing his smug face off with my bare hands and strangling him with it. As it was, I threw $40 at him and said, "$97?! Don't you dare take the piss out of me my brother! I have been here before! I am not a fucking mug! This is all you're getting and more than you deserve!" Then I slammed the door and legged it into the venue, heart beating out of my fucking sweat-sodden T shirt.
A jovial bouncer greeted me.
"The Gonzales show? Sorry man, you missed it."
I gawped at him.
"A ha ha ha! Only joking man! Come on through!"
Seven and a half minutes later I was sat in a nice, yellow-lit backstage room with Gonzales and Andrew W.K., drinking a cold Guiness out of a flute-glass, smoking a cigarette (which I don't do anymore) and discussing score-taking etiquette.Everything was OK now. We were going to have fun.
That's all for now kids! Check back tomorrow to find out what happened next!