Monday, December 9, 2013

Days 36 & 37: London

Day 36

My plan was to not go out much today and simply chill. By midday, I was still in my pyjamas (daggy clothes were sodden from the washing machine), happily chatting to people on Skype. 

I planned to go to Oxford Street’s Selfridges that evening to meet Dan Aykroyd. The knowledge of his appearance was a birthday present from similarly-obsessed Canadian Internet friend.

Anyway, I decided to pass on the tube (only two stops) and walked in the drizzle, determined not to use my broken umbrella. After fifteen minutes and several streets lacking proper crossings, I reached the Marble Arch and shed my favoured thin black fleece, continuing on to the large building I recognised from Google street view.

I stumbled into Selfridges and dodged a sea of suited people holding out perfume sticks before finding my way to the lower ground level.

At 5pm, I charged a 700ml bottle of Crystal Head Vodka to my backup card (the other two cards failed me - whoops) and had a blue wristband snapped on me (red bands for those who got there first). I lined up with the other restless plebs and amused myself by leaning on shelves of candles branded as “Dirtique” and by smiling at those dressed up as Ghostbusters. A security guy told us Dan Aykroyd had been running 30 minutes late all day, so it was a little after 6pm when he arrived.

Before this, I had chatted with people in the queue. Memorably, one guy was insisting that Ghostbusters was a better film than The Blues Brothers, much to the derision of myself and others. This loon, in his Ghostbusters shirt, proclaimed, “It’s SUCH a good movie!” 

I wish I’d asked the cute guy beside me out for a drink afterwards...

The line moved and then I was pulling the skull-shaped vodka receptacle out for an Asian employee to give to Dan Aykroyd - older but very recognisable. He sounded just the way he should! The skull that was signed a couple before mine was for a woman who apparently fainted!

I sat beside Dan Aykroyd as he signed the skull. He then pinched a piece of paper I had with me and signed that too. As I had forgotten my camera, I managed to wrangle a second handshake from him. I professed my love of The Blues Brothers and he asked me if I was a musician to which I replied, “No, but I have you to thank for my great taste in music.”

He said something about the American Playbook and I was released from that surreal booth. I powered back to my apartment, clutching my previous signed cargo. I fretted as I cocooned the bottle in plastic, then in a beanie and a shirt before gently resting it in my suitcase. Let’s hope it survives the trip!

Spoiler: it survived the trip.


Day 37

The day began with trepidation - me, running around re-packing things and fretting about the crystal skull (I still am). I attempted food and felt off about it but still forced my way through Nutella on toast, strawberries and milk. Thusly fortified, I coasted upstairs at 9:30am and checked out. My request to book a taxi was met with confusion - wouldn’t I rather walk to Paddington and take the Heathrow express?

I looked pointedly at my luggage and divulged that I was going to a hotel near Heathrow. I read newspapers shouting about gang rapist paedophiles and Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy for twice as long as I had been prepared to wait. This should have been my first clue about the incompetence of my driver. 

He made it out of London well enough but drove right past my hotel and proceeded to get hopelessly lost in West Drayton before using two roundabouts to get me to where I need to be. No tip from me! I hurriedly checked in to my day room.

I packed early and made my way downstairs. Checking out was easy, the wait for the taxi was okay and the drive was very friendly. He was incredulous when I told him that my trip did not cost £45 000!

I had to use my Aussie passport and happily my bag was not too heavy (though I think the limit is 30kg now). The hand luggage screening was crazy but I set off no alarms nor was I pulled aside. 

In Pret-a-Manger. It’s nice.

Flight in 3 hours...

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