Thursday, May 13, 2010

Plaster and Casts

Plaster and Casts
Hello all from Sunny Southampton.
11 days since my arrival at Heathrow airport.
My adventure starts in earnest, right here
Blog 1.
Where does one begin because yesterday's event has cast a shadow brighter than the English summer.....I’ll keep you in suspense!
The Lad himself with two saxes squeezed into one case, the modified 1935 Conn case.
Here is the expectant, exportant, expatriot, extraordinare, exclaiming his busking birthright outside Wellington airport exuberantly, simply “Wild at Heart” saying arrivederci to NZ for Europe.

Intro to UK life saw me staying 6 days with my (nice) niece Fiona and boy friend Dan in the South London area of Tooting Bec, who very kindly gave up the only bed to sleep on a blow up bed down stairs. Using the Oyster card on the tube and other above ground trains is very easy, efficient, tho I did get on several wrong platforms. On one occasion coming out of the station, which has similar exits and entrances, I took the wrong one getting a little lost. Here comes the interesting bit, I asked a man pushing his pram down the road, holding his iPhone, he said “hang on a minute, we’ll test out this phone" and within 30 seconds, it has found exactly where we were, then he typed in my home street and bingo, “walk down here, then second on the left”. So this is being used by every Joe Bloggs, probably across the whole of the UK.
There are heaps of photo opportunities for some one like me and while sitting in the tube deleting and sorting I realized just how easy it was to shoot on the fly in sort of stealth mode. I was taken by the amazing array of people and personalities I saw. These are those!

My laptop computer which locked on the blue and black screens of death, actually burst back into life, so away I went exploring some busking spots in Covent Garden, The Embankment, Jubilee Bridge and around the London Eye, the huge ferris type wheel.

Covent Garden I’ve discovered the famed hallowed busking spot, for me is over-regulated, needing to do an audition, which is only every two months and only two live spots for music and no saxophones strolling around. I went into the office for the Covent Gardens and got to chat to the organizer. They had no information fliers or rules document to look at. Apparently the Gardens is privately owned  and run, she said she would email me some info, so far nothing has came into my inbox. I was taken by the Bomb Threat procedure list pinned in the office wall and decided Covent Garden is not for me.

Going past these very good buskers playing classical music, upon seeing my Kokopelli hat, the leader shouted out, "this is Ravel's Bolero for the man with the hat” I thanked them and remained on the rail above to watch. These buskers had a collector who went around the rail asking to put in the hat. Something I wanted to do, but to be actively asked was a new experience for me. Upon their final bar I frisbeed my hat into their hat missing by only three hat widths.

After recent (unsuccessful) attempts in NZ to take an older G4 Mac proved beyond me, and experienced Mac users, so being naive, and stubborn saw me visiting the Apple Store in London’s Regent Street. What a shop, what an experience. I’ve been in Mac stores in Chicago, this store has roving blue t-shirted assistants, called “Geniuses”. Already I have experienced the lack of service and steely looks that pervade in large cities all over the world, but this Mac store manned with 150 blue shirts has full and free use of all the tables loaded with all the latest Apple products up and running with Geniuses all around. They have a tutorial area at the back on all sorts of subjects where the audience sits there with their own laptop following the presentation. This is innovative and brilliant, though my own piece of plastic remained hidden in my wallet.

My focus for these early days was to find suitable transport (a bike) and unexpectedly from the Cafe Sax forum came an offer to use a touring bike from Bill, more commonly called “Old Git”, for the duration of my trip. 
Wow. I was blown away and took the above ground train to Croydon. Yes, more than very suitable and beautifully assembled and put together with love and care as Bill is a retired bicycle mechanic. Next job was to find/get a suitable trailer for all my gear, and a quick hunt around shops on the above bike revealed nothing available. I ordered a Bob Yak trailer on the internet, from a specialized shop (in Somerset) on next day delivery which dutifully arrived in Croydon, we unpacked and with minor shortening of the supplied special rear axle (another story). This is the result.

So next day I'm eager to start, still not having been able to find a suitable map. Totally undecided which direction to head I went to Halfords, the chain (get the pun) of cycle shops, once again no suitable maps. Sitting outside thinking about my dilemma a local asked if I was lost, my reply was “this is day one of a cycle trip for 6 months and I don’t know where to go”.  He said “Go to the West Country”. I said “Go West young man ... eh”, he said “Yeah go to it, write about it!!

So I thought the only road I half know is the one I came on from Croydon, which is in the direction of Brighton, where my father was born, yup I need his help right now so off I went  at 11am, not even knowing the distance. I pedalled  through Croydon and the continuing suburbs stopping to ask the way on the back roads to Brighton from a couple of likely lads unloading some building materials “oh it’s a long way, your best bet is the A23. You’ll be buying a stick of rock in Brighton at 6 pm”. I said “I’ll be buying something well before then” continuing on to have breakfast in Coulsdon, a hot bridie pie and brownie.

I biked through fields with daffodils, while days before in NZ, I was biking through Autumn foliage, and on through the recognized bicycle routes following the signs. Getting into Brighton around 6 pm, but shunning the stick of rock idea, I found a backpackers next door to the Globe Hotel in Middle Street and dragged the bike and trailer into the hostel.

My room mates were one young 6ft5" Irishman, a Canadian tree planter and an older Frenchman with skateboard and Macbook laptop playing videos on his top bunk! The Irishman turned out to be a muso who had travelled the length and breadth of Ireland for years (so he said) so I opened my sax case and gave them a little blow, and the Irishman immediately started drawing me up a list of places to go in his home country.
Now it was Sunday morning and these fellows had been out drinking the night before, so we all went out to breakfast. My tall companion ordered two beers (for starters) and one of those “everything" cooked breakfasts. I hopped onto my bike saying goodbye and headed west to find my uncle and auntie 35 miles west in Rustington.

It was quite an experience to be around family, seeing patterns in myself. Refreshing contact with distant cousins and their children. My cousin Richard’s art work a drawing of a field mouse done aged 17, and a painting by my Uncle, only one of many, (below) made me realize where I get my artistic tendencies.

Uncle and Auntie took the visiting colonial to view the Bluebell forest which was magnificent. Learning a lot of family history as we walked through taking lots of photos.

Off I headed for Southampton biking through Portsmouth where Terry another local cyclist stopped me, found out where I wanted to go then informed me I was going the wrong way and cycled with me on the route to Southampton, stopping at his home for coffee. (Nice one mate, you're a gem).

Now we get to the title of this blog “ Plaster and Casts”.

There I was, biking along in traffic when a small truck pulled out from a side road looking to overtake me. I was just going straight ahead, crossing a left turning intersection, He started to turn left which would run me over. I choose to quickly turn left to avoid this and crashed the bike on the road. Several people stopped including the driver of the offending vehicle and a larger truck immediately behind me, the driver saying  “I saw the whole thing and he was in the wrong”.

So picking up the pieces, the guys who caused it all took me to my intended destination to meet Pete Thomas, the creator/administrator of the Cafe Saxophone Forum, and supreme saxophonist.

Off we went to the Hospital to get checked out. The photos tell no lies.  Xrays for my hand were in fact xrated. I’m told my knee, shoulder and bruises are minor issues however I’ve broken my right thumb and the xray below is my left shoulder (which they didn't find out till a week later that it also was broken)........coming up 10days now since the accident, possible 7 more days max till I get the operations.

So where to from here, I certainly don’t know........... so you will have to wait for my next blog.
This has been like no other.
Will the Saxman return?
Will Kokopelli perform out there in the street?
Till the next blog....
Cheers and Ciao

Post script
19th May
Add to the thumb I have a broken clavicle, and will need corrective plates and pins! Have contacted my World Nomads travel insurance who say I am not covered (due to the reciprical agreement between UKand NZ for health care, read the fine print...mate) The hand specialist has 22 in his waiting list + others to add, so my likely senario is next week some time.
Really scraping the bottom of the barrel, however my relatives in the form of Uncle Ken (the distant Kokopelli hat fan) and Angela, my Auntie have been very kind supportive and most helpful. Don't know what I'd have done with out them, so I'm busted up, walled up, and pondering my next steps.

Yes the computer has arisen from the dead and I have wi-fi.
Special thanks to Pete Thomas and family, for helping me at this time!

Possibly the next blog will be soon, as I have time on my bottom!
To all those who said, "Can I carry your bags on this trip"'s not so rosy at the moment!
I accept and take the rough with the smooth!
No other way!

Whew!....and you didn't experience this!
More to follow.


Markus said...

Wow that's quite a setback! I have no doubt you'll be back to your antics in no time!

Jimu said...

yeah, your right there Markus.
The flip side to this has also been a massive learning curve!

Klinkehoffen said...

Sorry to hear about your trails - what a fantastic story all that lot is going to make for retelling though!
Roses Road is green & damp, the creek is running, and the earth is hunkering down for deep sleep of winter. There's snow on the mountains now, too. We are enjoying the frosty view through our double-glazing, the cosy fire at nights, the sharpness of the stars and a fat, creamy moon.
We head over to France & Germany in three weeks, to visit family, but I suspect we will experience a less rich tapestry to your adventures! Sam & Jan