Friday, March 31, 2006

Shopping and Busking

Stuck close to home yesterday. I was making buffalo wings, bbq beans and cole slaw for dinner, and so our most exotic trip was to Sainsbury's for food.

Today we ventured to Covent Gardens, which was perhaps one of the best days of the trip so far. As I was singing Zelda to sleep tonight, she interrupted me to ask if we could go to the place where we got spaghetti again some day and get strawberry ice cream this time.

I thought then of everything we did while we were in Covent Gardens. There was a great, fast lunch, Zelda saw maybe a half-dozen different buskers, I got to show her the toy and puppet shop I first experienced five years ago, Toni and I loaded up on bath products, and Z. and O. got new outfits for church on Sunday ... which will be the first time they ever go to church.

Toni was jonesing to have time alone on Charing Cross Rd., and I wanted to see the Shakespeare exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, but it was already around three when we were finishing our ice cream. Toni figured we should get back instead, because the kids needed to sleep. I said they would sleep the minute I got Orson in the sling and Zelda into the stroller. She should go off on her own and Brenda, Henrik and I would be fine at the gallery.

I was right. The little ones knocked out shortly after we entered the musem. A bad habit to encourage, but there you are.

The Searching for Shakespeare exhibit was better than I thought it would be. They have six portraits formerly theorized to be life-portraits of the Bard - one is still under consideration as the real deal. I think they're all bogus. Regardless, they are historical paintings I have seen in reproduction for years, and it was fun to see them for real, up close.

Those - and famous, familiar portraits of Jonson, Marlowe, De Vere, Burbage, Stanley, and so on. More than I'd hoped for.

Dinner was pizza, and then the women went off for their night out. They saw a production of The Odyssey at the Lyric Hammersmith which you just need to ask Toni to describe. I'm envious, it sounds like it was an incredible production. The two of us will be seeing something on our own the last night here, or at least that's the plan, but The Odyssey closes tomorrow.

The day would have been perfect, except for this Cockney unicycle clown at the Gardens who called "all Americans are no-nothing dummy stupid-heads" and said that "Justin's favorite band sucks ass."

I thought that was uncalled for.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Don't talk about our son, Martha.

Millennium Bridge
A week before we left I visited a specialist, someone who treats migraines. Her entire staff was wonderful - the nurse, the doctor. Really put me at ease.

When I was in sixth grade I suffered from recurrent headaches. I went to a doctor, a man. He interviewed me, ran some tests, and concluded that there was nothing wrong with me, that I pretended to be ill because I wanted to be home with my mommy. He told my mom this.

Last week I received two migraine meds, was instructed to keep track of my headaches, how they come, my diet, etc. I have used each now - they are miracle drugs. Coming home from the theater last night I developed a pain over my right eye which moved into my right eye. Unlike most cases, the pain was not too intense before I started feeling nauseated. I didn't help there was someone on the train eating a really rank hamburger. Since Sunday I have been really susceptible to odors for some reason, especially at night. Dinner hasn't been too fun this week.

Phoning ahead (I thought cellphones were prevalent in the States, there's so many more of them here - and iPods, that's another story) Toni had a bed prepared for me in the t.v. room, away from the kids, away from everyone. I took the migraine medication - and it went away.

A migraine. Went away. I would have cried for joy, only I was asleep.

The day was lovely, though I will admit I was a little disappointed. I need to get over that. We had three things on our list - the London Eye, a boat ride down the Thames and possibly, if there were time, a tour of the Globe for Zelda, just the basic one, to see the inside.

We saw the Eye. That's it. Well, that isn't entirely it, we also had a great lunch at a noodle soup chain called Wagamama, and that led to a big little girl taking a serious nap in the stroller while we had coffee in the Globe cafe ... and then it was time to get home. Oh well. I guess what's important is that we're having a great, relaxed time - after all the weariness that's been passed around, it was best to take it easy. And there are worse things to do than take a long walk along the south bank of the Thames.

After a quick meal of fish and chips, Henrik and I took off to see the recent revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf with Bill Irwin and Kathleen Turner at the Apollo. Okay, not British, not the playwright, not the actors, but who cares? Couldn't see it in New York, thrilled to be able to see it in London. Besides, Henrik has never seen or read it, ever, so I knew it would be a kick for him.

Martha & George
It is as good as they say. I was on my guard for an "understudy" notice to be up when we arrived, but it wasn't - I knew the entire cast had gotten nominated for Tonys. Henrik tells me Ms. Turner missed a few performances a month ago, and when she opened her mouth last night I almost wished for her sake she'd taken the night off, her classic, dusky voice just sounded very, very tired. Big, but tired.

The event began a bit symbolically, as we took our seats, the folks from Chicago sitting next to us were being harangued by a red-headed drunk. Apparently he had been sitting on one side of them, and then the actual owner of that seat arrived, and then he had been in our seat, on the other side. He started talking to them politely, and then got loud and insulting, "You Americans think you're big shots, but your just f***ing middle class," and like that. There were about a dozen people gesticulating wildly at the ushers and he was eventually escorted out.

Our aisle mates and we chatted for a bit, Henrik reporting that was the first time he had ever seen something like that happen in a dozen years of British theater-going. We concluded being verbally assaulted by an alcoholic wasn't exactly an inappropriate way to begin that night's performance.

SPOILER: You haven't read or seen Virginia Woolf? Maybe you don't want to continue. Secrets will be revealed.

I was probably supposed to read Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in college, but I didn't. I know I haven't seen the Mike Nichols film, and some say that's for the best. In any case, the only other time I've seen it was (surprise) at Great Lakes Theater Festival, about ten years ago. I really enjoyed that production. In fact, having never even read it before, I was shocked at how great the first act was, and equally amused to hear another audience member heading for the lobby during the first intermission saying loudly, "This is terrible - there's nothing to like about any of these people!" Great drama, very funny, and it was still pissing people off after 35 years! That's theater.

What I did not get ten years ago was the whole "no son" thing. Thought it was symbolic. Maybe there was a son, but he's gay or something so they don't want to talk about him. Or it was just a game. The kind of game that people don't want to have children play, those kinds of people. Intellectuals.

Except it's stated pretty clearly at the end, they cannot have children. Cannot. In the days of my ignorance, the idea that people cannot have children was a very simple concept. Intercourse, but no conception. You cannot have children.

What I did not know was that means trying to have children. A lot. Hoping for children. Having miscarriages, maybe a lot of them. Stillbirths. Not so simple.

Honey & Nick
The play takes place on the advent of the 21st birthday of this "imaginary" son. A private ritual, George and Martha make up a life for their son, and on this night she breaks the rules and tells someone else. And on this night, George kills him. It's over. He's dead.

So he was never imaginary. Was there a boy? A small boy, a stillborn boy, or a boy who died shortly after birth? He was real.

"There's nothing to like about any of these people." Maybe not. It's ugly in its hysterical-ness. It's a play about failure, so many different kinds of failure, for everyone in the room. The younger couple have much in common with the older one. Nick and Honey can't have children, either. Hmn. Another take on the word "hysterical."

The performances were uniformly brilliant, but I simply adored Bill Irwin. A monument to passive aggression. But I was also struck by Mireille Enos' Honey. Never gave her character much notice before, I think I had the least sympathy for her in the past. But she was heartbreaking. Oh yes, mousy and yet so, so sympathetic. So vulnerable.

It was a great show. Capped by a migraine. Ah well.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Good Meeting

I remember the date in June, 2001, which was the first time I ever traversed the New York subway entirely on my own. I was a 32 year-old man. Ever since I had been with Toni, I was used to just following her, because she knew the system like the back of her hand. It was a little disorienting to be on my own.

Yesterday may have been the first time I did the Underground entirely on my own - not as momentous occasion. It doesn't sppear as complicated, doesn't seem like there are as many routes. And people don't walk as fast.

I was attending a meeting with the folks at SANDS. Their office was a few blocks up from Oxford Circus. I got out of the tube and it was bright and sunshiny, though it had begun raining before I had arrived at 28 Portland Place.

It was an illuminating meeting. The show made quite an impact on them last Friday, and they can't wait to get me back in town to perform it again. So we were discussing how to make that happen.

The big question for me was, and is: What do I want to do with this show? And, of course, there's only so much more I can do with this show. There's not going to be a motion picture - video was discussed, again. There was a general consensus that video can be dangerous, it was too easy to imagine medical practitioners using it in the wrong way, showing select scenes to get an impression of "what not to do" for example, and I'd hate to think of that. They agreed.

Publication is a possibility. I never thought a play publishing concern would be interested, who would want to perform this work other than me? But letting a bereavement support organization distribute it so others can read it, people who need some new way of looking at their own grief? That's appealing.

BTW - I love UK pop radio. I had no idea my British relations consumed so much contemporary American R&B and hip-hip.

There were some great, surprise exchanges, reflecting on the performance. Neal thought the show will go over great in the British Isles because, as he says, it's not very American. I wanted to know what that meant, and Erica chimed in that she wasn't sure I was American, once she heard my brother lived here she got all confused, and thought that perhaps I was British and that I was the one who had moved to America.

Also, Neal gave me their one criticism - the title. They understood it after they'd seen the play, but had to admit it was a bit off-putting beforehand (and he's not alone in that assessment) and so ... where did I get the idea to call the play I HATE THIS?

I picked up one of their own books from off the table, and told them I wanted to title of my play to sound like this picture looks:

There were smiles all around, as if to say, "Well. Yes. That's all right, then."

I was very impressed with them, and their work. Their mission, primarily, is to comfort and advise the bereaved, those who lost children before term and up to twenty-eight days after birth. Now they are beginning to get into research and prevention, working to discover the reasons certain babies don't come to term.

It was a warm, positive meeting, and it went on longer than I thought it would, it was such an interesting, engaging time.

Toni was feeling very unwell all day yesterday, I got to take the kids out for a long walk late yesterday morning, getting postcard stamps, and a kite - maybe there will be kite-flying later this week! The plans for to day ... well, we'll see if they come to fruition.

Monday, March 27, 2006

A Blustery Day

photo: St. Peter's Vicarage

Yesterday was spent close to home. Mothering Day falls in March in the UK, and lucky me, I knew this in advance. While Henrik and I were dashing around the City last Friday, I had the good fortune to hit up a LUSH (that's well-put, isn't it?) in Victoria Station.

LUSH is home to our favorite luxury bath products, something we discovered to our great delight in Vancouver on our Honeymoon. So it has that connection, too. There are a few in the states now, but plenty more over here, where it originated. I got Toni a special Mother's day package, with bath bombs, hand lotion, hair treatment, etc. She was surprised to see it on the tabel yesterday morning.

Lydia made her famous double-chocolate chip cookies, we took some walks, and for dinner went to a local Italian place called Aldo's. It's charming, and so is Aldo and his girlfriend, who is the server. Small place. I don't believe it would normally be open on a Sunday night, but it was a special occasion.

I was not feeling well, I'm still not, and Joanna had recommended the alfredo - which is not on the menu, but Aldo will make it if its requested. Delicious, subtle (not too salty) creamy, amazing. Thanks, Aldo! He actually chased us halfway down the street when we had left a few of Orson's toys behind.

As for today ... The changing of the guard? Not so much. I've never really felt compelled to see it, I mean who wants to show up in the exact place every other tourist goes to, exactly when they go there?

It was very blustery, and started to rain, and so Zelda began to lose patience with it after time. Couldn't blame her. Luckily we were standing in the right place for the morning's replacement regiments to come marching by, playing fife and drum, and so the event was not a total downer.

photo: Like mother, like daughter. A lust for shoes.

Zelda was disappointed she did not get to see the Queen, and though I tried to explain to her that Her Majesty does not make personal appearances, having already ridden in a coach with one Queen Elizabeth, she could not understand why this one wouldn't want to meet her.

We did go to the Queen's Gallery, where we got to see the permanent collection, and the Queen's 80th birthday portrait. They play a long video of the artist, Rolf, creating the portrait next to the actual thing. Zelda found this very interesting, then fell asleep, and so we got to actually look at some of the art a bit more casually.

This evening Toni, Brenda and I took a "Ghost Walk" around the West End. More jovial than creepy, our host, Graham, led us on a tour hour walk around the theatre district and then into a pub.

I am actually feeling "rather poorly" at the moment,my shoulders are very sore and I am just feeling woozle. I hope I feel better in the morning, I having a meeting with the people from SANDS tomorrow afternoon to discuss future plans for I HATE THIS. Wish me luck.

Waiting for George Michael.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

not the play what i wrote

Shakespeare's Globe tour.

Oo-ah. Apparently I have been terribly misunderstood, regarding my 24 March post, and the "first question."

I thought my description of the situation was pretty clear, or at least I did at the time, but I can see how now it was misconstrued (see the comments for the last two days for the whole story.)

Actually, what I was trying to present was my own first impression of Berni's question. Having just performed an unusual performance for a foreign crowd (and by that I guess I mean people not from Cleveland - the Minnesotans were more alien to me than the Brits) I was looking for an indication of how the show was received. Berni's comment threw me because, emotionally, I was in that place.

She was obviously sharing a painful question she herself had been asked a number of times, that was the conversation starter. It was a GREAT question, a challenging question.

(Reminder, here's the question: "Has anyone ever asked you, if you're over it, why do you keep doing this show?" She didn't ask me why I keep doing the show - she asked if anyone has ever asked that. Big difference.)

Keep in mind - when I performed IHT last October, for a room of exhausted RNs at the end of a full day of lectures in a hall with no air conditioning, the first question I received (after a tense silence) was "Well ... you told us all the things we shouldn't say ... what are we supposed to say?"

So ... not knowing whether I was speaking to an insulted professional or one of the club, I was on my guard. That's all I wanted to express, that first - false, fearful - impression. Because I am an insecure guy.

I'm sorry, Berni. You are lovely, I really, really enjoyed speaking to you, and I hope we meet again soon. I knew what you meant, and I hope everyone else understands now, too.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

From Kevin, to Helen Bach.

Henrik and Brenda are Friends of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on Bankside, the painfully exacted reconstruction of a functioning Tudor-Stewart playhouse. They also put on good plays.

Because they are Friends (you know, donors) they get access to special events, and tours. Today we went on the Heaven to Hell tour. Most tours are limited to the house (the seats and the big space in front of the stage, occupied by the groundlings) and the public facilities. We got a top-to-bottom view of the backstage - from the so-called Heavens to Hell.

The Heavens are above the playing area. It is used for, among other things, storage.

Some items are more interesting than others.

A number of hand-crafted tapestries hang from the ceiling.

Our guide threw open the door at the front of the Heavens (we were not allowed any closer) from where, presumably, the cannons were fired during a performance of Henry VIII which, in 1613, burned down the original Globe.

The balcony above the stage is called the Musician's Room, because during most performances, that's where the musicians are. And for some unknown reason, there are a large pair of underpants hanging over the door backstage.

A close-up of the Heavens trap. It's kind of narrow, and the idea of being lowered through it makes me very queasy.

View of the pit from the Musician's Room. Ha ha, they don't get the H2H tour. Ha ha ha ha ha.

Welcome to the stage of the Globe.

Welcome to Hell. There's actually not much there, just a very low ceiling (five feet?) and the trapdoor.

The costume shop. I would look awesome in any of these.

All handmade, not a hook or zipper on them. All laces, all the time.

But first I need some shoes.

There are an awful lot of shoes.

Mark Rylance wore this number in Richard II.

These hats are talkin'.

Meanwhile, outside they are generating excitement for the summer season, which begins in May, by hosting events called Inside Outside, which is to say, things that normally happen inside are going on outside, right on the riverfront. Scenes are performed, music is played, crowds gather and disperse.

I remember visiting Southwark Bank in late 1990, to see the sites of Shakspeare's London. There wasn't much there. Just gray office buildings, some commemorative plaques, and a big hole where Shakespeare's Globe was supposedly, eventually, going to be. Now there's not only the Globe but plenty of restaurants and shops, museums and lots and lots of walking traffic. It's lovely, even in March. And we beat the rain.


Friday, March 24, 2006

Hello, London.

Oi. What a crazy experience. I actually felt like I was doing poorly, it's always so hard to tell. Can't get much worse than having your sound go up at the beginning of the show. We actually got a new CD player to cover for the other two (ours and WBS's) that weren't working well ... only we never really played with it before the show started. I handled it rather calmly, I thought. First time for everything. We ended up using one of the less favorable - though working - players.

Which is emphasizing the negative. Which is dumb. Everything went very well. Great house, lovely people - we attracted 31 audience members. My apologies to Kristen, it just so happens the people she was in touch with were the folks from Southampton. And some of them were from France - and New Zealand. It was the most international audience I'd ever played to.

The opening question of the Q&A almost did me in, however. I can't get it exactly right, but the gist was, "Why would you still do this play so many years after the event ... aren't you over it?" She was baiting me - not in some manipulative way, she was asking the question, I believe, so many have asked her, so many years after the loss of her child. After some of my experiences recently (with Long Island, with Akron) I was wondering if I hadn't just ruined some people's evening. Couldn't be farther from the truth, that was the laucnhing pad into a Q&A that was much more like a conversation than a discussion.

Obviously there were a lot of parents of loss in the house. The folks from SANDS were lovely, we're going to meet next week, hopefully, to discuss future projects. And I think Claire was pleased, it certainly had the turnout we hoped for, and the board members and other WBS dignitaries in attendance also thought it was a great evening.

And then there was the family. Joanna's not even related, but it's like she is, we're having a great time here in the house. She had some extremely kind words following the perf. And it was delightful to have Lydia in the front row - I was worried she might think my impression of her as a six year-old might hurt her feelings (remember, this is the first time she'd ever seen or heard it - she's used to the divine Betsy Hogg playing her on radio) but I think she was more amused by it than anyone else.

And there was Henrik. I think the uncomfortable stuff is over. Funny, it never came up in the Q&A the way it usually does - "has this play been difficult for your family?" That wasn't asked. What was asked was whether or not Toni found it troubling.

And I said, "No ... you may have noticed ... my family finds it hard to express emotion." (Laughter.) And I went on to explain how Toni made it possible for me to connect with my grief in a way that would have been impossible before.

photo: Big hit - ketchup and chicken sandwiches.

She also made it possible to do the show tonight, staying home with the kids. I'll make it up to her - my vacation begins now.

I'm just hoping Father David isn't pissed I didn't put the lighting back exactly the way I found it.


UPDATE 5.05pm GMT - Now with photos!

photo: Claire and I, figuring out the tech ...

Just a word (no time) - went over tech this morning with Claire, she's lovely, and so is her six year-old boy Edward ... there will be pictures eventually. Hated to swamp her with all the cues in one day, but she's obviously going to do a great job. Still and all - Kelly, I miss you!

Actually, the real reason we're really missing Kelly right now is that jet-lag has kicked in hideously and I was up until past two with a screaming Orson, but now I am really digressing.

photo: The charming Edward.

Reservations are up to 28 ... 30 is a sell-out, no kidding, we may be SRO. Lots of people important to the WBS are coming, there is a continegncy from SANDS driving ninety minutes from Southampton ... oh, and Kritsen? None of your peeps have made reservations, Claire says she knows everyone who is coming. Hmn. Could be quite a crowd in a tiny room.

Anyway, anyway, the words ...

(Wait for it ...)


It's the big laugh of the show, the big release, and everyone on this little island had Heinz as children (Heinz baby food? Does it all taste like ketchup?) Still working on what to say instead, it won't be the same. Suggestions?

And Toni dissuaded me from changing up any of the words - they know what fries are, for goodness sake. But apparently not Popsicles (a registered trademark, don't you know.) So I either say ice lollies, or get a blank stare. Hmn. Hmn again. What else am I missing, I don't use the word pants, do I?

Gotta run. Still don't know how the slides are going to be projected, and the CD player skips. Brenda has generously offered to read the slides, which worked fine on radio (and my first public read-through) but gives me the hives just thinking about it. I didn't want this perf to be so odd.

Really gotta run, Henrik's made cheese on toast. Cheers.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Scan for Alien Tech

Crazy. I got a "fringe" listing in Time Out London. I don't know if it will make any difference, the brief description of the show is a one-sentence conflation of the two-sentence blurb I usually use, which states flatly that this show is about "the year following his son's birth." I don't think I'd see a show like that if you'd threatened me with violence.

Still and all, it tickled me to see this listing. I had offered to assist with the promotion, and the response I received was, I thought, a polite way of putting me off.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a little schizo about promotion. I actually hate doing it, I got a rep in town for being good at it, but that's like being good at shoveling poop, everyone's so glad you're doing it. But when promo ops are missed, I just get crazy.

When I heard there were only six reservations (this was about ten days ago) I just went a little loopy and filled out TO's automatic "listings submission" form on their website. Never even received a reply, and lo and behold, there it is.

We currently have reservations for 25, which is plenty. I don't imagine any of them came from the magazine. Apparently some of them came from Kristen & Phil (thanks, guys!) and the recommendations of some who heard the radio show on Monday.

It's just as well. Henrik and I had an adventure today. He borrowed a great, old video projector (remember, it's old) to which we were to hook up Brenda's new laptop - that's for projecting the slides. The only truly necessary technical bits of the show are the slides and the sound.

We met Father David at St. Vincent DePaul's, and he showed us the room I will be performing in tomorrow night. It's dimensions are almost exactly those of the little room I performed in at the NY Fringe. It's even got a piano in it, but at least we can move that. I don't think we can seat more than 30 if we wanted to.

However, our trips to find cable to link the laptop to the projector were fruitless. We took the train the Tottenham Road, where you cannot swing a cat without hitting a tech store. The first place we went to, a Panasonic joint, actually told us there was no way to connect these two items (the projector is simply incompatible, too old) but if we were, there was only one store where we could find the necessary cables - MAPLIN. That was a few more blocks down the road ... and that was a bust, too.

Apparently we will simply use a computer monitor, as was done in NYC, for the purposes of this performance. The projector would have been nice.

But at least I got out of the house a little bit. The kids, and Toni are indulging in taking their time adjusting to the time change. That's another great part about staying here for two weeks. They'll be doing some out and about things tomorrow while Claire and I work on the show. I don't have it in me to be nervous yet. That's for tomorrow.


Zelda's desire for an apple at four-thirty in the morning got me out of bed. We had an apple and string cheese and by the time I got her back in bed her jet-lag had been requited and mine had kicked in. I made coffee, and shuffled around the small table in the kitchen, running lines and remembering moves.

The script evolves. I wonder if it would. There's bits that never worked, of course, those were usually "jokes." A lot of those came out when it was necessary to cut down the length of the radio drama. Some of those are going back in - I think when I say the punchline to "The Closiers" I should snap my fingers the way Drew Carey does in "The Aristocrats."

No? Hello? Am I too hip for the room?

Later Henrik and I will play with the PowerPoint projector and then check out St. Vincent's.

The rest of yesterday was very nice. After a nap we put Orson in the stroller and we all went to get Lydia from school. She and Z. stayed home to play while Henrik, Toni, Orson and I ran errands - and got some much needed exercise. It is a crowded city, even out here, away from the very center of London the streets bustle with people. I should ask the specific ethnic make-up of the neighborhood, a very large number of them appear to be Afro-Carribbean.

Maybe it's because I have been here a number of times in my adult life (this is visit number 4 since 1990) but there's more familiarity and less "exotic-ness" about being here. I don't know who has changed more, me or Britian. There's a Subway (that's new) a MacDonald's, of course - and Asna's, the supermarket chain, is now owned by Walmart.

Lydia (now 11) is a big fan of the radio drama. I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, she's apparently listened to it a lot. My brother says she cries every time. She told me yesterday she wishes she could reach through the radio and shout "It doesn't end like this! Soon you will have two beautiful living children!" Which is, of course, a sweet thing for a young girl to say.

She mentioned this over dinner, and I had to put on my tact guard. We have a tendency to be didactic (not the royal we, I mean my brother and I) and I tried to be as casual as possible (with everyone at the table listening) as I explained that that's true, things are very good for us, and we're happy, but and that the show exists as a reminder that we can't forget or ignore those who are in grief in the hopes that someday things will eventually be better for them.

Then she said she someday wants to make an extended family tree out of paper and photographs ... but that she doesn't know what's the right thing to do for Calvin. I said in the old days, and not very long ago, people would get cemetery plots (some still do, not as many, it seems) for their deceased children, some didn't even have names, but they had a stone that say, "Son" or "Baby."

She thought she could put Calvin's name there, maybe with a black square for a picture. I said that would be just fine.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Made it. Yes, travelling with little people makes the whole affair a bit more stressful. A six-hour flight (was it always six hours? That seems awful short) and I have to be honest, I didn't do anything. Not one thing. I think I flipped through the in-flight magazine for thirty seconds, and played half of one hand of solitaire. The kids were great, and slept for most of the trip, both of them - thanks to our Continental Fairy Godfather we had bulkhead seats and a bassinet for the boy (we owe you guys homecooked meals for a month) - and yet I couldn't sleep or think for the entire trip.

To think I entertained the idea of running lines or reading a book (got a copy of Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation for the journey) but ah well.

Zelda's been marvellous, content to walk along side us through the myriad of concourses - Cleveland Hopkins, Newark Liberty, London Gatwick - rolling her new Winnie the Pooh suitcase.

I swear they got Steve Coogan to do the security announcements at Gatwick, it's weird.

Okay, so, not much to report yet, met the housemates Joanna and Deb, they and Brenda had a loverly breakfast set out for us when we arrived, Lydia's still at school, I have had a two-hour nap and I'm still worthlessly loopy. Tomorrow I will get my first glance at St. Vincent's (the performance space) and hopefully get to do a mental, and physical, walk-through. Maybe I will have time to take in the whole hey-we're-in-Britain thing, but for now the radio in Office Albion is playing old fashioned American R&B.

Oh, and I was wrong about the busses. Where did I read they had gotten rid of the double-decker busses?