There is a moment during the film Apollo 13 when the character of Jack Swigert climbs into the frozen, crippled command module; he flicks a few switches and, after a suitably dramatic pause, lights start to flicker back into life. The capsule becomes a living being again
I am feeling much the same as I stare at the WordPress home page, ready to write for the first time in many months.
Once again, as Autumn begins to grip (which in England seems to mean a spell of fine weather far outstripping anything that we enjoyed in the Summer), my professional attentions turn to the United States of America and life back on the road.
2015 has been a wonderful year, with so much going on. Back in February I was in Minneapolis helping to create ‘To Begin With’ – a new play based on Charles Dickens’ short book ‘The Life of Our Lord’. The show was a great success, and to work with a close-knit team for a lengthy run in a single venue was something very exciting and new for me.
We are hoping to repeat the exercise and hopefully take the show on tour, maybe even to the UK but, as is ever the case, there is the slight hurdle of funding. At the moment everything is on hold until the producer, Dennis Babcock, can get investors on board. It is a frustrating time for all of us, but I’m sure that ‘something will turn up’, as Mr Micawber says.
THE event of this year, though, was our Wedding. In August Liz and I travelled up to Cromarty in the Highlands of Scotland , along with my son Cameron, and our brothers and sisters. The day was everything we could have dreamed of: the ceremony itself in the open air beneath azure skies and hot sun.
The Highlands being the Highlands, the weather changed completely within a couple of hours, and our Dolphin watching boat trip became a rain-lashed adventure, which certainly added to the fun of the day.
In a few weeks Liz and I head off for a belated honeymoon in Zanzibar, where we will lay on soft sand, snorkel, watch spectacular sunsets and let the woes of the world pass us by.
For now though we are both working: Liz as head of keyboards in the music department at St Helen and St Katharine’s School and me travelling to Maryland. The goodbyes seemed to be even more difficult this year, even though I’m only going to be away for a week.
In the midst of a busy working day Liz drove me to the bus station in Oxford, so that I could catch the superb coach service that links the city to Heathrow airport. We said our sorrowful goodbyes and I set off on my travels.
Actually there is very little of interest to report, as the journey was one of the easiest I have ever taken. The bus arrived at Heathrow on time and there were no queues at either check-in, or security. Everyone in the line ahead of me knew to take their belts off, laptops out and empty their pockets – so there were none of the usual bottle necks.
After a little routine shopping and a cup of coffee, the gate for my flight was called and when I arrived I could walk straight onboard, where I discovered that I had nobody sat beside, in front or behind me.
We pushed back from the gate on time and taxied towards the end of the runway. It was interesting to see all of the new bulbous Airbus A380 double decked planes, with their sensually curving wings. Suddenly the big 747s look very dated and somewhat ungainly.
We took off to the east and banked round directly over Windsor Castle and Eton school. The day was bright and clear and the view was amazing. Soon we flew over the remaining chimneys at Didcot Power Station. In clear view, a little to the north was our home town of Abingdon: the ring road, the roundabout marking the junction with the Oxford Road, the turn into our road – our house: all very visible! I waved and blew a kiss to Liz.
As the plane rushed to the west I watched a couple of films before discovering the first season of House of Cards and managed to watch three episodes before we made our descent into, appropriately, Washington DC.
The sunset above the clouds (Actually, I’m not sure if that is possible), was beautiful and seemed to make a solid surface on which we could actually land, but we gently passed through and touched down on American soil some twenty minutes early.
My seat was way back in the plane and by the time I got off I’d missed the first shuttle bus taking passengers to the main terminal. The next bus had a few straggling passengers, such as myself and the crew. By the time we eventually got to the immigration hall everybody else had gone and I could just walk straight up to a desk, have my finger prints taken and be sent cheerily on my way (yes, really: cheerily)
The final bags were coming onto the carousel as I arrived at the baggage hall and in no time I was walking into the chilly Virginian evening. Actually waiting for the courtesy bus from the Alamo Car rental office was the longest delay I experienced on the entire trip.
My first event on this mini tour is going to be at Columbia, Maryland, where I will be performing my version of Great Expectations as part of the ‘British Invasion’ Arts Festival (http://columbiafestival.org/). I spent much of the hour’s car journey to Columbia going through the lines of Great Ex and the miles passed quickly.
In no time I was pulling up at the Sheraton Hotel where I had a brief dinner of grilled chicken, before falling asleep on my bed.
On Friday I will be performing, and will report back then: the winter starts here….