"(Someone's Been) Telling You Stories" - Dan Fogelberg, 1974
I had a very interesting day today. I heard lots of interesting stories. And I had started the day dreading the travel I was facing.
This was a business travel day...a long travel day. I had an incredibly early start. I was picked up at 6am UK time, from John's house in Hertfordshire, to go to London's Heathrow Airport. I flew from London to Toronto, Canada, and then on to Calgary. I got into my hotel here in Calgary just after 6pm Mountain Time -- which is 7 hours behind UK time. I'll be in Calgary all next week, teaching courses Monday through Thursday.
The first person to tell me stories today was the taxi driver who drove me to Heathrow. John lives in a town in Hertfordshire famous for its movie and TV studios, so it's not uncommon to hear some interesting "celebrity" stories from the taxi drivers there. But I especially enjoyed the one I heard this morning...about Stanley Kubrick.
It seems that Kubrick likes Kentucky Fried Chicken. And he's very particular about his KFC. I was told that he prefers the chicken from the Marble Arch location in London...and that he can tell if the taxi drivers cheat and pick up his fried chicken from another London-area KFC! They apparently drive around with a mini-oven in their car's boot (the "trunk", to my US readers), so that the chicken can stay hot between the pickup in Marble Arch and the drive out to Hertfordshire!
The driver's stories certainly made the early-morning trip to Heathrow absolutely fly!
And then I got onto Air Canada's 9am fight from Heathrow to Toronto. I had a great aisle seat in the front of Coach (thanks to having lots of airmiles on Air Canada), and I was hoping against hope that the middle seat next to me might be free...giving me more wiggle-room. But nope. As I approached Row 14, I saw two young black men already sitting in seats E and F. Oh well. I figured it just would be one of those flights during which I'd have no conversation at all and would have plenty of time to listen to my iPod or watch a so-so movie or two.
But I was wrong!
The guy in the middle seat, amazingly, began chatting. He was British. This was his first trip to Canada. He and his buddies -- the guy in seat F and the two young women and one more guy sitting in Row 15 behind us -- were all traveling together. Guy-in-seat-E was wearing a heck of a lot of "bling"-- a big, sparkly ring on the little finger of his right hand and the biggest diamond watch I've ever seen in person. I was almost afraid to ask why he and his friends were going to Toronto...but my curiosity got the best of me. He was being so friendly to me that I just couldn't resist.
Why were they on the way to Toronto? Because they are the backing singers for Ms Dynamite! I think he was stunned that I even knew who she is. And I do. I admitted that I didn't have one of her CD's (yet, anyway...I will soon!). But I have heard her work, seen her on TV (including Live 8 recently), and have also heard a lot about her in the press. She seems to be a very interesting musician. And they were headed to Toronto to meet her to film the music video for "Fall In Love Again".
He was a very interesting fellow, and I have to admit that I felt like a really cool middle-aged white woman to have had the chance to chat with a young black musician! He asked me for my business card before we landed, and he says he'll stay in touch with me and let me know what they think of Canada. We'll see about that. I'll let all of you know if I do hear from him again.
What was the best part of my conversation with him? Getting to hear all about Jonathan Ross...one of my favorite "personalities" in Britain! They had all been on his Friday night BBC show, with Ms. Dynamite, a few weeks ago -- unfortunately, though, that was one of the few Jonathan Ross's that John and I have missed! Is Jonathan as funny and interesting in real life as he appears to his fans who watch him on the telly and listen to him on BBC Radio 2? Absolutely, according to my new acquaintance, the R&B singer!
(reporting from Calgary, Alberta, Canada)