US Tour Diary – Washington

001With our bags packed with recently-laundered laundry from the European tour, and as much hand luggage as we could squeeze into an overhead bin without placing the structural integrity of the aircraft in jeopardy, we made our way to Edinburgh Airport at 04:00 hours in a dark, grey drizzle. We were flying out at about six, arriving at Paris around nine local time, with a quick hour to change over for the flight to Washington. The first short leg was covered in a little Avro 85, which looked all wrong to me, the wings appearing to be welded onto a bulge in the roof of the fuselage. For some reason, I am more comfortable with wings underneath the plane – to lift it up, yeah? Although the physics of this was clearly something that Mr Boeing had gone through meticulously, and we landed expertly at Charles de Gaulle, both on time and with wings still attached.


It was at this point that we realised we had been in Paris just five days ago, and had undertaken a 14-hour drive back to Edinburgh, when we should have just stayed and drunk cheap red wine and munched on awesome food for the duration. But there was little time for such thoughts as it was a run between gates to make our connection. The joys of discount travel. We breezed through security, although I did have to dig a tambourine out of my ready-to-rupture bag in case it was some kind of ninja weaponry. Which it could be, in the right hands.


The flight was long and boring, and we were in the cheapest, lamest seats possible, but at least the plane was anatomically “correct”, big wheels and everything. Wings in the right place. Nae holes. Air France went above and beyond the call of duty in messing with my body clock, slamming some form of sparkling wine down at half ten, followed by a chicken curry, gin and tonic and stiff brandy combo at 11:00, then many hours later wrapping up with orange juice, coffee and breakfast at 11:30 Washington time, or the Parisian evening time. I didn’t appreciate their ruse, their cunning attempt to trick me, (bonus prize if you get that reference…) as I rarely sleep in transit regardless of the quantity of alcohol and diddy packs of peanuts I am plied with. Although I would have welcomed another brandy following our cross-wind landing, during which I was pretty sure the plane was going to flip over. Having painstakingly researched how to survive a fall from 38,000 feet (in a bizarre and misguided attempt to allay my dislike of flying), I would have been pretty annoyed to get this far and wipeout at sea level. As the other passengers applauded the pilot, Kas proclaimed “Don’t clap that, that was pish!” to no-one in particular as almost everyone else on the plane seemed to be French, and unlikely to get the Scottish colloquial “pish”, Auld Alliance or no…


Washington Dulles International is supposed to be some sort of “model” airport, and by that I mean that it has exemplary performance for things like speed of processing arrivals, not that it is really, really small and made of balsa wood. We got “let in” with the minimum of fuss, despite my best efforts (Visa-check person: “Do you work with Simon?”, me “Duuh…who’s Simon?”, followed up with “Well, if you can call it work haha! I just bum about hitting things to be honest.” etc., etc. Full-on Mr Smooth-In-The-Face-Of-Authority mode…it’s a wonder they didn’t just send me straight back.) Mr Smith even received an extension on his visa without asking, which he shouldn’t have told us, as we then all wanted one.


We were staying with a friend of Dave’s from Back In The Day, Lauren, who had impressively and undauntedly offered to put up all seven of us at her place in Georgetown, so we headed round there first off to introduce ourselves and drop off our bags. It was a gloriously sunny, albeit massively windy, day and we blew down the street to a place called Thunder Burger, which seemed an appropriate place to sit and wait for the arrival of Doug, specialising as it did in good beer, and good burgers. May as well start the tour as it will undoubtedly continue, namely unhealthily…


Doug was to be both Tour Manager and driver for the next three weeks, and his first task of the tour proper was to find Craig at Baltimore Airport, himself having taken a slightly different route to the rest of us, and make way to Washington. He arrived in a banana-yellow Chevrolet van, which looked worryingly small for the amount of gear that was crammed into it, but after a bit of discussion it was decided we could “Tetris-pack” the gear and make a bit of room for the extra six people who were still to get in. Having at this stage been up for quite a number of hours, we also decided it would be a good time to go and grab a few beers, come back to the house and try to stay awake for as long as possible, by way of cheating any jetlag effects the next morning. This proved harder than it looked with most flaking at about nine in the evening.


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I awoke the next day rather predictably at about five in the morning, partly due to feeling like it was midday, but mainly due to Ian standing on my head. It was my own fault, as in the cold morning light I realised I had mistakenly positioned my bed on the floor directly between Ian’s bed and the bathroom. This was about as advisable as getting between a mother bear and her cub, and with a similar outcome. I tried to get back to sleep, but after a few hours the smell of cooking bacon and brewing coffee started wafting down the basement steps and further repose became an impossibility. Lauren and Susannah treated us to a ridiculous breakfast, after which we all felt the need to do some walking, for the benefit of our arteries if nothing else. As this was one of the few cities in which we would actually have a day to explore, we thought we would do the whole tourist thing and head firstly to Wee Barry O’Bama’s house, then the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. They obviously knew we were coming and had emptied all the water from the Reflecting Pool, just in case any of those pesky reflections got in the way of us taking a decent photograph, replacing it with sand and rubble. Lovely!


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Having hooked up with Doug again in the afternoon, we headed for the Black Cat, our venue for the evening. Load in was nice and easy and the local crew were friendly, and I got to crack out Doug’s vintage Slingerland drums which were sweeee-eeet. US Royalty (who were to be our support for the whole tour) arrived and we had a little bit of a chat with them, they seemed to be nice guys and we were sure to get to know them a bit better over the next three weeks! The gig was full, which was to be expected here as it is also US Royalty’s home town, but it was a nice way to start off with a good crowd, bearing in mind every stop on this tour would be completely uncharted waters for ourselves. We returned to Lauren’s place happy to have got the ball rolling, and looking forward to what tomorrow would bring…


Next up: Philly, New York, Boston, Chicago…


BR xxx

3 thoughts on “US Tour Diary – Washington

  1. Pingback: Dave Smith
  2. Hey we were in Charles airport at the same time we must of been stuck in X-ray machine.anyway we are in Paris till the 11th Damn and then off to Normandy.We live in Vancouver Canada any chance you could swing by the Biltmore or the Vogue for a spell. The Foxes and the Cave singers just came through last week for there album release that was choice. Anyway maybe you guys could be next let us know i will have a gaggle of homies there to great you.
    Chad and Karen and kevin and kalie and marcus and felicia and sadie and katie well you get the idea were all here so come on by.

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