07 May 2011
'Autopilot'London – Mexico City. Travel day.
After all these years, I can complete the act of packing entirely on autopilot. Much as J. Alfred Prufrock “measured out his life in coffee spoons”, I have at least regularly punctuated my life with putting clothes into and taking clothes out of a large wheelie-bag. Wash bag, endless cables & power supplies, a book or two.
This “break” has been completely nuts, having been entirely filled with the process of putting together some new and not-unambitious elements for the 360 show. There are five or six new things that we’re going for, so hopefully at least half of those will come to fruition. There’s also been the small matter of doing as much advance preparation as possible for our overnight jaunt to Glastonbury Festival in the UK next month, conveniently tucked between shows in Baltimore and Michigan. For better or worse it seems that all plates are spinning at appropriate rotational speeds, so it’s time to pack once more and get back on the bus. This time has a slightly different edge to it though, given the knowledge that this is the last time round for this seemingly never-ending tour. It’s a long haul – twelve weeks in all – but it’s the final fling so we need to make a point of appreciating and enjoying it before we kiss it goodbye.
The now-familiar round of reunions began at Heathrow, with all the UK-based crew and a smattering of Irish and Belgians connecting to the BA flight. On checking in I got spontaneously upgraded to First which was a massive result (and I can’t help wondering if it was connected in some way to the shambolic BA debacle on leaving Brazil last month.)
The flight was lengthy, but uneventful. I watched the recent remake of Brighton Rock, which was singularly uninspiring, though Helen Mirren (as always) managed to carve out a convincing part out it. I finished my current book, Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union which has been a great read. That and his The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay have been the best novels I’ve read in a long time – a highly compelling combination of writing talent and imagination.
Arrival at Mexico City was the not entirely unexpected lower-case trauma. I was one of the first to clear customs and immigration, emerging to find a helpful person holding up a “360” sign, but this did me little good as it just meant I had to wait 90 minutes for everyone else to make it through the rugby scrum. It’s hot here and the airport terminal smelled strongly and alarmingly of a gas leak, so none of us were disappointed to get to the hotel.
It was late but our hunger outweighed our tiredness so we wandered out to find a bit to eat. It was a busy Saturday night in the Zona Rosa, with its bars and strip joints, but I was struck by the degree to which Mexico City appears to have cleaned up since I was last here in 2006. Things seem brighter and cleaner with a higher police presence on the street. The mad VW beetle cabs seem to have gone too, which is a blow for the eccentric street vibe, though no doubt a blessing for road safety.