Thursday, March 30, 2006

Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now

Ahh, back in Old Blighty. I'm not sure why they call it that, but it could be because the weather here is enough to get anyone sick. Of course, I started this trip with a cold before I even left - and even started getting over it - so it's not so bad.

The bad part was on the plane. Shortly after take-off, my sinuses went apeshit, causing pressure so intense, I was convinced my head was going to implode. Tears were welling up in my eyes as I was writhing around in my seat, praying for some sort of solace.

Normally, I travel alone. I prefer it. It's sort of a lifestyle, I guess. But this time along, I'll have many people with me. On this leg, Elena joined me, and thank god. Seeing the pain I was in, she offered me a Soma. I'm generally not one for painkillers and all, but this little pill was a blessing. Within minutes, my agony subsided, replaced by amazing loopiness and a shit-eating grin. The craptacular Turning Leaf cabernet sauvignon was suddenly the best wine ever. The bland baked pasta and riccotta became one of my favorite airplane meals. And Good Night and Good Luck became the finest biopic I'd ever seen. Ok, it actually was good, and following it up with one of the better episodes of Family Guy scores British Airways a LOT of points in my book.

As laws of nature go, though, that wasn't the end of the pain. At some point, my foot started cramping up on the flight. Call it economy class syndrome. It really wasn't so bad, until I finally arrived in Manchester another flight later. As the night wore on, my discomfort transformed into a very noticeable limp. Never mind the intense pain every time I stand up. All this from CRAMPING, folks. Remember to hydrate. Always.

Naturally, hydration wasn't the first thing on my mind. Manchester is known for its ales, so after unpacking at the very clean but anesthetic Hatters hostel, the first order of business was to find a legendary pub known as Sam's Chop House. Knowing this is a run-and-gun sort of trip, I wanted to get one decent meal out of the way, and what a fine one it was. Rib eye steak, mussels, mushrooms - the whole lot. Washed down with their own brew, of course. Yum.

A pub crawl back to the Hatters sounded like a good idea, despite my aching foot. Of course, the route back seemed to be devoid of pubs, until we were nearly home and came across The Piccadilly, spitting distance from both the hostel and the train station. Convenient. And the prices? Let's just say I'm not looking forward to going to London on Saturday. With most pints under £2, it's hard NOT to spend all your time in Manchester in a pub. And when one of those pints is Boddington's - ON CASK - it's even harder to stay away.

Alas, eventually we did get away from The Piccadilly and made our way home to our cozy bunks, tepid showers, and clinical surroundings. We met one of our roomies, Eva from Holland, who's also going to the Depeche Mode show tonight. Turns out this concert is a pretty big event here in town.

Anyway... I'm now at my company's office in Wilmslow, just outside Manchester, using my first decent internet access of the trip. It was a bit of a quest getting here, since the "direct train" somehow means "train to Stockport, bus to Wilsmlow via Cheadle Hulme..." whatever. I made it, and it's good to see our UK staff again. We'll be off to lunch soon before I head back to Manchester proper to get ready for the gig.

And my foot? It still hurts like hell. Where's that Soma when you need it?

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