CLIMBING UP THE AERIAL: Well, I'm exhausted, but I wanted to post some thoughts about my three day adventure in London for the release of Kate Bush's brilliant album, Aerial. This will probably be a little long, but I'll try not to bore you. Also...I'm sure I'm going to forget to mention a few people, so please don't take it personally. Everyone at the launch party was so lovely. So, here goes...

I arrived in London at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning and got into the city quickly. Checked into the Royal National Hotel and tried to nap for a bit as I waited for my friend Donna from Virginia. I phoned Neil early in the afternoon and he was on his way to pick up Louise at Victoria Station and then heading over to the hotel. Donna was caught up in customs for two hours, but she finally arrived safe and sound. So amazing to finally meet this beautiful, feisty woman after chatting for so long. She is just as funny and sweet and endearing as she is on the Kate Bush News forum. Love ya, honey. (That's Krys (left) and Donna in the photo above...courtesy of Tina).

Neil and Louise arrived and we all sat in the bar of the hotel and talked about Kate for two hours non-stop. Neil is so cute (and straight...damn...heee) and Louise is beautiful. She reminds me of Kate and does quite a good impression of Kate. Lou is a sweet, funny lady and it was such a pleasure to meet her at last. We all then got lost walking over to Mike Wade's house near the British Museum, but he found us and brought us in. Pretty soon there was a whole group of us crowded into Mike's front room: Me, Donna, Lou, Neil, Monty, Craig, Collin (he's an American, living the life I want to be living in London...lucky bastard!), Paul and, later on, Ian and Steve. Monty (who is hilarious and has the sexiest voice) brought in his Japanese box set of the reissues of Kate's album and we all gawked over them and decided we'd have to buy them no matter the price. I didn't know what to expect from Collin In London, but he's witty as hell and does an excellent chicken dance. Since some of the people in the room had not heard all of Aerial we put on some of the back catalog. It was so surreal to be sitting there with all my chat buddies singing "Get Out of My House" and "hee-hawing" along. That memory will be with me forever. Ian is such a cheeky bastard in the best way...had us all cracking up. Donna had fallen asleep (bless her) and didn't realized Ian had come in, but when she woke up, she made us all laugh by clinging all over him. It was sweet. Mike took us over to a pub for a pint, to Tas (a Lebanese restaurant)for dinner, then back to his place for more talking and laughter. We all had a little to drink...okay some of us had more than others...and we finally set off for the hotel in the wee hours of Monday morning. Had a lovely chat with Craig about artists we both love (including Kirsty Maccoll). Once back at the Royal National Shagpalace, we got completely lost in the vast hallways. This place is like the hotel from The Shining, endless connecting passages. After we had all split up, I found myself in a hallway full of doors with no numbers (and I wasn't tipsy, just delirious from no sleep I think). I kept expecting those little girls to show up at the end of the hall screaming "RED RUM."

On Monday morning, Claudia arrived and me, her, Donna and Lou all trooped down to the Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street to buy Aerial. I bought every magazine I could lay my hands on (love that Mojo cover!) and the guy at the counter said the album had been flying out the door all morning. And, yes, much to Ian's horror and dismay, we did go into McDonald's. I was craving fries and a Coke. Sue me. We went back to the hotel and found Tina had just arrived. She is so brilliant! Clever, cheeky, no-nonsense and loves to take the piss. We got her checked in, and then went and met Ian, Steve, Jeff at Pizza Express in Covent Garden for dinner. Yes, those balls were tasty! Garlic, pizza balls that is...you dirty minded gits. We laughed and talked for a couple of hours, then realized it was getting late and we had to rush off to change clothes and get ready for the launch party.

Me, Tina and Donna left for the launch party and I had to push Donna up the stairs at Ivy House because she was so nervous, but we made it. The room was decorated with big Aerial and King of the Mountain posters. Krys and Peter were there (more on them in a moment) and handing out badges. Then it was just an onslaught of forum members. I met so many, I don't even think I can name them all, but everyone really was just fabulous. I was just going up to people saying, "what's your forum name and what's your real name?" Jason was lovely and handsome (also straight...damn...his beautiful girlfriend is lucky) and we talked about a poetry anthology we are putting together with Kyla on work inspired by Kate's music (More on this later in another post). Kerry Neal was also a handsome bloke and had flown in from Mallorca just for the evening. And it was a surprise to meet Wilsonand find him to be so warm and charming. The wonderful Tony had brought a copy of Better To Travel with him to have me sign, which was also sort of surreal to see someone in London pulling my book out of their bag. I know I keep saying surreal, but the whole evening was like that. Johnny had mixed up a selection of Kate tunes on his iPod, which was being piped over the speakers. I had two double Jack and Cokes in pretty fast succession, and got tipsy fairly quickly. Everyone seemed be crushed up on one side of the upstairs room, and it was quite claustrophobic, so I moved to the other side and wound up having a series of small conversations with different people throughout the night, mostly with Craig and Rev and then Lou and Neil and Mike. The evening would have not been complete without a little chicken dancing from the other Collin. Tina was truly pissed and making me laugh, as was Donna, who was snapping photos. Can't wait to see those!

At the end of the evening, Mike presented Donna and I with two of the giant posters. I was so thrilled, but then wound up having to leave it in London yesterday because I had no way to transport it. Hopefully, Donna can get it back here safely. The Ivy House staff had to eventually tell us to get the hell out...we'd remained long past closing and they were ready to go home. I had an insightful political talk with Lesley (another gorgeous, funny lady) and Wilson about the state of things here in America, including the disaster in New Orleans and whether it will be Condoleeza vs. Hillary in 2008...heaven forbid. A group of us then walked (staggered...you know who you are) back to Mike's again. His front room was overflowing with people once again. Donna asked "Nocturn" to be played about 15 times throughout the night, would hear it, then pass out. When it started up again, she'd be up waving her arms around and saying "here it comes." We were all laughing. Donna is truly a rock star. She can drink us all under the table and stay up late partying. You go, girl! Collin was chicken dancing all over the place. Tina was snapping photos that will surely be used for blackmail later on at all of us in our pissed states. There was some snogging going on at Mike's that night as well...on the couch and in the kitchen. I'm sure Mike's kitchen hasn't had that much action since it was built.

All of the Royal National group staggered back in around 3 a.m. and wound up in Tina's room for a nightcap. She had brought a bottle of brandy with her (atta, girl!) so we had to have a bit of a nightcap and then paw over Donna's vinyl version of Kate's This Woman's Work anthology that a forum member had brought to her at the party. How Donna is getting home with all the booty she collected is beyond me, but she's a hardcore collector. My hat's off to her. I finally stumbled back to my room and got to bed about 3:30 a.m. Slept like the dead.

On Tuesday, we said goodbye to Tina, Lesley, Claudia and Lou who were all going back home. We all had to jump on the forum at the internet cafe in the hotel and type a message. Went and met Carrie and Roger for lunch. The Royal National was just a block down the street from where the bus was blown up over the summer at Tavistock Square, so I walked by there. They are still repairing the building damaged in the blast. So sad. Then I caught the train down to Rochester to finally visitKrys and Peter, who run HomeGround magazine, and they are so welcoming and kind. There house is sweet and warm, and so many Kate artifacts in every corner. I got to meet the house cats, Bumble (who wouldn't come near me) and Amber (who got more interested in me after I had food on my lap). I brought Krys an Edward Gorey cat pin, which she loved. I knew she would. Peter and I talked about so many things and Krys showed me some of the pages of the next HomeGround in progress...it's going to be a corker! Peter (who makes an excellent cup of tea) went out and brought back some dinner and told us about his third kidney, which we had a laugh over. I could have stayed there all night. I love them both to bits.

Back in the city, Donna and I relaxed and chatted for awhile. Tina had texted me that I had stolen her hair dryer, so I had to post it off to her the next morning. Hope it arrived in one piece, my love. Was almost late to the airport because Donna and I were in the internet cafe posting...we are so obsessed. But I had made the plane (just) and was so incredibly sad to be leaving. I got a little emotional on the train down to Gatwick, but luckily no one was sitting next to me to see me getting all blubby. Passing Battersea Power Station is always a joy and sorrow, because it's that last monument you see leaving the city. I so want to live in England, and I'm going to redouble my efforts to make this a reality in the next year or so. I may have to sell one of my kidneys and borrow one of Peter's to make it happen.

Back at home, I'm listening to Aerial and getting ready to write up my review for HomeGround. I love you all so much. Although I've been to London many times, this was the best trip ever. Really. I'll be back over there again next year for sure. I'm not going to let four years pass by without visiting again.

I wanna be up on the roof, I've gotta be up on the roof, in the sun...

Comments

Anonymous said…
wow! that's one hell of a long post. Sounds like you had a great time. All those people sound fun.

GAV
Teamaster said…
Sounds like a worthwhile, pleasant trip! Welcome back, Collin!

-D.
Anonymous said…
Collin,

I am in love with Kate's new album. I have been listening to it over and over. However, most reviews I have seen of it have been mediocre. I think it is amazing. I just wish King of the Mountain was a b-side instead of an album track!

Randy
Collin said…
The British press has given Aerial glorious reviews...almost uniformly so. Four or five stars for the most part. The album debuted at number 3 in the charts...quite an accomplishment for a double album from an artist who hasn't put out a record in 12 years. It's a beautiful piece of work.
Stranger Ken said…
That's quite a post, Collin, but reading it has been an education. I'll think of you when I'm at the Royal Academy tomorrow (Sunday) for the China: The Three Emperors exhibition and walking along Piccadilly in the sunshine!

I'm glad you had a great trip and are still in love with London.

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