Day one and not a single flared nostril amongst us. Instruments hav been accounted for and packed. Passports and visas in correct places. Clothes and merchandise ready to go. So when a sprightly and ever cheerful Doug turns up at 7.30 to drive us to Heathrow, all we have to do is have coffee and toast and go. Neil drives with Doug in front. Rest in back, either sleeping or taking silly photos.
Journey uneventful and arrive at Heathrow at around 11am. Easy check in but JJ notices a label being fastened to the bottom instead of the top of the bass drum case. He asks whether it should’nt be on top but the baggage handler says it does’nt matter where it is, as long as it had a label it would get where it was going.
So, reassured, we wander up to the departure lounge and while away a couple of hours, JJ sitting in the smokers box getting his nicotine levels up before the flight and then very patiently sewing on a loose shirt button. Very rock and roll, we think as he strips to the waist revealing a bronzed torso. Nearby ladies ‘ahem’ and look away.
Finally we are on the plane to find our promised bulk-head seats are taken by people with normal sized legs. Not so bad for JJ Neil and I but impossible for Tom. The cabin crew are great and Tom is bunked up to Traveller Plus class with loads of leg room, but only Tom is priviledged. In fact BA is a good airline to fly with – I’m sure the leg room is just a couple of inches wider than other airlines, so flight as OK as flights can be.
Arrive at 16.00 to a hot and sunny afternoon and after a torpid hour-long wait in an airless corridor finally move through customs and pull flight cases and other baggage off the carousel. All is there, except, you’ve guessed it, the bass drum – the one where the label was stuck to the bottom rather than the top. A sort of gloom zips through the previous euphoria at having got this far. Our van is waiting for us, but Neil has to queue up for almost an hour trying to track down the bass drum. All to no avail, so a very despondant JJ climbs onto the van. We are given various numbers to ring when we reach the hotel which we duly do, only to be faced with a recorded message. Frustration levels rise until Neil finally speaks to an employee based in Atlanta who promises to do what she can to locate the drum.
We then go out into the beautifully buzzy place that is New York. I think we should have a bottle of bubbly to celebrate being here, but the bass-drum mystery casts a sombre mood over everything, so instead we walk a few places to the nearest all-night-diner where we all have sombre salads, in spite of a lively waiter who tells us how, four years ago, it took him 36 hours to get from Syria to New York, which has put him off ever going home again.
Then back to our hotels and bed. Should have been in same hotel but very difficult to get everything right from UK so JJ and Tom are right around the corner.