Good evening from Illinois
By this point, I should be describing North America in nauseating metaphors. I’m keen not to, mainly because it’s predictable. And you would soil yourself with frustration and boredom. But there is a temptation to get poetic about this amazing place. Perhaps it’s the best way to fathom it. The ever-changing locations, ample time spent wittering at each other, sporadic bursts of music and tonnes of food have combined to make my memory of the last week a rather brilliant blur.
So, where the hell have we been this week? After scrabbling around and consulting my itinerary, it seems we’ve been to Toronto (from D.C.), Atlanta (via Cincinnati), Nashville, St. Louis… and now we’re in Chicago. I think Danny (tour manager/sound man/luggage lover) and others in charge may have plotted our route by grinding some pepper onto the map and joining the flecks with a Sharpie. We have now crossed the US/Canadian border several times. This is an odd experience with this group of reprobates, especially when, at 3am, a torch-bearing border patrol officer sweeps aside a bunk curtain to reveal a squinting, Neolithic man. The horror was mutual.
Crossing into Canada, one of our party requested an urgent toilet stop. In order to reach the nearest facilities, Tom (incomparable bus driver/straight-talking Illinois native) had to drive the bus back into America. Ten minutes later, we traversed the border into Canada once more, being told hospitably not to “€#%\ this up again” and incurring an additional crossing fee. This has become known as ‘The $13 Toilet Stop’. Whilst we’ve been knocked out by the cities we’ve played in, not all the locations we have stopped in en route have been quite as phenomenal. A vast mall car park in Ohio was so faceless** that I found myself in Borders buying a book called ‘A Short History of The World’, in order to find out where it’d all gone wrong.
But, aside from that momentary blip, we are being reminded daily why
North America is the place to be. The awe-inspiring vastness and unswervingly friendly people are making this a total pleasure. Thank you to the people of Nashville for your very unique version of Happy Birthday.
*Apologies to those Canadians who may have been offended by me referring to this as a tour of America last week. Congratulations on the ice hockey
** I am sure the rest of Ohio is delightful in every conceivable way.
Originally posted on Jamie Cullum’s website.