This will be my first trip back to Europe after doing \”Passport to Latin America.\” After spending two years traveling throughout Europe, I had gotten very good at shaking off jet lag. My body just acclimated immediately to a five- or six-hour time difference. But after having spent a year in Latin America, where the time difference averages two hours, I am completely out of time-change shape. I\’m so exhausted that at night, I can\’t sleep. Our call time is 7 a.m., which means makeup at 5:30, which means wake-up call at 4:30 a.m. I am staring at a clock that says it\’s 3:30 a.m., and I can\’t believe that I have to get up in an hour. The reason for the early call is that it\’s the only time St. Paul\’s Cathedral will let us shoot their view (a view, by the way, that takes 430 steps to get to). By the end of that scene at 12 p.m., I\’m absolutely exhausted. Having jet lag really goes against all feelings of love for a place. You certainly understand why sleep deprivation is a popular form of torture. Your body feels like cement, your face a surreal clock in a Salvador Dali painting, and your eyeballs are cold while the sockets themselves have a tingling heat, so that every blink is a painful pins-and-needles type of experience. It\’s the worst. Especially when some little part of you, deep down inside, past all the major organs and the circulatory system, is not suffering from jet lag and is thrilled to be in London. I think that must be my appendix.
The opening of the London show takes place at Paddington Station. In all my times to London (four now ), I\’ve never been, and I\’m really looking forward to it. My favorite story and toy for about five years of my young life was Paddington Bear. In the story, the little Bear sits on his traveling case with a tag on him that reads simply \”Please take care of this Bear.\” The Brown family finds him and takes him home, and I was convinced that I was related to this family.
It\’s 8:30 a.m. Feeling a little better. Got a solid night\’s sleep, and I\’m feeling like my normal self. Borough Market with Juliet Clarke fabulous place and the food all looked incredible. It\’s the perfect place to pick up fast food with panache and sustenance. While there, a young man — American or Canadian, either way, no accident — approaches me and says, \”Your shoes are killer!\” I asked him if he meant they LOOKED like they were killing my feet or if he actually liked them? His girlfriend is really into shoes, he tells me, and he is beginning to appreciate them himself. Jet lag hits me and, thankfully, even though the restaurant is called Pizza Express, it\’s anything but. This makes what could be a 45-minute lunch a blissful hour and a half. I go out to our van to catch as much sleep as I can before my salad arrives. As I\’m lying in our white van, parked somewhat illegally on a pedestrian-only street, the driver, Chazz, tells me that since I\’m here, he\’ll go get lunch himself. \”Sure,\” I say, but after he leaves I realize you can\’t see me in the van. What is more suspicious in London these days than a strange white van? I imagine that I\’m going to wake up surrounded by police in hazmat suits with the entire street cordoned off and guns drawn. This macabre thought actually puts me to sleep.
David Womersley, our producer, jokingly tells me that Camden is one of those places so not conscious of itself that people wear trash bags and don\’t give a crap. Sure enough, as we begin to shoot on the roof, we spot a woman dancing around wearing a pink trash bag. Turns out she was getting her hair colored a bright fuchsia, and that was her protective cap. Never got into the Punk or Goth scene when I was in junior high, but the kids that did wanted to beat me up. I really do like a lot of what I see and, honestly, love incorporating skulls into my wardrobe.
We have Vietnamese food and I stupidly order Kung Pao Chicken, which I enjoyed immensely in China. When it comes out, it\’s a bright neon orange, it\’s brighter than the color of Tang. I take a few bites. The owner, a lovely woman, is enamored of Christina\’s scent, which turns out to be hand sanitizer. She\’s never seen such a thing in its little plastic squirt bottle and mimics that she wants to put it all over her body.
What a joy this was. I look at my old collection of London tour guides, and none of them have this in there, because the Ceremony of the Keys has been going on every day since 1340. We are in an area where the average Joe is not permitted, so when I tell the guard on duty with a big smile that I\’m with the crew, he snaps back at me with a, \”I know you are, that\’s why I\’m letting you in, you see, I have this job because I\’m smart.\”
Wow, who knew that my acknowledgement that he IS the guard at the gate that I need to pass through would be inferred as such an insult. As I stand there, I hear Christina come through and, after her polite greeting, get the same talk down. We both laugh at the fact that he must have to say that a lot, as he has it quite down. It\’s really sad to see a man with PMS.
The ceremony takes three hours to shoot, but it was an amazing experience being in the Tower of London at night with no one around. Andy tells me that there are indeed ghosts and he has had three experiences with them. One was so awful that he, who\’s been in three wars, was never so scared as when he heard one of the ghosts clawing at his door.