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In the run up to the trip, I’d like to institute a weekly film screening after Tuttle on Fridays to watch some of the best movies about roadtrips (preferably across the USA but maybe other journeys too)
The deal will be that Tuttle will finish at 12 as usual, there’ll be a break for people to get lunch if they haven’t brought it with them (or popcorn!) and then we’ll get started at 1pm. There’ll be an opportunity to have a further semi-formal discussion/conversation after the movie for those who wish to.
Buttonhole me please with suggestions for suitable movies – they’re even more likely to be shown if you can also provide me with the DVD
I had a chat at #tuttle with Al Robertson about incorporating some sort of racing element to the trip. He suggested instead of racing people to pit myself perhaps against some moleskins, USB sticks or other storage devices that could be passed on from person to person completely independent of my trip.
Hurrah (yet again) for Al – he is without doubt one of the key people I always turn to to get my creative thinking unstuck.
I’m drawn to as lo-tech a solution as possible – so notebooks sound good and although susceptible to water and fire damage they’re hard to get infected with viruses (or are they?) or destroyed by EMPs etc. So I’m thinking of doing a trial run straight after Christmas here in the UK.
I will set free a number of notebooks with an instruction page at the front and the intention that each should arrive at a certain destination by a specified date – at which point I will either be there to pick it up or it will need to be posted back to me.
The instructions will be to leave something personal, interesting, mundane, trivial whatever in the notebook, draw in it, write in it, stick things to the page etc. and then pass it on in such a way as to get it closer to its destination but without using the postal system. It also needs to be passed on to a person or group who understand the instructions. You shouldn’t just leave it on a train and hope that someone picks it up. Tweeting and blogging about your contribution will be strongly encouraged.
The plan is to liberate them on 1 January and have them arrive at their destination on or before 31st
Someone special just reminded me of this. Got my Thursday off with a grin.
So let’s get one thing straight, kids. Thirty years ago today, on 8th December 1980, it was not cool to like John Lennon, it was not cool to like The Beatles. In what we had in place of iTunes back then, the record department in Preedy’s in the High Street, where I went every week with hard-saved pennies and swapped them for a piece of plastic in a paper wrapper, that lot came a long way behind The Jam, The Police, Blondie, The Pretenders. No doubt Paul Weller, Sting, Debbie Harry and Chrissie Hynde all listed the Fab Four very highly on their list of influences, but their time had now been a generation ago – John was 40 FFS. Who listens to records by a 40-year-old?
I was very familiar with these arguments because I was one of the nerds who was in love with them. I wouldn’t have put it like that at the time. Saying you were “in love” with four boys would mean getting your head kicked in. And I wasn’t in love with them, anyway but their voices and guitars and the urgent sexual rhythm of their early music. See I wasn’t even cool enough to be into the hippy trippy stuff recorded after I was born – the romance for me was four working class boys taking on the world, playing dirty rock and roll.
So on that day early in December 1980, two weeks before my sixteenth birthday, there were perhaps three or four people in the 1,000 kids at my school who would have admitted to listening regularly to John Lennon. Yet 24 hours later, you couldn’t hear anything else on the radio.
My mother woke me up on the morning of the 9th because my friend Sophie was on the phone at 8am and inconsolable and wouldn’t say why. Sophie spluttered out what had happened. I didn’t believe it. I had a typical shock reaction. I probably laughed. And felt nothing and then felt my chest going a bit weird and my arms feeling heavy and was suddenly very present and aware of being alive.
And so Soph came round and we pulled out the Bush portable record player on the floor of my living room and drank lots of tea and ate toast and listened to all his songs that we had between us. Skipping Paul’s treacle, George’s half-baked ditties and Ringo’s comedy numbers. Coming back again and again to John screaming his lungs out on Twist and Shout.
And then we put his new single on and heard those chimes at the beginning and the words:
“Our life, together, is so precious, together
We have grown… we have grown”
And that’s when the tears came – for a forty year old man who I’d never met but who’d taught me to sing, who’d made my heart beat faster, who was just getting back into making music again and who was shot dead on the steps of his apartment building in New York, thousands of miles from his real home.
This was perhaps one of the most physically challenging and dangerous moments of the trip. Yes, climbing down from a train onto a little stool and down to the ground in Alpine, TX. Not exactly xtreme adrenaline junkie stuff, is it?
But when I talk to people about travelling coast-to-coast in this way, many of them look at me in the same way they might if I was telling them I was going to climb into a cage and fight someone or bungee jump or go white-water rafting.
It’s a kind of adventure for the physically cowardly like me. I was never afraid for my personal physical safety on the first trip – well, momentarily and needlessly when I had my first experience of NYC I suppose but not for very long.
My senses already heightened by men wearing two overcoats tied up with string, I emerged onto 7th Avenue ready to see what the isle of Manhattan had to offer. Well the first thing was a couple arguing – not the sort of low-level passive aggressive bickering you see from couples in IKEA – no, full on, sassy. “you ain’t nevah gonna see yo’ children agin mofo” screaming match – just marching straight through the tourists. Tired, jetlagged, uptight and suffering from an imagination overfed with way too many nights under the blankets reading Amazing Spiderman as a youngster, I really didn’t know whether to laugh out loud or hit the deck because the shooting was going to start. So I looked to Dana. Who was laughing. Not at the couple but at me, for being such an out-of-towner.
And I would never even go snowboarding, let alone jump off something tied to a piece of elastic.
But *this* kind of adventure appeals to me, the challenge of just making progress towards some goal every day and being as present and authentic as possible. I’m not just living this when I go away, it’s become a way of life, where there isn’t a plan, a job, a safety net, but as long as I keep moving, talking about it, asking for help, that help and the resources I need happen to appear just at the right time.
Looking back on the first trip, it all seems incredibly safe. What was I worried about? The people around me at the time didn’t know. I try to remember this now that I’m stretching the concept a bit further and then start feeling scared about it. Being a bit scared is what it’s all about, It’s all part of the adventure.
This was the first Pro bout on the card – over in less than a minute. I didn’t catch how old Neil was but he looks like a kid to me and he didn’t seem to stand a chance.
This is the kind of experience Nick may have. Or maybe he’ll last longer. Maybe he’ll win…
And whether he wins or loses, I wonder whether he’ll ever want to do it again or if once will be enough for him.
The main reason for going to the show in Leeds was to get a feel for what the sport is really like. i had so many preconceptions and prejudices and I’ve seen them in other people too when talking about this project. Which is one reason for doing the project in the first place…
However, I did of course have a camera with me and so here’s Nick giving a bit of an intro to the evening. I got a bit too engrossed in the action after this to get really good stuff, but I’ll see what else I can pull out and publish and I’ll be capturing some stills from the other material too.
So now that I’ve stripped this trip right down, I’m starting to bring in a bit more complexity. And this morning I was thinking introducing the idea of racing someone. Or more than one. How about it?
How about we choose a mutual starting point on the West Coast and pledge to attempt to meet up in Austin and then again at some finishing spot on the East Coast. But what happens in between is up to us and our networks.
What might happen? Who would you like to see “race” against me? Would I care if I “lost”? What would “losing” or “winning” look like? We could turn that into an event perhaps – a closing thing (in NYC or back home in London?) where we all got together and swapped stories in front of an audience…
(photo by Taylor Davidson)
These are the cafes that seem to be going on regularly in the UK. Realistically I think I’m unlikely to get around to any before Christmas, so I’m looking at dates in the new year. If you run one of these and I don’t know you well already, or if you’re doing one somewhere else, please do get in touch.
Manchester – First Tuesday? Evening
Thames Valley – 1st & 3rd Thursdays – Morning
Cheltenham – 1st Thursday – Evening?
Cornwall – 2nd Tuesday? Evening.
Coventry & Warks. – 3rd Friday – Morning
Birmingham – Last Friday – Morning
Nottingham – not sure…