LONDON entries adapted from e-mails home.

April 17, London

[Sent from Internet City] I'm in an Internet cafe w/ Kevin around the corner from our hotel, and across the street from where we stayed with Steve 11 years ago, and right near where I stayed in 1985 with Dennis however many years ago that is. We had a nice lunch in a Belgian restaurant and then David showed up and we went to a REAL ENGLISH PUB and had some of that real English warm beer or ale or whatever they call it. People are various degrees of tired. The flight was a nightmare, the seats were the tiniest ever and we sat on the ground for an hour before taking off -- someone decided they were too sick to fly and then they had to find their luggage in the hold. After we finish here Kevin and I are walking over to the radio station, and meeting everyone else; most of the boys are watching an Arsenal game in a pub near there. We'll walk by Harrod's probably, and Hyde Park Corner, then go north to Marleybone High Street. The weather's a bit crisp but not as bad as anyone expected, and there's no rain so far. It's fun being here, and there'll be a good bit of free time for tourism and such. Haven't talked to Jeroen and Thessa yet. This is a very bare bones internet cafe, it's not even a cafe, it's just a bunch of terminals at desks in a room with bare walls. But there are some groovy Londoners here. Pip pip! Cheerio! I haven't said that to anybody yet. I'm rooming with Chris, Wes had everybody room-assigned by the time we got here. The hotel's pretty darn fancy, though most of the fanciness is in the lobby. The rooms are good, though, very comfortable. I'm probably the only person who hasn't taken a nap yet. Kirk's brother is in town and will be at the show,  David's wife is out of town so I won't meet her. And Wes's sister is coming. They have things in different places on British keyboards, typewriter keyboards I mean.

April 18, London

[Sent from Internet City] It's Wednesday afternoon, everybody slept late, or rather some of us slept late. Kevin and I just had coffee, at Starbucks unfortunately, but the other local option didn't have any appropriate morning food for Kevin (he likes a scone), and he's very particular about that. We have to be at the club by 4, but are going to try to go to that part of town earlier, if we can drop off our stuff there. We'll see! Wow, the sun has just come out, and it was raining (lightly) a second ago. Last night Kevin and I had a great, if fast, walk from the hotel to the radio station, past the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum and Harrod's and cutting through Hyde Park Corner and going by the Dorchester and I had the happy feeling of knowing where I was. After the show, which went pretty well, we had a late Italian meal at Dino's (established 1949), a small but very nice family owned place around the corner from the hotel, after deciding not to eat at the incredibly expensive famous Indian restaurant right next to the hotel. I have to run now, I probably won't be able to write again today, we'll be down around Soho from 4 until late. Still haven't talked to J&T or anyone local; Kirk managed to use the phone card I bought but he had to go looking for a phone that would work with it. I got a stupid kind and spent too much money on it, but the BT cards, which are the ones you want, aren't as easy to find; the other kind they sell everywhere.

April 19, London

[Sent from Internet City] Good morning. I'm back at Internet City, with CVS this time. We are in the hotel tonight, for one more night, and then I'm at Jeroen and Thessa's Friday night . The big rock show is done, and it went down well; I had some personal equipment problems -- the amp they rented only had one input, so I could only hear the organ in the house, and slightly in the side fills, so was mostly just playing by hand memory and missing the feel of being in it, you know, and the digital piano they got was serviceable, but felt like a bit of a toy. Nobody in the audience seemed to notice though, and all the mandolin and accordion stuff was fun and good and very popular with the people. I got a big hand. Wes's mother and sister Melanie were there. After the show, his mother shook my hand and said "Well done! Well done!" in a way that seemed particularly English to me; I felt like I was being congratulated by the Queen, or by Barbara Woodhouse at least. His sister is very tall and good looking also in a very English way; the general opinion was that she doesn't look like Wes, but she does a little. She's the one who was on TV until recently. She told us how when they were both down in Hastings last weekend Wes showed her a book he'd inscribed when he was 9 years old: This book belongs to Wesley Stace who hates his sister Melanie and his sister Emma. Jeroen and Thessa were there too The club was called the Borderline and decorated like a Mexican restaurant, which it might have been once for all I know, and is down a little side street in Soho. It's run by Barry who used to tour manage Steve and so Kirk knows him. He's tall and bald. Also there were David Lewis, of course, who's off to Bangla Desh today, and I met Amanda and also I re-met Anna or Chris and Anna who used to live in New York. And Kirk's brother Tim was there, with his wife, on the way to see her mother in Holland. After the show we came back and sat in the hotel bar (all the pubs being closed) and I had a nine-pound (money not weight) glass of Laphroaig that I certainly made last a long long time. I didn't know it was nine pounds until I'd ordered it.

Yesterday we went down to Soho in the afternoon, Wes, me, Kirk, Kevin and Cathy Wes's manager, though Kirk left soon to meet his brother. The rest of us walked through the busy streets and had lunch at a restaurant that's somehow connected to Soho House, David's club. The decor was nice -- funny log stools at the counter, and low couches at the table, almost like a Moroccan restaurant; the crab cakes I had were just so so, but the tomato and onion salad was nice, with a mustardy vinaigrette. Had some espresso with Kevin at another place that had no flavor at all, absolutely none. Amazing! Went to a bookstore that was nothing but rock-music books, and they had that Da Capo book I'm in with the Tom Waits story, and that's the first place I've ever seen that for sale. Also there's a Crowded House biography I looked at that quotes my Spin article on them and also there's a quote about Dennis Keeley from one of the band (he knew them back in the day) saying how he was the nicest guy and would get mugged all the time -- which he was a lot back then. Oh it's 11:02 and we're now officially late for our meeting in the lobby to decide what we're doing today. I just almost lost my connection here too so I'm going to send this before something bad happens. Will probably try to see a play today, this screwed up again i'm sending now. xo

[Sent from the Webshack] I'm here in a different internet cafe, the Webshack, a block or two from Black's, Jeroen's club where we went to eat. Kevin is here too. He met me in Soho after walking around with Kirk and his brother and sister in law, and after I went to the play with Wes and Cathy Wes's manager. It was "Semi-Monde," an old Noel Coward play that had never been produced (it's full of gay characters), and it was all right, not great, but fun to see, in an old theater, the oldest theater on that particular street (but only like 110 years old, not Comedie Francaise old), and before that we walked all around Covent Garden and Soho and Picadilly Circus and Wes pointed out places where he had done this thing or that thing, and we had really nice sandwiches at some place that got an award from Snapple for the most original sandwiches in southeastern England, a place Wes used to go, the sandwiches were all Indian, mine was chicken with apples and mango chutney. Then we went to the play and then we went to the HMV where I bought a Francoise Hardy two CD compilation for 12 pounds which seemed like a pretty good deal. Then I went to meet Kevin at the place we had bad coffee yesterday; it was the only place he could think of to meet. It was fun walking around, the weather keeps changing, right now it's sunny out, but cold. I just want to eat in every restaurant and go into every cafe.

April 20, London

[Sent from Jeroen and Thessa's] Thessa is sick and didn't stay for the folk show at the Border's, though she did deliver the keys to the house, which in the end I didn't need anyway because Jeroen was with me. He came over from work and saw the last half or so; it was actually a long set, very long set for a bookstore in-store, and there was a nice crowd, a nicer crowd in a way than the actual club show (with very little overlap), younger and better looking possibly, but in any case very attentive. They had requests, and we played some of them. It was me, Wes and Chris, and Mark did the sound. Daphne Kwong from L.A. Style days was coincidentally there. They had a piano but it was out of tune and we abandoned it after Humble Bee. I got to play lots of mandolin solos, and it was nice to be playing the quiet music again. It was a really good show in fact. The rock show Wednesday was reviewed in the paper today, I'm not sure which one, though I read the review; it was mixed; it was 3 stars out of 5. They didn't quite get him -- he doesn't translate to the English sensibility so well, which is ironic. I think we would have done as well or better with the three-piece we had at Border's.

So -- today I woke up at 10. Kevin was knocking on my door but he was gone by the time I got to it, running off to Harrod's. (He'd been knocking like 5 minutes before I heard him at all.) By the time I got cleaned up and got my stuff packed up to put in Mark's room, I had to run off to meet Ruth and so couldn't get to the Kensington internet place this morning. I caught the tube (buying a fruit scone from a stand to get change so I could use the quick ticket machine and not have to stand in the long line, or queue as they say here) and rode the elevator down to the train and took the train to Covent Garden where I was to meet Ruth but she wasn't there yet so I got a coffee at Coffee Republic then ran back to wait; she took me to Joe Allen (I think it's called, and I think there might be one in New York), a large, basement restaurant with lots of theatrical posters going back to the '60s or '70s and brick walls and no sign on the door, which is in a kind of alley, no sign that I noticed anyway. It got very very busy while we were in there, and most of the people were very well dressed, though the vibe was casual. I had, what did I have, I had a smoked salmon appetizer and the sweet potato and carmelized onion tart, which was quichelike in proportions. Then we walked around a bit, Ruth showed me where she went to school, which turned out to be the LSE, where David teaches, and also the Old Curiosity Shop, the actual one Dickens based his book on, then we stopped in another place for coffee and dessert, we split a raspberry and honey tiramisu which was very good. Ruth had a date she had to go to and I walked to find the Border's where we would do the in-store, no first I went down to Soho to the Webshack where I internetted  yesterday, but it was so crowded there it would have been ages before I got a machine, so then I went to look for the Border's and found it, and then walked a little more because I was early to meet those guys, so I walked around some more, down Carnaby Street where I bought Alison two cameras at Boot's, and then checked the Webshack again, but there were still too many people, so then I went back and went to the Border's and went upstairs to see if Chris and Mark were there, and they weren't, but the people from the store were setting up for the in-store so I went up to talk to them and then Chris and Mark did arrive and we set up stuff and did a sound check and waited for Wes to arrive from doing interviews with Austrian journalists, and we did a little sound check and then we went to an Italian deli, very modern, to talk about what songs we were going to do and get a bite, a little bite to eat, so we did that, and then we went back to do the show. Which we did as explained above.

Then we went to dinner, Wes, Cathy, Wes's old school friend and housemate Jo, and Jeroen, and me, to Black's, Jeroen's club, for dinner, where I had Watercress soup and a chicken and peanut dressing salad and a prune crumble; before dinner we got to go up to the top floor, or the 2nd floor (the floor above the dining room), which we didn't get to see when Thessa had her broken leg, and that was comfortable, there were a lot of fireplaces and cushiony things and nice fixtures. Then we went to the 12-Bar to see Chris play a show, it was a funny little club where the ceiling under the balcony was so low that if you weren't standing within the first 3 feet of the stage you couldn't see the performer's head. So Chris played sitting down. There weren't more than 20 people at most to see it, and fewer than that sometimes, but he was really good. Someone set off a fire alarm in the middle of his set, and it shut off the sound system, so he played 2 or 3 songs without the PA before they got it back on. Then Jeroen and I caught the bus to here with Jo, who lives nearby. She and Wes did plays together, or rather, at the same time, back in Cambridge, and were in a band together, the Accelerators. She's a freelance scriptreader for the BBC. I also saw where the BBC World Service is based today. (It's right across from the LSE.)
Pushkin was here a moment ago but  is gone somewhere now. Thessa was already asleep when we got here. Jeroen is hoping for an extra ticket to the Arsenal game Wes is going to tomorrow; they're meeting at some local pub, the Old Compton Arms, I think, around 1:30. I think I may walk from here back to the hotel, which will be a long long walk, but it'll be my last chance to see London, and maybe I can do a little shopping on the way. Unless it's raining tomorrow, in which case I will go underground. We're meeting at the hotel at 4:30 then going back over to Charing Cross Station to get a 6 o'clock train to Hastings. I have no idea what that'll be like down there, but it'll be an adventure. Then Monday morning, Wes's cousin who owns a taxi will take us to the airport, me and CVS, and also Mark, who will take a tube from the airport back to London to meet his mom, who's come over to vacation with him for a few days.

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