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Saturday, March 5

I was in plenty of time to check in. The plane, however, was delayed by 3 hours. Don't worry. I got a wee voucher for £3 off some food in the departure lounge. Three whole pounds! Wow-dee-wow-dee-woo.

No problemo. I was in the zone. I had nothing to do except wait for the plane. So I sat down in various coffee-drinking locations and drank coffee. I occasionally ate some sort of shit or other. I read the book I mentioned earlier on - The Goal. It was a very good book and it lasted me until we got on the plane at around lunchtime.

On the plane itself, I sat in my seat, ate whatever edible stuff they gave me, drank whatever imbibable stuff they passed me and spent the rest of the time reading. It may seem boring, but that's what I did. In some ways, I wish I'd had some sort of project to work on. The last time I flew to the states, I had paperwork from the Fringe office to read and I really enjoyed finding out how to put on a show. I also had a script of The Musical! on that previous journey. It was that script which I did the final major edits to and marked all the laughter points. That was also the script I walked the entire length of Broadway with for lunch. But that was last time. This time I didn't have a new project to work on... no grand love of my life (at least, not in written form) so I resorted to reading. I took in the "business novel" and then upgraded to a regular novel, a birthday present, recently received. I go on stage and claim I didn't get birthday presents this year - it's a lie. I did. Maybe I'm not a liar... maybe it's just joking.

Anyway, I arrived in Newark, New Jersey, later than expected. However, my hosts/picker-uppers had been quite smart. They had checked online and had adjusted their expectations. However, I'm not as smart as they are. I am of the class of people-who-cannot-recognise-their-own-baggage not only that, but I'm also of a subclass of those people the even-when-it's-the-only-one-left category. Eventually, using this Sherlock Holmes style logic - elminate the impossible (i.e. all the bags that are not there) and whatever you're left with (i.e. the one that is left and is yours) is the answer.

I got out of the arrivals area quickly. I wasn't trying to skip through customs, just needed to get away from the scene of my stupidity.

Having been meeted and greeted by my hosts, I was taken back to their place via somewhere where food could be enjoyed. I enjoyed food. Oh yeah. By that stage I had already forgotten how many meals I had eaten and it didn't matter. Having gained an extra five hours in my day, a day which had already started way too early, in a week in which my body clock had been well-and-truly dicked around with, all I needed to do was keep processing. Food in, energy out... we planned a late night out that night, so all was fair in the eating stakes (steaks?).

After food, we went back to the house, whose outside I'd seen on my previous visit to the states just over a year previously. It's all domestic bliss there. Last time was the wedding, this time was the late stages of pregnancy, all wrapped up in a nice home. If anyone reading this thinks I'm belittling or being sarcastic, then they're the cynical ones. I'm ever-pleased for my now-transatlantic friend.

After some events, which are now vague and probably don't require much in the way of explanation, our number swelled to include my friend's brother-in-law and his "pseudo-girlfriend". This throwaway phrase gave we English men much amusement over the course of the evening, especially as it was coined by the brother-in-law in a way which suggested that the bright-eyed young lady to whom it referred, would probably be offended if she felt she were pseudo-anything. We overused the word "pseudo" until he eventually 'fessed up. In fairness she took it in good spirits. But I'm getting ahead of myself. He confessed in a bar at the end of the evening. At this stage, we're still in the house. What to do? Ah yes...

We ate a meal. Yay with the food. After the meal, we headed out to a comedy club in New Brunswick. Yes, something of a busman's holiday for me, but I was curious to see what passes for comedy among our U.S. brethren.

I'm not going to review the entire night of comedy that we saw. It had its ups and its downs. The format was rather odd, the evening being started by one of the guys who had shepherded us to our seats; I'm increasingly of the opinion that being seen too much by the audience before taking to the stage is a bad idea. He did a wind-up call prompted by a member of the audience, then announced a guy who came over a bit like a studenty open-spot. This guy turned out to be the compere... this was only apparent after he came back on after the guy he'd announced (I thought that perhaps they were doing tag-team comedy until that point). The guy who acted as main support was moderately effective, but seemed weak on material.

The headliner for the evening was very much the master of the room. You could tell that he was experienced and good at his craft. He took exception to the fact that, at one point, he noticed me, not too far from the front row, with my arms crossed and my head down, face not fixed in a smile. This was, in my defence, due to the fact that he wasn't being particularly funny at that stage. His approach to this situation was to bully me into opening up my body language and to accuse me of being some sort of political lefty or righty or something or other in order to do so. I didn't really want to pipe up that I was British, had no idea what his insult meant, and was a comedian myself and thus had my head in my hands because he wasn't being funny. I demurred to his rule, since it was his gig and it's not really good manners to look miserable in a comedy club. Had he been funnier throughout, I would have laughed more. He did have the ability to make me laugh and, apart from his rather extreme-hatred approach to certain things, he had my respect.

Anyway. After the comedy club, we went to some sort of nightclub where the bouncers took a fancy to my British accent and let us stay and finish our drinks a little after chucking out time. Even the "pseudo-date" of my friend's brother-in-law felt that my accent was "hot". It is. I rock. Probably.

Anyway, we eventually left the bar, and got back to the house. We didn't eat again. In fact, I'd even managed to avoid eating any further at the comedy club, though my friend managed some of a dessert that they sold alongside the beer there. I've never seen a comedy club selling ice creams before. Weird.

At the house, I gathered information on how to go to a nearby Mall. My plan for the following day, in which my hosts were getting birthing breathing lessons, was to sleep until I woke up and then take an excursion to this Mall. I was going to drive one of the household's two vehicles. A treble adventure - driving in a different driving culture (hell, they even drive on the wacky wrong side of the road), driving to somewhere I'd never been before, using directions that would definitely get me there and back, but which, if I deviated from them, would leave me clueless and far away from any signs I recognised to get me back on track - I must have been thousands of miles from the nearest sign to Morpeth (I always used to use Morpeth as a trick location to get me where I was going when I was lost in Newcastle); thirdly, I had to avoid damaging my host's car, since it is bad form to crash one's friends' vehicles... especially with ambiguous insurances.

All in all, a good start to the trip. Sleep was needed in profusion.


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