by Holly Randall of HollyRandall.com
Travel Blog pt 1: Manchester, England
So here I am in my hotel room, at almost 3 in the morning, unable to sleep. I know I can blame this on the combination of jet lag and way too many cups of tea, which seems to be the only thing people drink around here. Well, except for beer, and since I can’t have any of that, I’m doubling my intake of tea in respite.
But it’s nice to be here. I’m in Manchester, at the “In the City” music conference at the Midlands Hotel. Why am I here, as I’m one of the most least knowledgeable people on the planet when it comes to music? Well, apparently I’m here because I know a little something about porn. You see, I’ve been asked to speak at this panel called “The Filth and the Theory”, which is basically a panel about how the adult industry has been at the forefront of internet technology, and how we’ve used the world wide web to our advantage. The music industry, instead of embracing the internet as many porn companies did, instead turned their backs on it. I was told by someone who worked at Warner Brothers, that when the internet leapt onto the scene in ’94, they asked “How can we kill the internet?”, not “How can we use it to our advantage?” So, strangely enough, I’m here as a positive example and someone who can possibly teach the music industry a thing or two about developing an online business model. Sounds a bit strange, doesn’t it? I thought so too, but they were willing to pay for my flight out here, so I’ll talk about whatever the hell they want me to talk about.
I have to admit though, that I almost didn’t make it here. I got held up in customs and received a hell of a drilling (and no, not the good kind, though that does give me a great idea for a porn scene!). But really, I was so dismally prepared that I deserved it. I forgot the name of the hotel I was supposed to be staying at, I didn’t have my contact at ITC’s phone number, and I didn’t have any printed itinerary of my trip or any proof of my plane ticket out of Glasgow. Really, they should have have held me over, but the guy was nice and let me through, even though he told me he really shouldn’t do so. All I can say is that I was glad I was wearing my low cut shirt with my amazing push up bra. Though I can’t say for sure if it was my tits that got me through customs, I don’t think it hurt.
So I finally get into the main terminal and my ride is nowhere to be seen (little did I know he was in immigration, arguing with the office who refused to tell him anything about me or where I was). Bewildered, I roamed around a bit– I could catch a cab, sure, but I didn’t know where to tell him to go. So I beg the guy at the information desk to go online and look up the ITC website, and tell me where the hotel it’s located at is. Thankfully, he’s very friendly and takes pity on this poor lost American girl, and I get my hotel’s name and location.
So I make it to the hotel, and the guy who was supposed to pick me up finds me, very flustered and upset that we missed each other. Though I’d been annoyed that nobody had been at the airport to pick me up, it’s obvious this man has been through a lot to try to find me, so how can I be upset with him? And besides, it’s time for a proper English breakfast: poached eggs with fried tomatoes, sausages, and heaps of bacon. One can never be unhappy with pig grease dripping down your chin. God, I’m going to get so fat on this trip. And guess what? I don’t care!
So after sleeping almost all afternoon in my very nice room (with a deep bathtub– a massive bonus for my aching back), Tom Smetham, who coordinates the panels and invited me to the show, wants to take me out for a free meal at the MMF (music manager’s forum) dinner, in a large tent in the middle of the Manchester Food and Drink festival (yes there are two festivals going on at once). And by the way, he’s pretty cute. I don’t know why I imagined he’d be older and fat and balding, but he’s none of those things. He’s also thoroughly amused at my lack of knowledge regarding music– he introduces me to all these big players in the business– men who have managed bands like Pink Floyd, and men who have signed bands like Depeche Mode. But I have no idea who any of these people are so I’m not exactly star-struck. But that’s OK, I think I make him feel smart. Which, by what I can tell, he is anyhow.
The meal at this dinner is free, which should make it automatically delicious, but it really is delicious. Some fairly famous chefs prepared the meal (don’t ask me who, this is another area I know nothing about), and they somehow made fizzy ice cream– it feels like Pop Rockets in your mouth. Weird, but good!
After the meal we stand outside and smoke (well, I watch everyone else smoke, because I’m not a smoker). Everyone laughs at how bundled up and cold I am, and I fire back by telling them that I was at the beach 4 days ago. They all roll their eyes at me, and I continue to tease them by telling them that it will probably still be warm when I return to LA, and I’ll be going back to the beach when I go home.
Another thing: I’ve been reading Kate Fox’s “Watching the English” again on the flight out here. It’s an anthropological study on British culture and their mannerisms, unconscious behavior, and unspoken rules of socializing. I can’t help but take note of subjects Fox brings up in her early chapters: constant commentary on the weather, the perpetual undercurrent of ironic humor, and the excessive politeness of the English. My parents are British so I see a bit of it in them, but they’ve been Americanized somewhat in their 35 years in the US, so it’s funny to watch their culture play out live and in color in front of me. I absolutely love the British, and having read a book that breaks down their behaviors into scientific terms only makes them more endearing to me.