Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Theme parks.

Whilst in Florida (keep up) we stayed in a lovely hotel connected to the Universal theme parks. As you no doubt remember Warwick Davis and his family were also there. That strikes me as rather sad - a family of dwarfs staying beside a theme park where none of them were tall enough to get on the rides. You're right. That is quite a cruel observation to make but it is a true one and we will leave it at that.

I on the other hand am tall enough to get on the rides and have been for some time *takes a puff on a cigar and says 'ladies'*. It took me until I was well into my 20s until I developed the courage to get on proper roller coasters though... 'ladies'. Now I bloody love the bastards. If I could take a roller coaster to work I would. For that to happen I will first need to get a job.

There was a guy at Islands of Adventure that day who was having an even better time than me. He was about 30, on his own and had full Darth Maul face paint on. My guess is he thought to himself... 'I'm at a theme park. I obviously have to get face paint done. I am, however, an adult so getting Mickey Mouse would be sad. Wait! I know! I'll get Darth Maul! Now I look super cool... ladies'. Brazilian Darth Maul (I for some reason decided he was Brazilian) was everywhere we went. He powered down the artificial streets with a massive smile on his face, camera in hand, taking pictures of everything he saw... Popeye, dinosaurs, lampposts, hot dog stands and trees. I reckon he made his money on the Brazilian stock market, retired early and now he stands outside Universal at 6am every morning waiting for it to open.

On Friday we went to Epcot. For those of you who don't know, Epcot is a science museum/theme park/collection of fake countries. The funniest part is probably Future World. Having been built in the 1970s, Epcot's vision of the future is like a 1980s shopping centre. Seriously, it's like the Arndale Centre in Manchester. I half expected to find a key cutting machine.

Another funny attraction is a short 3D film made by George Lucas and featuring a Bad era Michael Jackson. I found it hard to follow but this is what I gathered - Captain Eo (Jackson) and a band of what appear to be stuffed toys have to defeat an evil woman in space. They do this by gradually, through the medium of music and dance, turning each of her space soldiers into backing dancers. With every step they become stronger until it is eventually a Michael Jackson music video. Then for, as far as I could see, no apparent reason Angelica Huston is carried on and joins in the festivities. Made in 1986, I'm impressed that it's stayed open for so long. When Jackson was on trial few could have had more invested in the verdict than the staff who work on the Captain Eo attraction at Epcot. Now that he is dead and sainted their positions are forever safe.

The bulk of the park is taken up by replicas of countries. First was the United Kingdom. I was geared up to be offended but I found it fairly acceptable. It featured a pub (the Rose and Crown), a gift shop selling football shirts and tea related things, some red phone boxes and a bandstand in a pretty park. There is of course more to Britain than that and it is a rose tinted view. I don't feel the need though, to demand a replica of the Thamesmead estate or Fred West's patio. If you're going to boil down our country to a few things then I'm fine with pub, tea and football.

One last thing which made the day at Epcot quite creepy. There was a plane in the sky that kept writing religious messages. As it wrote 'Love' I thought it rather charming. I pondered on whether people ever train to be a pilot with the sole intention of writing in the sky. 'I like calligraphy, I like planes. Why not combine the two?'. But then it evolved (ironic) into 'Love God'. Now this plane was making demands of me that I didn't feel I could live up to. The messages kept on coming... 'God is love', 'Jesus is God, worship him' and 'Moses is such a cutie pie'. I made that last one up but the religious plane did exist. Pray to God it never comes your way.

I can't get it into this blog but here is a link to Captain Eo...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

I Bloomed In Orlando

Those of you who could be arsed to get your heads out of those bloody comics of yours to read my blog yesterday will remember I left you with a cliff hanger. Someone paid for me and my girlfriend to fly first class last week but where were we going and why? The answer is we were going to Orlando, Florida (USA) and we were going because my suspiciously unnamed girlfriend (Robert) was being inducted into her old University's Hall of Fame. This is remarkable for a couple of reasons. Firstly, my girlfriend's success in her own career so outweighs mine that I'm proud of my ego for surviving our relationship. Secondly, educational institutions in the States can be so rich that they can afford to fly one of their former students' boyfriends to Orlando in first class. Not only that but they paid for us to stay in a lovely hotel for a week too. The very same hotel that Warwick Davis and his family were staying in no less.

The Hall of Fame ceremony was both incredible and to cynical British eyes a little ridiculous. As I describe the events I want you to imagine how a similar ceremony would be played out at your old college/school. The image in my head consists of a sports hall and two bowls of crisps.

First, a series of celebrities were introduced in a very American presenter voice as they walked down a fully fledged red carpet. The celebrities included two members of the band 'Disturbed' and Stedman, Oprah's boyfriend. Robert (Robert's real name is Laurie) had foolishly given me the task of being her 'presenter' which meant that I had to introduce her once the ceremony was under way. Each of the 'presenters' were individually announced as they walked down the red carpet. I have been on a few of red carpets in my life. Most of them at badly decorated B and B's, one of them at the BAFTAs. No one has ever taken the slightest bit of interest in me on one. But here I was in a foreign country where NO ONE beyond my girlfriend's family had a fucking clue who I was and literally 20 photographers were frantically taking my photo as I gingerly walked down it.

I should give you some context here. The ceremony was being held at 9am on a Monday morning and the night before a jet lagged me had been treated to a free drinks do. After a couple of beers I decided to have a glass of whiskey. In Britain a glass of whiskey is actually a thimble of whiskey which has been poured into a glass. In the States a glass of whiskey is... A GLASS OF WHISKEY. Brits tend to be sneering about Americans capacity for heavy drinking. Brits tend to be wrong.

So there I was sat in my chair on the stage, sweating alcohol and waiting for the ceremony to begin. We watched on a big screen as the inductees (including Robert) walked down the carpet. A camera cut to shots of the inductees proud families in the audience. Another camera, on a crane, took swooping shots of the room as a whole. This show had a bigger budget than most of the TV series I have appeared in. In true American style, the ceremony's pre-amble was topped off with us all standing for the national anthem sung by the group 4Sure who nearly made it to the finals of American X Factor. None of this is a lie.

Then the head of the university made a speech. He was a certain kind of American. The kind that truly has no British equivalent. He appeared to be utterly devoid of cynicism and spoke with what looked to be the upmost sincerity about that university's 'family'. As a Brit I smelt a whiff of bullshit. Looking back though, I think I may have been wrong. It must say more about me than him that I found it creepy for a man to speak so positively about his work.

And then came my introduction for my girlfriend. I couldn't help but see this as my first overseas gig and littered my little speech with gags. To my delight the Americans lapped it up. I mean they properly chowed down on my humour. And so I left the room truly in love with Americans for their apparent openness and positivity. Would a British audience, on a Monday morning, have been so ready to laugh? I fear not. In fact, in my experience a British audience on a Friday night is rarely so ready to laugh.

It is decided. I am moving to America. Based on last week it is a land of nothing but free booze, free hotels, unending positivity, easy laughter and theme parks. Tomorrow I will tell you about the rest of my trip for there is much to tell.

Note: for the purpose of a theme I have characterised Americans as exclusively positive, fun loving hippies. I did and have, in fact, met many negative American energy sieves. Robert, for example.

Monday, 14 November 2011

First class

Yesterday I flew first class for the first time in my life. Actually I flew first class on BMI to Glasgow once but with that I just got to sit near the front and there was enough time be handed a bag of nuts. Yesterday was proper, BA, transatlantic first class with metal cutlery and everything.

I was actually meant to be flying first class last Saturday but I was downgraded which was more than a little annoying. I have built the idea of first class flying up in my head for a long time so when it was cruelly taken away from me I felt like crying. I was casually told that the flight was 'oversold'. This seems such an odd phenomenon to me - airlines overselling flights. In what other field is it acceptable to sell more of something than you can actually provide? Lots probably. I should read more.

Fortunately we were given access to BA's lounge at Gatwick so didn't feel like the complete normaloids that we are. Myself and my girlfriend had arrived there early just to experience the lounge. In my head it was a leather seated paradise, an indoor Club Tropicana with dancing girls, foot massage and American pool tables. In actuality it was more like the awkward bit before a Coventry based accountant's leaving do started. There were some free drink and nibbles but not much else. It was like a Travelodge without the glamour.

Having said that, Britain's most famous dwarf, Warwick Davis was there. What if he was one of the bastards taking our seats in first class? I mean this in the nicest possible way - it's not like he needs the fucking legroom! Sure enough, as we left for our departure gate, Warwick and his family were headed the same way. What an injustice?! It seems that all you have to do to be guaranteed first class is appear in about 10 of the highest grossing movies of all time. Disgusting! It turned out Warwick was in premium economy with the rest of us premium plebs.

Celebrity spot!... Warwick Davis watching his own sitcom 'Life's Too Short' on his ipad on the plane and pissing himself. Fair play to him. Most of my weekends are spent watching my 3 second appearance on Jonathan Creek on a loop.

Miracle of miracles we weren't downgraded on the return flight and I got to experience first class to the fullest. These are my impressions...

1. You do indeed get metal cutlery and proper glasses. The assumption here I think is that terrorists can't afford to fly first class. My point would be that if you're prepared to kill yourself and hundreds of others you might not feel guilty about taking out a loan you can't pay back.

2. You do get turbulence in first class. I thought this was only an economy thing.

3. Being able to lie fully horizontal on a plane feels enormously decadent. You are, however, in an enclosed space with lots of stangers. It's a bit like a youth hostel dorm except everyone is rich.

4. Everyone in first class looks pretty normal. I thought it would be 70% Arab sheiks. I guess they fly Emirates.

5. You get a little bag with moisturiser and toothpaste etc. The bag itself is worth no more than £20 but somehow it adds to the idea that spending an extra £2,000 on a flight is worth it.

I should say now that neither I nor my girlfriend paid for these flights. As I know that my demographic have short attention spans and no doubt need to get back to head butting walls, I'll tell you who paid for them and why tomorrow. Bye!